Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COUTH, adj. and n. [kuθ]

I. adj.

1. Of persons: †(1) Agreeable, affable, sociable, friendly. Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems II. 282:
Nor will North Britain yield for Fouth Of ilka thing, and Fellows couth, To any but her Sister South.
Rnf. 1835  D. Webster Rhymes 109:
They are couth, And unco happy.
Kcb. 1814  W. Nicholson Poems (1878) 86:
He casts a wink, she's kirr and couth And draws the water to his mouth.

(2) Soft, flabby. Rxb. 1826  A. Scott Poems 112:
O blythe an' merry sporting youth! To me shall ne'er return, 'Neath age an' ailment now run couth, On my last legs I mourn.
Rxb. 1940  (per Lnk.11):
Recently I heard a stout, elderly man excuse his breathlessless at the top of a hill by saying: “I'm owre couth for this job; I ha'ena the win' for't noo.”

2. Of places and things: comfortable, snug, neat. Known to Lnk.11 (1940) for Rxb. Sc. a.1749  The Miller in Sc. Songs (ed. Aitken 1874) 222:
His house was warm and couth, And room in it to hold me.
Sc. 1788  R. Galloway Poems 181:
A mankie gown, of our ain kintra growth, Did mak them very braw, and unco couth.

II. n. Kindness. Sc. a.1806  in R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads I. 125:
O, blessins on thy couth, lord John; Weel's me to see this day.

Hence couthless, adj., cold, unfeeling. Edb. 1788  J. Macaulay Poems 114:
To read their fu'some, puffing lays, Their fause, unmeaning, couthless praise Wad gar ane think their votaries Were perfect saunts.

[O.Sc. has couth, etc., known, familiar (D.O.S.T.); Mid.Eng. cuð, couð, etc., known, acquainted (Stratmann), and O.E. cūð, known, famous, familiar (Sweet). Cūð is pa.p. of cunnan, to know, but is found only as an adj. (Sweet Anglo-Saxon Primer). The Mod.Sc. senses have prob. developed from that of “familiar” in O.Sc.]

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"Couth adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 May 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/couth_adj_n>

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