Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

GLUFF, n., v. Also gluf. Cf. Glaff, Gliff, Gloff. [glʌf]

I. n. 1. A sudden fright, a scare (Sc. 1808 Jam. s.v. gliff; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 151; I.Sc., Cai., Rs., Inv., m.Lth. 1954), a state of terror, a start; fig. a “fright”, “sight”. Cai. 1829  J. Hay Poems 25:
Her youthful heart got sic a gluff, Its tendons a' were trembling.
Ork. 1904  Dennison Sketches 23:
Andro heard dem flachterin' i' the lift, like a flock o' swans risin' i' a gluff.
Sh. 1915  Old-Lore Misc. VIII. i. 60:
I da very middle o' da nicht, Yorl waukened up wi' a gluff, fae da laand a' Nod.
Sh. 1922  J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 165:
“I saw nae slushidness aboot dee . . .” “Oh, haud dee tongue, lass, I wis juist a gluff — ”.
Cai. 1940  John o' Groat Jnl. (1 March):
A stoitered on a selkie 'at wis sleepan on 'e beach in 'e dark, an' got a rair gluff.

Hence gluffsome, adj., fearsome, frightening. Sh. 1952  J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 97:
Never saw I in a nightmare Things sae gluffsome, or sae queer.

2. A sudden blast of cold, heat, wind, etc. (ne.Sc., Ags. 1954), as a gluff o' heat (Jam.2); “a sudden gust of wind” (Abd.6 1913). Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 66:
He got a gluff o' caul' ween in's face, an' that ga' 'im the caul.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xl.:
We made's gin we hed been wuntin' a gluff o' the caller air.

3. The result of a sudden change of temperature: a sudden sensation, a shock. Also fig. Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb v.:
The first “gluff” of the cold water, when it crept up on his person, was a trial which his nerves could hardly withstand.
Ayr. 1891  H. Johnston Kilmallie I. ii.:
Jamie . . . had got an uncanny “gluff o' a warning” the night before.

4. Anything slight or momentary, such as a slight smell, a whiff (Ags., Per. 1954), a slight draught (of air), a slight attack, a touch (of cold, etc.) (m.Lth.1 1954). Sc.(E) 1879  P. H. Waddell Isaiah iii. 24:
An' syne it sal be; for scentit stuff, sal be grusome gluff.

II. v. 1. tr. To frighten, scare (Cai. 1808 Jam., gluf s.v. gliff; Ork. 1825 Id.; Sh., Ork. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Sh., Cai., m.Lth., Bwk. 1954). Cai. 1776  Weekly Mag. (25 Jan.) 145:
An' syne your looks Would gluff a minister, wi' a' his books.
Sh. 1836  Gentleman's Mag. II. 589:
I tink hit wid gluff da ful teef himsell.
Cai. 1869  M. Maclennan Peasant Life 279:
Ye warna gluffed wi' the lik' o' him?
Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 6:
The laird luckid vero gluffed like.
Ork. 1939  Orcadian (15 June):
Onywaye, as thoo says, so-hode hiz a gluffan affect on the sheep, a' richt.
Sh. 1949  Shetland Times (8 April):
What chance did they have of getting hold of our wool if they did not have this U.K. body with which to “gluff” us?

2. intr. To experience a sudden change of temperature, esp. to gasp (with cold, surprise, etc.) (Ork.5 1954). Bch. 1832  W. Scott Poems 2:
Close by the cham'er wa, he tak's the road, An' gluffs awa' as well as e'er he cou'd. At last he gets the door wi' great adee.
Abd. 1916  T.S.D.C. II.:
That's a nicht 'll mak' ye gluff.
Bnff. 1924  Swatches o' Hamespun 9:
“No, good-night,” said she . . . — that made ye gluff, my lad. Ach, badder't, fat cud she mean be tellin me to gyang?
Abd. 1925 7 :
When one comes out of the sea, or even when he enters the water, he will say, “It garrt me gluff,” i.e. gasp.

3. intr. To throw out a blast of heat. Sc.(E) 1879  P. H. Waddell Isaiah xxxi. 9:
The Lord wha gied light in Zioun till scaur him, an' het gluffin glowe in Jerus'lem till waur him.

[Prob. onomat. in origin: cf. Glaff, Gliff and Gloff with similar meanings. Cf. also Norw. dial. glufs, a gust of wind. O.Sc. has gluffe, ? a startled look, 15 —.]

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

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



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down