Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GAUP, v., n. Also gawp, gaap; †gap, †gawpe, ¶gaulp. [gɑ(:)p, g: p]

I. v. 1. intr. To gape, to stare open-mouthed (Mry.1, Bnff.7 1927; Abd., Ags., Fif., Lth., Uls. 1954); “to look up in a wild sort of way, or as expressive of surprise; often, to gaup up” (Bch. 1825 Jam.). Also common in Eng. dial. Cf. Goup. Bch. 1804  W. Tarras Poems 71:
Wae worth ye, wabster Tam, what's this That I see gaupin gumlie?
Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 18:
Syk is the nature o' that grot To echoe sae, e'en should there not Be gaupin body on the spot.
Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 59:
A cud hardly get 'im t' gang at a': he heeld sic a gaupan in at ilky chop windaw he cam till.
Kcb. 1895  Crockett Bog-Myrtle ii. ii.:
D'ye think Mary McHaffie . . . [can] stan' still as lang as pleases you to gaup there!

Hence gaupy, adj., gaping, wide-meshed. Per. 1879  P. R. Drummond Bygone Days 66:
[The height of folly] is kissing an auld wife through a gaupy-riddle.

2. To yawn (Lth. 1825 Jam., gawp). Hence gawpish, disposed to yawn (Ib.). Also in Eng. dial.

3. tr. To devour, eat greedily, “to swallow voraciously” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen. with up. Also fig. Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 54:
Syne till't he fell, and seem'd right yap His Mealtith quickly up to gawp.
Sc. 1737  Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 28:
Good gear is not to be gapped.
Abd. 1832  W. Scott Poems 72:
See fu' they gaup the brose, de'il birst their wames.
Rnf. 1852  J. Mitchell Grey Goose Quill 111:
He comes only at meal-time, an' then he gaups his meat in siccan a hurry that he would put you in min' o' a man filling dung.
Edb. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick viii.:
Fine they ken gin they canna get oor thrapple cut, we'll hae them gauped up, stoop an' roop.
Abd.   7 1925:
Gaupin' an' aetin', eating voraciously, thus necessitating the gaping of the mouth to fill it with food.

II. n. 1. A stupid person, a simpleton, one who goes about open-mouthed (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 59; ‡Abd., Ags. 1954); one who gapes rudely (Mry.1 1925, gaup). Also, more commonly, gaupie, gawpie (Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore 157; Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 26; Abd.2, Ags.18 1949). Also in n.Eng. dial. Cf. Gappy. Dmf. 1843  Carlyle in
Froude Life (1884) I. xi.:
“They are a terrible set of fellows,” he said, “those open-mouthed wondering gawpies, who lodge you for the sake of looking at you.”
Abd. 1887  J. Cowe Jeems Sim 6:
A gypet gaupie, I kenna fat they ca'd him — he gets up an' he says. . . .
Abd. 1926  L. Coutts Lyrics 41:
I've affin seen conceit in men But ee're the warst! Ye gawp!
Sc. 1928  J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 23:
But what wi' scringers hingin' roon', An' gaupies frae a neebor toon.

Hence gaap-a-leerie, a stupid-looking person (‡Abd.15 1953). Abd. 1932 4 :
Sic a gaap-a-leerie o' a chiel.

2. A large mouthful (Sc. 1808 Jam., gawp), a gulp. Ayr. 1826  Galt Last of the Lairds ii.:
Like Moses' rod, swallow't up at ae gawpe.
Ayr. 1871  J. K. Hunter Life Studies 204:
Telling the lassie that she has ower mony parritch, and to gi'e her twa gaups.
Rnf. 1873  D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 20:
I get whiles a glouf o' conscience, but I aye get twa gaups o' gratification afore han'.

3. Fig. Loud, noisy talking or laughter. Also in Eng. dial. Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 24:
Tempestuouslie there cam' a crack O' gaulps incomparable.
  Ib. 70:
The god o' gaups did laugh and smikker.

[Vocalized form of obs. Eng. galp, to gape, yawn; to yelp (of an animal); Mid.Du. galpen, to yelp, bark like a fox, W.Flem. galpen, to laugh rudely.]

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"Gaup v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Feb 2019 <>



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