Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

GA', n. Also gaw; gaa (Sh.), †gau. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. gall, bile, etc. See P.L.D. § 78.1 (1). [gɑ:]

1. In Phrs. and Combs.: (1) gaa-burst, v., to become breathless (Sh. 1952 Graham and Robertson Grammar Sh. Dial. 38). Hence gaa-bursen, short-winded (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Bnff. 1880 Jam.), breathless, “panting from over-exertion” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.); †(2) gaugrene, adj., as green as gall, hence raw, inexperienced; (3) gaw o' the pot, the first runnings of a still (Abd. 1825 Jam.; Bnff.2 1945); †(4) gut an' ga', the whole contents of the stomach, hence the stomach, “corporation”; fig. everything (Jam.2, -gaw); †(5) to brak one's ga', to become broken in spirit; obs. in Eng. since 17th cent. (2) Mry. 1872  W. H. L. Tester Poems 69:
She says I'm but a gaugrene gowk — A perfect mule —.
(4) Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore 51–52:
But some way on her, they fuish on a change, That gut an' ga' she keest wi' breakings strange.
Edb. 1773  R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 12:
What black mishanter gart ye spew Baith gut and ga'?
Peb. 1805  J. Nicol Poems I. 155:
Till, bush! — he gae a desperate spue, An' gut an' ga' he scoutit I' the kirn that night!
Fif. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxx.:
Mr Clinkscales mak's his appearance puffin' an' blawin' like a spout-whale, for John happened to be ane o' thae chields wha hae mair gut an' ga' i' their composition than onything o' a mair ethereal essence.
(5) Sh. 1913  Old-Lore Misc. VI. i. 4:
Some will greet and some will laich, And some will brak their ga'.

2. A disease of the gall, common among cattle (Sh. 1947 Folk Bk. (ed. Tait) I. 82, gaa), now technically known as anaplasmosis. Also gaa sickness, idem. Sh. 1892  G. Stewart Fireside Tales 244:
Shü . . . wis ill wi' da gaa sickness.
Sh. 1899  Shet. News (28 Jan.):
Da fleckid koo hed da gaa da last year.

Comb.: ga(a)-grass, -girse, stonewort, Chara vulgaris or fragilis, boiled and given to cattle as a cure for the gall-sickness (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; 1914 Angus Gl., -girse; 1947 Folk Bk. (ed. Tait) I. 82). Sh. 1922  J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 54:
“A' 'at can be düne,” I said, “is ta get da coo ga' girse, Sibbie.”

[O.Sc. has gaw, gall (lit. and fig.), from c.1500.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Ga' n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 Oct 2018 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down