Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GOVE, v., n.1 Also goave, †goif (Bnff. 1792 Trans. Soc. Antiq. Scot. 442). [go:v]

I. v. 1. To stare, gaze; to stare stupidly or vacantly (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl. (with about or round); Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 166; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Cai., Abd., Per., Edb., sm. and s.Sc. 1955); to gaze with fear (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 233); to wander aimlessly about (Kcb.4 1900; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb.4 1955). Also in Yks. dial. Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 112:
But lang I'll gove and bleer my Ee, Before, alake! that Sight I see.
Ayr. 1786  Burns To Major Logan ii.:
When, idly goavin, whyles we saunter.
Uls. 1804  J. Orr Poems (1935) 141:
Gypes co'ert the wharf to gove, an' stare, While out, in boats, we bustle.
Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 150:
As whan a tumbler at a fair, Whair thousands round him goave and stare.
Sc. 1887  Stevenson Underwoods (1895) 137:
A while shut in my gangrel feet An' goavin' mettle.
Kcb. 1894  Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet 44:
The dull cattle that “goved” upon her.
Hdg. 1908  J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 237:
This ill-suits a spirit tameless — — Goaving through the city aimless.
Abd. 1922  Swatches o' Hamespun 57:
Tam's wae face wis a study. He was kin' o' dumfoonert. He jist steed an' goaved.
Sc. 1953  Scots Mag. (June) 174:
Frae oot the gless thar goaved yestreen lik steekit windies twa blae een.

Hence go(a)ver, one who wanders aimlessly about (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Rxb. 1869  Hawick Advertiser (9 Jan.) 3:
He told me where they [poachers] had gone to, and that the “Gover” was one of them.

2. Of animals: to toss the head from side to side (Mry.2 1937), to start with fright. Also fig. Cf. Cove, v.1 Sc. 1808  Jam. s.v. goif:
Cattle are said to gove, when startled.
Rxb. 1808  A. Scott Poems 20:
Rude sonneteers Ran goavin wild to grasp at fame.
Kcb. 1814  W. Nicholson Tales 10:
Our young cowt gov'd, I gae'm a whack, He pranced, an' syne the back-rape brak.
Kcb. 1894  Crockett Raiders xlvi.:
There Brownie stood an' shook his horns . . . frae side to side like a govin' beast.

3. To toss the head coquettishly, “to flaunt, to play the coquette” (Sc. 1825 Jam. s.v. goif). Sc. 1821  Blackwood's Mag. (Jan.) 402:
I would rather add a whole night to the hour than Ronald Rodan and yon govan widow should waur us.

4. In n.phr. gove-i'-the-wind, “a foolish, vain, light-headed fellow” (Rxb. 1825 Jam., ‡1923 Watson W.-B., -wund). Also corrupt form go-be-the-wund, “one who utters hasty expressions” (Ib.).

II. n. A vacant stare (Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 692; Rxb. 1825 Jam., ‡1923 Watson W.-B.; Per. 1955).

[O.Sc. has gov(e), goif, to stare, from a.1400. Of obscure origin: cf. Gaive.]

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"Gove v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Feb 2019 <>



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