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James Wood, comp. Dictionary of Quotations. 1899.

Scotch Proverb

A cock aye craws crousest (boldest) on his ain midden-head.

A craw’s nae whiter for being washed.

A dog winna yowl if you fell him wi’ a bane.

A fool may speer (ask) mair questions than a wise man can answer.

A ganging fit (foot) is aye getting.

A little spark maks muckle wark.

A man canna wive and thrive the same year.

A man may be proud of his house, and not ride on the rigging (ridge) of it.

A man may spit in his nieve and do little.

A man’s aye crousest in his ain cause.

A penny hained (saved) is a penny gained.

A scalded cat dreads cauld water.

A sicht (sight) o’ you is guid for sair een.

A sillerless (moneyless) man gangs fast through the market.

A thread will tie an honest man better than a rope will do a rogue.

A tocherless dame sits lang at hame.

A toom (empty) pantry maks a thriftless guidwife.

A wee bush is better than nae bield (shelter).

A weel-bred dog gaes oot when he sees them preparing to kick him oot.

A wise man gets learning frae them that hae nane.

A witless heed (head) mak’s weary feet.

A’ are guid lasses, but where do a’ the ill wives come frae?

A’ are no freens that speak us fair.

A’ complain o’ want o’ siller; nane o’ want o’ sense.

A’ Stuarts are no sib (related) to the king (the family name of the Scotch kings being Stuart).

A’s guid that God sends.

Ae half o’ the world doesna ken how the other half lives.

Ae man may tak’ a horse to the water, but twenty winna gar (make) him drink.

Ae man’s meat is anither man’s poison.

An ill-willie (ill-natured) cow should have short horns.

An ounce o’ mother-wit is worth a pound o’ clergy.

Any port in a storm.

As guid fish i’ the sea as e’er came oot o’t.

As guid may haud (hold) the stirrup as he that loups on.

As weel be oot o’ the world as oot o’ the fashion.

Auld folk are twice bairns.

Aye in a hurry, and aye ahint.

Be slow in choosing a friend, but slower in changing him.

Better a fremit freend than a freend fremit—i.e., a stranger for a friend than a friend turned stranger.

Better a toom (empty) house than an ill tenant.

Better bairns greet (weep) than bearded men.

Better be at the end o’ a feast than the beginning o’ a fray.

Better be idle than ill employed.

Better go to bed supperless than rise in debt.

Better haud (hold on) wi’ the hound than rin wi’ the hare.

Better keep the deil oot than hae to turn him oot.

Better keep weel than mak’ weel.

Better my freen’s think me fremit as fasheous—i.e., strange rather than troublesome.

Better rue sit than rue flit—i.e., regret remaining than regret removing.

Better sit still than rise and fa’.

Better sma’ fish than nane.

Better the ill ken’d than the ill unken’d—i.e., the ill we know than the ill we don’t know.

Better wear shoon (shoes) than sheets.

Between the deil and the deep sea.

Bitin’ and scartin’ ’s Scotch folk’s wooing.

Bonnie feathers mak’ bonnie fowls.

Broken friendships may be sowthered (soldered), but never sound.

Burnt bairns dread the fire.

Buy what ye dinna want, an’ ye’ll sell what ye canna spare.

Ca’ (drive) a cow to the ha’ (hall), and she’ll rin to the byre.

“Can do” is easy (easily) carried aboot.

Care will kill a cat, but ye canna live without it.

Changes are lightsome, an’ fules are fond o’ them.

Charity begins at hame, but shouldna end there.

Confessed faults are half mended.

Corbies (crows) and clergy are kittle shot (hard to hit).

Corbies dinna pick oot corbies’ een, i.e., harm each other.

Courtesy is cumbersome to him that kens it not.

Covetousness often starves other vices.

Craft maun hae claes (clothes), but truth gaes naked.

Credit keeps the crown o’ the causey—i.e., is not afraid to show its face.

Creep before you gang (walk).

Cripples are aye better schemers than walkers.

Dawted dochters mak’ dawly wives—i.e., petted daughters make slovenly wives.

Deil stick pride, for my dog deed o’d.

Ding (knock) down the nests, and the rooks will flee awa.Used to justify the demolition of the religious houses at the Reformation.

Dinna gut your fish till you get them.

Dinna lift me before I fa’.

Dinna scald your ain mou’ wi ither folk’s kail (broth).

Do as the lassies do; say “No” and tak’ it.

Do on the hill as ye do in the ha’.

Do weel and doubt nae man; do ill and doubt a’ men.

Dogs that bark at a distance ne’er bite at hand.

Drive a cow to the ha’, and she’ll run to the byre.

Dumbie winna lee.

Early birds catch the worms.

Early master soon knave (servant).

Ease and honour are seldom bed-fellows.

Eat in measure and defy the doctor.

Eat-weel’s drink-weel’s brither.

Eident (diligent) youth makes easy age.

Eild and poortith are ill to thole—i.e., age and poverty are hard to bear.

Eild should hae honour—i.e., old people should.

Eith (quickly) learned, soon forgotten.

Ell and tell is gude merchandise—i.e., ready money is.

Envy ne’er does a gude turn but when it means an ill ane.

Every craw thinks her ain bird whitest.

Every inch of joy has an ell of annoy.

Every man can guide an ill wife but him that has her.

Every man’s blind in his ain cause.

Every man’s man has a man, and that gar’d the Tarve (a Douglas Castle) fa’.

Every one bows to the bush that bields (protects) him, i.e., pays court to him that does so.

Every soo (sow) to its ain trough.

Fair fa’ guid drink, for it gars (makes) folk speak as they think.

Fair folk are aye fusionless (pithless).

Fair maidens wear nae purses—(the lads always paying their share).

False folk should hae mony witnesses.

False freends are waur than bitter enemies.

Fancy kills and fancy cures.

Fanned fires and forced love ne’er did weel.

Far ahint maun follow the faster.

Far frae court, far frae care.

Far-awa fowls hae aye fair feathers.

Fat hens are aye ill layers.

Favours unused are favours abused.

Fire maks an auld wife nimble.

First deserve and then desire.

Flee you ne’er so fast, your fortune will be at your tail.

Fleying (frightening) a bird is no the way to catch it.

Folk canna help a’ their kin (relatives).

Folk wi’ lang noses aye tak’ till themsels.

Fools and bairns shouldna see things half done.

Fools are aye fond o’ flittin’, and wise men o’ sittin’.

Fools are aye seeing ferlies (wonderful things).

Fools mak’ feasts, and wise men eat them. / Wise men mak’ jests, and fools repeat them.

Fools ravel and wise men redd (unravel).

For a tint (lost) thing carena.

For fault o’ wise men fools sit on binks (seats, benches).

Forbid a fool do a thing, and that he will do.

Forced prayers are no gude for the soul.

Forgotten pains, when follow gains.

Forsake not God till you find a better maister.

Fou (full) o’ courtesy, fou o’ craft.

Frae saving comes having.

Freends are like fiddle-strings; they maunna be screwed ower tight.

Freits (prognostications) follow those who look to them.

Friendship canna stand a’ on ae side.

Fules are aye fond o’ flittin’.

Gang to bed wi’ the lamb and rise wi’ the laverock (lark).

Gathering gear (wealth) is pleasant pain.

Gentility without ability is waur (worse) than plain begging.

Get what ye can and keep what ye bae.

Gie a bairn his will and a whelp his fill, an’ neither will do well.

Gie a beggar a bed, and he’ll pay you with a louse.

Gie him tow enough and he’ll hang himsel’—i.e., give him enough of his own way.

Gie the deil his due, an’ ye’ll gang till him.

Gie the greedy dog a muckle bane.

Gie your heart to God and your awms (alms) to the poor.

Gie your tongue mair holidays than your head.

Giff-gaff maks gude friends, i.e., mutual giving.

Gin (if) ye hadna been among the craws, ye wadna hae been shot.

Giving to the poor increaseth a man’s store.

Glasses and lasses are brittle ware.

God does not measure men by inches.

God help the poor, for the rich can help themselves.

God help the rich folk, for the poor can beg.

God is kind to fou (drunk) folk and bairns.

God send us some siller, for they’re little thought o’ that want it.

God send you mair sense and me mair siller.

God trusts every one with the care of his own soul.

Good ale needs no wisp (of hay for advertisement).

Good gear goes in sma’ book (bulk).

Gowd (gold) gets in at ilka (every) gate except heaven.

Gowd is gude only in the hand o’ virtue.

Great barkers are nae biters.

Greedy folk hae lang airms.

Grudge not another what you canna get yoursel’.

Gude advice is ne’er out o’ season.

Gude bairns are eith to lear—i.e., easy to teach.

Gude breeding and siller mak’ our sons gentlemen.

Gude claes (clothes) open a’ doors.

Gude folk are scarce, tak’ care o’ ane.

Gude foresight furthers the wark.

Gude wares mak’ a quick market.

Hae you gear (goods), or hae you nane, / Tine (lose) heart, and a’s gane.

Hang a thief when he’s young, and he’ll no steal when he’s auld.

Haste makes waste, and waste makes want, and want makes strife between the gudeman and the gudewife.

He behoves to have meat enou’ that sal stop ilka man’s mou’.

He can ill run that canna gang (walk).

He doesna aye flee when he claps his wings.

He has a bee in his bonnet—i.e., is hare-brained.

He has faut (need) o’ a wife wha marries mam’s pet.

He has wit at will that, when angry, can sit him still.

He kens muckle wha kens when to speak, but far mair wha kens when to haud (hold) his tongue.

He maun lout (stoop) that has a laigh (low) door.

He ne’er made a gude darg (day’s work) wha gaed (went) grumbling about it.

He never lees (lies) but when the holland’s (holly’s) green—i.e., always.

He paidles a guid deal in the water, but he tak’s care no to wet his feet.

He sleeps as dogs do when wives bake—i.e., is wide awake, though pretending not to see.

He that comes unca’d (uninvited) sits unsair’d (unserved).

He that gets gear (wealth) before he gets wit, is but a short time master o’ it.

He that has a wife has a master.

He that has ae sheep in a flock will like a’ the lave (rest) better for ’t.

He that has an ill wife likes to eat butter (but her, i.e., without her).

He that has muckle would aye hae mair.

He that has siller in his purse canna want (do without) a head on his shoulders.

He that invented the Maiden, first hanselled it, i.e., first put it to the proof. (The Maiden was a kind of guillotine).

He that keeks (pries) through a keyhole may see what will vex him.

He that marries before he is wise will die before he thrive.

He that pities another minds himsel’.

He that spends his gear (property) before he gets it will hae little gude o’t.

He that steals a preen (pin) will steal a better thing.

He that tholes (bears up) o’ercomes.

He that will to Cupar, maun to Cupar—i.e., he that will to jail, must to jail.

He that winna be counselled canna be helped.

He that winna save a penny will ne’er hae ony.

He was scant o’ news that told that his father was hanged.

He wha eats but (only) ae dish seldom needs the doctor.

He who has a bonnie wife needs mair than twa een.

He’s a silly body that’s never missed.

He’s a wise man wha can take care o’ himsel’.

He’s idle that may be better employed.

He’s well worth (deserving of) sorrow that buys it with his ain siller.

He’s wise that’s wise in time.

Hearts may agree though heads differ.

His bark is waur nor (worse than) his bite.

Honest men marry soon, wise men never.

Honesty may be dear bought, but can ne’er be an ill pennyworth.

If a man’s gaun doun the brae, ilka ane gi’es him a jundie (push).

If ae sheep loup (jump) the dike, a the lave (rest) will follow.

If that God give, the deil daurna reave (bereave).

If the deil were dead, folk would do little for God’s sake.

If the doctor cures, the sun sees it; if he kills, the earth hides it.

If ye believe a’ ye hear, ye may eat a’ ye see.

If you dinna see the bottom, don’t wade—i.e., don’t venture, if you can’t see your way.

Ilka (every) blade o’ grass keps (catches) it ain drap o’ dew.

Ilka dog has his day.

Ill bairns are best heard at hame.

Ill hearing mak’s ill rehearsing.

It is better to be the head o’ the commonalty than the tail o’ the gentry.

It’s a gude heart that says nae ill, but a better that thinks nane.

It’s a sair field where a’s slain.

It’s an ill wind that blaws naebody gude.

It’s ill talking between a full man and a fasting.

It’s lang ere the devil dee by the dyke-side.

It’s no tint (lost) that a friend gets.

It’s sin, and no poverty, that maks a man miserable.

Jeddart justice: First hang a man, and syne (then) try him.

Joke at your leisure; ye kenna wha may jibe yoursel’.

Jouk and let the jaw (or jaup) gae by—i.e., duck and let the dash of dirty water pass over you.

Just enou’, and nae mair, like Janet Howie’s shearers’ meat.

Keep a thing seven years, and you find a use for it.

Keep oot o’ his company wha cracks o’ his cheatery—i.e., boasts of cunning.

Keep your ain fish guts for your ain seamaws—i.e., what you don’t need yourselves for your own friends.

Keep your breath to cool your own crowdie (cold stirabout)—i.e., till you can use it to some purpose.

Keep your gab steeket (mouth shut) when ye kenna (know not) your company.

Keep your mouth shut and your een open.

Ken when to spend, and when to spare, and when to buy, and you’ll ne’er be bare.

Ken yoursel’, and your neebours winna mistak’ you.

Kindness canna aye lie on ae side o’ the hoose.

Kindness comes o’ will; it canna be coft (bought).

Kindness overcomes a’ dislike.

Kindness will creep whaur it canna gang.

Kings and bears aft worry their keepers.

Kings hae long lugs (ears).

Kings’ caff (chaff) is better than ither folk’s corn—i.e., perquisites in his service are better than the wages others give.

Kings’ cheese gangs half awa’ in parings—i.e., in the expense of collecting it.

Kythe (appear) in your ain colours, that folk may ken ye.

Lang ill, soon weel.

Lasses and glasses are brittle wares.

Laugh at leisure; ye may greet (weep) ere nicht.

Law licks up a’.

Law’s costly; tak’ a pint and ’gree.

Leal heart leed never.

Learn you a bad habit, an’ ye’ll ca’d a custom.

Learn young, learn fair; / Learn auld, learn mair.

Leave Ben Lomond where it stands.

Leave the court ere the court leave you.

Let ae deil ding (beat) anither.

Let him tak’ his fling, and find oot his ain wecht (weight).

Let ilka ane soop (sweep) before his ain door.

Let May be oot (out) before you cast a cloot (a piece of clothing).

Let sleeping dogs lie.

Let the tow (rope) gang wi’ the bucket.

Leuk twice or ye loup ance—i.e., look twice before you leap once.

Life without a freend is death wi’ a witness.

Light suppers mak’ lang life.

Like blude, like gude, like age, mak’ the happy marriage.

Lippen to (trust) me, but look to yoursel’.

Listen at a hole, and ye’ll hear news o’ yoursel’.

Little gear, less care.

Little odds between a feast and a fu’ wame (stomach).

Love and light winna hide.

Love is as warm among cottars as courtiers.

Love ower het (hot) soon cools.

Love thinks nae ill, envy speaks nae gude.

Maidens’ bairns and bachelors’ wives are aye weel bred.

Mair by luck than gude guiding (management).

Marry for love and work for siller.

Meikle crack fills nae sack.

Mony an honest man needs that hasna the face to seek it.

Mony ane speirs the gate (inquires the way) they ken fu’ weel.

Mony kinsfolk, but few freends.

Nae butter ’ll stick to my bread, i.e., no good fortune ever comes my way.

Nae freen’ like the penny.

Nae fules like auld fules.

Nae man can be happy without a friend, nor be sure of him till he’s unhappy.

Nae man can live at peace unless his neighbours let him.

Nae man can mak’ his ain hap (destiny).

Nae man can thrive unless his wife will let him.

Nae man has a tack (lease) o’ his life.

Nae man is wise at a’ times, nor wise on a’ things.

Nae wonder ye’re auld like; ilka thing fashes (bothers) ye.

Naething is a man’s truly but what he cometh by duly.

Naething is got without pains but an ill name.

Naething is got without pains except dirt and long nails.

Naething is ill said if it’s no ill ta’en.

Nane are so weel but they hope to be better.

Ne’er let your gear owergang ye—i.e., never let your wealth get the better of you.

Ne’er put a sword in a wud man’s (a madman’s) hand.

Ne’er tak’ a wife till ye ken what to do wi’ her.

Ne’er trust muckle to an auld enemy or a new freend.

Nearer the kirk the farther frae grace.

Need mak’s an auld wife trot.

Needs must when the devil drives.

Never is a lang term.

Next to nae wife, a gude wife is the best.

Night is the mither (mother) of thoughts.

Now is now, and Yule’s in winter.

Nowadays truth is news.

Patience wi’ poverty is a man’s best remedy.

Perfect love canna be without equality.

Pith’s gude at a’ play but threadin’ o’ needles.

Plenty makes dainty.

Poets and painters ha’e leave to lee.

Poor folk hae neither ony kindred nor ony freends.

Poor folk seek meat for their stomachs, and rich folks stomachs for their meat.

Poor folks are glad of porridge.

Poortith (poverty) is better than pride.

Poverty is the mither (mother) o’ a’ arts.

Prayer and practice is good rhyme.

Pride and grace ne’er dwell in ae place.

Pride never leaves its master till he gets a fa’.

Put a stout heart to a stey (steep) brae.

Put not all your crocks on one shelf.

Quey (female) calfs are dear veal.

Quick at meat, quick at work—i.e., at that kind of work.

Quietness is best.

Raise nae mair deils than ye’re able to lay.

Reckless youth maks ruefu’ age.

Riches are got wi’ pain, kept wi’ care, and tint (lost) wi’ grief.

Riches have made mair men covetous than covetousness has made men rich.

Richt wrangs nae man.

Rule youth weel and age will rule itsel’.

Seein’s believin’, but feelin’s the naked truth.

Send a fool to France, and he’ll come a fool back.

Send your son to Ayr; if he did weel here, he’ll do weel there.

Set a stout heart to a stey (steep) brae.

Sins and debts are aye mair than we think them.

Sma’ fish are better than nane.

Speak o’ the deil and he’ll appear.

Take time in time, ere time be tint (lost).

The buke o’ May-bees is very braid.

The evening brings a’ hame.

The king may gang the cadger’s gate—i.e., may one day need his help.

There are nae fules like auld fules.

Thou wouldst do little for God if the devil were dead.

Want o’ wit is waur than want o’ siller.

Wealth makes wit waver.

Weel is that weel does.

Were it no for hope the heart wad break.

What may be dune at ony time will be dune at nae time.

What’s nane o’ my profit will be nane o’ my peril.

What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine’s my ain.

When bairns are young they gar their parents’ heads ache; when they are auld they make their hearts break.

When friends meet hearts warm.

When ilka ane gets his ain, the thief will get the widdie (gallows).

When love cools our fauts are seen.

When the man’s fire and the wife’s tow, in comes the deil and blaws it in a lowe (flame).

When the will’s ready the feet’s licht.

When you see a woman paint, your heart needna faint.

Where there’s muckle courtesy there’s little kindness.

Where vice is, vengeance follows.

Who never climbs will never fa’.

Words are but wind, but seein’s believin’.

Ye hae a stalk o’ carl-hemp in you.