Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COW, COWE, KOW, v.1, n.2 [kʌu]

I. v.

1. To poll or crop (the hair). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.2 (cowe), Kcb.1 1940; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein 56. Ppl.adj. cowit, closely cut; having short, thin hair (Sc. 1879 Jam.5). Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 342:
Would you make me trow that my head's vow'd when I find the hair on't.
Gall.(D) 1901  Trotter Gall. Gossip 351:
The weans wus scrubbit too' an their hair cowe't.
Dmf. 1817  W. Caesar Poems 71:
When ye're upon yon distant shore, Where wild cats yell, where lions roar, . . . Yes, they'll come to your very door, An' cow your beard.

2. To cut, to cut short. Also used fig. Vbl.n. cowin, a piece (cut off); ppl.adj. cowit, kowed, hornless, “humble” (of cows) (Ork. 1929 Marw., kowd; Kcb.4 1900). Sc. 1721  Ramsay Poems 379:
I'd fret, wae's me! to see the[e] lye Beneath the Bottom of a Pye, Or cow'd out Page by Page to wrap Up Snuff, or Sweeties, in a Shap.
Ags. 1867  G. W. Donald Poems 20:
Wha kens but it may cowe your days, Gif ye forget.
Edb. 1773  R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 72:
Remind him o' his former want, To cow his daffin and his pleasure.
Rnf. 1790  A. Wilson Poems 91:
Twa pints o' weel-boilt solid sowins, Wi' whauks o' gude ait-far'le cowins.
Ayr. 1787  Burns Ordination (Cent. ed.) xiii.:
They'll gie her on a rape a hoyse, And cowe her measure shorter By th' head some day.

3. ? To dress by cutting off ragged pieces of skin, etc. Lnk. c.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 17:
The hurly burly being ended . . . they began to cow their cuttet lugs, and wash their sairs.

4. To eat up, to consume (Bnff.8 c.1920); “to eat greedily, to munch” (Ork. 1887 Jam.6, kow). Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems II. 302:
Allan's hale, and well, and living, . . . Cowing Beef, and drinking roundly.
Sc. 1806  R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads II. 169:
Auld cruikit carl, wi' your fat yow; It weel will saur wi' the good brown yill; And the four spawls o't I wat we's cow.
Ayr. 1822  H. Ainslie Pilgrime, etc. 229:
The brute beside them cows the carpet.

5. To overtop, surpass, outdo (Abd. correspondents, Fif.10, Lnk.11, Kcb.1 1940; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein 56). Lit. and fig. Sc. 1852  H. Miller Schools and Schoolm. (1858) xxv.:
“O, Saunders, Saunders!” exclaimed Robert, “there was surely some God's soul at work for us, or she [boat] would never have cowed yon [wave].”
Abd.(D) 1920  G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 10:
Wi' college chiels I may be blate, At Logic rarely shine, But ne'er a ane can cowe me At the kissin' o' a quine.
Lnk. 1922  T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 60:
But Dod! when he's a man he'll cowe them a', He'll either mak' a spune or spoil a horn.

II. n.

1. A crop, a hair-cut (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Edb.1 (w.Lth. and Clc.), Arg.1, Kcb.1 1940; Lnk. 1948 (per Abd.27)). Slg. 1935  W. D. Cocker Further Poems 28:
His touzled hair was aye unshorn, his mither ne'er had sent Her laddie to the barber's shop in Gaza for a cowe.
Lth. 1885  “J. Strathesk” More Bits from Blinkbonny 39:
There was no fear of anybody “ruggin” that hair for some time, . . . so close was the cowe.
w.Sc. 1934  “Uncle Tom” Mrs Goudie's Tea-Pairty 25:
He had ca'ed at Tammy Taidrel's shope tae get a cow.
Arg. 1929 1 :
“Whaar are ye for?” “Oh, ahm gaan for a cow.”

2. A trouncing, a humiliating defeat. Ayr. 1786  Burns To W. Simpson, Postscript ix.:
But new-light herds gat sic a cowe, Folk thought them ruin'd stick-an-stowe.
Ayr. 1790  A. Tait Poems and Songs 220:
War Highland lads instead of Howes, Both France and Spain wad get their cowes.

III. Phrs.: 1. to cow(e) a', — a'thing, to surpass, beat everything; Gen.Sc.; 2. to cowe a' green thing, id. (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1940); 3. to cow someone's horns, to curtail someone's power (Sc. 1808 Jam.); cf. Eng. to clip someone's wings; 4. to cow the cadger, — 1; known to Abd.2, Kcb.1 1940; 5. to cow(e) the cuddy, id. (Abd.9 1940; Ags.2 1938; Fif.13 1940); 6. to cow the docken, id.; known to Cai.7 1940; 7. (to) cow(e) the gowan, (1) id.; known to Cai.9 1939; Bnff.2, Abd. and Fif. correspondents 1940; (2) “to overcome, so as to humble” (Kcb.4 1900); †(3) as n.phr.: “a fleet horse, . . . one that cuts the ground” (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.2); †8. to cow the wee whittle, = 1 (Ags. 1824 Literary Olio (24 Jan.) 29/2). 1. Sh. 1906  T. P. Ollason Spindrift 86:
Bit av aal A'm endured sin' da day I wis boarn, Da past ook cows a' — Loard hae mercy on Maaly.
em.Sc. 1895  (a) “I. MacLaren” Auld Langsyne 217:
An' the names they cowe a'thing for length.
Gsw. 1863  W. Miller Nursery Songs 59:
Ye might ha'e speer'd a body's leave — but ye cowe a'.
Rxb. 1851  Poems on Auld Brig (per Rxb.2):
Hech sirs, what science now has brought to pass, And what cowes a' — a Palace built o' glass.
2. Abd. 1929  N. M. Campbell in Sc. Readings, etc. (ed. T. W. Paterson) 92:
Weel, gin that disna cowe a' green thing!
4. Ags.(D) 1894  J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) v.:
That fair cows the cadger.
5. Bch. 1913  W. Fraser Jeremiah Jobb 9:
Od, 'at cowes the cuddy!
Ayr. 1887  J. Service Dr Duguid 132:
It juist cowes the cuddy, and the cuddy cowes a'.
6. Ags. 1893  “F. Mackenzie” Cruisie Sk. vi.:
'Od this dings a'! This cows the docken!
7. (1) Sc. 1934  in Border Mag. (June) 86:
Hear him, lads; losh, if that disna cow the gowan, Bauldy ownin' up tae be feart.
Abd. 1832  A. Beattie Poems 225:
O' a the bards that I hear chime, You cow the gowan.
Lnk. 1881  A. Wardrop J. Mathison's Courtship, etc. 9:
It fairs cowes the gowan a' thegither, tae think that oor Sandy, an' Tam, an' Robin . . . hae a' gotten married but me.
s.Sc. 1835–40  J. M. Wilson (ed.) Tales of the Borders (1857–59) X. 132:
It cowes the gowan hoo sae sensible a man as John Darling wad e'er hae looten his dochter tak up wi' sic-like clamjamphrey.

[From Coll, v., q.v.; see P.L.D. § 78.2. O.Sc. has cow(e), kow, to trim, to cut the hair, 1530, to cut (plants, etc.), 1549 (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Cow v.1, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 Dec 2017 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/cow_v1_n2>

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