Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COVINE, Covin, Coven, Covyne, n. [′ko(:)vɪn]

1. A compact or agreement; a plot. Obs. since 16th cent. in Eng. but revived by Scott. Sc. 1824  Scott Redgauntlet xv.:
The client himself opined, that it was entirely owing, first, to his own absence . . . being, as he said, deboshed with brandy . . . through the device, counsel, and covyne of Saunders Fairford, his agent.
Sc. 1828  Scott F. M. Perth xxvi.:
You are a close observer of the rules of the city, and are aware of the severe penalties which they denounce against such burghers as have covine and alliance with the Highland clans.

2. (See first quot.) Hist. Sc. 1852  N. and Q. (1st Series) V. 189:
A covine consists of 13 witches (“the Deil's dozen”?), of whom two are officials, the “Maiden of the Covine” who sits next the Deil, and with whom he leads off the dance (called Gillatrypes), and the “officer” who . . . calls the witches at the door, when the Deil calls the names from his book.
Sc. 1884–86  C. Rogers Social Life III. xx.:
To their “covens” or gatherings the foul sisterhood were borne through the air.
m.Sc. 1927  J. Buchan Witch Wood ix.:
The leader of the witches' Coven in Woodilee.
Edb. 1930  L. Spence in Scots Mag. (Jan.) 303:
We find, for example, good evidence that a covin of witches were wont to meet on the Calton Hill about the middle of the seventeenth century.

3. A heterogeneous collection of people, a rabble. Abd. 1947 27 :
They're a gey orra covin up yonner.

[O.Sc. has covyne, covine, etc., with various meanings, including a compact or agreement, a complot, 1375; as a company of witches the word occurs in the report of the Auldearn witch trial 1662 (R. Pitcairn Criminal Trials III. 603) in which no doubt the quots. in section 2 above ultimately originate. Mid.Eng. covine; O.Fr. covin, m., a thought, project, reunion, covine, m. and f., a thought, assembly, etc. (Godefroy); Lat. convenire, to come together, to assemble.]

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"Covine n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Apr 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/covine>

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