Scottish verdict

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Tue Nov 2 17:12:01 UTC 2010

I think that Paul is quite right that "Scotch verdict" or "Scottish verdict" is not in OED.  It wasn't even in Black's Law Dictionary until recent editions, although it goes back at least as far as the 19th century (whoever the idiot is who supplied the dates of first use for Black's was way off on this one, giving a date of 1912).

However, Paul is way wrong in supposing that a lot of people on this list get paid for fooling around with the OED.


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Paul Frank [paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU]
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2010 11:53 AM
Subject: Scottish verdict

I heard someone refer to the "Scotch verdict" on the Beeb today - also
known as the "Scottish verdict" or "Scots verdict," i.e. a verdict of
"not proven." It's a term I've heard dozens of times over the past 30
years. In Scotland (I used to have a Scottish girlfriend; she dumped
me) some people call it the "bastard verdict."

Now that I have a new hobby (for which read obsession), to wit,
I see that the OED lists neither "Scotch verdict" nor "Scottish
verdict" nor "bastard verdict." I want my money back. Just kidding.
How do you guys ever get any work done with the OED only a click away?
But,  wait, I forgot that fooling around with the OED is what you get
paid for.

Or is Scotch verdict in the OED and I'm just too dumb to find it?


Paul Frank
Chinese, German, French, Italian > English
Espace de l'Europe 16
Neuch√Ętel, Switzerland
paulfrank at
paulfrank at

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