Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COO, Ku, n.1 Sc. forms of Eng. cow, the female of the bovine breed, used as in St.Eng. In II., the form cow is also illustrated in combs. peculiar to Sc. Even when the word is written cow the pronunciation is gen. [ku:], except in s.Sc. The reg. coll. pl. is kye (see Kye, n.1), the weak pl. coos being used after numerals, e.g. a puckle kye; twa coos.

I. = Eng. cow. Cai. dim. cooag. Also used attrib. with beast. Cai. 1934  John o' Groat Jnl. (30 March) 3/7:
So John gied up in 'e rig o' a Caithness fairmer tryan til buy their stirkies an' auld cooags an' their sheepies.
Ayr. 1891  H. Johnston Kilmallie v.:
Bringing pigs and eggs and young coo-beasts to the fair.

II. Combs.

1. In flower names, now mostly obs.: (1) cowbell, bladder campion, Silene latifolia (Sc. 1886 B. and H. 121); cf. (5); also so called in U.S.A. (see D.A.E.); (2) cow-berry, the bog strawberry, Comarum palustre (Ib.); (3) cow-cakes, (a) the wild parsnip, Pastinaca sylvestris (Lth., Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obs.); (b) the cow parsnip, Heracleum sphondylium (Edb. 1886 B. and H. 121); cf. (7) and (10); †(4) cow-cloos, the common trefoil, purple clover, Trifolium pratense (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); (5) cow-cracker, = (1) (m.Sc., s.Sc. 1869 Athenæum (13 March) 382; w.Dmf. 1899 J. Shaw Country Schoolmaster 345); (6) cow-heave, coo-haive, coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara (Abd.15 1930, coo-haive; Slk. 1825 Jam.2); see Heave; (7) cowkeep, = (3) (b) (Fif. 1861 Gardeners' Chron. 799); †(8) cowmack, prob. the white lychnis, Lychnis vespertina (B. and H. 122), “an herb supposed to have great virtue in making the cow desire the male” (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); (9) cow-quakes, — quakers, the quaking grass, Briza media (Sc. 1777 J. Lightfoot Flora Scotica I. 99; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., — quakers); (10) coo-rex, = (3) (b) (Fif.1 1930); (11) cow's cluits = (12) (b) (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (12) cowslip, (a) Anemone nemorosa (n.Sc. 1863 in Border Mag. 286); (b) water avens, Geum rivale (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (13) cow's lungwort, the mullein, Verbascum thapsus (Sc. 1777 J. Lightfoot Flora Scotica I. 143); (14) cowsmouth, the cowslip, Primula veris (Lth. 1825 Jam.2). (2) Sc. 1866  Lindley and Moore Treasury of Botany I. 317:
In some parts of Scotland the fruits are called cow-berries on account, it is said, of their being used to rub the inside of milk-pails for the purpose of thickening milk.

2. Other combs.: (1) coo-baikie, see Baikie, n.2, 2; (2) cow-bailie, (a) see Bailie, n., 4; †(b) a name “sometimes given in contempt to a ploughman who is slovenly and dirty” (Bwk. 1825 Jam.2); (3) cow-clushern, “cow's dung as it drops in a heap” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); †(4) cow-craik, “a mist with an easterly wind” (Lnk. 1825 Jam.2); cf. (9) (b); (5) coo-feeder, cow-, a dairy farmer (Ags.1 1937, coo-); (6) coo gang, cow-, cow's —, a cow pasture, pasturage for a cow (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., cow's — ); †(7) coogil, cow gild (see second quot.); cf. (19); (8) cowlock, “a lock of hair projeeting beyond the remainder; a ‘cowlick”' (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (9) cow quake, ku-kwacks, coo's quak(e), †(a) “an affection of cattle, caused by the chilliness of the weather” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); also called blasting (see Blast, v., 5); (b) “the stormy, blustery weather that comes often in May” (Ork. 1929 Marw., ku-kwacks; Abd.22 1937); †(10) cow's backrin, “cow's dung dropped in the fields” (Gall. 1825 Jam.2); cf. Bachram; †(11) cow's band, “an ancient custom by which when a man borrowed money he gave the cow's band [? = halter] in pledge” (Gall., Dmf. Ib.); (12) cow's-clap, “a piece of cow's-dung” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.); also common in Eng. dial. (E.D.D.); (13) coo's drink, hot treacle (as administered to ailing cows) (Ags.1 1937); “a hot drink of any sort to induce sweating” (Fif.10 1937); (14) coo's gress, cow's —, = (6) (Kcb.9 1937; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., cow's — ); (15) cow-shite, “a contemptible person” (E.D.D.); †(16) cowshot, a species of marl; †(17) cow's thumb, a hair's breadth, no distance at all; obs. in Eng. since a.1704 (N.E.D.); †(18) cow-stick, “a name given to several of the families of the Polyzoa, as the Celleporidæ, Escharidæ and Tubuliporidæ (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 31); (19) cowsworth, kowisworth, an old denomination of land value in Ork., gen. = 1/16 pennyland, but see second quot.; (20) cow-tie, a halter for a cow. (4) Lnk. 1825  Jam.2:
The cow-craik destroys a' the fruit.
(5) Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian ix.:
As he had obtained both substance and experience by his management of that little farm he resolved to employ them as a dairy-farmer, or cowfeeder, as they are called in Scotland.
Ags. 1892  Brechin Advertiser (15 Nov.) 3/5:
His brother John was also a coo-feeder.
(6) s.Sc. 1835–40  J. M. Wilson (ed.) Tales of the Borders (1857–59) V. 378:
Ye may get muckle mair guid o'm . . . than a' that ye'll loss by the takin' o' the cow-gang.
s.Sc. 1938  J. Keddie in Border Mag. (Feb.) 30:
Do you mind it was up about the coo gang they f'und the tramp that aboot killed himsel' eatin' mushrooms?
(7) Ork. 1749  in Marw. Add.:
One mark of Wool for each Cow Gild of sheep (being seven in number), a tiend Lamb for every three Cow Gild and four Fowls for each Boat.
Ork. 1883  W. T. Dennison in
Lord Napier Highlands and Islands Comm. Report App. A. LIX. 270:
The onca [q.v.] held from the large farmer a house, a piece of cultivated land . . . one, two or three “coogils” of grass land — a coogil was a cow's grazing. [O.N. kúgildi, cow's value.]
(9) (b) Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 80:
Come it early, come it late, in May, comes the Cow quake. [Some authorities take cow quake here as = cow-quakes (see II. 1 (9)).]
Abd. 1930  Abd. Press and Jnl. (8 Mar.) 6/3:
We have still to weather the borrowing days, the caul' gab, the coo's quake, and the yowe trummle before we are clear of the unpleasant weather.
Fif. 1935  J. H. Whyte in Scottish Country (ed. G. Scott Moncrieff) 277:
Just after the Coos' Quak' in May — the cold spell about the turn of the month which makes the cows shiver.
(13) Ags.(D) 1894  J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) ii.:
You'll get a coo's drink, wi' plenty o' pepper in't, an' get to your bed. Thae washin'-hoose argeymints are affectin' your nervous system, I'm dootin'.
(14) Lth. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick vii.:
He said it was a black burnin shame to think that the pleuchman should be makin day an' way o't an' nae mair a' his life, an no' hae as muckle as a coo's gress to ca' his ain at the end o't.
(15) Bwk. 1856  G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 83:
She . . . told them that they would “a' turn out cow-shites at the last!”
(16) Sc. 1743  R. Maxwell Select Trans. Agric. 265:
The brown and gray sorts, usually called Cowshot.
(17) Slg. 1825  Jam.2:
Ye're no a cow's thumb frae't.
(19) Ork. 1883  R. M. Fergusson Ramblin Sketches 82:
Besides the arable lands, called pennylands, merklands, farthing-lands, and cowsworths, each farmer has the right to send so many cattle or sheep to the common hill.
Ork. 1929  Marw. Add.:
In the 1739 Rental of Inner Stromness it is specifically stated that in this township 3 kowisworths = 1 markland, and 3 marklands = 1 pennyland.
(20) Fif. 1937  St Andrews Cit. (3 April) 11/2:
The sore [on a bull's neck] had been caused by a chain cow-tie.

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"Coo n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jan 2018 <>



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