Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GOWPEN, n., v. Also gowpan, †goupen, -in, -an; gjop(pe)n, -in, -m, †giopen, gyoppne (Sh.), gypon (Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 136), goopan, guppen (Ork.); gop(p)en, -in, goapen, -in (Uls.); gowpeen, †gowpin(g), †goup-; †goppine (Sc. 1717 Chrons. Atholl and Tullibardine Families II. App. xcii.). [Sc. ′gʌupən, s.Sc. -in, Sh. ′g(j)ɔp-, ′gjop-, ′g(j)øp-; Ork. + ′gupən, ′gʌp-; Wgt., Uls. ′gopən, ′gɔp-]

I. n. 1. The two hands held together so as to form a hollow receptacle (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 239; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., gjoppms; Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 151, goopan; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 27). Gen.Sc., obsol.; the hollow of the hand (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1892 Ballymena Obs., gopen; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); hence, more loosely, †the hold, grasp (of the hand). Now more freq. in pl. Also in n.Eng. dial. Edb. 1791  J. Learmont Poems 216:
An' weel it's kent his winsome Lady, Has ay her heapit goupins ready.
Sc. a.1844  J. Maidment New Bk. Old Ballads (1885) 43:
But hold me fast, let me not go, Or from your goupen break.
Lnk. 1865  J. Hamilton Poems 141:
Bring gowd in your gowpens to big up the touir.
Sc. 1871  N. & Q. (Ser. 4) VIII. 324:
In some parts of Scotland the singular form, “The full of the gowpin”, means as much as may be contained in both hands.
Ayr. 1880  J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 94:
[He] filled his big gowpens wi' glaur.
Sh. 1908  Jak. (1928):
De fill o' de gopens, as much as can be held in both hands put together.
Edb. 1917  T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xxx. 28:
The Lizard, sae sma', yer gowpen wad haud.

2. As much as can be held in the two hands when placed together, a “double” handful (Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II 593, giopen; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., goppen, goapen; Ork. 1929 Marw., guppen). Gen.Sc., obsol. Hence extended to indicate a considerable quantity, esp. in phr. gowd in gowpens (Fif. 1886 G. Bruce Poems 69, gowden gowps; Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 11, -gowpens; Ags., Rxb. 1955), wealth untold. Also in Eng. (mainly n.) dial. Sc. 1705  Dialogue between a Country-Man and a Landwart School-Master 7:
Our Fore-fathers thought they would all get Gold in Goupins.
Sc. 1724  Ramsay T.T.Misc. (1876) I. 32:
When we came to London Town, We dream'd of gowd in gowpens here.
Abd. 1748  R. Forbes Ajax 10:
That gou'd in goupens he had got, The army to betray.
Edb. 1773  R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 64:
Till he can lend the stoitering state a lift Wi' gowd in gowpins as a grassum gift.
Ayr. c.1827  Galt Howdie, etc. (1923) 17:
Grasping a gowpen of earth in each hand she scattered it with an air to the wind.
Slk. 1829  Hogg Shepherd's Cal. I. 180:
What has he to maintain a lady spouse with? The wind o' his lungs, forsooth! — thinks to sell that for goud in goupings.
Dmf. 1836  J. Mayne Siller Gun 64:
“And if,” cries John, “at wealth they aim, . . . May they bring gowd-in-Gowpins hame.”
Gsw. 1864  Gsw. Past and Pres. (1884) III. 467:
In place of giving these beggars money in alms, it was common to give them a goupin or nievefu' of oatmeal.
Ags. 1874  C. Sievwright Love Lilts 18:
It's true he has gowpens o' siller While I am as puir as a craw.
Sh. 1891  J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 11:
An oot o mi hair, feth! he claachters a goppen.
Dmb. 1894  D. Macleod Past Worthies 128:
Wha'll buy my fine Vale o' Leven grozets; a bawbee the goupen.
Tyr. 1929  “M. Mulcaghey” Ballymulcaghey 226:
Out she come an' threw the hens a gopin' of pirries out of the pigs' pot.
Slg. 1932  W. D. Cocker Poems 30:
Wi' baith his loofs did blatter Sic gowpens that syne Johnie's wean Was draiglet weel wi' watter.
Bnff. 1939  J. M. Caie Hills & Sea 41:
It mak's nae differ tae me or tae Natur, Fat wye they pit back 'mang her furlin' maitter My fuff o' mist an' gowpen o' stew.

3. In Sc. Law: one of the perquisites allowed to a miller's servant under the custom of Thirlage. Sometimes in phr. lock and gowpen (see second quot.). Sc. 1754  Erskine Principles ii ix. § 12:
The sequels are the small quantities [of grain or meal] given to the servants, under the names of knaveship, bannock, or lock and gowpen.
Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian xiii., Note:
The expression lock for a small quantity of any readily divisible dry substance, as corn, meal, flax, or the like, is still preserved, not only popularly, but in a legal description, as the lock and gowpen, or small quantity and handful, payable in thirlage cases, as in-town multure.

II. v. To scoop up or ladle out with the two hands placed together (Cld. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ayr.4 1928; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh., Cai., m.Lth. 1955), esp. with reference to grain or meal. Cf. Gowp, v.4 Wgt. 1804  R. Couper Poems I. 177:
My gowpan'd meal — my kennel burn'd — Should bid the mourner sing.
Slg. 1885  A. Murray Poems 93:
If spared, I'll gowpen you some crumbs To haud th' feast!
Mry. 1887  A. G. Wilken Peter Laing 25:
She swypit up the corn an' gowpen't it into a sieve.
Sh. 1952  New Shetlander No. 31. 6:
He gjoppened dem aa in'ta da kishie an pooed apo da raepin-string so at dey couldna win oot.

[O.Sc. has gowpin(g), goup-, gopin(e), in sense 2. of the n. above, from c.1470, in sense 3., from 1583; O.N. gaupn (in pl. gaupnir), the two hands placed together so as to form a bowl, a double handful, Norw. dial, gaupn, id., gaupna, to scoop or ladle with the hands.]

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"Gowpen n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 10 Dec 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/gowpen>

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