Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PLEUCH, n., v. Also pleugh, plewch, plooch (Bch. 1897 Trans. Bch. Field Club IV. 81; Sh. 1931 Shetland Times (14 March)), ploogh, ploch (Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C.); plyoch (Sh. 1951 New Shetlander No. 29. 18); peuch (Abd. 1930 Buchan Observer (18 Dec.); Ayr. 1955 S. T. Ross Bairnsangs 23), peugh (Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe xxxii.; wm.Sc. 1925 D. Mackenzie MacMorro's Luck 27), pyeuch; plew (Ayr. 1786 Burns Death & Dr. Hornbook xxiii.; Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 45), ploo (Abd. 1930 Buchan Observer (18 Dec.)), pleu (Sc. 1750 W. MacFarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) II. 118), plu (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)), plju (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.), plue; pue (Sc. 1884 Scottish Reader (25 Oct.) 322; Slg., Arg., Ayr. 1966), piu (Fif. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IX. 42), pu (Uls. 1898 A. McIlroy Meetin-Hoose Green xiii.). Dim. pleuchie (Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xlvii.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. plough. [n., Gen.Sc. plu:, ne.Sc., Ags. + plux, sm. and s.Sc. plju(x), Gall. + plʌx, em.Sc. (a) + pjʌx, Sh. pljɔx; v., Gen.Sc. plu:, s.Sc. plju:, em.Sc. (a), Ayr. + pju:. See etym. note.]

I. n. 1. As in Eng.; also in form pleochan, id. (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.). Hence pleuchie (Fif. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 260; Ags., Per., Fif. 1966), plochie (Per. 1895), pyochie (Ags. 1872), peuchie (Per., Fif. 1958) [′plʌxe, ′pjʌxe], pleuch(t)er (Kcd., Ags. 1966), and reduced form pluch (Ags., Slg. 1921 T.S.D.C.), a hypocoristic term for a ploughman, or more gen. a rustic, yokel; plewman, ploo-, a ploughman, see sep. art. Ags. 1945  S. A. Duncan Chron. Mary Ann 24:
The puir lassie thocht the pleuchie wiz makin' a fule o' her.
Abd. 1957  Buchan Observer (4 June):
One of the oldest veterans among champion ploughmen was old “Ploochie” Mann, of Oldmeldrum.

Combs., phrs. and attrib. usages: (1) pleuch-bridle, the fitting on the end of the plough-beam which controls the size and depth of the furrow and to which the draught-chain is attached (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). See also (17) below; (2) pleuch-feast, -faest, -fehst, (i) a ritual entertainment given at the first plougbing of the new season, either in the field when the ploughman was about to start or in the evening of the same day. See Streek; (ii) a meal given as a thank-offering to neighbours who have helped with the first ploughing of new ground. Sic in quot. but phs. a misunderstanding of (i); (3) pleuch-fettle, the movable fittings and attachments of a plough (Sc. 1880 Jam.). See Fettle, and (8) and (9) below; (4) pleuch-fittit, adj., having heavy, dragging feet, clumsy; (5) plough-furrows,, the name given by miners to a striated pattern seen in coal seams (see quot.); †(6) plough-gang, “as much land as can properly be tilled by one plough” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). What this approximately represented it is difficult to say. Jam. takes this as = ploughgate below, viz., forty Scots acres, but the 1795 quot. makes it only one eighth of the orig. ploughgate of 104 acres. In 1736 quot. the word refers to ploughed land in gen.; (7) ploughgate, -gait, the nominal amount of land which a plough, pulled by 8 oxen, could till in a year, calculated to be 104 Scots acres but varying greatly under circumstances not fully understood (Jam. gives as 40 Scots acres in 1825), partly phs. according to the differing productive capacity of the land, or its rental value, partly to the amount of non-arable land on the given holding which may or may not have been included in the calculation; gen. taken as synonymous with (14). In money terms it was a forty-shilling land of Auld Extent and its owner had a Parliamentary vote (see quots.). Also in n.Eng. dial. Now only hist.; (8) pleuch-gear, = (3) (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). Obs. in Eng. Cf. also (9): (9) pleuch-graith, = (3) (Sc. 1808 Jam.). See Graith and cf. (8); †(10) pleuch-guids, -gudes, the oxen used for ploughing, a plough-team (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). See Guid, n., 2.; (11) plew-hands, -honds, the handles of a plough (Fif. 1966); (12) pleuch-horns, id. (Gall. 1966); (13) plew-irons, -airns, the metal parts of a plough, esp. the coulter and share (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc.; (14) plewlan(d), (i) an area of land generally equated with the ploughgate, see (7), and defined by an early Act of Parliament as 104 acres, but varying considerably in extent in later times. See above. Also in use in the N. and E. counties of Eng., but now only hist. in both countries, exc. in placenames; (ii) land suitable for ploughing, arable land (Bnff. 1966); (15) pleuch-lowsin, n.. the unyoking of a plough, the occasion of a popular superstition (see quot.). Hence to lowse a (gaun) pleuch, to unyoke a plough, sometimes with the intention of bringing ill-luck to the land; (16) pleuch-lug, one of two projecting flanges into which the Muzzle of a plough is fitted (Ayr., Kcb. 1966). See Lug, n., 7.; (17) pleuch-muzzle, see Muzzle and cf. (1) above; (18) pleuch-pattle, -pettle, -paidle, a ploughstaff. See Paidle. Hence fig., the life or work of a ploughman; (19) ploo-rynes, the reins used for a plough-team (Kcb. 1966); †(20) pleuch-shears, “a bolt with a crooked head, used for regulating the Bridle, and keeping it steady, when the plough requires to be raised or depressed in the furrow” (Rxb. 1825 Jam., ‡1923 Watson W.-B.); (21) pleuch-sheath, -sheth, the strut or support of wood or metal to which the plough-share or Sock was fixed at its junction with the head or sole (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.); (22) pleuch-slings, the hooks connecting the swingle-trees to the plough (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 176; ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1966); (23) pleuch-soam, the rope or chain by which horses or oxen are yoked to the plough, the traces; also = (22) ( Kcb. 1966). See Soam; (24) plough-sock, a plough-share. Gen.Sc. See Sock; (23) pleugh-stilt, (i) gen. in pl., the shafts or handles by which the plough is held (Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 176). Gen.Sc., obsol. Hence fig., one's daily work, one's duty; (ii) appar. an old Gall. unit of land measurement = half a ploughgate. See (7) above; (26) ploo-theats. the plough-traces (ne.Sc. 1966). See Theat; (27) ploo-tram, = (25) (i). See also Tram; (28) pleuch-vricht, -wricht, a ploughwright (Bnff. 1966). See Wricht; (29) Scotch plough, Scots-, see Scots; (30) speed the ploo, the benedictory phrase used at the pleuch-feast (see (2) and cf. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend xi.). Hence the name of a popular country-dance tune; (31) thrapple-pleuch, see Thrapple; (32) to haud one's (the) pleuch, to drive a plough, to be a working farmer. Gen.Sc.; (33) to pick something up at the ploo, to learn something from observation of life or nature rather than by formal instruction. Freq. in pejorative sense of an uncouth habit or bad manners (wm.Sc. 1966); (34) to pit the pleuch in the hen-roost, fig., to go bankrupt, lose one's money; (35) to throw the pleuch in the midden, id. (Uls. 1966). (2) (i) ne.Sc. 1843  J. M. McPherson Prim. Beliefs (1929) 86–7:
The plough feast consisted of milk porridge made of oatmeal and sweet milk, and bread and cheese . . . A piece of the bread and cheese was put on the plough or in the furrows or thrown on the field. Later in the day there was often an evening festivity. This was termed the Pleuch Fehst.
Abd. 1894  Trans. Bch. Field Club III. 148:
When the plough was first yoked for the season after harvest, bread and cheese were carried to the field and given to the ploughman. Such an entertainment was called the “Pleuch-Fehst”.
(ii) ne.Sc. c.1880  Gregor MSS.:
Pleuch Faests — In remote districts when land was being “taken in” the neighbouring farmer crofter, farmers' sons and workmen used to meet and help the farmer who was “taking in” a field. He treated all who helped him to a great feast.
(4) Edb. 1809  A. Stewart Poems 8:
Plough fitted, scaur, and unco' skeigh, At times she thraws her head fu heigh.
(5) Clc. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 VIII. 25:
Along the roof of the coals are impressions of gigantic palm trees, which the miners here term plough furrows.
(6) Fif. 1727  Caled. Mercury (18 Sept.):
If they incline for more Land to labour, they can have a Plough-gang lying close by the Mannor-place.
Sc. 1736  Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 7:
How toom wad the landlord's coffers be, if he didna rug his rent frae the plough-gang an' the green sward?
Ayr. 1787  Burns Letters (Ferguson) No. 144:
I want to be a farmer in a small farm, about a plough gang, in a pleasant country.
Per. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 V. 56:
The number of plough-gangs, in the hands of the tenants, is about 141½, — reckoning 13 acres of arable land to each plough-gang.
Ork. 1805  G. Barry Hist. Ork. 166:
The proprietors would purchase that privilege, at the rate of a mark for every ploughgang.
Lnk. 1922  T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 35:
Though he kenned o' pleugh-gangs and would talk a lot at e'en O' sheep and neeps and foals and stirks and kye.
(7) Sc. 1764  Consideration on Acts Parl. relative to Highways 48:
A ploughgate or ploughland seems to be the best rule for rating occupiers of land . . . In different counties of Scotland the rent of a ploughgate differs very widely . . . so it would be unjust to rate them by the rent.
Lnk. 1772  W. Grossart Shotts (1880) 108:
Ninety-nine plough-gates and two horsegang. A plough-gate was equal to four horsegang.
e.Lth. 1783  Session Papers, Mackenzie v. Gullen (22 April) 33:
How many such cottars are necessary on a farm of fifty or sixty acres, or one ploughgate.
m.Lth. 1793  G. Robertson Agric. m.Lth. 42:
The assessment is laid on by the ploughgate, which in some cases is estimated at 45 acres, and in others, perhaps at 500, according to circumstances.
em.Sc. 1794  W. Marshall Agric. Cent. Highl. 29:
Not the larger farms only, but each subdivision, though ever so minute; whether “plowgait”, or “half plow”, or “horse gang;” has its pittance of hill and vale, and its share of each description of land; as arable, meadow, green pasture, and muir.
Sc. 1815  Scott Guy M. v.:
There's scarce a carle in the country that has a ploughgate of land, but what he must ride to quarter sessions.
Sc. 1819  Edb. Ev. Courant (6 Feb.) 3:
At a meeting of the Justices held at Ballater, on the 16th ult. two men were brought before them, for shooting without the necessary qualification of having a plowgate of land, or heritage, as required by the act 1621.
Hdg. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 II. 374:
In 1833 however a new Act of Parliament was obtained . . . when it was understood that sixty acres Scotch . . . should be taken as a plough-gate.
Sc. 1934  I. F. Grant Econ. Hist. Scot. 33:
The typical group homestead consisted of a ploughgate, occupied by eight tenants, each owning an eighth part, i.e. an oxgate, and contributing an animal to the common plough.
Sc. 1944  P.S.A.S. LXXVIII. 49:
A more suitable definition of the ploughgate of 104 acres would be that it was the arable land pertaining to a one-plough holding — that is, the cultivable land of the holding rather than that actually cultivated, or in the old phrase land “where pleuch and scythe may gang.” . . .
(9) Edb. 1767  Session Papers. Dick v. Tennent Proof 28:
The plough would go as near to the dike of the feuers gardens as the plough-graith would allow them to gang.
Sc. 1828  Scott F.M. Perth ii.:
Locks and bars, plough-graith and harrow-teeth!
(11) Fif. 1958  T. G. Snoddy Green Loanings 60:
Füles like this Plotch in the glar and owre the plew-honds hing.
(13) Sc. 1747  D. Warrand Culloden Papers (1930) V. 129:
Plows and Plow-Irons.
Sc. 1760  Session Papers. Petition G. Home (4 March) 9:
If a Farmer carries his Plow Irons to be mended.
Edb. 1791  J. Learmont Poems 120:
Detested war! whan sal the time appear Whan to the plough irons turn'd the hostile spear?
Sc. 1844  H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 397:
It is . . . more economical to sharpen the plough-irons every day.
Ags. 1894  J. B. Salmond B. Bowden ( 1922) iii.:
Pride an' plew-irons tak a hantle to uphaud.
Hdg. 1903  J. Lumsden Toorle 72:
Horses wanting shaeing, or ploo-airms [sic] needing laying and sherping.
Lnk. 1919  G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 39:
Syne Rab Weir, wha led the hairty lauch, Bocht, wi' that lauch, a pair o' auld ploo airns.
(14) (i) Sc. 1776  A. Wedderburn Essay on Proportion of Produce as Rent 6:
I will suppose that one ploughland, or sixty Scots acres, is too small.
Inv. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XX. 24:
This country is naturally divided by rivers, hills, and moors, into a variety of sections, and each of these admitting of some agricultural cultivation, have been computed by the inhabitants into davochs, half davochs, or plough-lands, being the fourth part of a davoch, according to their extent.
Sc. 1872  E. W. Robertson Hist. Essays 99:
The Scottish ploughland of 104 acres, measuring upwards of 130 statute, approaches very closely to the Northumbrian hide.
(ii) Abd. 1872  Northern Muse (Buchan 1924) 375:
Fareweel, my auld plew-lan' I'll never mair plew it.
Abd. 1887  W. Walker Bards 627:
Seed time and rain gladden ploo-land and plain.
Lnk. 1922  T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 43:
Pirns and plaids and pleuchland, Tups and yowes and cattle reid.
Sc. 1928  J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 10:
An' ower peat-mosses, ploolan', ley, The laddies shankt it a' the wey.
(15) Fif. 1806  A. Douglas Poems 12:
Gallant Hay, wha lows'd his pleugh.
Abd. 1903  Abd. Weekly Jnl. (20 May):
Another example of the shrewdness of our fore-fathers was shown in the rite, or cantrip, of “lowsin' a gaun' plough.” Doing so, it was believed, would take away all the luck from the farm on which the ceremony was performed. It was said to have been gone through on the farm of Honeynook in the end of the eighteenth century. A tenant of that farm was being put away against his will; and, to be revenged on the incoming and after tenants, the last time he had his 12-oxen plough yoked, he took it, with all the earth it would carry, off the farm, and unyoked it on a part of the neighbouring farm of West Affleck, called the “Guid Man's Fauld.” I have been unable fully to ascertain all the particular ceremonies and incantations connected with the taking of a working plough off a farm, as old people always spoke about it with a good deal of awe and reserve. They could give no explanation concerning it further than that it was the same as shaking the dust off one's feet, and that another tenant would never thrive, nor sit a whole lease where the “plough lowsin'” had been performed on the farm.
(17) Sc. 1799  Trans. Highl. Soc. I. xxvii.:
A plough-muzzle . . . an ingenious invention, as it possesses the property of . . . regulating the plough, so as to make it raise a deeper or broader furrow-slice at pleasure.
(18) Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality xxxv.:
I'm wearied o' the trade . . . I like the pleugh-paidle a hantle better.
Lth. 1854  M. Oliphant M. Hepburn xxxviii.:
Nane of thae pleugpettles [sic] of rousted iron.
(19) Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb i.:
Tak the aul' pleuch ryn there, and wup it ticht atween the stays.
Abd. 1941  Abd. Univ. Review (Spring) 93:
He'd galluses, ploo-rynes an' branks for the caur.
(23) Mry. 1758  Session Papers, Forbes v. Grant (21 June) 49:
James brought an Iron Plough-soam, with a Lock.
ne.Sc. 1887  W. Alexander Rural Life 36, 35:
Apart from the plough soam, there was no iron chain ordinarily in use. . . . The “soam” already spoken of — an iron chain, fastened to the cheek-rack, or to a simple staple fixed in the beam on the right hand some distance from the point — ran along between the pairs of oxen all the way to the “ fore-yoke”.
(24) Sh. 1821  Scott Pirate xviii.:
What manners are to be expected in a country where folk call a pleugh-sock a markal?
(25) (i) Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 128:
Eith can the plough-stilts gar a chiel Be unco vogie.
Ags. 1823  Scots Mag. (June) 682:
A' the sons were bred to be gentlemen, scampering about wi' their dogs an' guns, when they should ha'e been shoggin' atween the pleugh stilts.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb x.:
If ye dinna value yer son's edication suficiently, to . . . pay for the necessary buiks, jist train 'im for the pleugh stilts at ance.
Rxb. 1890  J. Rutherford Wanderer of West 59:
Tae see thee twist thine ain pleugh-stilts, Gang helshing up the brae.
Sc. 1896  Stevenson W. of Hermiston ii.:
It's a poor hert that never rejoices . . . but I must get to my plew-stilts.
m.Sc. 1927  J. Buchan Witch Wood ix.:
You an' me are no the anes to pit our hand to the plew-stilts and turn back.
(ii) Wgt. 1700  Session Rec. Sorbie MS. (12 May):
The said beddall uses to get halfe a pecke of corn out of each plough stilt in the paroch for his salary, besides which he gets nothing for making of graves or at the baptism of the children of tennants.
Gall. 1724  Account of Some People in Gall. (Broadsheet):
By the Inclosures of Mr Basil Hamilton, there is no less than twenty-eight Plough-Stilts of arable Ground parked.
(26) Sc. 1776  Caled. Mercury (13 Jan.):
The Horse is a blue-gray . . . about 14 hands high, set tailed, in full flesh, shaven on both sides by plow-theats.
(27) Sc. 1784  Caled. Mercury (11 Oct.):
There's mony a ane but fernyear cam', Wi' plaiden coat, frae the plow tram.
(28) Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxix.:
Hairry Muggart's as gweed a pleuch-vricht's there is i' the kwintra side.
Abd. 1894  J. A. Jackson Old Stories 64:
My father wis his father's pleuch vricht.
(30) Edb. 1884  Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) VIII. 86:
“Speed the ploo, and braw Johnnie God speed”, And she kissed him eenoo as her brither.
(32) Sc. 1745  S.C. Misc. (1841) I. 414:
If I should, or any else, force out the men that bolds ther pleughs, the tack must ly unlaboured.
Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 113:
Gin she but says she likes ane. that's enough, As lang's they'll ca', to gar us had the pleugh.
Slk. 1810  Hogg Tales (1874) 238:
You haud a pleugh! ye maun eat a bowe o' meal an' lick a peck o' ashes first!
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality vi.:
I seena why ye shouldna haud the pleugh now that the pleughman has left us.
Sc. 1874  G. Outram Lyrics 74:
He sang and he whistled while hadden the pleugh.
(34) e.Sc. 1782  F. Douglas E. Coast Scot. 301:
We thought it would be a ready way to put the plough in the hen roost (to become bankrupt), to lay out our best lands with sown grass, after a dunging, when we had reason to expect other two corn crops without a fresh dunging.

2. A ploughgate (Sc. 1808 Jam.). See 1. (7) above. Hence pleuch-haudin, id., cf. also 1. (32), half-pleuch, the half of a plough of land. Wgt. 1702  Session Rec. Kirkinner MS. (14 Oct.):
They have a beddel . . . who for his encouradgment receivs ane eightlet of corn out of each plough of land and a groat for each baptism.
Bnff. 1718  W. Barclay Schools Bnff. (1925) 99:
The schoolmaster . . . had a furlet of meal, commonly called the scool meal, out of each plough of land in the parish.
m.Lth. 1726  Caled. Mercury (21 July):
To be set in whole or in Parcels, five Ploughs of the Land of the Barony of Kinput, six Miles West of Edinburgh: one Hundred Acres thereof inclosed and subdivided, each Plough having a convenient Onstead, and near the Water of Almond.
Abd. 1759  Aberdeen Jnl. (6 March):
Lands . . . divided into four large Pleughs Labourings, viz. the Haill Pleugh of Boghead, Pleugh of Mains, Half-Pleugh of Dubston, three-fourth Pleugh of Ramahaggan, one fourth Pleugh of New Park of near 20 Acres.
Bnff. 1772  Lordship Strathavon (S.C.) 148:
Our factor must know, or ought to know, that this part of his district at least is divided and sub-divided into davochs, pleughs, and oxgates.
Ags. 1821  A. Laing Wayside Flowers (1850) 28:
They ken at the Place wi' His Honour I've been, And ta'en the plough-haudin' o' bonny Broomlee.
Abd. 1840  Quarterly Jnl. Agric. XI. 418:
Land was commonly estimated by the plough, rather a vague, undefined term in the present day, but which was then understood to comprehend about thirteen bolls sowing of infield, ten folds of three bolls sowing each, and ten faughings of similar extent, in all about seventy-three acres. In its present improved state, the plough, of course, will extend over upwards of 103 Scotch acres, or about 129½ imperial.

3. A term of horses or oxen harnessed to a plough, a plough-team. Farms were variously described as being a one-pleuch ferm, a twa-pleuch-, three-pleuch-ferm, etc., according to the number of plough-teams employed (ne.Sc. 1966). Cf. Pair, 2. Abd. 1766  Abd. Journal (7 July):
Two Ploughs of very good Oxen, the one Half of them just now fit for killing, the rest in true working Order.
Ayr. 1786  Burns To Auld Mare xv.:
My pleugh is now thy bairn-time a', Four gallant brutes as e'er did draw.
Abd. 1920  A. Robb MS.:
I lookit weel ance, forbye bein' the maiden o' Boggieneuk o' three ploo's na less.

4. An apparatus for dredging (see quot.). Sc. 1774  T. Pennant Tour 1772 139:
The machines . . . called ploughs, are large hollow cases, the back is of cast iron, the two ends of wood, the other side open. These are drawn across the river by means of capstans placed on long wooden frames or flats, are drawn over empty, returned with the iron side downwards, which scrapes the bottom, and brings up at every return half a ton of gravel.

5. A gambit in a game of marbles (see quot.) (Bnff. 1966). Bnff. 1920  :
Ploo . . . A movement in marbles by which the player threw the marble behind his back over his shoulder and forward, caught it and then aimed. It had the ulterior motive of bringing the player by this movement much nearer the target.

II. v. As in Eng., in all senses. Comb. ploughing day, a day's work in ploughing given as a friendly gesture to a new neighbour. Sc. 1855  H. Stephens Bk. of Farm II. 516:
The first expenses incurred is the ploughing of the fallow-break, which, if done by hired labour, will cost 8s. per acre, but if done by the goodwill of neighbours in a “ploughing-day”, which is the custom of the country, and is regarded as the earnest of a hearty welcome to a stranger . . .

[The reg. development in Sc. is pleuch, n., from the nom. case of O.E. plōh, O.N. plógr. Where the spirant becomes intervocalic as in the oblique cases of the n. or in the various inflected verbal forms of Mid.Eng. ploȝen, the derived form is plew. Hence the alternatives [plux] and [plu:], the former being now rare as a v. O.Sc. has n. plewch, 1375, plew, 1416, v. pleuch, a.1400, plew, 1544, pleuch etc. -brydle, 1661, -fest. 1596, -gang, 1548, -gate, 1493, -geir, 1535, -graith, 1513, -gudis, 1580, -irnys, 1420, -land, 1376, -sowmes 1661, -stilt, 1579, -wrycht, 1574.]

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