Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

CARDOW, CARDOO, CURDOO, Curdow, Courdow, v. and n. [kɑr′du:, -′dʌu, kʌr′du:, -′dʌu]

1. v. “To mend, to patch, as a taylor” (Tweedd. 1825 Jam.2, cardow, curdow); “to sow [sic] in a clumsy manner; a term applied to inferior tailors” (Lth., Tweedd. Ib., curdoo).

Hence cardower, cardooer, curdooer, curdoer, (1) “one who works at any trade within a burgh in which he is not a freeman” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2, curdower; 1923 Watson W.-B., obs.); (2) “a tailor or sempstress, who goes from house to house to mend old clothes” (Ayr. 1825 Jam.2, carfower; Rxb. Ib., curdower); (3) “a travelling tinker” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add., curdooer). (2) Sc. 1837  J. G. Lockhart Life of Scott V. xii.:
The hangings and curtains, too, were chiefly the work of a little hunch-backed tailor . . . one of the race who creep from homestead to homestead . . . in Scottish nomenclature cardooers.
(3) Abd. 1928  Q. B. Lane in Abd. Book-Lover VI. No. 1, 13:
Wi' sowderin' bolt, shears, an' fite iron belyve, He shaws that a curdooer's wark's never deen.

2. n. ? One who carries on the profession of tailoring illegally, i.e. in a town of which he is not a freeman, hence a clumsy workman, or the work done by such. Dmf. 1795  MS. Accs. Incorp. Tailors Dmf. (28 July):
Spent in the search of 2 Cardoos . . 1/-.
  Ib. (2 Nov.):
Spent at the taking of Selkirk's Courdow. 1/-. To the officer and party . . . 1/-.

[Origin uncertain, but phs. from Car, awkward, wrong, and dow, to do (see Dae).]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Cardow v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Feb 2019 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down