Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
COWT, COUT, Coute, Coutte, Cowte, Cyowt, n.1 [kʌut Sc.; kjʌut (Avoch, e.Rs.)]
1. Sc. forms of Eng. colt, a young horse (see P.L.D. § 78.2). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10, Arg.1, Kcb.10 1940. Dim. coutie.
Ags. 1893 “F. Mackenzie” Cruisie Sk. ix.:
But ye ken young couts maun canter. Peb. 1793 Peggy's Myll (ed. R. D. C. Brown 1832) xxx.:
They cu'dna' get thair feet tae gang Lyk als they saw swiet Willie's; They war, compayrd, lyk spavied couttes. Ayr. 1928 J. S. Gall Muses 6:
An' tell't her man tae gang an' try The wee bit coutie for tae buy.
Combs.: (1) cout-evil, “properly colt-evil, a disease incident to young horses; E[ng]. strangles, in which the maxillary glands swell so much as to threaten strangulation” (Border 1808 Jam.); (2) cowt-foal, cowte-, “a young horse when sucking” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); known to Kcb.10 1940; (3) cowt halter, -helter, -hailter, “a halter made of rope or straw, consisting of the moo-piece, or the noose for the mouth, and the hehd-stehl, or the pieces that go along each jaw and fasten on the top of the head. Sometimes it has a chowk-bin, or a piece that is tied round behind the jaws” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 31, -hailter; Bnff.2, Abd.2, Arg.1, Kcb.10 1940).
(2) Sc. a.1791 Lochmaben Harper in Ballads (ed. Child) No. 192 A. xx.:
In Scotland I've tint a braw cowte-foal, In England they've stawn my gude gray mare. (3) Sc. 1802–3 Scott Minstrelsy I. 67:
He took a cowt halter frae his horse. Gall.(D) 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 367:
Weel, whun the fair cam roon Jock took it tae Keltonhill, wi naething on't but a cowt-helter, an led it up an doon the fair in a kin o' careless wey.
2. Extended to persons (cf. use of Eng. colt) to mean: (1) a rough, awkward person (Abd.9 1940), often used contemptuously; (2) “an adolescent boy or girl” (ne.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); a child. Known to Bnff.2 1940.
(1) Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 133:
The Man o' the Well saw the cowardly houn's, The Cromarty Rangers, use begnets an' guns, 'Cause some stupid cowt o' a Hielanman gat Frae an ill-trickit loun roun' the lugs wi' a cat. Ayr. 1801 T. Walker Ep. to Burns in Poems ascribed to Burns 27:
I'm but a ragget cowt mysel', Owre sib to you! Rxb. 1802 J. Leyden in
Scott Minstrelsy II. 355:
The eddy, in which he perished, is still called the Cout of Keeldar's Pool . . . and the popular epithet of Cout . . . is expressive of his strength, stature, and activity. (2) e.Rs. (Avoch) 1914 (per
Weel, my loonies, fa's cyowts are ye? Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxii.:
By the time he was seven — and a ragged coute he was as ever stepped without shoes — he could fend for himself. Lnk. 1882 J. Carmichael Poems 101:
I missed wee Jamie's form, And spiered, at those aroun', where the steerin' cout had gone.
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"Cowt n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Sep 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/cowt_n1>
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