Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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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).]

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"Cardow v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Nov 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/cardow>

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