Definitions & Origins for Words
and Concepts from Joanna Baillie’s Witchcraft
Pages 1-18 Words in this font taken from Joanna Donehower, all other definitions sourced from the Dictionary of Scots and various other online dictionaries/histories by Manon Manavit.
The definitions and etymologies come from the Oxford English Dictionary Online (2nd edition, 2012) and The Dictionary of the Scots Language (electronic edition, Dundee: University of Dundee, 2004). Additional sources are listed within each entry.
“How did you find your friends in Glenrowan?”
Meaning: “Rowan-Tree valley” Glenrowan- Colloquial. Not the name of a modern town or region, Glenrowan most likely refers to an area of the Highlands in Inverness. Annabella most likely visited a cottage or estate near Loch Ness.
“I will trespass on your hospitality a week longer, knowing how kindly disposed you have always been to the child of your early friend.”
Meaning: childhood friend The term early friend applies to childhood playmates, often the result of aristocratic familial alliances and patronages.
- Lady Dungarren
“I verily thought to see some elrich form or other make its appearance”
Origin: Middle English
Variations: elritch, eldritch, elfriche
Meaning: elf kingdom, fairyland. elrich: adjective- weird, eerie, strange, uncanny. elrich form: elf, spirit, ghost etc.
- Lady Dungarren
“Satan, in return for [the ruin of a Christian soul], will bestow power enough to do whatever his bondswoman or bondsman listeth.”
Origin: English, legal
Meaning: woman or man bound to serve a master as slaves Alternate meaning: woman or man who has signed a legal bond
- Lady Dungarren
“I must go to my closet now”
Origin: Middle English from enclosed
Meaning: a small private chamber
“a paltry girl, who is not worthy to be my tirewoman”
Origin: English from tire, retire
Meaning: a Lady’s maid
“What will you please to have, then, for the trimming of your new mantua?”
Origin: modification of French manteau
Meaning: A woman's garment of the 17th and 18th centuries consisting of a bodice and full skirt cut from a single length of fabric, with the skirt designed to part in front to reveal a contrasting underskirt.
“fall over the crag and break her leg”
Origin: Welsh craig, Scottish Gaelic creagh meaning rock
Meaning: a steep rugged rock or peak, a cliff
- Meaning:an archaic expression synonymous with “Heaven Forbid!” Customarily uttered in order to ward off evil spirits and prevent misfortune.
“the herd knows her den well enough.”
Origin: Old English denn
Meaning: a squalid or wretched room or retreat, a site or haunt.
“he stood waiting in the passage, for the cooling of his brose.”
Origin: Scots (Scottish language)
Meaning: an uncooked form of porridge. Oatmeal and other meals are mixed with boiling water and allowed to stand for a short time. It is eaten with salt, butter, milk or buttermilk. In the 16th century, a mixture of oatmeal and water was carried by shepherds; brose resulted from the agitation of the mixture as they climbed the hills. Brose is associated with shepherds and is a traditional staple of their diet.
“live owre near my milk kye. Brindle and Hawky gi' but half the milk they should gi', and we wat weel whare the ither half gangs to.”
owre – over
kye – (plural for cow) cattle
gi’ – give
and – seeing that
wat – water
weel – well
whare – where
ither – other
gangs – goes.
Translation: “live over near my milk cows. Brindle and Hawky give but half the milk they should give, [because they are] seeing that spring where the other half goes to.”
“Hie to her immediately”
Meaning: Heighten, raise the level of- alarm. intr. Also hy(e), hey. Sc. usage: to hasten, proceed quickly. “Urgently call to her immediately”
“To you, Leddy?”
“hidlings, as it war?”
hidlings – in secret, covertly
war – were
“Secretly, as it were?”
“I darna gang to her at night. Gude be wi’ us! An I war to find her at her cantrips, I had better be belaired in a bog, or play coupcarling owre the craig o’ Dalwhirry!”
darna – don’t want to.
gang – go.
Gude – ‘all that is good,’ God.
cantrips – charms, spells, incantations; magic.
belaired – overpowered by sleep.
craig – low hill.
“I don’t want to go to her at night. God be with us! If I was to find her at her magic spells, I could fall asleep in a bog or jackknife o’er the hills of Dalwhirry!”
“When she begins to mutter wi' her white wuthered lips, and her twa gleg eyen are glowering like glints o' wildfire frae the hollow o' her dark bent brows, she's enough to mak a trooper quake; ay, wi' baith swurd and pistol by his side. — No, no, Leddy! the sun maun be up in the lift whan I venture to her den.”
twa – two.
gleg – quick in movement or perception; bright, clear.
eyen – eyes.
frae – from.
mak – make.
trooper – a border cattle-reiver, pillager, freebooter; a marauder, ruffian.
baith – both.
sword – sword.
maun – must.
lift – sky, heavens.
whan – when.
“When she begins to mutter with her white, withered lips and her two quick eyes are glowering like glints of wildfire from the hollow of her dark bent brows, she’s enough to make even a scoundrel like me quake! Yes! Even with both sword and pistol by my side. No Lady, the sun must be up in the sky when I venture to her den.”
“...it wad hae been nae joke, I trow, to hae been belated on a haunted warlock moor, and thunner growling i' the welkin.”
wad – would.
hae – have.
nae – no.
trow – ascertain, trust.
thunner – thunder.
welkin – horizon.
“Trowth do I!”
Origin: English. Affirmative: truth, troth ex. ‘by my troth!’
Meaning: Indeed, In fact, Upon my Word, For sure!
“...increase the stores of her larder.”
- Meaning: A larder is a cool area for storing food prior to use. Larders were commonplace in houses before the widespread use of the refrigerator.
“By my faith! she'll be glad enough o' sick a supply; for Madam Annabell is come back again, wi' that Episcopal lassie frae the Isle o' Barra, that reads out o' a prayer book, and ca's hersell her Leddy's gentlewoman”.
sick – such.
Episcopal – member of the Scottish Episcopal Church- incorporated in 1712 by British influence, associated with England pejoratively by members of opposing Church of Scotland (Presbyterian). The Episcopalians were a minority on Scotland, and continue to be to this day, representing only 1% of the population. The Episcopal Church hierarchy, derived from the Anglican Church founded by Henry VIII, uses monarchial/dynastic bishops. Presbyterianism uses a council of elders, who are community leaders in the congregation.
Isle of Barra – a predominantly Gaelic-speaking island off the Western coast of Scotland that is fertile, beautiful and historically home to and populated by descendents of the powerful Clan MacNeil.
Gentlewoman – the designation given to the housekeeper in a family of distinction, much higher in status than a tirewoman or chambermaid.
“...to have staid a week in Dumbartonshire.”
staid – stayed.
Dumbartonshire is a county in the west central Lowlands of Scotland lying to the north of the River Clyde.
“ay, and gaed into the very parlour till her. He, maybe, kens what has brought her back. I saw him set his dirty feet on the clean floor wi’ my ain eyen.”
gaed – form of Eng. went.
till – to. ‘To’ and ‘till’ are frequently used in the same context as alternatives.
kens – knows.
wi’ my ain eyen – with my own eyes.
“Toot, your honor! ony body’s gude enough to haver wi- them, when they’re wearying.”
Toot – a curse word. Toot means a jutting out, protrusion, like a rump or nose. An exclamation of disapproval or expostulation, fy! tut tut!, nonsense.
haver – to toast, slang.
wearying – Tiring, being or becoming discontented or dejected.
“when your honor’s come hame.”
hame – home.
“....o’ her ain reckoning, tho’ we ca’ it only twa days. Folks said when she gaed awa’ that she wou’d na be lang awa’. It wou’d be as easy to keep a moth frae the can’le, or a cat frae the milk-house, as keep her awa’ frae the tower o’ Dungarren when the laird is at hame.”
ca – call,
lang – long,
laird – Lord One who has dominion over others.
“What say’st thou, varlet?”
varlet – A servant, a groom, an attendant.
“Go thy ways to thy loft and thy byre. Folks are saucy, and teach lads to forget themselves.”
loft – Attributed and combined with ‘chamber’.
byre – a cow-house or cattle-house.
saucy – vain, conceited.
Translation: "Go back to your cattle ranch. People who gossip are conceited and give people like you a bad example. You’ve forgotten yourself."
“No; I will stay and content with the termagant, as I would with an evil spirit.”
Meaning: Termagant in this context is a slang word for a ranting, female bully. It is an English slang word, derived from a bizarre misnomer. In the age of the Crusades, the West falsely believed that Muslims were pagans who worshipped a variety of gods including Muhammad, Apollo, and a third called Termagant. Evidence of this belief can be found in numerous examples of Medieval literature, including the Song of Roland. The origin of the name Termagant is unknown, and does not seem to derive from any actual aspect of Muslim belief or practice, however wildly distorted.
W. W. Skeat in the 19th century, speculated that the name was originally "Trivagante", meaning 'thrice wandering', a reference to the moon, because of the Islamic use of crescent moon imagery. An Old English origin has also been suggested, from tiw mihtig r ("very mighty"), referring to the Germanic god Tiw. Another possibility is that it derives from a confusion between Muslims and the Zoroastrian Magi of ancient Iran: thus tyr-magian, or "Magian god".
Whatever its origins, "Termagant" became established in the West as the name of the principal Muslim god. Termagant also became a stock character in a number of medieval mystery plays. On the stage, Termagant was usually depicted as a turbaned creature wearing a long, Eastern style gown. As a result of the theatrical tradition, by Shakespeare's day the term had come to refer to a bullying person
Mainly because of Termagant's depiction in long gowns, and given that female roles were routinely played by male actors in Shakespearean times, English audiences got the mistaken notion that the character was female, or at least that he resembled a mannish woman. As a result, the name "termagant" came increasingly to be applied to a woman with a quarrelsome, scolding quality, a sense that it retains today.
19 A-H Scots Glossary
ken – know
na mare – no more
dinna – do not
sa – so
ha’ – have
lawn – land
fou – full
hurr – onomatopoeia a purring, murmuring sound used to express pleasure or contentment
list – wish
malt – ale or whiskey
a’ – all
anes – ones
trow – trust
coag – wooden vessel, made of staves and girded with metal bands, used in milking cows, carrying water, or in drinking or eating.
carle – old man
kye – cows
greet – To weep, cry, whimper, lament; to complain, grumble in a helpless trifling manner.
goodwife – A wife or woman as the mistress of a house
kirn – churn, milk or butter
han-‘fu’ – handful
wull – will
baith – both
kebbucks – wheels of cheese
aumery – cupboard
spice – pride, conceit
kimmer – a godmother or midwife. term of address used between women-friends, could also denote deprecation with alternate meaning of gossip or scandal maker.
mun – move
haun – hand
ony – any
gang – go
tryste – meeting, rendevous
chattels – possessions
compact – contract. “In the constituting of persons formally a witch, it requires that there be a reall compact between Satan & that person either personally drawn up & made, or mediately by parents immediat or mediat having power of the person; 1697 Sermon on Witchcraft in Sc. Hist. Rev. VII 393.”
caitiff – from Middle English for captive, archaic word no longer in use: A despicable coward.
who was wont to attend thee – who usually attends thee
liege – (med. L. ligius, legius).] 1. A subject of a, or the, sovereign, bound to him (or her) by ties of allegiance; a loyal subject. The regular Sc. sense.
fellest – most fierce, cruel, ruthless
baulk – to refuse, jib or disparage
tak – take
aith – oath
har’st – harvest
spleuchan – tobacco or money pouch, made of leather
belike – perhaps, probably, surely
bauld – bold, brave, courageous
winna – will not
mair – more
“he wad be snoring on the settle in the turning o’ a bannock, if fear wad let him sleep.”
settle – long wooden bench with arms and a high back and sometimes cupboards under the seat
bannock – round, flat, thickish cake of oatmeal, barley, or flour, baked on a griddle, and turned over and over on both sides to cook
bogle – a ghost, spectre, or phantom. Of uncertain origin; in northern Eng. dial. as boggle, a supernatural being of an ugly or terrifying aspect
enow – enough
kens – knows
gaits – ways
fashions – mannerisms
certes – certainly
ain – own
mawkin – hare, bad luck, superstitiously associated to witches along with cats, it was believed that witches could shapeshift as either
auld – old
burn – causeway, riverbend “cross running burn = crossroads at the river”
mysell – myself
sae – so
naewise – not particularly
turret-chaumer – tower chamber
gin – if
loon – rogue, rascal, scoundrel
unco – short for uncouth meaning unknown, strange “my tongue’s unco dry= oddly dry”
awa’ – away
pawky – cunning
herrie – rob, plunder, pillage
deil – devil. commonly used as a word of strong negation “deil a drap mair shall ye get= ‘devil a drop’ more shall you get” or “not a drop more”
guizened – dry, shriveled
spelding – a fish which has been split and dried
college – an association of scholars, an institute of learning, ecclesiasty (not necessarily a school or university)
Renfrew (Renfrewshire) – the Scotland county in which this play is set, west of Glasgow
malefactor – criminal, one who does bad things (opposite of benefactor, one who does good things)
hae – have
cantrips – curses, charms
elrich – fairy, witchy
behint – behind
score – cut up, mark with surface wounds or incisions
aboon – above “aboon the breath”= above the nostrils
“scoring aboon the breath” colloquialism for cutting a cross into someone’s forehead, a superstitious action meant to destroy evil spirits or people believed to be evil, especially women accused of being witches. *Sc.  R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes (1870) 208; *Cai.7 1936: In May 1700, Thomas Cook . . . was indicted for scoring a woman in Auchencraw above the breath [that is, cutting her on the brow in the form of a cross].
jocteleg – large kitchen knife or jack-knife
waft – glimpse.
haggart – adj. form of Eng. haggard.
hangings – tapestries
bairn – child, offspring, son or daughter
bauld – adj. Of a fire: burning fiercely, hot, also fig. of a burning thirst crooked pins- crooked pins were symbolically associated with witches in Great Britian during the witch-hunt historical period of the 1700s. They are both a symbol of witchery, and consequently good luck. It was believed that witches bent pins with their powers, and used pins to do harm. Therefore, if one had been a victim of witchcraft, they would report having vomited crooked pins. These occurrences were counterfeited and crooked pins used as evidence in witch trials. By folkloric logic, crooked pins could also be used against witches, as a representation of mystical power. Crooked pins are now synonymous with lucky pennies and shamrocks as tokens of good luck and wishes, but were a big player in witchcraft’s history. Pins were used to torture women accused of witchcraft, as inquisitors would pinprick any “witch’s marks” (blemishes or boils). Pinpricks were said to be involved in curses and spells (as in the story of Sleeping Beauty).
rowan tree – the Rowan Tree’s berries and branches have long been a symbol of health, healing, and mystical powers of good. They grow throughout Great Britain, Europe and Asia and were considered to be a magical cure-all type of plant. The branches were used as garlands and decoration symbolizing plenty and a good harvest, they could ward off witches and evil spirits, they could prevent storms, lightning, etc. and their growth during summer predicted winter weather conditions.
Page 48–52, ACT II
tuim – ‘tum’ empty, vacant, devoid of contents
nane – none
parritch – a dish of oatmeal boiled in salted water, a staple of Scottish diet, the word came to be freq. used for food in gen., one’s sustenance, daily bread.
aff – off
nip – a pinch or sting. ‘witch nip’ = the sting or pinch caused by a witch’s spell, curse, or charm. witch nip is a Scots slang term meaning something not good, annoying, or unbearable.
an – if
tu – you
fule – fool
imp – A ‘scion’, an offspring, descendant. (ie, of Satan)
siller – silver
mither – mother
Gudesaf’ us – God Save Us!
deil – devil
scathe – harm
forbye – in addition to, besides
crooket – limping, lame
joe – male term of endearment, meaning lover or sweetie
carlin – n. A derogatory term applied to a man.
maun – must
fiend – demon, devil’s agent
Aye – Always, ever, continually, on all occasions.
Puir – poor
glawmey – after glamour, “an ocular deception caused by witchcraft” (Ayr. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.).
rive – To tear or rend (clothes, books, etc.); to rend or lacerate (skin, flesh, etc.); to tear (a person or animal) apart; to tear in(to) pieces; to tear out; to bite or gnaw holes or tears in.
rinagate – a fugitive, runabout, rascal, scamp
rawny – A rough uncouth fellow.
- Callant – 1. A stripling, a young man; a boy
Lone –provisions, supplies, store
forsooth – indeed
- welkin – sky, wat -wet, puir- poor
chuck – chick, a chicken
anent, ’nent, – In a line with; on a level with; alongside of.
- kimmer – woman
forsooth – indeed
List – to please
kith – friends, acquaintances, kinsfolk
Mien – look or manner, character or mood
- lin – waterfall
soughing – To make a soft murmuring or rustling sound
lithe – flexible
gillyflower – carnation
benighted – backward, uncultivated, rude.
lug – ear
- craking, cracking – cackling (of geese).
lone – a green cattle-track or grassy by-road, commonly diked in, as a passage for animals through arable land, park or orchard land or the like. Freq., a grassy strip leading to a pasture or other open ground, beginning at or near a farm, village or burgh as a green where the cattle were milked.
smoored – (past tense of smore) to smother, suffocate, stifle
gin – if
claught haud – caught hold
ilka – Each, every, of two or more. Ilka bodie, everyone.
roodie – lady
clout – cloth
riven – (see rive, above) ripped
gang – to go on foot; to walk.
crowdie – a kind of soft cheese
tine – to lose, to suffer the loss, destruction, disappearance, etc. of some attribute or possession, to cease to have or enjoy, to mislay.
byre – a cow-house or cattle-house
brownie – the benevolent sprite or goblin so called.
varlet – servant
kittle – troublesome, difficult or perplexing
ding the dominie – something like compete with the schoolmaster
caratches – from caratch or tribute (tithe) exacted by the Turks from their Christian subjects.
(70)atweel, ‘tweel – assuredly, certainly, indeed.
noddle – head
(72)tight – thrifty, prudent
lut(e)string – an alteration of lustring, a kind of glossy silk fabric.
(73)ahint – behind
speer – ask, inquire pressingly
anent – about
(74)Muirland – Land consisting of moor; rough, unenclosed land; heath.
drover – one who drives animals
(75)panted – yearned
gibbet – A gibbet is a gallows-type structure from which the dead bodies of executed criminals were hung on public display to deter other existing or potential criminals.
(84)burn – river, stream
refts – rifts
(89)muckle – much
belang – to pertain to one as a possession or right.
yett – a gate, of a garden, field, etc., or of a fortified house or town
(90)sma’er – probably, “some other”
browst – brew
(91)Peak of Ben Lomond (Benloman)
grumlie – grumbling, irritable, sullen, surly
Meir – A mare, female horse.
(92)howlets – owls
rent – tore
(97)luckenbooths – Built around 1460, the Luckenbooths or "Locked booths" housed Edinburgh's first permanent shops. Originally exclusive to the use of goldmiths and jewellers, they later housed tenants with a variety of trades including a baker, milliner, hairdresser and "ane chymist and druggist". Between the south wall of this building block and the wall of the Churchyard is a narrow close called the Krames, where retailers without premises began to offer their wares around 1550-60. Lord Cockburn described this area as "The paradise of childhood' on account of the toys, trinkets and other hardware sold at stalls along this pathway. Would have been comparable to today’s 5th Avenue in NYC.
(100)gars – makes
hoot toot – (interjection) exclamation of dissatisfaction, annoyance, etc.
lear – learning, education
(101)refection – concessions, refreshments, hor’s douevres in a spiritual sense (derived from the kitchen or dining hall of a monastery or church called a refectory) In this context, word choice of refection reflects the character’s attitude- ironic?
yill – ale or beer
buttery – a domestic storeroom in a large medieval house. Along with the pantry, it was generally part of the offices pertaining to the kitchen. Reached from the screens passage at the low end of the Great Hall the buttery was traditionally the place from which the yeoman of the buttery served beer from the wooden butts.
smooty – (likely) stealthy
craft – As in Eng. croft, a small piece of land adjoining a house
thrang – Of a person, busily employed, fully occupied
ploughman – estate’s farmer
unco – awfully, qualifier
gleg – Quick in movement or perception; bright, clear.
Coley – likely Collie, rather than the fish of the same name)
Baillie – A town magistrate corresponding to an alderman in England.
Beldame / Beledame – grandmother.
Conventicle – an assembly, a meeting; esp. a regular meeting of any society, corporation, body, or order of men.
bonnie – pretty, fair
blasted – struck with a blast or blasting
girn – to show the teeth in rage or bad temper; to snarl.
brock – badger
terry – dog- likely a terrier
hear – listen
till – to [her].
lee – to lie, tell a falsehood
lear – teachings
deel – demons
dominie – subjects, followers
forbye – besides
Benfire – bonfire, a large fire in the open air, originally one made with bones of animals
stour – dust
cowping – decaying
dull – sadness, sorrow
dad – da, father
red – clear, make passage
gait – way
“ilka saul and bouk o’ ye”
saul – expletive, assertion.
bouk – bulk, bodies; comparable to “every last one of ya!”
kary’d – escorted
or – before
Hegh – high, Heaven
gurlie – of the weather: stormy, threatening, blustery, bleak, bitter
carle – man, fellow
dool – grief, sorrow
the morn’s – tomorrow “the morn’s morning=tomorrow morning”
hone – an obscure phrase representing delay, tarrying
distracted – mad, crazy
gowd – gold
Christentie – Christendom (in Christendom= in all the land)
potation – malt beverage
casement – a. A hollow moulding. b. A window-frame.
brand – In Eng. applied only to a piece of wood that is or has been burning; a burning peat or glowing cinder
warpipe – bagpipe
gorget – a covering for a woman’s neck and throat.
posset – a drink of hot milk curdled with ale or wine, sometimes with sugar, spices or other ingredients added
Mammon – the name of the devil of covetousness (see also, Paradise Lost)
yestreen – yesterday evening, the night before today
gaoler – jailer
mattocks – instruments much like icepicks- pointed at one end, flat at the other
obduracy – the state of beingunmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding
Holloa! – a roar, or bellow
execration – the act of cursing or denouncing
pusillanimous – Of a person: lacking in courage or strength of purpose; faint-hearted, craven, cowardly.
pinching – severe; causing pain.
Fye – exclamation meaning Doom or Curse, associated with impending death or danger
meed – a reward according to action or conduct, a recompense or a requital; esp., a reward for merit. Espec., dishonest or corrupt payment, bribery.
dilatory – Slow to act. Intended to cause delay: "dilatory tactics"
abee – leave undisturbed, let alone, let be.
corses – corpses
winding sheet – sheet in which a corpse is wrapped for burial.
(153)whit – the least bit; an iota
obnoxious – archaic. exposed to something unpleasant or harmful
made gainer – made more of something for ex. higher in social status and consequently rewarded with mercy
(158)braid – broad
dee – devil
gambol – joyous, raucous dance
(160)distracted – mad
abrogated – repealed, removed