Scotticisms, Vulgar Anglicisms, and Grammatical Improprieties Corrected, With Reasons for the Corrections
Author(s): Mitchell, Hugh
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WITH REASONS FOR THE CORRECTIONS
being a COLLECTION upon a NEW PLAN
Alphabetically arranged, and adapted to the uſe of Academies,
Men of Buſineſs, and Private Families
By HUGH MITCHELL, A. M.
MASTER OF THE ENGLISH AND FRENCH ACADEMY.
PRINTED BY FALCONER & WILLISON,
FOR THE AUTHOR
And ſold by the Bookſellers in Town and Country.
Page 45. line 12. inſtead of if it means, read if it
mean. Page 47. line 13. the firſt indeed ſhould be in
Italics. Page 77. line 1. read ſparſe inſtead of ſparce.
Page 85. line 4. from the bottom, leave out an before
THE education of youth, in Scotland, generally
ends where it ought to begin.
Boys are ſent to the Latin School not only
before they are acquainted with the grammatical
principles of their own language,
but even before they can read it either with
accuracy or eaſe. Having ſpent eight or
ten years in ſtoring their memories with
Latin and Greek words, and in getting a
ſuperficial knowledge of the philoſophy
which is taught in the Univerſities, they
flatter themſelves that they have received a
Theſe learned ſtriplings, however, when
they become capable of ſound reflection,
readily diſcover, that the labour they have
beſtowed is almoſt as unprofitable as it has
been unpleaſant. Sequeſtered from the
world for ſo great a length of time, and
but little accuſtomed to its manners, habits
and affairs, they have the mortification to
find themſelves better qualified for the caverns
of a wilderneſs than for the ſociety of
They have learned a great deal, it is true,
but they have ſtill to learn that which is
moſt eſſential, and which, in reality, is the
only ſolid foundation of every other branch
of Literature ; and it will be fortunate, if, at
laſt, they ſhall diſcover this important truth;
That, to an Engliſhman, the Engliſh language
is of more value than all the other
languages in the world, dead or living, taken
together. The reaſon is obvious. This
alone is the language in which an Engliſhman
thinks, and arranges his thoughts, and
ſpeaks, and tranſacttts the affairs of life.
No reflection is here intended againſt the
uſefulneſs of a claſſical education; the reflection
regards only the manner in which
it is conducted. That the order of nature
has been perverted, and that the dictates
of common ſenſe have been violated by the
practice which has long obtained, and continues
to obtain, muſt be evident to every
enlightened man. Let Parents and Teachers
return to the path which has been ſo
long abandoned. Let them return to nature.
Let them liſten to her voice, and reſpect
her counſels. Let a ſure baſis be laid
for the ſuperſtructure intended to be raiſed
upon it.Let boys be thoroughly initiated
in the grammatical principles of their own
tongue, and they will not only proſecute
other ſtudies with more alacrity, pleaſure
and eaſe; but they will make greater proficiency
in two, than otherwiſe they can do
in three years.
If, to begin the grammar of the Engliſh
and Latin, at the ſame time, be a taſk too
hard for the generality of grown perſons,
how much more ſevere muſt it be for boys
whoſe application is often unſteady, and.
whoſe underſtandings are immature? Juſtice
and mercy are duties which parents owe
their children. But where is the juſtice or
the mercy in putting boys to learn two,
things at once, each of which is ſufficicent
to engroſs all their time and application?
Where is the juſtice or the mercy in allowing
them to be, almoſt everyday, threatened
or whipped into an attempt of impoſſibilities?
Early and deep-rooted antipathies are not
ſoon nor eafily conquered; and it is a well
known fact, that ſome, who have been thus
treated, have contracted ſo ſtrong an averſion
to Literature of every kind, that even
the moſt complete conviction of its utility
has never been able to ſubdue.*
* Upon the ſubject before us, Biſhop Lowth, in the
preface to his Engliſh Grammar, makes the following
excellent observations. "Univerſal Grammar cannot
"be taught abſtractedly: it muſt be done with reference
"to ſome Language already known; in which the terms
"are to be explained, and the rules exemplified. The
"learner is ſuppofed to be unacquainted•with all, but
his native tongue; and in what other, conſiſtently
"with reafon and common ſenſe, can you go about to
"explain it to him? When he has a competent know"ledge
of the main principles of Grammar: in general,
"exemplified in his own Language; he then will apA
perſuaſion that ſomething might yet
be done, to reconcile Parents and Teachers
to that plan of education which reaſon has
pointed out, has given birth to the following
Compilation. In drawing it up, the
"ply himſeif with great advantage to the ftudy of any
"other. To enter at once upon the Science of Gram"mar,
and the ſtudy of a foreign Language, is to en"counter
two difficulties together, each of which would
"be much leſſened by being taken ſeparately and in its
"proper order. For theſe plain reaſons, a competent
"grammatical knowledge of our own language is the
"true foundation, upon which all Literature, properly
"ſo called, ought to be raiſed. If this method were
"adopted in our Schools; if children were firſt taught
" the common principles of Grammar, by ſome ſhort
"and clear Syſtem of Engiſh Grammar, which happily
by its ſimplicity and facility is perhaps fitter than that
"of any other language for ſuch a purpoſe; they would
"have ſome notion of what they were going about,
"when they ſhould enter into the Latin Grammar;
would hardly,be engaged ſo many years, as they
"now are, in that moſt irkſome and difficult part of
"literature, with ſo much labour of the memory, and
"with ſo little aſſiſtance of the underſtanding."
Compiler has availed himſelf of every thing
he could find, ſuited to his purpoſe, in productions
of the ſame kind; although, upon
peruſal, it will appear, that a very conſidenable,
and, it is preſumed, not the leaſt uſeful
proportion, both of examples and corrections,
is entirely his own.
In the department of Scotticiſms, he has
judged it proper, for obvious reaſons, altogether
to omit thoſe nurnberleſs uncouth
Vulgariſms which are peculiar to the lower
claſs of people in Scotland. He has confined
himſelf to ſuch colloquial words
and phraſes, as prevail among the middle
claſs, and, into which, through inadvertence,
even thoſe who have had a liberal education,
are ſometimes apt to fall.
This Collection was deſigned chiefly as a
Supplement to the Engliſh Grammars which
are taught in Scotland; and, therefore, to
peruſe it with advantage, preſuppoſes a
competent knowledge, at leaſt, of the principles
of Grammar. Vulgar words and
phraſes muſt be known to be ſo before they
can be avoided; and the Compiler has long
been of opinion, that a copious and well
ſelected liſt of ſuch words and phraſes with
their corrections,either prefixed or ſubjoined
to Engliſh Grammars, would, in this
country, be a great improvement.
To thoſe Teachers who may chuſe to introduce
this Collection into their Schools,
he takes the liberty of recommending the
following manner of uſing it. In the firſt
courſe, boys might confine themfelves entirely
to the Scotticiſms and Vulgar Angliciſms;
and in the laſt, they might paſs over theſe,
and confine themſelves entirely to the Grammatical
Improprieties. This might be done
once or twice every week, without interfering
materially with their other ſtudies. It
would be an agreeable and uſeful variety;
and, under the conduct of ſkilful Teachers,
boys might become tolerable proficients in
the courſe of four and twenty or thirty leſſons.
Thoſe whoſe leiſure permits and whoſe
inclination leads them to cultivate this
branch of Literature, will, no doubt, diſcover
ſeveral miſtakes and inaccuracies,
which, though obvious to them, may yet
have eſcaped the Compiler's obſervation.
The friendly communications of ſuch men,
refpecting either the plan or the execution
of the following little work, will be thankfully
received and carefully attended to.
Neceſſary to be obſerved in peruſing the following Compilation.
The faulty word or phrafe comes firſt in each
paragraph, is printed in Italic characters, and
cloſes with a full ſtop. The correction immediately
follows, and is diſtinguiſhed from the faulty
word or phraſe, by a daſh before and another after
it. In ſome inſtances, it was found neceſſary to
depart from this rule, but a ſlight peruſal will prevent
the Reader from falling into any miſtakes.
In thoſe examples, where the Reaſons for the Corrections
are obvious, or not difficult, the Reaſons
have been omitted.
The Abbreviations are as follow. Sc. means
Scotticiſm. Sc. L. Term or phraſe in Scotch
Law. Vulg. Eng. Vulgar Engliſh or Angliciſm.
Gall. Galliciſm or French idiom. Thoſe phrafes,
which are not diſtinguiſhed by abbreviations, are,
for the moſt part, Grammatical Improprieties.
VULGAR ANGLICISMS, &c.
IT is abſolutely impoſſible — It is impoſſible. —
Abſolutely is redundant.Abſolutely means completely.
Impoſſibilities admit not of degrees.
All impoſſibilities are equally abſolute. "It is
almoſt impoiſſible," is, for the ſame reaſons, an
exceptionable phraſe. See, merely, ſimply, utterly.'
What ails him? Sc. — What is the matter with
What ails him at it? Sc. — What are his objections
to it? —
He has been ailing for ſome time; Vulg. Eng.
— Sickly; in bad health. —
It is ten years ago ſince he died. This ſeems
to be a Galliciſm. "Il-y-a dix ans qu'il èſt
mort." It ought to be — It is ten years ſince he
died, or, he died ten years ago. —
I aſked at him; Sc. — I aſked of him; I aſked
him — At never means of.
The prepoſition amongst ſeems, even by correct
writers, to be uſed indiſcriminately before a
vowel or a conſonant. A good ear, however,
is hurt with amongst before a conſonant, or
double initial conſonants; nor is the pronunciation
leſs painful to the organs of ſpeech,
than diſguſtful to the ear. This can eaſily be
remedied by uſing amongst before words beginning
with a vowel, or h mute; and among, before
words beginning with a conſonant; as,
amongst us; amongst honourable men; among brethren.
The ſame remarks are applicable to
while, whilſt; amid, amidſt.
I allege it is ſo; Sc. — I ſuppoſe; I conjecture.
— To allege, in Engliſh, is to affirm, to declare,
or to plead an excuſe.
Aid-de-camps ; Sc. — Aids-de-camp. — See Conſin-germans.
He transferred the eſtate to him allenarly;
Sc. — The eſtate ſolely to him.
It cannot be wondered at, that &c. A
harſh combination. It ought to be — It is no
wonder that; or, we need not wonder that, &c. —
Anent this matter; Sc. — In regard to, with
regard to, concerning. —
I have paid the taylor's account; Sc. — Bill. —
Account for Bill, is ſometimes uſed by Shakeſpeare;
but account, in this ſenſe, is now become
As, in the following, and in ſimilar ſentences,
is improperly uſed inſtead of that, in which.
"There was ſomething ſo amiable, and yet
"ſo piercing in his looks as it inſpired one at
"once with love and terror."—That it inſpired.—
"In the order, as they lie in the preface." —
In the order, in which.—
Almoſt nothing. — Very little; little or nothing.
Almoſt never. — Very ſeldom, ſeldom or never.
Annual rent; Sc:. — Intereſt, annual intereft. —
It is more common to ſay, the rent of land; the
intereſt of money.
He came again him; Iriſh and vulg. Eng. —
The man who has no rule over his own ſpirit
poſſeſſes no antidote againſt poiſons of any ſort.
He lies open to every inſurrection of ill-humour,
and every gale of diſtreſs. Whereas he who is
employed in regulating his mind, is making proviſion
againſt all the accidents of life. He is erecting
a fortreſs into which, in the day of ſorrow,
he can retreat with ſatisfaction. — The man
who has no rule over his own ſpirit, poſſeſſes
defence againſt dangers of any ſort. He lies
open to every infurrection of ill-humour, and
every invaſion of diſtreſs. Whereas he who is
employed in regulating his mind, is making proviſion
againft all the accidents of life. He is erecting
a fortreſs into which, in the day of danger,
he can retreat with ſafety. — In the former,
though the imagery is rich, yet the figures are
diftorted. It is a rule, in figurative language, that
the parts ſhould exactly correſpond to one another.
I have nothing ado;; Sc. — To do. — Ado is a
noun, and ſignifies buſineſs, buſtle, difficulty.
"Much ado about nothing," is Engliſh: but we
cannot ſay, "I have nothing buſineſs, I have no"thing
To appreciate. — To appraiſe. — Some Scotch
people pronounce the latter, as if it were written
He ſtuck among the ſnow, among the clay. —
In the ſnow, in the clay. — Among, in good Engliſh,
relates to that which may be numbered.
Arles; Sc. — Earneſt. — Money given in token
that a bargain is ratified.
I loſt altogether, in money and jewels, about
four thouſand pounds. — In all. — Altogether means
completely, without limitation or exception.
To adduce evidence; Sc. L. — To bring, to produce
He was raiſed to the dignity of a Baronet. —
The dignity of Baronet. — Unbecoming the dignity
of a Baronet, is Engliſh.
He is a better ſoldier than a Scholar. — Than
Agreeable to order; conformable to your requeſt,
I have ſent you &c. — Agreeably; conformably*.
— The uſing of the adjective inſlead
of the adverb is a very common error. No body
ſays, "He acted prudent. He ſpoke wiſe:" and
-yet each of theſe is as good as, "Agreeable to
order; conformable to your requeſt, I have ſent
All his friends and acquaintances. — Acquaintance.
— At leaſt, few good writers, now, uſe the
An hoſt, an houſe, an huſband, an hundred,
an herald — A hoſt, a houſe, &c. — Where initial
h ought to be pronounced, it is improper to
write an inſtead of a. Yet this impropriety often
occurs in the Spectator, and ſometimes in
later productions of genius and taſte. For the
ſame reaſon, the following and ſimilar aſſociations
are incorrect: "A child of an year old.
* Adverbs ending with ly are generally formed from adjectives.
They ſhow how, that is, in what manner, a perſon or
thing is, acts or ſuffers: Hence, they have been called adverbs
An youth of brilliant talents." It ſhould be, — A
child of a year old. A youth &c. —
In the following, and in ſentences of ſimilar
conſtruction, the article is too far ſeparated from
the noun to which it belongs. "I never rode ſo
ill a going horſe. The buſineſs was of a quite
contrary nature." Both vulg. Eng. Better
thus. — I never rode ſo ill going a horſe. The
buſineſs was of quite a contrary nature. —
Half an hour after ten ; Sc. — Half an hour
paſt ten, half paſt ten. — Yet Gibbons, in his
Letters, frequently uſes after inſtead of paſt.
Averſe to, averſe from; are now deemed equally
good: though the latter phraſe is certainly more
analogous to the Latin word whence averſe is derived.
The attempt, however laudable, was found to
be impracticable. — The buſineſs, however laudable
the attempt, was found to be impracticable.
— One may attempt what is not practicable.
We began at here, and they left off at there. —
Scotch and Iriſh. — We began here, and left
off there. — See here.
120 yds. a 4s. pr. yard. — 120 yards at 4s. a
yard. — Words of one ſyllable cannot be abbreviated,
becauſe they cannot be divided: and yard,
at, and per are monoſyllables. A man muſt
be much hurried, indeed, when he is obliged to
begin his letter with "Dr. Sr." inſtead of,
"Dear Sir," and to conclude it with, I am
your mo: obedient, humble ſervant," inflead of,
"I am your moſt obedient," &c. The Latin
prepoſition per, ſhould be diſmiſſed as an impertinent
intruder, and a put in its place. — See ultimo.
I, thou, he, ſhe, we, they behoved to depart. —
It behoved me, thee, him, her, us, them to depart.
— To behove is always monoperſonal, and
muſt have it before it. The verb is now uſed
chiefly in the ſolemn ſtyle. In familiar diſcourſe,
and in epiſtolary writing, its place may be ſupplied
by was obliged. "I was obliged, thou waſt.
I would die before I would break my word;
Sc. — Rather than break. —
Man and Beaſt ſometimes comprehend the
whole animal creation. "That there may be
food for "Man and Beaſt." Upon occaſions,
Beaſt denotes an animal diſtinguiſhed from
Man, fiſhes, inſects and birds. In Scotland, Beaſt
is frequently applied to birds, inſects and fiſhes;
as, "The cock is a noiſy beaſt; the ſpider is a
"loathſome beaſt; the shark is a terrible beaſt."
— Better; Animal, or creature, inſtead of beaſt,
in theſe, and in ſimilar phraſes.
Give me a bit bread, a bit paper; Sc .— A bit of
bread, a bit of paper. —
The beſt of the two; nonſenſe. In comparing
only two objects, the comparative degree ought
to be uſed; in comparing three or more, the ſuperlative:
as, "The better of the two, the beſt
"of the three, the beſt of the four," &c.
And now, O Lord God, thy words be true. —
Are true. — Be, in the indicative, is now become
He was invited to Mr. G.'s burial; Sc. — Funeral.
— The former means the act of burying;
the latter, the pomp or proceſſion with which the
dead are carried.
I have been badly for ſome time; Sc. — In bad
health, ill, ſickly. —
This was done very bad; Vulg. Eng. — Badly.;
— See agreeable.
There is mutton on the by-table; Sc — Sideboard.
Three months by-gone; Sc. — Three months
Butter and bread; cheeſe and bread;; Sc. — Bread
and butter; bread and cheeſe. — Bread often
means ſubſiſtence in general; and therefore in
theſe, and in all ſimilar phraſes, bread has the
precedency. "Put me, I pray thee, into one of
"the prieſts' offices, that I may eat a piece of
"bread;" that is, "That I may live comfort"ably."
If, inftead of a piece of bread, he had
aſked a bottle of milk, or a comb of honey, the petitioner
would have been laughed at, or his petition
He bid me go there; Vulg. Eng. — He bade me
go thither. — The preſent, inſtead of the paſt time,
is an impropriety which we frequently meet with
in the Spectator. Parnell, in his Hermit, has
fallen into it, no fewer than three times!
Nature, in ſilence, bid the world repoſe.
A ready warning bid them part in peace.
He ſpoke; and bid the welcome table ſpread. —
Bade inſtead of bid in each of theſe lines. —
But, in the following, and the like phrafes, is
improperly uſed inftead of that, than.
"'Tis ten to one but it will happen." — That it
will happen. —
"The full moon was no ſooner up, and ſhin"ing
in all its brightneſs, but he opened the gates
"of paradiſe." — Than he opened. —
"The reaſon of my going to live in the coun"try
is, becauſe I have had bad health." — The
reaſon of my going to the country is that I have
had bad health; or, my having had bad health. —
The clock, the watch, is behind, before ; Sc. — Slow, faſt. —
The prepoſitions below and under are not ſtrictly
ſynonymous. Below means lower in place,
inferior in excellence, unworthy of. — Under has
ſeveral meanings; one of which is beneath, ſo as
to be covered or hidden. ""He found the caſket
"below the bed. He hid his gold below the
"ground;" are therefore improper phraſes. Better
— Under the bed; under ground.
He arrived behind the time. — Too late, after the
time. — Behind generally relates to place.
Between and among cannot be uſed indiſcriminately.
Between, ought to be uſed when only
two perſons or things are ſpoken of; among, when
we ſpeak of more than two; as,"The money"was divided between two, and the jewels among
The better ſort; the better ſort of people;* a groſs
abuſe of language. Phraſes, in their uſual acceptation,
moſt degrading to human nature, and
current only where man never knew his rights,
or never aſſerted them. The better ſort, when
we ſpeak of rational creatures, implies a compariſon
in regard only to public utility and moral excellence;
and therefore is not neceſſarily connected
with a laced coat and five thouſand pounds
* It were eaſy to convince any one who is willing to make
ufe of his reaſ-on, that, in the Engliſh tongue, there are, at
leaſt, five hundred words and phraſes which can have no claim
to a place in the language of man.
a-year. Phraſes, ſimilar to the above-mentioned,
have, probably, found their way into every language.
It is not preſumed to ſuggeſt any other
correction than that of Pope:
"WORTH makes the MAN, and want of it,
It is bleeding; Sc. — It bleeds. — He has been
blooded. — Bled. —
Broil it on the brander; Sc. — Gridiron. —
For thy ſake, I have born reproach. — Borne.—
Born and borne, are, by force, uſed indiſcriminately:
yet they differ as well in meaning, as in pronunciation.
Born, without e, is proper in "She
has born a child." Borne, with e, in "He has
borne the burden and heat of the day." The o in
born takes the ſound of o in God; in borne, it
founds like o in ſole.
To play cards . — To play at cards. — In this
phraſe, and in ſimilar ones, to play is not an active
verb. No body ſays, "to play tennis, bowls,
To caſt up a fault to one; Sc. — To upbraid one
with a fault. —
To caſt out with a perſon; Sc. — To quarrel
with, to be at variance with. — To fall out with a
perfon, is Engliſh, but it is far from being elegant.
I ſhall not ſee him for a twelve month to come.
— I ſhall not ſee him for a twelve month. — The
verb ſee, being in the future, makes to come ſuperfluous.
— See paſt
A pound, a ſtone, of candle; Sc. — Candles. —
He made me the compliment of a ſilver ſnuffbox;
Sc. — The preſent. — A compliment is the act
or expreſſion of civility; a preſent is a gift.
At length Eraſmus, that great injur'd name,
(The glory of the prieſthood, and the ſhame,)
Curb'd the wild torrent of a barb'rous age,
And drove thoſe holy Vandals off the ſtage. —
Stemm'd the wild torrent. — We ſtem the torrent,
and curb the ſteed. — See antidote.
"I cannot walk no further; I cannot eat no more,"
are phraſes very common among the lower claſs
of people in Scotland. The firſt is the ſame as,
"I can walk ſome further" the laſt, the ſame as,
"I can eat ſome more." In the Engliſh language,
two negatives make an affirmative.
I would not do it on, or for, any conſideration. —
I would not do it on any account. — Hooker
ſometimes uſes conſideration for account; but, in
this ſenſe, it ſeems now to have become obſolete.
The Synod being conſtiute; Sc. and Vulg.
Eng. — Conſtituted. — Was, being, been, have, having
and had, ought generally to be followed by
the paft participle; not by the paſt of the indicative.
This rule has, in very many inſtances, been
tranſgreſſed even by good writers.*
To codeſcend upon the principal facts; Sc. L.
— To ſpecify, to ſtate. —
* I have choſe; Locke. — Choſen. — He would have ſpoke; Milton.
— Spoken. — The ſun has roſe; Swift. — Riſen. Mr Miſſon
has wrote; Addiſon. — Written. — Have ſprang; Atterbury. —
Sprung.— Have ran; Pope. — Run. — Have aroſe; Dryden.—
Ariſen. — Has been ſhook; Bolingbroke. — Shaken. — Has befell;
Gay. — Befallen. — Have took; Shakeſpeare. — Taken. — No body
ſays, "To be bite; I have draw; thou hadſt ſaw; he had been.
"ſlew; they had gave:" yet each of theſe is as good as any of
the phraſes abovementioned.
He and I are couiſin-germans; Sc. — Couſins-german.
— We ſhould likewiſe ſay, courts martial,
not court martials. In theſe phraſes, German and
Martial are adjectives; and therefore have no
To crave a man for a debt; Sc. — To dun a
man, to demand payment of him — To crave a
debt, to crave payment, is Engliſh.
The work was execute conform to the plan; Sc.
— Was executed conformably. — See conſtitute,
Cut out your hair and get a wig. — Cut off your
hair. — The cutting out of one's hair ſuggeſts a
moſt painful operation; nor could it be effectually
done without the aid of a ſcalping knife.
He is cripple; Sc. — Lame. — Cripple is ſometimes
a noun, but never an adjective.
To cognoſce a cauſe; Sc. L. — To take cognizance
I cauſed him to do it; Sc. — I made him do it. —
Chimney, in England, is the fire place, or the
paſſage for the ſmoke; but never means, as in
Scotland, the grate or frame that holds the fire.
To compete; Sc. — To contend, to be a competitor.
— Competition is Engliſh.
Cautioner; Sc. — Caution. — Surety. — Bail. —
Corn the horſes; Sc. — Feed. — To corn, is to
ſprinkle with ſalt.
Complainer; Sc. L. — Complainant, Plaintiff. —
A complainant is one who begins a law-ſuit. A
complainer, in Engliſh, is a murmurer, one not ſatisfied
with his condition.
Give me a clean plate. — Give me a plate. —
The former implies the apprehenſion, that a plate
may be brought to table which is not clean. In
Scotland, the phraſe is very common. The French
ſay, "Donnez nous dès aſſièttes blanches."
A coarſe day; coarſe, weather; Sc. — Bad. — Yet
we may ſay, "A fine day," and "fine weather."
— See note under pretty.
Cloſe the door; Sc. — Shut. — Cloſe the gate, is
proper; becauſe gate means a two leaved or double
Was you crying on me? — Were you calling on
me? — In the former, was you, is Scotch and vulgar
Engliſh; and crying, a Scotticiſm.
In this our day of proof, our land of hope,
The good man has his clouds that intervene;
Clouds that may dim his ſublunary day,
But cannot conquer. — Darken. —
"Clouds conquering a ſublunary day," is evidently
a diſtorted figure. — See antidote.
To depone, (to make oath.) Sc. L. — To depoſe.
— The deponent is Englifh. Some Scotch
lawyers pronounce deponent as if it were accented
on the firſt ſyllable.
The defender ; Sc. L. — The defendant. —
Diſpoſition; Sc. L. — Conveyance. —
The King has been pleaſed to confer on them
the title of Dukes. — The title of Duke. —
When a man does not hear well, the Scotch
think it genteel to call him dull rather than deaf.
But dull means ſtupid. Yet "dull of hearing"
He diſcharged me from entering his houſe; Sc.
— He forbade me to enter his houſe. —
He is diſcreet to every body; Sc. — Civil. — Diſcreet,
means prudent; and diſcretion, prudence.
To draw the table; Sc. — To take away, to
clear the table. —
Debitor; Sc. — Debtor. — Debit me with it. —
Put it to my account. —
To demit an office; Sc. — To reſign. — Demiſſion.
— Reſignation. — To demit, in Engliſh, is to
depreſs; demiſſion is degradation.
The enemy was defeat; Sc. and Vulg. Eng. —
Defeated. — See conſtitute.
Direct to me at Mr. Williamſon's, merchant,
Edinburgh. — Addreſs. —
After deducing the ſum paid; Sc. — After deducting,
or, after having deducted. —
To deburſe money; Sc. — To diſburſe. — Deburſement.
— Diſburſement. —
Give me a drink of beer; Sc. — Give me a
draught of beer. — Drink, when uſed as a noun,
means "liquor of any particular kind;" as, wine,
rum, gin, &c. Draught means "the act of drinking,"
or, a quantity of liquor drunk at "once."
Draught inſtead of drink, ſhould be uſed in the
above faulty phraſe and in all ſimilar ones; as,
"a draught of beer, a draught of wine," &c.
He dare not do it; Sc. and Vulg. Eng. — He
dares not do it. —
A title, given to a man beſides his name and
ſurname, ſhewing his eſtate, degree, occupation
and place of reſidence, is, in Scotland, called his
deſignation; in England, his addition. "His name
"is Mr. Grant; his addition, merchant in Liver"pool."
Deſuetude ; Sc. L. — Diſuſe. —
To decern; Sc. L. — To decree. — Decreet. —
Decree, deciſion. — Decreet, like deponent, is, by
many Scotch people, pronounced as if the accent
were on the firſt ſyllable.
An oaken deal; Sc. — A plank. — Deals are made
of fir, not of oak.
Doer; Sc. L. — Agent. — But doer, in this ſenſe,
is likely ſoon to go into diſuſe.
Sheriff-depute; Sc. — Deputy-Sheriff. —
Galileo diſcovered the teleſcope; Hervey invented
the circulation of the blood. — Galileo invented
the teleſcope; Hervey diſcovered &c. —
Their intereſts were dependent upon, and inſeparably
connected with, each other. — Their intereſts
were inſeparably connected with each other.
— If the intereſts of more than two perſons be
meant, one another would be better than each other.
He ſlipped a foot, and fell down. — His foot
ſlipped, and he fell. — To fall down, ſeems to be
as bad as to aſcend up. Yet both are ſometimes
uſed by good writers.
As the diſtributive pronominal adjectives each,
either, every one, muſt agree with their verbs and
nouns in the ſingular number only, the following,
and the like ſentences, are faulty.
"Each of theſe experiments have ſomething
"peculiar in them." — Each of theſe experiments
has ſomething peculiar in it.—
"It is requiſite, that the language of an heroic
"poem ſhould be both perſpicuous and ſublime.
"In proportion as either of theſe two qualities are
"wanting, the language is imperfect." — In proportion
as either of theſe two qualities is wanting
— Inſtead of an heroic &c. it ſhould be a heroic.
"It is obſervabie that every one of the letters
"bear date after his baniſhment, and contain a
"complete narrative of all his ſtory afterwards."
— Bears — contains.—
Every is fometimes improperly uſed inſtead of
each. "We ſhould ſee the ſame concatenation
"and ſubſerviency, the ſame neceſſity and uſeful"neſs,
the ſame beauty and harmony in all and
"every of its parts, as what we diſcover in the
"body of every ſingle animal." — In all and each
of its parts. —
Each other and one another ought not to be uſed
indiſcriminately. The former, ſhould be uſed
only when we fpeak of two perſons or things;
the latter, when we ſpeak of more than two. If
this diſtinction be juſt, the following, and ſimilar
ſentences are improper. "James and John are
"perpetually quarreling with one another." "It
"is the duty of Chriſtians to love each other''
"The ſeveral members muſt be ſo agreeably unit"ed,
as mutually to reflect beauty upon each
"other." — See between, among.
Enough and enow are not ſynonvmous. Enough
relates to quantity, which is ſingular, and enow, to
number, which is plural. "I think," ſays Addiſon,
"there are at Rome enow modern works of
"architecture." This diſtinction, though proper,
is not generally attended to.
Thoſe of the clergy, whoſe income is leſs than
a hundred pounds a year, have been exeemed from
the hair-powder tax; Sc. — Exempted.
To except to, to except againſt, ſeem now to be
To extinguiſh a debt; Sc. — To pay it off gradually.
— To extinguiſh a bond. — To cancel. —
It cannot be evited; Sc. — Avoided, ſhunned. —
She eat little yeſterday, and has eat nothing today;
Vulg. Eng. — She ate little yeſterday, and
has eaten nothing to-day. — The former is as bad
as, "She drinks little yeſterday, and has drink
In no event. — In no caſe.—
It is equally the ſame; Sc. and Vulg. Eng.—
It is the ſame, it is all one.—
Either, in the following, and the like expreſſions,
is improperly uſed instead of each, both.
"The King of Iſrael, and Jehoſhaphat, ſat
either of them on his throne." — Each of them. —
"On either ſide of the throne." — On each ſide,
on both ſides.—
Experimental eſſays. — Tracts. — The former
ſeems to be the ſame as, "Experimental experiments."
To engroſs in the minutes. — To enroll in the record.
— To engroſs, in Engliſh, is to copy in a
large hand; and a minute is the firſt draught of
any agreement between parties.
The wheels of the ſpiritual engine have exerted
themſelves with perpetual motion. — Have perpetually
revolved; or, have circulated with perpetual
motion. — See antidote.
His extraordinary beauty was ſuch that it ſtruck
obſervers with admiration. — His beauty was ſuch,
or, ſuch was his beauty, that it ſtruck &c. — Extraordinary
Forenoon and afternoon are nouns. Each of
them is compounded of a noun and prepoſition.
Forenoon is evidently the contraction
of before noon. To ſay, "I ſhall ſee you in
the before noon," ſounds oddly; yet, were we
not accuſtomed to it, "I ſhall ſee you in the
"afternoon," would appear not leſs ſo. Did not
cuſtom conſecrate improprieties, perhaps, "I ſhall
"ſee you before noon," inſtead of "in the forenoon;"
"I ſhall ſee you after-noon," inſtead of,
"In the after-noon," would be an amendment.
The foreſman of the work; Sc. — Foreman, overſeer.
To accuſe one for a crime; Sc. — Of a crime. —
The horſe has fell; Vulg. Eng. — Has fallen. —
He wrote a letter in my favours. — Favour. —
But, "I received your favours (letters) of the
"firſt and third current," is Engliſh.
He is flitted to George's Square; Sc. — He has
moved, or, has removed. — To flit, ſeems properly
applicable to the migration of birds.
Freſh weather; Sc. — Soft, open weather. —
For ordinary; Sc. — Ordinarily, uſually, commonly.
Fleſher; Sc. — Butcher. —
I found him not at home; found him from home.
Ambiguous expreſſions. Though my meaning is,
that he was not at home when I ſought him, or,
that I found him not at all; yet the expreſſions
may imply, that I found him ſome where, but not
at home. They ought to be — I did not find him
at home; he was from home; or, he was not at
A faint; Sc. — A ſwoon, a fainting fit. — Faint
is never a noun.
The enemy fly. — Flee.* — No body ſays, "The
"enemy flew; the enemy have flown;" yet either
of theſe is as good as "The enemy fly;" becauſe
flew and flown, are the preterit and paſt participle
of "to fly." To fly ſeems applicable only to animals
that have wings, except when the verb is
uſed in a figure; as, "He flies," or, "flew into
"a paſſion." If the foregoing remarks be juſt,
the following, and ſimilar ſentences, are faulty:
"They ſhall flee as the eagle that haſteth to
"eat." — Fly. —
"Now haunts the cliff, now traverſes the lawn,
"And flies the hated neighbourhood of Man."
— Flees. —
* In the opinion of Doctor Lowth, to flee, is the ſame as the
Latin fugere; and to fly, the ſame as volare.:
He fevered; he took a fever. — He had a fever,
he was taken, or ſeized, with a fever. —
In Scotland, friend and relation are often uſed
indiſcriminately. But one may be my friend who
is not my relation, and my relation who is not
my friend. A relation is a kinſman or kinſwoman.
A friend is one who has done me good, or wiſhes
to do it.
The altar ſhall be four ſquare — The altar ſhall
be ſquare. — Four is redundant. Every ſqare is
a four-ſided figure.
He ſits at the foot of the table; Sc. — Lower
end. — See head.
I find no pain; Sc. — I feel no pain.—
I feel a ſweet ſmell — I ſmell a ſweet, or, an
agreeable ſmell. — To feel a ſmell ſeems to be as
bad as to ſee a ſound: yet St. John in Rev. i. 12.
ſays, "I turned to ſee the voice that ſpake with
me." St. John loves figurative language; and
perhaps ſome critics may here diſcover a bold
To call for a perſon. — On. — To call for, is to
demand; to call on, is to viſit.
He will be the better for a ſleep. — Of a ſleep.
— The former ſeems to be preferable to the latter.
For, ſometimes means in conſequence of; by means
He is Lord M.'s factor; Sc. — He is Lord M.'s
ſteward. — A factor is an agent in mercantile affairs.
To follow out a plan; Sc. — To carry on, to execute
a plan. —
It is froſt; Sc. — It freezes. —
The froſt is ſlippery; Sc. — The ice is ſlippery
— Froſt is that ſtate of the atmoſphere which
changes water into ice.
A bunch of flowers, is, in Scotland, called a
flower; in England, a noſegay.
Ten minutes from twelve. — Ten minutes to
twelve; or, it wants ten minutes of twelve. —
In Scotland moſs is often called fog. In England,
fog is miſt; and moſs, a kind of vegetable
that grows on trees and ſtones.
From hence; from thence; from whence. From,
in each of theſe phraſes, is ſuperfluous. From
hence, is the ſame as, from from this place, from
from this time, from from this cauſe. From
thence,* the ſame as, from from that place, time,
or cauſe. From whence, the ſame as, from from
what, or which place, time, or cauſe.
He left his fortune to his brother, and, failing
him and his heirs, to his couſin; Sc. L. — In default
of him; or, on failure of him and his heirs. —
I have paid my ſervant his fee. — Wages. —
Fee, in Engliſh, has various meanings; as, gratification,
and ſometimes reward: but never means
wages or ſtated pay for ſervice. Fees, according
to Doctor Johnſon, "are paid to Lawyers, Phyſicians,
and to ſome perſons in office, but not to ſervants."
— See Dictionary. The diſtinction is ſomewhat
invidious. On earth, as in heaven, every
man ought to be rewarded according to the fruit
of his doings.
You would often take him for every thing that
he is not; for a fellow quite ſtupid, for he hears
nothing; for a fool, for he talks to himſelf; for a
proud man, for he looks full upon you, and takes
no notice of your ſaluting him. — You would often
* It may be remarked, that the tranſlators of the Bible have
uſed from thence, at leaſt, one and thirty times.
take him for every thing that he is not — For a
fellow quite ſtupid, becauſe he hears nothing; for
a fool, becauſe he talks to himſelf, &c. — The
uſing of the ſame word in the ſame ſentence, in
different ſenſes, is a great impropriety. For is
ſometimes a prepoſition, and ſometimes a conjunction.
In the foregoing faulty paſſage, it is
uſed thrice as a conjunction, and four times as a
prepoſition. — See ſucceed.
Teaching us that, denying ungodlineſs and
worldly luſts, we ſhould live ſoberly, righteouſly
and godly, in this preſent world. — Piouſly, godlily.
— In the former, the adjective godly is improperly
uſed inſtead of the adverb. If the latter correction
ſeem uncouth to the ear, it is probably
owing to our not being accuſtomed to it. — See
Gentlemanly; Sc. — Gentlemanlike. Gentlemanly
is Engliſh, but is rejected by thoſe who aim at
elegance in compoſition.
The far greateſt part; a phraſe very often improper:
allowable only when a whole is divided
into three or more unequal parts. But when a
whole, or any diviſion of a whole, conſiſts of only
two unequal parts, the phraſe ought to be; the
greater, or, the far greater part. This rule, though
ſtrictly grammatical, is ſometimes violated even
by good writers.
Gear, in England, is furniture, accoutrements,
dreſs; but never means, as in Scotland, wealth
or riches. Addiſon uſes it to fignify dreſs; "I
"long to be in my old plain gear again." The
word, in this ſenſe, is now become antiquated and
General and univerſal are not ſynonymous.
General extends to many, to the moſt; univerſal
extends to all without exception or limitation.
Goat milk, aſs milk; Sc. — Goats' milk, aſſes'
Gravy and ſauce are not the ſame. Gravy is
the juice of meat; ſauce, an artificial compoſition.
The poor boy was ill guided; Sc. — Ill uſed.—
To give one a hat; Sc. — To make a bow to
any one. — To give one a hat, in Scotland, does
not imply, making the preſent of a hat to any perſon,
but only pulling it off as a mark of reſpect.
How ſoon as, or, ſo ſoon as I go home, I will
ſend it. — As ſoon as. — So ſoon as, is Engliſh, in
negative ſentences. "He did not arrive ſo ſoon
as I expected."
Sampſon has been a ſtrong man, or he could
not have done what he did. — Sampſon muſt have
A ſecond-handed book; Sc. — A ſecond-hand
It hurted me. I am much hurted; Scotch
and Iriſh. — Hurt. — To hurt is not a regular
In Scotland, and in ſome parts of the north of
England, a ſheep of a year old is called a hog.
But a hog is a ſwine.
To homologate; Sc. — To ratify, to confirm. —
I have no fault to him. — I find no fault with
In moſt parts of Scotland, an inſtrument to cut
corn is called a hook. — A ſickle. Yet reaping--
hook is Engliſh.
Come here; go there; where ſhall I go? — Hither;
thither; whither. — Here, means in this
place; there, in that place; where, in which, or
what place. Hither, to this place; thither, to that
place; whither, to which or what place.
This here man; that there woman; Vulg. Eng.
This man; that woman. —
I ſold it for half nothing. — I ſold it far under
its value. — Half nothing, if it means any thing,
muſt mean leſs than nothing.
They know how to write as well as him, but
he is a much better grammarian than them. —
"They know how to write as well as he," that is,
"as well as he knows, but he is a much better.
"grammarian than they;" that is "than they
"are." — Though ſhe is not ſo learned as him, ſhe
is as much beloved and reſpected. — Not ſo learned
as he. — The conjunctions as and than, in the
foregoing, and ſimilar ſentences, have no government
of caſes; and therefore the noun or pronoun
muſt agree with the verb, or be governed
by the verb, or by the prepoſition expreſſed or
I had* rather coin my heart,
And drop my blood for drachmas,than to wring
From the hard hands of peaſants their vile traſh,
By any indirection. — I would rather coin. —
A coach and ſix horſe; Sc. Horſes. Horſe,
when plural, means cavalry; as, a "troop of
He went to the country laſt harveſt. — Autumn.
— A good harveſt, meaning a plentiful crop, is
Hard fiſh. — Dried, or, ſalt fiſh. —
He ſits at the head of the table. — Upper end,
* Dr. Lowth has well obſerved, "that the verb had, in the
"common phraſe, I had rather, is not properly uſed either as an
"active or as an auxiliary verb; that, being in the paſt time, it
"cannot in this caſe be properly expreſſive of time preſent; and
"that it is by no means reducible to any grammatical conſtruc"tion.
In truth, it ſeems to have ariſen from a mere miſtake,
"in reſolving the familiar and ambiguous abbreviation, I'd ra"ther,
into I had rather, inſtead of I would rather."
Inkholder. — Inkhorn is Engliſh: yet a ſilver inkhorn
and a golden candle-ſtick ſeem to be an abuſe
of language. Perhaps, in antient times, veſſels
for holding ink had commonly been made of horn.
The Scotch term is the better of the two: becauſe,
of what materials ſoever a veſſel for holding
ink is made, it is very properly called an inkholder.
He implimented his promiſe; Sc. — He fulfilled,
he performed. —
Is he in? — Within. — "Is he in the houſe?" is
Indeed no; Sc. — No, indeed. —
Incommodities ; Gall. — Inconveniencies.
I can inſtruct what I ſay; Sc. — I can prove. —
Vivacity is often promoted by preſenting a ſenſible
object to the mind, inſtead of an intelligible
one. — Inſtead of an intellectual one. —
Indweller and indwelling are Scotch words;
Dweller and dwelling are Engliſh. Yet we meet
with indwelling ſin, and indwelling corruption, in
the works of Dr. Owen, and in thoſe of ſome
other Engliſh Divines.
Interlocuter; Sc. L. — Interlocutory ſentence. —
An Interlocutor, in Engliſh, is one who takes a
part in a written dialogue.
Come in to the fire; Sc. — Come near, or, ſit
by the fire. —
An independent man; a man of an independent
fortune. — A rich man; a man in eaſy circumſtances.
— Independent means "not relying on another."
To ſay that a man is independent becauſe
he is rich, is, at once, unphiloſophical, and
an abuſe of words. The rich man is commonly
the moſt dependent. He "relies upon others"
for almoſt every thing he needs.* The ſavage,
* It is admitted, that the man, who, by honeſt induſtry, has
become rich, may, in a very limited ſenſe, be called independent.
But if his heir ſhould be a ſot, a fop, or an epicure; if, by intemperance,
he ſhould render himſelf a prey to the gout or the,
ſtone; is it poſſible that any being, able and willing to exerciſe
his reaſon, can believe a creature, of any of theſe deſcriptions, to
be an independent man? The meaning of words is often incompatible
with the nature of the things which they are intended
to repreſent. For inſtance, the idea commonly annexed to
the word independent, has created a diſtinction between the uſeful
and the uſeleſs part of mankind which nature and truth have
not eſtabliſhed, and which reaſon cannot approve. The diſtinction
between dependent and independent was contrived by knaves,
and has been adopted only by ſycophants and fools.
who traverſes the foreſt in queſt of the means of
ſubſiſtence, has, indiſputably, a better claim to
the epithet. A man of an independent ſpirit is
philoſophical, and is ſtrictly applicable to him,
who, unfettered by the prejudices of cuſtom, authority,
example and education, dares, in all matters,
to think and judge for himſelf. — See note
under better ſort.
He is ten years old next May; Sc. — He was
nine years old laſt May, or, he will be ten years
old next May. —
He was in uſe to walk every day; Sc. — He was
uſed to walk, or, he was wont to walk every
For ever in this humble cell,
Let thee and I, my fair one, dwell.—
Let thee and me. — Let is an active verb, and governs
the noun or pronoun in the accuſative. Nobody
would ſay, "Let I go away, and let he come
"in my place."
I ken him well enough; Sc. — I know him. —
In modern poetry, to ken is to deſcry, to ſee at a
To ken a woman to her tierce is, in Scotland,
to ſerve the widow on a brief to the liferent of
the third part of the lands in which her huſband
A tea kitchen; Sc. — A tea urn.
Kindle a fire, is Scotch. Make a fire is Engliſh.
He learned me to read and write; Sc. and vulg.
Eng. — He taught me. — The ſcholar learns, the
To liberate; Sc. L. — To ſet at liberty. —
When a ſtranger, in Scotland, calls on a perfon
upon buſineſs, if the perfon is not at home,
the ftranger is aſked, to leave his name. "Pleaſe
"to leave your name, Sir." In England, the
queſtion would be, "Who ſhall I ſay was calling,
"Sir?" Of the two, the Scotch phraſe is the
more grammatical. An Iriſh ſtudent, at the
Univerſity of Glaſgow, being deſired to leave his
name, exclaimed, "By — I cannot do that,
"becauſe I may have need of it afterwards."
He was loſt in the river. — Drowned. — If the
body be not found, the perfon may be ſaid to be
loſt. Many of the Scotch, eſpecially of thoſe
who live on the coaſt, pronounce drowned as if it
were ſpelled drownded.
The lowe of oxen. — The lowing of oxen. —
Lowe is a hill, or heap. Lowing is the preſent
participle of the verb to lowe, uſed as a noun.
I have ſent my linens to be waſhled; Sc. — Linen.
— Linen has no plural termination.
To labour the ground. — To till the ground. —
To labour is applicable to any kind of work, as
well as to the huſbandry of the plough.
No leſs than a hundred men. — Fewer. — Little
ſeems properly applicable to quantity; and few,
to that which may be numbered. "There were
"no leſs men on the one ſide than on the other,"
would ſound oddly.
You may lay your account with oppoſition. —
You may expect oppoſition; you may reckon upon
The libel; Sc. L. — The indictment. — A libel,
in Engliſh, is a defamatory writing.
Every lawful day; Sc. — Week day.— See Whit--
He is ſtill in life; Sc. — He is ſtill alive. — The
former ſeems to be a Galliciſm; " Il èſt encore
A land of houſes. — A houſe. — He lives in the
third flat of Mr. G.'s land. — In the third ſtory of
Mr. G.'s houſe. —
He lays in bed; Vulg. Eng. — Lies. — He laid
in bed till ten o'clock. — Lay. — Theſe faulty phraſes
are common in many parts of the Thirteen
To Mandate; Sc. — To commit to memory, to
get by heart. — Mandate is Engliſh, but is always
uſed as a noun.
He was made do it. — He was made to do
To meet another's idea; to follow up an idea;
to make up one's mind; to overhale an accompt;
to ſmell out a deſign; to turn a matter in one's mind;
to dance attendance on the great; to ſee with half
an eye; to cut a figure; to curry favour with any
one; to caſt about for expedients; in the name of
wonder; the thread of our hiſtory; by dint of argument;
and the ſpur of the occaſion, ſeem to be low
expreſſions; allowable only in familiar diſcourſe,
and perhaps in epiſtolary writing.
Mr. N. is about to marry a wife; the propriety
of this expreſſion is doubtful. It ſhould ſeem to
imply, that Mr. N. is about to marry a woman
who is already married to another man. Perhaps
it were better to ſay, "Mr. N. is about to marry,"
leaving out a wife.
A married wife. — A wife, a married woman.
— The former ſeems to imply, that a woman may
be a wife who is not married.
He is married on Miſs D; Sc. — Married to. —
On never means to.
The lady was misfortunate; Sc. — Unfortunate.
I will ſee you the morn; Sc. — To-morrow. —
Morn is Engliſh, but it means the firſt part of
the day, "the morning" and is uſed chiefly in
In old Engliſh, and in Scotch, meat like bread
means food in general. In modern Engliſh it
means fleſh meat.
To militate againſt a doctrine. — To make againſt
a doctrine. —
To maltreat; Sc. — To treat ill, to abuſe, —
Give me it, ſhow me it; Sc. — Give it me, ſhow
it me. — The former is Scotch, the latter Englifh.
The French and Engliſh conſtruction of theſe
phraſes is the ſame. The French ſay, "Donnez
"le moi; montrez le moi."
Maſk the tea, is Scotch; infuſe the tea, is Engliſh.
The project, the experiment, miſgave. — Failed,
miſcarried. — To miſgive is an active verb, and
takes the pronoun after it; as, "My mind miſ"gives
me. His heart miſgave him."
Double comparatives and ſuperlatives ought to
be avoided: ſuch as, "Silver is more finer than
"tin." "Nothing is more ſweeter than liberty."
"The moſt pureſt gold is not to be compared to
wiſdom." "After the moſt ſtraighteſt ſect of our
"religion I lived a Phariſee." It ſhould be —
"Finer, or more fine." "Sweeter, or more
"ſweet." Pureſt, or moſt pure." "Straiteſt,
"or moſt ſtrait." — "The moſt Higheſt." "High"er
than the Higheſt,"though violations of grammatical
propriety, may be admitted, as the phraſes
are excluſively applicable to the Supreme Being.
But the firſt line of the three following ones, like
him who ſpoke it, defies correction:
And in the loweſt deep, a lower deep
Still threat'ning to devour me, opens wide,
To which the hell I ſuffer ſeems a heaven.
Mortification: Sc. — Donation, endowment. —
Mortifier. — Donor. — "We have lately got a mortification
here," (at Aberdeen,) ſaid a northern
Burgeſs to a gentleman from England. "I am
"very ſorry for it," ſaid the Engliſhman; the
other ſtared, and added; "Yes, a very conſider"able
mortification, an old miſer died the other
"day, and left us ten thouſand pounds to build a
hoſpital." "And call you that a mortification?"
ſaid the ſtranger." "Yes," replied the Scotchman,
"and we think it a very great one." "Mortifier
is not an Engliſh word, though mortification
is; but the latter never means, as in Scotland,
"A fund bequeathed for a charitable purpoſe."
I am going to my dinner; to my ſupper; to my
bed; Sc. — To dinner; to ſupper; to bed. —
I do not mind the ſtory you told me yeſterday;
Sc. — Remember. — To mind, in Engliſh, is to attend
to, to put in mind. "Troth, Sir," ſaid a
young Scotch enſign to his commanding officer,
"I do not mind your order." "Not mind my
"order!" ſaid his fuperior, (who was an Englifhman,)
"By G— I will make you mind my orders,
"and obey them too."
It is not every conjecture which calls with
equal force upon the activity of honeſt men: but
critical exigencies now and then ariſe, and I am
miſtaken if this be not one of them. — And I miſtake
it, if this be not one of them. — "If I am
"not miſtaken," inſtead of, "If I miſtake not,"
is a very common error. If I am not miſtaken
means, "If I am underſtood." If I miſtake not,
means, "If I think, or judge, rightly."
His buckles were not marrows; Sc. — Fellows.
— Fellow, when we ſpeak of inanimate objects,
fignifies "One like another."
Well, there's no matter; Sc. — Well, no matter, or;
it is no matter. — Many, in the ſouth of Scotland,
ſay, "it is a matter," when they mean quite the
contrary. "I promiſed to ſee you laſt Thurſday,"
ſays James to John, "but was prevented." "It
"is a matter," replies John.
Since the time that reaſon began to dawn,
thought, timing our waking hours, has been active
in every breaſt, and the current of ideas has
been always moving. — Flowing. — A moving current
is neither an elegant nor an animated figure.
— See antidote.
It is merely impoſſible that a thing ſhould be,
and not be, at the ſame time. — It is impoſſible &c.
— Merely, connected with impoſſible, is worſe than
redundant. Merely ſignifies "fuch a thing, and
"nothing elfe." The faulty expreſſion, therefore,
ſeems to imply, that all things are poſſible,
except, "That a thing ſhould be, and not be, at
the fame time." — See abſolutely, ſimply, utterly.
This performance is much at one with the other;
Vulg. Eng. — This performance is of the fame
value as the other. —
He is our mutual benefactor, and deſerves our
reſpect and obedience. — Common benefactor. —
He muſt do it; it behoved him to do it; though
each of them implies obligation, yet the phraſes
ſhould not be ufed indiſcriminately; The former
can relate only to the preſent time; the latter,
only to the paſt. "He muſt do it" is the ſame
as, "It is his duty," or, "his buſineſs to do it."
"It behoved him to do it," is equivalent to, "It
"was his duty," or, "his buſineſs to do it."
To narrate; Sc. — To relate. — Narration and
narrative are Engliſh.
Never, in the two following, and the like ſentences,
is. improperly uſed inſtead of not, and ever.
"Is there never a woman among the daughters
"of thy people, that thou goeſt to take a wife of
"the uncircumciſed Philiſtine?" — Is there not a
woman, is there not one woman? —
"If I waſh myſelf in ſnow water, and make
myſelf never ſo clean." — Ever ſo clean. — In the
north of Ireland, never, inſtead of not, is very
Nonjurant; Sc. — Nonjurer, nonjuring. —
I ſhall notice a few circumſtances. — I ſhall take
notice of, or, I ſhall mention a few circumſtances.
Notar public; Sc. — Notary. — Notour. — Notorious.
Neither in this world, neither in the world to
come. — Neither in this world, nor in the world
to come. — As or follows either in the ſame ſentence,
or member of a ſentence; ſo nor muſt ſollow
neither. In the poetic ſtyle, however, nor
and or frequently, and not inelegantly, ſupply the
places of neither and either; as,
—— Know that the church
Is with omnipotence entrench'd around,
Nor ſhall the powers of hell, nor waſtes of time,
Or vanquiſh, or deſtroy.
Next is neareſt, both ſuperlatives of near. The
Scotch ſometimes uſe next, not as if it meant the
neareſt, but that which comes immediately after
the neareſt. They ſeldom ſay Monday next,
though they mean the neareſt Monday; calling it
Monday firſt, which means the ſame thing as Monday
next. Yet they will not ſay, year firſt, month
firſt, inſtead of next year, next month.
She wore a white ſilk napkin on her head,
Handkerchief. — A napkin, in modern Engliſh, — is
a cloth uſed at table to wipe the hands.
No, inftead of not, is, in familiar diſcourſe, very
commonly uſed by all ranks of people in Scotland.
"This is no a good day." "I have walked forty
"miles, and yet am no wearied."
Whether I will or no. — Whether I will or not:
— In the former, the adjective is improperly uſed
inſtead of the adverb. No body would ſay,
"whether I will or will no." The helping verb,
will, is the ellipſis before no; and therefore, in
all ſimilar expreſſions, no immediately after will,
If I had never ſo much in my offer, I would
not do it. — If I had ever ſo much in my choice. —
In the former, both never and offer are Scotticiſms.
The offer is here ſuppoſed to be made not
by me, but by another. "I made him the of"fer,"
One cannot poſſibly help being delighted with
the admiration of the men. Let one make what
uſe of one's reaſon one will, one is ſtill highly pleaſed
with it. — Suppoſing this to be the obſervation of
a lady, ſhe ſhould expreſs herſelf in this manner:
"We cannot poſſibly help being delighted. with
"the admiration of the men. Let us make what
"uſe of our reaſon we will, we are ſtill highly
"pleaſed with it." — Or thus, "The women can"not
poſſibly help being delighted with the ad"miration
of the men. Let them make what
"uſe of their reaſon they will, they are ſtill high"ly
pleaſed with it. — The frequent repetition of
the word one is deemed inelegant.
Notwithſtanding of his illneſs; Sc. — Notwithſtanding
Overly. — Superficial, careleſs. —
To operate payment; Sc. — To force payment. —
The following phraſes ſeem to be Galliciſms,
in which of is improperly uſed inſtead of by, with,
in, for, concerning, upon.
"Richlieu profited of every circumſtance." —
"The King of England was provided of every
"ſupply." — With. —
"He found the greateſt difficulty of writing."
— In. —
"I have not ſeen him of a long time." — For. —
"It is ſituation chiefly which decides of the
"fortunes and characters of men." — Concerning,
To wait of you; to ſend of an errand; it happened
of ſuch a day; nonſenſe. Of never ſigniſies
upon. It ought to be; "To wait on," or,
"upon you:" "to ſend on," or, "upon" &c. —
The omiſſion of a point makes a great odds in
the ſenſe; Sc. — A great change, a great alteration.
The works of the Lord are great, ſought out
of all them that have pleaſure therein. — Sought out
by all thoſe who have pleaſure in them. — Of, in
good Engliſh, never means by.
They were ſuppoſed to be the ſole and only inſtruments
of his degradation. — The ſole inſtruments.
— Sole means only; and therefore the one,
or the other, muſt be ſuperfluous.
To kill him off; Iriſh and vulg. Eng. — To kill
him. — See up.
He examined the account twice over. — He examined
the account twice. — Over, in the former
phraſe, and in ſimilar ones, is ſuperfluous. "Over
and above, "over and beſides;" are alſo exceptionable
No other perſon beſides Mr. L. has been here
to-day. — No perfon beſides, or except Mr. L.
has been here today. — Other, in the former, implies
beſides, and is therefore redundant.
May the happy meſſage be applied to us, in all
the virtue, ſtrength and comfort of it. — May the
happy meſſage be applied to us, in all its virtue,
ſtrength and comfort. —
Generoſity is a ſhowy virtue, which many perſons
are very fond of. — Of which many perſons
are very fond. — When it can be avoided, it is inelegant
to end ſentences with of, from, by, it,
or any other inconſiderable words.
Ornate Latin. — Elegant. — Ornate Latin, if it
mean any thing, would, in Engliſh, mean Latin
with more ornament than is conſiſtent with ſimplicity.
Get you ſtraw where you can find it, yet not
ought of your work ſhall be diminiſhed. — Aught.
— Ought, is the paſt time of owe; aught, means
On and upon cannot be uſed indiſcriminately.
We ſay, "Put on your hat," not "Put upon your
"hat." "Put on the ſaddle," not "Put upon the
"ſaddle." We may always uſe on for upon, but
not always upon for on. Upon is always a prepoſition,
and governs the noun or pronoun in the
accuſative. On is ſometimes a prepoſition, and
ſometimes an adverb. It is an adverb in "Put
"on your hat;" and a prepofition in, "Put your.
"hat on your head."
The child took the pox; Sc. — The child was.
ſeized with or, was taken ill of, the ſmall pox. —
Within thefe four years paſt, the price of every
thing has been enhanced. — Within theſe four
years, the price &c. — The verb to enhance, being
in the preterit, makes paſt redundant in this ſentence,
and in all ſimilar ones. See to come.
He lives preſently in Edinburgh. — At preſent. —
The fact was proven; his farm is greatly improven;
he pled his own cauſe. — Proved; improved;
pleaded. — To prove, and to plead are not irregular
I am afraid, that in place of the parliament's
diſmiſſing the army, the army will diſmiſs the
parliament, as they have done heretofore. — Inſtead
of. — In place of, for inſtead of, is a colloquial
idiom, not only in Scotland, but in many parts of
England. In the place of is Engliſh, when place is
ſpoken of without a figure; as, "He came in the
"place of his father." "The pronoun is ſo cal"led,
becauſe it ſtands in the place of a noun."
To pleniſh; Sc — To furniſh. — Pleniſhing. —
A gentleman's pleaſure grounds are, in Scotland,
called his policy. But policy, in this ſenſe,
is not Engliſh, and is peculiar to Scotland.
Park and encloſure are, by many Scotch people,
uſed indiſcriminately. Every park is an encloſure,
but every encloſure is not a park. A park is a
piece of ground encloſed for the purpoſe of keeping
deer, and other beaſts of the chaſe.
A pocket-proſpect; Sc. — A pocket-perſpective.
—A proſpect, in Engliſh, means a view of diſtant
objects, or a ſeries of objects open to the eye;
but never means a glaſs through which objects are
To pull up by the roots; Sc. — To pluck up.—
To pull a flower. — To pluck a flower. — One may
pull a flower without plucking it. Plucking ſeems
to imply ſeparation.
He enjoys a penſion of two thouſand pounds ayear.
A penſion, according to Dr. Johnſon, is
"an allowance made to any one without an equi"valent."
Reward, inſtead of penſion, would be
better; becauſe reward means recompence for
"having done good." See note under better
In Scotland, potage is food made of meal boiled
in water, or milk, to a certain conſiſtency. In
England, the word is ſomewhat antiquated, and
when in uſe, it meant broth or food made byboiling
meat in water.
Previouſly to the arrival of the courier. — Previous,
The preſes, or, præſes of a meeting; Sc. — Chairman,
A proceſs; Sc. L. — A law ſuit, an action at
Propoſe, is often, both in ſpoken and written
language, very improperly uſed inſtead of purpoſe.
The two following ſentences may ſerve as examples.
"I propoſe going to Edinburgh next week." —
Purpoſe.— "In treating this ſubject it is propoſed
"to obſerve the following method." — It is purpoſed.
— To propoſe, is to offer any thing to conſideration.
To purpoſe, is to intend, to reſolve.
The pannel; Sc. L. — The priſoner at the bar.
— Panel, from the French paneau, a ſquare, is a
ſchedule containing the names of the Jurors whom
the Sheriff provides to paſs upon a trial. Hence,
the Jury is ſaid to be empannelled.
The purſuer; Sc. L. — The plaintiff, the proſecutor.
Pouch is uſed, in Scotland, and was uſed, in old
Engliſh, for pocket. Pouch for pocket is gone into
diſuſe in England. A pocket is inſerted in the
clothes, a pouch is not.
A prognoſtication in Scotland, is, in England,
called an almanack.
A piece bread, a piece cheeſe; Sc. — A piece of
bread, a bit of bread, &c. —
Pretty and handſome are not ſynonymous. Johnſon
ſays, that pretty, is beautiful without digni"ty,"
and that handſome, is "beautiful with dig"nity."
Few words, in ſo ſhort a time, have
undergone a greater variation of meaning. Not
long ago, pretty, was applied to a man of a fine
ſhape or figure; and handſome, to him, who had
a beautiful face. A man who had not a beautiful
face might be a very pretty man. At preſent,
in Scotland, as well as in England, a very pretty
man," is fometimes ſaid of him who is agreeable
or well accompliſhed.*
* From a correſpondence between Lord Oxford and Dean
Swift it appears, that ſomething like the outlines of a plan had
been projected for regulating our grammar and pronunciation;
but the Miniſtry, about that time, were too deeply engaged in
war, in ſchemes of finance, and in adjuſting the balance of power,
to have leiſure to fix a ſtandard of the Engliſh language.
The project has never since been reſumed.
Queer, in Engliſh, means odd, ſtrange, ſingular.
— In Scotland, it is uſed in the ſenſe of witty,
humorous, comical. But a man may be queer who
has not wit, and one may have wit without being
Readily is often, in Scotland, improperly uſed
inſtead of probably, likely, naturally. The following
ſhort and familiar examples may ſerve as a
caution againſt ſimilar improprieties.
"You will readily find him at home." — Probably.
"He will not readily do that." — He is not likely
to do that.
"One would readily imagine." — Naturally. —
There is no remeed; Sc. — Remedy.—
To reſtrict; Sc. — To limit, to confine. — Reſtriction
is Engliſh. To reſtrict is uſed by Arbuthnot,
but ſeems now to be gone into diſuſe.
The child roars; Sc. — Cries. — To roar, is to
make a very great noiſe. The ſea roars, the lion
roars; and a man may perhaps be ſaid to roar
when he utters the loud voice of anguiſh or rage.
I reckon it will rain to-day; I reckon my friend
has forgot his appointment; Sc. — I conjecture;
I am of opinion; I apprehend. — See I'm thinking.
Relevant; Sc. L. — Sufficient, valid. —
Relevancy of the libel; Sc. L. — Legal amount
of the indictment. — In the former, both relevancy
and libel are Scotticiſms.—See libel.
He has paid all that he reſled me; Sc. — Owed. —
Roaſted cheeſe; Sc. — Toaſted cheeſe. — To roaſt,
is to dreſs meat by turning it round before the
The bond has been regiſtrate; Sc. L. — Regiſtered.
— See conſtitute.
"He raiſed levies," is uſed by the elegant Dr.
Goldſmith. It is the ſame as, "He levied
"levies." It ought to be, " He raiſed," or,
"he levied, troops."
Diſputing ſhould always be ſo managed, as to
remember, that the only end of it is truth. — So
managed, as to remind us. —
There are no words which the Scots are more
apt to miſapply than ſhall and will; although it
ought to be acknowledged, that, in ſome inſtances,
the ſhades of diſtinction between them are ſo minute
as to be ſcarcely difcernible. The following
ſketch may be of uſe.
Shall, in the firſt perfon ſingular and plural,
fortells or declares; as, "I ſhall, or, we ſhall,
go." In the ſecond and third perfons, ſhall
promiſes, commands, or threatens; as, "Thou
"ſhalt, or, you ſhall, go." "He or ſhe ſhall, or,
"they ſhall, go." But, in negative fentences,
ſhall forbids; as, "Thou ſhalt not, or, you ſhall
"not, go." "He or ſhe ſhall not, or, they
"ſhall not, go."
Will, on the contrary, in the firſt perfon, reſolves
or promiſes; as, "I will, or, we will,
"go." Will in the ſecond and third perſon only
fortells, as, "Thou wilt, or, you will, go. He or
"ſhe will, or, they will, go." The application
of ſhall and will in the third perſon, is accurately
and elegantly illuſtrated in the following examples
from the Scripture: "Whoſoever will be
"great among you, ſhall be your miniſter; and
"whoſoever of you will be the chiefeſt, ſhall be
"ſervant of all." "Whoſoever will ſave his life
"ſhall loſe it; and whoſoever will loſe his life for
"my ſake, ſhall find it."
Theſe remarks concerning ſhall and will, muſt
be underſtood of explicative ſentences; for, when.
the ſentence is interrogative, the reverſe generally
takes place; thus, "I ſhall go; you will go;" expreſs
event only: but, "Will you go?" implies
intention: and "ſhall I go?" refers to the will of
another. But, "He ſhall go," and, "ſhall he
"go?" both imply will; expreſſing or referring
to a command.*
Severals are of opinion; Sc. — Several. — Several,
being an adjective, in this phraſe, and in all
ſimilar ones, can have no plural termination.
When a noun, it means any encloſed or ſeparate
place; but, in this fenfe, it ſeems to have become
* Inanimate objects, being incapable of volition or conſtraint,
are ſpoken of in the third perſon only; and, in this caſe, ſhall
promiſes, and will declares or foretells; thus, "His words
"ſhall always be freſh in my memory." "All my care ſhall be
"employed about it." " It will rain to-day." " It will be neceſſary
to examine into this affair." But when inanimate objects
are perſonified, ſhall and will follow the rules laid down in the
The young woman thought ſhame; Sc. — Was
A houſe to ſet; a common and very obnoxious
Scotticiſm. — A houſe to let, a houſe to be let.—
To ſet, in modern Engliſh, never ſignifies to put
to hire, or, to grant to a tenant.
Still and on, is a phraſe very common among
the middle claſs of people in the weſt of Scotland.
"He ſpoke at great length upon the, ſubject, yet
"ſtill and on his arguments did not reach convic"tion."
— "He ſpoke at great length upon the
"fubject, yet ſtill his arguments" &c. or, "yet
"after all," leaving out ſtill and on, "his argu"ments
did not reach conviction."
He behaved, in every reſpect, ſuitable to the occaſion.
— Suitably. — See agreeable.
To ſummons; Sc. L. To ſummon. — Summons
is a noun, but never a verb. — He ſummonſed. —
He ſummoned. —
To ſuccumb under the preſſure of misfortunes.
— To ſink under the preſſure. —
"I have got a ſeed in my throat," is a phraſe
very common among the Scots. They miſtake a
piece of the huſk for the ſeed.
A ſore head; Sc. — A head-ach. — Sore eyes.—
Weak eyes, or a complaint in the eyes, is preferable.
Sore ſeems to imply excoriation.
The clock, the watch, is ſtanding; Sc. — .Stopped.
— See clock;
He ſtands upon ſecurity, and will not liberate
him, till it be obtained in courſe of law; Sc. and
vulg. Eng. — He inſiſts upon ſecurity, and will
not ſet him at liberty till it be obtained &c. — See
Storm, in Engliſh, means any violent commotion
of the elements; as, of air and water; air
and hail; air and ſnow. When the commotion
ceaſes the ſtorm is over. Scotland is, perhaps, the
only country on the globe that is bleſſed with lying
ſtorms, and mild ſtorms. If the ſnow continue
long on the ground, it is a lying ſtorm. If the
ſnow melt away gradually, it is a mild ſtorm.
In Scotland, ſpice is often uſed for pepper, and
corn for oats. But pepper, cloves, cinnamon,
&c. are different kinds of ſpice; and oats, barley,
wheat and rye, are different kinds of corn. Corn,
(meaning grain,) has no plural. When plural,
it means hard and painful excreſcences in the
feet. In ſome parts of Scotland, the farmers
will ſay, "The rain has laid flat all their corns."
The ſuperplus; Sc.—The ſurplus, the overplus.
Sweet butter. — Freſh butter. — Salt butter, if
well cured and kept, is ſweet.
It is ſimply impoſſible. — It is impoſſble. Simply
means, "artleſsly, merely, fooliſhly." Simply,
in the meaning of any of theſe words, is evidently
inapplicable to impoſſible. Fooliſhly impoſſible,
would be a fooliſh expreſſion. Simply impoſſible is
not leſs ſo. — See abſolutely, merely, utterly.
Sinecure, Johnſon defines to be "An office
"which has revenue without any employment."
Yet he ſays, that office means "buſineſs, agency;
"public charge or employment." Sinecure, therefore,
according to Johnſon, is "an employment
"which has revenue without any employment."*
Dictionary-writers are, no doubt, obliged to ex*
Although the term ſinecure, in its uſual acceptation, cannot
be defined without contradicting reaſon, yet it may be explained
without violating the rules of ſpeech. A ſinecure is, "The
"receiving of money without doing any thing for it." — See note
under better ſort.
plain words according to their uſual acceptation;
and, in this reſpect, Johnfon has generally been
I am ſome better; Sc. — Something, or, ſomewhat
Deſire my ſervant to ſpeak to me; bid my ſervant
ſpeak to me; Sc. — Tell my ſervant that I
want to ſpeak to him. — A Scotch Gentleman and
his ſervant having alighted at a tavern in Briſtol,
and miſſing his ſervant, ſaid to the oſtler, "Bid
"my ſervant ſpeak to me?" "Yes," replied
the oſtler, "but what ſhall I bid him ſay?"
For my ſhare I ſcorn a ſycophant; Sc. — For
my part. —
To ſhear wheat; Sc. — To reap. — I have ſhorn
my wheat. — Reaped. — A ſhearer, in Engliſh, is
one who cuts with ſhears. "A ſheep before her
"ſhearers is dumb."
All his ſubjects were ſold to pay his debts. —
The ſubjects of the defunct; Sc. L. — The effects
of the deceaſed. — In the former, both ſubjects and
defunct are Scotticiſms.
We arrived in ſafety; Sc. — We arrived ſafe. —
His writing is ſparce; Sc. — Looſe. —
His apology was not ſuſtained; Sc. — Admitted.
He will repent it ſome day; Sc. — One day. —
The ſhip is at the ſhore; Sc. — Quay, wharf. —
The ſhore is the coaſt of the ſea. But a quay, or,
wharf, is not to be found on every part of the
A ſtammering horſe; Sc. — A ſtumbling horſe.
— To ſtammer, is to ſpeak confuſedly, or with heſitation.
"A ſtammering man" is Engliſh.
To ſweat. — To perſpire. — The latter certainly
expreſſes the ſame idea in a more delicate manner.
He will always be with you, to ſupport and
comfort you, and, in ſome meaſure, to ſucceed
your labours; and he will alſo be with all his
faithful miniſters, who ſhall ſucceed you in his
ſervice. — To proſper your labours. — In the fore--
going paſſage ſucceed is improperly uſed — in different
ſenſes. — See for.
Where do you ſtay? Sc.—Lodge, live, dwell.—
A ſhirt is a man's under garment; a ſhift is a
woman's. Many of the Scotch uſe ſhirt for both.
They ſat us down at the Star Inn. — They ſet
us down. — Sat is the preterit of ſit.
I ſeed him yeſterday; Scotch, Iriſh and vulg.
Engliſh. — I ſaw him. —
He has a bad ſtomach. — Appetite; in modern
Englifh. — Shakeſpeare, once or twice, uſes ſtomach
in the ſenſe of appetite: but ſtomach inſtead
of appetite is become rather ludicrous.
He was obliged to ſeek his meat. In this phraſe
both ſeek and meat are Scotticiſms. It ought to
be, — He was obliged to beg his bread. — The
phraſe is degrading to human nature, a reproach
to reaſon, and a diſgrace to the language of any
country. It is not eaſy to conceive how beggary
can, as a profeſſion, exiſt under any form of government
that deſerves the epithets of free, happy,
His ſon ſubſiſts him. — ,Supports, maintains.—
Yet Sterne, in the ſtory of Le Fevre, ſays, "With
"a ſon to ſubſiſt as well as himſelf, out of his
Many Scotch people, inſtead of heark ye, ſay
hear ye; ſpeak to me ; but ſpeak; expreſſing quite
the contrary of what they mean. To a lady who
had been bred in England, a Scotch gentleman
ſaid, with a ſtrong emphaſis, "But ſpeak, Madam;
"ſpeak to me." She anſwered, "Speak! why
"ſhould I ſpeak?"
He ſubſtituted others in their place. The accuracy
of this expreſſion is very doubtful. To ſubſtitute,
ſignifies "To put in the place of another."
The doubtful expreſſion ſeems to imply, "He
"put in their place others in their place." "He
"ſubſtituted others," leaving out, "In their
"place," might perhaps be an amendment. For
the ſame reaſon, "in my place;" "In thy place;"
"In his place;" &c. connected with the verb
ſubſtitute, ſeem to be inaccurate expreſſions.
If I miſtake, not, I think this muſt be the houſe.
— If I miſtake not this muſt be the houfe. — In the
former phrafe, and the like ones, I think is ſuperfluous.
I think is implied in, "If I miſtake not."
I'm thinking, inſtead of I ſuppoſe, I conjecture,
is very common in Scotland. He is not at
"home, I'm thinking." "Peter has ſettled ac"counts
with his merchant, I'm thinking." — See
It is not eaſy for him to ſpeak three ſentences
together — Succeſſively. —
The manner of it was thus. It was thus, or,
the manner of it was this. — Thus, means in this
Go up the turnpike-ſtair. — The winding ſtair.
— A turnpike, in Engliſh, is a ſort of gate.
I would have you to know. — I would have you
know. — The former is Engliſh, but is uſed only
in jocular, or very familiar diſcourſe.
The Reverend D. C. is tranſported from Glaſgow
to Edinburgh. — Tranſlated. — A Scotchman.
ſaid to an Englifhman, "Do you know that your
old acquaintance, Mr. N. is tranſported." "Poor
"man," replied the Engliſhman, "I am very
"ſorry for it; he was in his right wits when I
"ſaw him laſt."
I am the more impatient of pain, that I have
long enjoyed good' health. — As I have long enjoyed,
or, becauſe I have long enjoyed. — That is
ſometimes uſed by Cowley inſtead of becauſe; but,
in this ſenſe, it is now gone into diſuſe.
The hogſhead is topped. — Tapped, ſet abroach.—
God ſeems, by the commiſſion he then gave to
Satan, to try experiments upon Job. — To make
experiments. — To try experiments ſeems to be no
better than "To try trials."
They fell both dead upon the field together. —
They fell both dead upon the field; or, they fell
dead upon the field together. — When both and
together occur in the ſame ſentence, or member
of a ſentence; the one or the other muſt be redundant.
For the ſame reaſon jointly together, — is
an exceptionable phraſe.
A contract, between a proprietor of lands or
houſes and a tenant for the uſe of them, is, in
Scotland, called a tack; in England, a leaſe.
A tenible argument; Sc. — Good, valid, concluſive.
He hindered me to do it; Sc. He hindered me
from doing it. —
He is thirty years old or thereby; Sc. — Thereabout,
thereabouts. — Thereby, — ſignifies by that
means; as, "Acquaint now thyſelf with him, and
"be at peace; thereby good ſhall come unto thee."
Timeous notice. — Timely notice. — Timeous is
uſed by Bacon, but the word is now become obſolete.
He was no longer able to go through the buſineſs
with that vigour as he wished. — He was no
longer able to go through the buſineſs with ſuch
or, with ſo much vigour; or, with that vigour he
They gained five ſhillings the piece; Sc. — Apiece,
A tradeſman, in Scotland, is one who works
with his hands at a trade. — In England, it means
a ſhopkeeper, whether he works with his hands
He has been very tender for ſome time; Sc. —
Sickly, weakly, infirm, valetudinary. — See unwell.
Both the ſugar and the rum are dear. — Both
ſugar and rum; without the article. — If any particular
ſort of ſugar or rum be meant, the article
might be proper.
Mr. R.'s church is always throng. — Full, crowded,
much thronged. — Throng is never an adjective.
I mind none of them things; Iriſh, and vulg.
Eng. — Theſe, or thoſe things.
The lion tore the aſs to pieces. — In pieces. —
He has got the cold, the fever; Sc. — A cold,
a fever. — If any particular cold or fever be epidemical,
and generally known, the definite article
may be prefixed.
He thinks long for ſummer; Sc. — He longs for
ſummer. — He thinks long when alone. — He thinks
the time long, or, he wearies, when alone. —
She had not been four hours at ſea when ſhe
turned, or, fell ſick. — When ſhe became ſick, grew
ſick. — In the former both turned and fell are Scotticiſms.
A man with a timber leg; Sc. — A wooden
Say the grace; go to the ſchool; to the church;
to the bed; Sc. — Say grace; go to ſchool; to
church; to bed. —
He ſpeaks, he walks, through his ſleep. — He
ſpeaks, he walks, in his ſleep.—
Through eternity; through all eternity; through
all the ages of eternity; are expreſſions common
enough both from the pulpit and the preſs. It is
not eaſy to correct them. It may however be remarked,
that through when it relates to time, implies
only a limited duration, and therefore cannot
be applicable to eternity. All before ages ſeems
to be equally unphiloſophical; becauſe all ſuppoſes
the ages of eternity to be numbered, or capable
of being numbered. Perhaps, in eternity, leaving
out through all the ages of, might be an amendment.
By the puniſhing criminals for flagitious crimes,
others are deterred from committing of the like offences.
— By the puniſhing of criminals for flagitious
crimes, others are deterred from the committing
of the like offences. — Or thus; By puniſhing
criminals for flagitious crimes, others are deterred
from committing the like offences. — When
the preſent participle becomes a noun, it requires
an article before it, and the ſign of the genitive
after it. If it be a pure participle, both the article
before it, and the ſign of the genitive after it,
muſt be omitted.
He has annexed a ſecret pleaſure to the idea of
any thing that is new or uncommon, that he might
encourage us in the purſuit of knowledge. — He
has annexed a ſecret pleaſure to the idea of any
thing which is new or uncommon, that he might
encourage us &c. — The impropriety, in the former
ſentence, is the uſing of that in different
Is it good ſenſe, or good grammar, to ſay,
"That that law is binding that cannot be under"ſtood?"
In this example, that is uſed in all the
parts of ſpeech of which it is ſuſceptible. The
firſt is a conjunction; the ſecond, a demonſtrative
pronominal adjective; and the laſt, a relative pronoun.
That that, though a harſh aſſociation, cannot
always be avoided; but that, after binding,
ſhould be which. — See for.
"Since the time that Homer wrote, no poet has
"excelled Milton." Similar forms of ſpeech frequently
occur in our beſt writers. The accuracy
of the above fentence is queſtionable. Since,
when uſed as an adverb of time, means from the
time, or, from that time. That before Homer, if
it be not regarded as an expletive, muſt be an equivalent
to when, or, at which time. The complete
reſolution of the ſentence would be this:
"From the time the time at which time Homer
"wrote," &c. which ſurely is not elegant Englifh.
Better thus — "From the time in which Homer
"wrote" &c. or, better ſtill, "Since Homer wrote,
"no poet has excelled Milton." That, it may be
further remarked, cannot, with any propriety, be
uſed as an adverb of time. — See the preceding paragraph.
Where two objects are contraſted, this relates
to the nearer, and that, to the more diſtant object.
The rule is ſtrictly applicable to their plurals;
yet the Scots, often, and the English, ſometimes,
confound theſe and thoſe. The rule however
is clear, and admits of no exception. Whereever
the ſingular would be this, the plural muſt be
theſe; and wherever the ſingular would be that,
the plural muſt be thoſe. "Theſe flowers, which I
"hold in my hand, are beautiful," is Engliſh;
becauſe in the ſingular, it would be "This flower
"which I hold" &c. " Thoſe flowers which he
"holds in his hand, are beautiful," is proper;
becauſe in the ſingular it would be, "That flower
"which he holds in his hand is beautiful."
The twentieth and fourth verse, of the hundredth
thirtieth and ninth Pſalm. — The twenty fourth
verſe of the hundred and thirty ninth pſalm. —
He appointed Meſſrs. A. B. and D. C. the tutors
and curators of his children; Sc. — Guardians.
— In England, a tutor ſuperintends a perſon's education;
a curator, is a ſuperintendant in general.
I ſhall ſee you in the ſummer; in the harveſt;
in the winter; Sc. — In ſummer; in autumn; in
I have been unwell for ſome time; Sc. — I have
not been well, have been ſickly, valetudinary. —
To uſe diligence; Sc. — To ſue, to proſecute by
His public character is undeniable. — Unexceptionable.
— An undeniable character may be a very
To kill him up, or, off; Iriſh and vulg. Eng. —
To kill him. — Up and off are evidently ſuperfluous.
The contrct was unformal; Sc. — Irregular,
not according to form. —
I received your letter the 24th ultimo. — The
24th laſt month. — In elegant companion, and
even in epiſtlolary writing, if the meaning can be
as clearly conveyed in Engliſh, Latin words, phraſes,
and abbreviations, ought to be avoided.
We the under ſubſcribers; Sc. — Subſcribers, underſigned.
— Sub, means under, and therefore under,
prefixed to ſubſcribers, is ſuperfluous.
It is utterly impoſſible. — It is impoſſible. — Utterly,
means "fully, completely, perfectly." The
former, ſeems to imply, "That ſome impoſſibilities
are leſs complete, or leſs perfect than others,"
which is abſurd. Quite impoſſible, and altogether
impoſſible, are, for the ſame reaſon, exceptionable
phraſes. — See abſolutely, merely, ſimply.
During the vacance; Sc. — Vacation. — Vacance
is French, and means "A port or employment
"when it is unſupplied." Vacation is Engliſh,
and means "Receſs from ordinary buſineſs;
"time of leiſure."
He is verſant in all polite learning; Sc. Converſant,
in, or, with, all polite learning. —
A vocable; Sc. — A word. — The boy has loſt
his vocables. — Vocabulary. —
Britain is able not only to conſume her own
production of vivres, but needs alſo a ſupply from
abroad. — Victuals, provifions. — Vivres is a French
word. Eclat, apropos, belles lettres, douceur, bon
mot, eclairciſſement, and about forty other French
words and phraſes, have, without the ſmalleſt neceſſity,
been introduced into the Engliſh language.
The French have been very ſparing in taking
Engliſh words in exchange.
In our moſt elegant writers, many combinations
of words occur, that offend the ear and torture
the organs of ſpeech. Hume, Robertſon and
Gibbons with their which ſome think, and which
ſome ſay; and Smollet, with his terrible ſhed ſuch
ſeas of blood. The laſt of theſe, no Frenchman,
nor Italian, could be taught to pronounce. The
French will not ſay y-a-il, though much more eaſily
pronounced than any of the foregoing combinations.
The painful and diſguſting yawn occaſioned
by ch before words beginning with s, might,
in moſt inſtances, be avoided, by uſing that inſtead
I wrote him laſt week. — I wrote to him. — "I
"wrote him a letter," is Engliſh.
I will not go without I am paid for it; Sc. —
He is a widow; Sc. — Widower. — A widower,
is a man who ſurvives his wife; a widow, is a
woman who ſurvives her huſband.
An old wife. — An old woman. — We never ſay,
"An old huſband."
What's your will? A phraſe very common in
Scotland, and very ridiculous in England. It
ought to be, — What would you have? What do
you want? or, what were you ſaying? —
His whole friends forſook him; Sc. — All his
friends. — Whole ſeems properly applicable to
quantity, and all, to number.
The whole ſpeeches. — All the ſpeeches. — Yet
"The whole proceedings" is Engliſh, becauſe they
form one whole, the parts of which are naturally
connected with one another.
"Againſt Whitſunday next, pay to me, or or"der,"
& c. — Whitſuntide. — In the book of Common
Prayer, Whitſunday is the firſt Sunday of
Whitſun week, and is, therefore, an improper
day to make or receive payments. In Scotland,
Sunday is not a lawful day. — See lawful.
A writer; Sc. — A ſcrivener, or attorney. — In
England, a writer is an author;; but the word never
means, as in Scotland, a perfon who tranſacts
buſineſs for another in matters of law. In Aberdeen,
a ſcrivener is called an advocate.
Wrongous impriſonment; Sc. — Wrongful, unjuſt,
He wared his money to advantage; Sc. — He
laid out. —
Oft have I ſeen a timely parted ghoſt.
Of aſhy ſemblance, meagre, pale, and bloodleſs,
Being all deſcended to the lab'ring heart,
Who in the conflict that it holds with death,
Attracts the ſame for aidance
'gainſt the enemy. —
"Which in the conflict that it holds;" or, if the
ghoſt muſt be perſonified; "Who in the conflict
"that he, (and why not ſhe?) holds with death." —
The ſcene was new, and he was ſeized with
wonderment at all he ſaw; vulg. Eng. — Wonder. —
Robert is in the ſame predicament with William.
— Robert and William are in the ſame predicament.
"Do you know who you ſpeak to?" "Who
ſhould I ſee on the lid of it but the Doctor."
"Laying the ſuſpicion upon ſomebody, I know
"not who, in the country." — It ſhould be whom
in each of theſe.examples. — In England, as well
as in Scotland, the nominative of this pronoun,
inſtead of the accuſative, is very common in familiar
converſation. In written language, this
impropriety is quite inexcuſable.
Every thing ſucceeds to a wiſh; Sc. and vulg.
Eng. — As one would wiſh, or, according to our
I went to bed whenever I heard the clock ſtrike
ten. — When, or as ſoon as, I heard. — Whenever
means at whatever time; as, "Whenever you a"wake
me, I will riſe."
I never witneſſed any thing ſo ridiculous. — Beheld,
ſaw. — To witneſs, in England, generally,
means to bear teſtimony.
In the three following paſſages, the indicative
mode is improperly uſed inftead of the ſubjunctive:
"Lord, if thou wilt, thou canſt make me
"clean." — If thou will. —
"If thou wouldſt ſeek unto God betimes, and
"make thy ſupplication." — If thou would. —
"Was I as plump as ſtall'd theology,
"Wiſhing would waſte me to this ſhade again;
"Was I as wealthy as a ſouth ſea dream,
"Wiſhing is an expedient to be poor." —
Were I as plump. — Were I as wealthy.
In the following examples the ſubjunctive is
improperly uſed inſtead of the indicative.
"Thou, Stella, wert no longer young,
"When firſt for thee my harp I ſtrung."
"Before the heavens thou wert."
In both examples it ſhould be — Waſt inſtead of
wert. — It may not be improper here to remark
that, Though, if, whether, except, unleſs, &c. generally
require the ſubjunctive mode after them;
yet when the ſentence does not imply ſuppoſition
or doubt, theſe conjunctions admit of the indicative;
as, "Though he is rich he is not independent."
There is ſome difficulty, and often much ambiguity,
in the uſe of To want. When uſed as an
active verb, it generally ſignifies "To be with"out,"
or, "to be deficient in, ſomething neceſ"ſary
or deſirable;" as, "The army wanted both.
"food and clothing," that is, "the army was de"ficient
both in food and clothing." Sometimes
it ſignifies " To wiſh for;" as, "They wanted
"her company." When it is uſed as a neuter
verb, its general ſignification ſeems to be, "To
"be improperly abſent;" "To be miſſed;" as,
"Part of the price is wanting." "A caſting vote
was wanting." If the preceding remarks and
illuſtrations be juſt, it would be improper to ſay,
"When the plague raged in London, we wanted
"it in Scotland." — It ſhould be, "We had it not," or, "were without it," &c. — A Scotchman will
ſay, "I never want a cold, a head-ach." An
Engliſhman would ſay, "I am never free from a
"cold," or, "never without a cold." A plague,
a cold and a head-ach are not conſidered either as
neceſſary or as deſirable viſitations.
If I fall into the pond I will be drowned; Sc.—
I ſhall be drowned. — The Scotch phraſe may imply,
"I am reſolved," or, "am willing to be
"drowned." "If you fall into the pond you will
"be drowned," is Engliſh.
No colloquial idiom, in Scotland, is more common
than will I? inſtead of ſhall I? — "Will I ſee
"you to-morrow?" If I ſay to any perſon, "Will
"I ſee you to-morrow?" His anſwer ſhould be,
"It is impoiſſible for me to be ſure whether you
"will, or will not, ſee me to-morrow; for that
"you alone can know." An Engliſhman aſks his
neighbour, "Will you fee me to-morrow?" or,
"Shall I ſee you to-morrow?" but the moſt illiterate
Engliſhman never ſays, "Will I ſee you tomorrow?"
What way, inſtead of how, is common throughout
Scotland. "What way did it happen?"
"What way will I do this?" "What way will I
"do that?" In the two latter, both what way,
and will are Scotticiſms.
At four years old, a child eaſily learns the pronunciation
of a foreign language; Sc. — At the
age of four years; or, when four years old; or, a
child of four years, &c.—
He was born in the year forty-five. — In forty-five;
in 1745; or in the year 1745. —
A yard is an encloſure near a houſe; but is never
uſed, in England, to ſigniſy a garden. A farmer
may keep, in his yard, hogs and poultry; but
the garden is ſet apart for other purpoſes.
I ſaw him yeſternight; Sc. — Laſt night. — Yeſternight
is Engliſh, but is now become obſolete.
Yet we fay, "I ſaw him yeſterday." — See note
You was, inſtead of, you were, is common
both in England and in Scotland. "You is very
"good," would ſound oddly. "You was very
"good," is equally ungrammatical.
Cite this Document
Scotticisms, Vulgar Anglicisms, and Grammatical Improprieties Corrected, With Reasons for the Corrections. 2023. In The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 29 November 2023, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/document/?documentid=155.
"Scotticisms, Vulgar Anglicisms, and Grammatical Improprieties Corrected, With Reasons for the Corrections." The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2023. Web. 29 November 2023. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/document/?documentid=155.
The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing, s.v., "Scotticisms, Vulgar Anglicisms, and Grammatical Improprieties Corrected, With Reasons for the Corrections," accessed 29 November 2023, http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/document/?documentid=155.
If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:
The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. 2023. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/.
Scotticisms, Vulgar Anglicisms, and Grammatical Improprieties Corrected, With Reasons for the Corrections
|Title||Scotticisms, Vulgar Anglicisms, and Grammatical Improprieties Corrected, With Reasons for the Corrections|
|Year of publication||1799|
Author information: Mitchell, Hugh