Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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JO, n.1 Also joe; pl. joes. [dʒo:]

1. A sweetheart, a lover; gen. male, but sometimes applied to women (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc., now mostly poet. Comb. penny jo, a prostitute. Peb. 1702  C. B. Gunn Linton Church (1912) 82:
She heard Isobel call Mr Robert, “Heartsome Joe.”
Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 44:
Which gars my Jo aft grip my Hand 'Till his Heart pitty-pattys.
Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 25:
This laid her eery thoughts, but yet her pain For her dear jo did still its strength maintain.
Edb. 1772  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 68:
When lads gang out on Sunday's even To treat their joes.
Ayr. 1796  Burns Cardin o't i.:
Johnie is my only jo — I lo'e him best of onie yet.
Sc. 1820  Scott Monastery iv.:
Aweel, aweel, I had mair joes than ane, but I favoured nane o' them.
Wgt. 1880  G. Fraser Lowland Lore 174:
I would gie somethin' to ken if I would hae ony chance to get her for a Jo.
Sc. 1887  Stevenson Underwoods 128:
Penny joes on causey stanes.
Lnl. 1896  Poets Lnl. (Bisset) 129:
The sang o' the lintie a-courting his joe.
Ags. 1921  V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 32:
But my feet danced oot to meet my joe.

Hence phr. to playjook my jo”, to flirt. See Jouk. Kcb. 1894  Crockett Raiders xviii.:
That's what auld Airlie gies to young birkies like you that come in graund coats to play “Jook my jo” wi' his lasses.

2. Used as a term of endearment: my dear (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). For phr. hinny and jo, see Hinnie. Sc. 1724  Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 57:
There ye'll see ye'r bonny sell, My jo Janet.
Ayr. 1792  Burns Lea Rig i.:
When o'er the hill the e'ening star Tells bughtin time is near, my jo.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality vii.:
Your father was a douce, honest man, . . . my jo! [a mother to her son].
Slk. 1820  Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 242:
But, Janet, my joe, warna ye at the corpse-kisting?
m.Lth. 1844  J. Ballantine Miller xvii.:
Gin your friend be worth a preen, He will offer bail, jo.

[Sc. form of Eng. joy, now obs. exc. dial. in this sense, Fr. joie. Found in O.Sc. in all meanings from the early 16th c.]

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"Jo n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Nov 2018 <>



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