Collected quotes

Some time ago I wrote a post titled 'Is outwith a word' (link below), which continues to get quite a lot of hits (it's about No 3 in Google). Recently there have been a couple of comments which have led me to look for examples among well-known Scottish writers.
I thought it might be a good idea to collect these examples of outwith together, where possible linking to them in Google Books. Finding specific examples in Google Books is not so easy, as many modern books are not searchable, and because, Google Book Search, for some strange reason, also comes up with lots of instances of "out" "with".
I've also included a section with more historical use, often using facsimiles from the books themselves. Apart from anything else, these show what the Scottish English of the Court and the Law of these times looked like, and the sort of spellings that were then prevalent.
My intention is that this should be an ongoing work, and I will add examples to this page, as and when I find them.

Geographical use

In a couple of comments on my original post some doubt has been expressed as to whether outwith can be used to talk about being outside a place, for example outwith Scotland. There is plenty of evidence to show that outwith is indeed used by educated writers in this way, and there is a section at the end with site searches to various Scottish institutions that will show this. See also the following dictionary definition.
In fact the collocation finder Netspeak shows that outwith the UK accounts for 16.3% of all instances of outwith in their web-based corpus (see link below).
To make the use of outwith with place names and places easy to spot in the quotes, examples related are marked ***.

A definition and etymology

This is from An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language published by John Jamieson D.D. in 1808 ***


  • Clicking on the writer's name will take you to biographical information, usually at Wikipedia.
  • Clicking on the book title will take you to Google Books, which will show the quote(s).


Janice Galloway b.1955

  • The Trick Is to Keep Breathing

    Something clicked. Something just outwith the range of definition. I was getting older.

  • Clara 2003

    A woman inside this body after all, a woman who woud certainly pain her and who might put her in mortal danger. Outwith her control. It hardly felt like herself.

William McIlvanney b.1936

  • Surviving the shipwreck

    How far he may have spoken relevantly to the times, how far he has contributed to the community's understanding of itself outwith the hothouse culture of the universities or the oxygen-tent conditions ...

    But then any idea of working-class heroism as philosophically serious concept, outwith its usefulness as a source of simplistic slogans for for political purposes, is bound to offend social reformers.

Ian Rankin b.1960

  • Knots and crosses

    The fresher, more attentive faces belonged to the new boys, some of them brought in from stations outwith the city. ***

    He was caught: a believer outwith his belief

  • The Falls

    the official photo faxed to train operators, bus companies and police forces outwith the Lothian and Borders area ***

Fiction collections

  • Pig Squealing - New Scottish Talent 1992 Janice Galloway, Hamish Whyte, Meg Bateman

    No, the thing which is unusual about my situation is in fact outwith the flat although not exactly too far away. The intrusive element which provides, shall we say, the 'meat' of my story lives no further than one door away in the shapely form of my neighbour Gloria Winthrope. ***

  • The raucle tongue: hitherto uncollected prose Hugh MacDiarmid, Angus Calder, Glen Murray, Alan Riach

    The creative faculty is completely ouwith his ken.

    ... we would remove him outwith the State educational system altogether, being qualified to teach him ourselves


Angus Calder 1942-2008

Jenni Calder b.1941

James Kelman b.1946

  • Some recent attacks: essays cultural & political 1992

    Of course beyond the game is a world where forces govern outwith the control of the professional politicians.

    When a compromise like that needs to be made it cannot be made outwith the context of that struggle and that struggle alone.

  • "And the judges said-- ": essays

    And only then by those outwith the controlling group; fringe people, social misfits, failures, folk with chips on their shoulders;

    i.e. forms of knowledge available to people outwith any experience they may have gained from being in the world.

John Prebble 1915-2001

  • John Prebble's Scotland:

    although he cared little for the Massacre, believing its importance exaggerated outwith the district ***

    Morvern is the southern peninsula of the Rough Bounds, although some would place it outwith the Garbhchriochan ***

Nigel Tranter 1909-2000

  • A History of Scotland

    He quickly began to make his presence felt in Scotland - and outwith it ***

    They cannot all be leaders, and consequently none are, and more united and less argumentative outsiders step in to lead them, whereas outwith Scotland, their natural energies and drive find scope amongst less combative folk, and they ... ***

  • All Highlanders on their return home, even on leave, were required to take off their kilts and tartan and leave them under lock-and-key at the sdge of their home districts, to be donned again only on their return to military duty outwith the Highlands. ***


Hugh MacDiarmaid 1892-1978

Rosey Denoon

William Jeffrey 1896-1946

  • Selected Poems 1951

    Flowering with her genial inocence,
    Freely enjoyed outwith tyrannic power,
    Beyond the pressure of the abstract state.

Literary Criticism

History Collections

  • The Oxford Companion to Scottish History edited by Michael Lynch (16 instances)

    Just outwith the headland enclosure, there is a subterranean well ... ***

    Hearing such music outwith its plainsong liturgical context

    establishment of country seats outwith the town boundaries ***

  • A History of Everyday Life in Scotland, 1800 to 1900 edited by Trevor Griffiths, Graeme Morton

    those falling outwith fairly narrow expectations were liable to be stigmatised

    Four summer months only was the tourist season for Oban's seventeen hotels in the early 1880s; outwith that period, 'they practically do nothing'.

Older texts

  • Longer Scottish poems 1375-1560

    And syne with ane blyith cheir buskit that bald; Out of Paris proudly he preikit full prest, Intill his harnes all haill his hechtis for to hald. He umbekest the countrie outwith the toun, Na saw na thing on steir, Nouther fer ...

A note on spelling and language in older texts

The letters s and f

In many pre-nineteenth-century texts, both in Scotland and England, a letter looking very like an f is often used for the unvoiced letter s (when it has a soft pronunciation) - /s/ and for sh - /ʃ/, although not, apparently, for voiced s - /z/. When you look carefully, however you'll notice it's missing the right-hand serif. So the following images show the phrases - sell or furnish and shall be called

Middle Scots c.1450 - c.1700

In some of the texts there are some of the typical features of Middle Scots

quh = wh

This could reflect the fact that wh is often aspirated in Scottish English.
  • quhyte = white
  • quhat = what
  • quhilk = which
  • quhete = wheat

Other spellings

  • þ (the Old English letter 'thorn') = th (þat = that; þe = the)
  • sch = sh (schuldaris = shoulders)
  • is = s - in some inflections (accordis = accords; erlis = earls)
  • be = by


  • ony = any
  • sik = such
  • gif / giff / geif = if

Fifteenth Century

Sixteenth century - Google Books

Seventeenth century - Google Books

Eighteenth Century - Google Books

  • Virgil's Aeneis translated into scottish verse
    Gawin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld 1710

    Abufe the wattir thair hals stude euermar,
    With bludy crestis outwith the wallis hie ;

  • The History Of The Sufferings Of The Church of Scotland From the Restauration to the Revolution
    Robert Woodrow 1721

    Council give her Assurances, that whatever she declared thereanent, shall never be used against her, either in Judgment, or outwith the same; and they promise to indemnify her for any Accession she had to ...

  • Free thoughts on the toleration of popery
    Calvinus Minor 1780

    This book was written in the wake of the first legislation in favour of Catholic emancipation, and quotes a law from the reign of William III. This is from Wikipedia:

    In Great Britain and Ireland, the first Relief Act, called the "Papists Act", was passed in 1778; subject to an oath renouncing Stuart claims to the throne and the civil jurisdiction of the Pope, it allowed Roman Catholics to own property, to inherit land, and to join the army. Reaction against this led to riots in Scotland in 1779 and then the Gordon Riots in London on June 2, 1780. (Wikipedia)

Nineteenth Century - Google Books

Corpora etc

Related post


1 comment:

  1. 'Outwith' became my favourite word - it so fitted those many moments of Brechtian alientation that happen during rehearsals - when a thing is both of and no so. I worked in Scottish theatre for many years. A richly rewarding experience.
    Barrie Hesketh