Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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CHAW, Cha', v.1 and n.1 Cf. Chow, v., n.1 [tʃɑ: Sc., but m.Sc. + tʃ:, s.Sc. tʃɒ:]

I. v.

1. To chew. Known to Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents, Ags.2, Fif.1 (1939). Now vulgar and colloq. in Eng. Mry. 1873  J. Brown Round Table Club 66:
Gin yer feet slip on that weet, slithery rock, ye winna chaw mair cheese.
Rnf. 1788  E. Picken Poems, etc. 97:
On nonsense now may chaw their cude.
Uls. 1904  J. W. Byers in Victoria Coll. Mag. 41:
A woman no one can trust, and who is always at some mischief, is compared to a troublesome cow: “If she doesn't kick she will chaw claes.”

Hence chaw-bait, “the nickname given to fishermen of Rosehearty village by their coast neighbours” (Abd.16 1939).

2. “To provoke, to vex” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); to make jealous. Known to Ags.2, Fif.10, Arg.1, Lnk.3 and Kcb. correspondents (1939). Most commonly used as ppl.adj. chawed, chawt, chawn, vexed, chagrined; jealous. Bch. 1928  (per Abd.15):
I wis some sair chawn ower't.
m.Sc. 1922  “O. Douglas” Ann and her Mother xxiv.:
Some folk ye wad think tak' a fair delight in tellin' ye things that chaw ye, they juist canna help bein' nesty.
Slg. 1935  W. D. Cocker Further Poems 22:
Noo a's in order Ye've chawed the deil: ye're safe an' soun' Ower heaven's border.
Edb. 1821  W. Liddle Poems 90:
And syne speer'd at me what is't, And that might chaw'd ye.
Arg. 1932 1 :
I wuz that chawed when he let the hoose ower ma heid efter promisin' tae let me hae't for anither year.
Gsw. 1832–1846  J. D. Carrick in Whistle-Binkie (1st Series) 123:
Deacon Roset when he saw't, He left the room he was sae chawt.
w.Dmf. 1915  J. L. Waugh Betty Grier 150:
I'm gettin' fair angry at the new yin hangin' oot so prominently an' skinklin' as if to chaw the ithers.

3. Phrs.: †(1) to cha' fause, “to suffer” (Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems, Gl.); (2) to chaw one's words, “to speak indistinctly” (Sc. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.; Bnff.2, Abd.2, Abd.9 1939). (1) Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore 29:
Gin he is gane, as doubtless but he has, He'll shortly mak us ane an' a' cha' fause.

II. n.

1. Something chewed in the mouth, i.e. a quid of tobacco. Known to Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents, Ags.2, Fif.1, Edb.1, Lnk.3 (1939). Now vulgar or dial. in Eng. Mearns 1844  W. Jamie Muse of the Mearns 58:
Noo, turn the chaw into your cheek, And, Charlie, tent me weel.
Ags. 1939 17 :
See a chaw fae ye!
Uls. c.1920  J. Logan Ulster in the X-Rays (2nd ed.) vi.:
A “chew” of tobacco becomes “chow,” or “chaw.”

2. A disappointment, a snub; “a stinging rejoinder or retort” (Abd.7 1925). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10 (1939). Bnff. 1916 6 :
The candidate gied the cheeky heckler a nesty chaw.
Ags. 1930  “A. Kennedy” Orra Boughs i.:
With no life beyond this a man would never have the chaw of knowing his own mortality.
Ayr. 1900  G. Douglas House with Green Shutters (1901) xvi.:
“Chaw” . . . a bitter and envious disappointment which shows itself in face and eyes.

3. Phrs.: (1) chaw throu', a toilsome attempt (Bnff.2, Abd.19 1939); (2) to play a chaw on (a person), to humiliate a person by causing him envy and disappointment. (1) Abd. 1931  A. M. Williams Bundle of Yarns 37:
Sensing that I was in difficulties over a problem, he came behind me, and seeing the slate . . . covered with a long drawn-out attempt at a solution, he said, “Mercy me! Mr Double V, fatna lang chaw throu's thes?”
(2) Ayr. 1900  G. Douglas House with Green Shutters (1901) xvi.:
Boys were always coming back to . . . “play a chaw” on young Gourlay by boasting their knowledge of the world, winking at each other the while to observe his grinning anger.

[O.Sc. chaw(e), to chew, c.1500 (D.O.S.T.); E.M.E. chawe, from 1530, chaw, fom 1596 (N.E.D.). Phonetically chaw might be referred to the ablaut variant of O.E. cēowan, to chew, found in pa.t., viz. ceaw, with accent on a. Cf. Mod.Ger. kauen, Mod.Du. kauwen, L.Ger. kauen, kawen.]

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"Chaw v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Dec 2018 <>



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