birr

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See also: Birr

English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English bir (favorable or strong wind), from Old English byre (strong wind, storm); cognate with Norwegian bør, Icelandic byrr (sailing winds), Albanian borë (snow), Latin borea (North wind) and Polish burza (storm, thunderstorm).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

birr (plural birrs)

  1. (Scotland) strength, vigor, energy
    • 1720, Allan Ramsay, “The Lure”, in Poems:
      Ye'll be sae kind as let me see How this same bird o' yours can flee. T'oblige ye, friend, I winna stand — Syne loos'd the falcon frae his hand. Unhooded, up she sprang wi' birr, While baith stood staring after her.
    • 1789, Sillar, Poems:
      Then steer thro' life wi' birr an' vigour
    • 1851, William Mitchison, Hand-Book of the Songs of Scotland, page 202:
      Your chanter sets us a ' a-steer, Get out your pipes and blaw wi' birr, We'll dance the Highland fling
    • 1894, Dickson, Auld Precentor:
      The congregation sang them with such ' birr and go.'
    • 1901, Robert Ford, Vagabond songs and ballads of Scotland, page 108:
      The late David Kennedy, the eininent Scottish vocalist, sang it with great birr.
    • 1777 October, Marion, “Marion: A Pastoral”, in Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement, volume 31, page 63:
      Bleak winter reigns, ilk hill's o'erlaid wi' snaw, Cauld frae the north wi' bir the tempests blaw.
  2. (Scotland) The force of movement; rush, impetus, momentum, driving force
    • 1822, Galt, Provost:
      A chaise in full birr came upon her and knocked her down.
    • 1828, Moir, Mansie Wauch:
      And away down, in full birr, to the Duke's gate.
    • 1876, Whitehead, Daft Davie:
      With what a birr he made it flee from his hand along the ice.
    • 1976, David Craig, Scottish Literature and the Scottish People, 1680-1830, page 244:
      The tither hole, the tither eik, To bang the birr o' winter's anger, And had the hurdies out o' langer.
  3. (Scotland) A whirring noise
    • 1837, Nicoll, Poems:
      O' the sounds o' love and joy, There's nane sae pleasant as the birr o' Scotland's spinnin' wheel.
    • 1851, James Grant, The Scottish Cavalier: An Historical Romance, page 88:
      Close by the ingle sat his widow Elsie enjoying its warmth, and listening to the birr of her wheel.
    • 1916, Colonel J.A. Currie, “XVII The Battle of Neuve Chapelle”, in The Red Watch, With the First Canadian Division in Flanders[1], Reprint edition, Project Gutenberg, published 2009:
      When the British Tommies heard the "birr" of the five-inch Canadian shells they all asked whose they were.
    • 1969, Alexander Durand Cameron, Living in Scotland, 1760-1820, page 18:
      The boom of her large, and the birr of her small, wheel were music to my young ear on awakening in the mornings.
    • 1979, Alastair J. Durie, The Scottish Linen Industry in the Eighteenth Century, page 1:
      The birr of the spinning wheel , the clack and thump of the handloom are no longer to be heard, linen-spinning on the wheel – once a staple occupation for so many women – is now virtually a forgotten art.
    • 2012, Michael Balfour, Mysterious Scotland: Enigmas, Secrets and Legends:
      A birr! a whirr! the salmon's out, Far on the rushing river; Onward he holds with sudden leap, Or plunges through the whirlpool deep, A desperate endeavour!
  4. (Scotland) A strong trilling.
    • 1865, Peter Mackenzie, Reminiscences of Glasgow and the West of Scotland, page 213:
      Nae mair he will wi' rattlin' birr, Sing to his soul-inspirin' girr, The dormant Gothamites to stir, His powers to heed;
    • 1993, Scottish Studies - Volumes 31-33, page 59:
      [] can only be accounted for on the supposition that they recognise the resemblance it bears to their national pipe, and believe in nothing without a "sough", whether it be the "birr" of the drone, or the more dissonant but characteristic falsetto that governs the higher notes of the "chaunter".
    • 1993, Paul H. Scott, “A Rich Vocabulary”, in Books in Scotland - Issues 45-56:
      At all events, the vocabulary of Scots is not only the key to much of our literature, but an asset we should cherish and use to give smeddum and birr to our fushionless English.
    • 2011 April 24, Kevin McKenna, “Labour needs to challenge Alex Salmond – and quickly”, in The Guardian[2]:
      Gray possesses an unfortunate East of Scotland birr that suggests a 21-year-old student interviewing for his first job.

Verb[edit]

birr (third-person singular simple present birrs, present participle birring, simple past and past participle birred)

  1. (Scotland) To make a whirring noise; make a noise like that of revolving wheels, or of millstones at work.
    • 1869, John Mackay Wilson, Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Vol. XXIII:
      if it is ordained that ye must forget him, ye will banish him from your mind the mair easily that ye ken nae mair o' him than ye do o' the bird that birrs past ye in the wood—that it has a bonny feather in its tail."
    • 1883, Edwin Paxton Hood, Scottish Characteristics, page 336:
      The gudewife birrs wi ' the wheel a' day, Three threeds an' a thrum, Three threeds an' a thrum,
    • 1925, Charles Stewart Black, The Scots Magazine - Volume 4, page 256:
      The muircock birrs at yer snell ha' door , An' fyles blawin' drift yer sheep will smore,
  2. (Scotland) To lurch or set to spinning.
    • 1824, “The Burning O' The Bible”, in John Mactaggart, editor, The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia, page 499:
      His cowt grew reezy, its lang tail 'Twad swash, and lugs wad birr up, At length it cuist him, and did trail Him hame, by fit i'e stirrup,
    • 1889, David Herschell Edwards, editor, One Hundred Modern Scottish Poets, page 192:
      She's bow't i' the bacck, has a growth on her shouther, And hirples in daytime when steerin ' frae hame ; But nichtly birrs aff like a rocket o ' puother, And reels ' mang the staurs on a broomstick o ' fame .
    • 1885, Charles Stewart, “Auld Granny Mucklejohn's View of the Times”, in David Herschell Edwards, editor, One Hundred Modern Scottish Poets:
      When wark had ceased - fiel', Lads knitted, lassies trig an' clean, Did birr the spinnin' wheel;
    • 1999, Duncan Glen, Scottish Literature: A New History from 1299 to 1999, page 54:
      The swankies lap thro' mire and slike, Wow ! as their heads did birr: They yowph'd the ba' frae dike to dike, Wi ' unco' speed and virr,

References[edit]

  • Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, 1911
  • Dictionary.com, birr

Etymology 2[edit]

From Amharic ብር (bər, silver).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

birr (plural birrs)

  1. The currency of Ethiopia, divided into 100 santims.
Synonyms[edit]

Usage notes[edit]

Before 1976, the official name for the currency in English was dollar.


French[edit]

Noun[edit]

birr m (plural birrs)

  1. birr (Ethiopian currency)

Old Irish[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

birr

  1. inflection of berr:
    1. vocative/genitive singular masculine
    2. accusative/dative singular feminine
    3. genitive singular neuter
    4. nominative plural masculine

Mutation[edit]

Old Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Nasalization
birr birr
pronounced with /v(ʲ)-/
mbirr
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.

Spanish[edit]

Noun[edit]

birr m (plural birrs)

  1. birr (currency)