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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid




Sadly, this useful word seems to have fallen out of favour. It is described in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) as:


“in-lying, not exposed, in the interior of a district”.


Today, however, I want to concentrate on the more figurative meaning of:


“sociable, of a neighbourly disposition, intimate; kindly, sympathetic, affectionate, friendly”. A person can also be “innerly hearted, of a sympathetic disposition”, or they can have innerliness, “compassion sympathy, kindliness”.



In Modern Scots Poets (1888) one example is not quite clear as to what’s meant:


“Johnie’s queer bits o’ says, An’ his innerly ways”.


Perhaps Johnie was a wee bit homely.



Here is a selection of citations. The first is from the Huntly Express of December 1894:


“The respect for Dominie Macdonald was universal amongst all who knew him, but of course it was deeper with the pupils who knew the ‘innerly’ nature of the gentleman and scholar”.


The Hawick Express of May 1952 has:


“It was characteristic of the man that he was rarely called anything else but ‘John’ even by casual acquaintances, for he was, in the local phrase, ‘an innerly person’”.


Researchers here at DSL have looked for evidence beyond the 1950s, but to no avail.



The last word goes to the DSL, which has the most ‘recent’ example - a quotation from Orcadian author C M Costie’s Benjie’s Bodle (1956):


“A fine, kindly, innerly body”.


This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel, Dictionaries of the Scots Language