Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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RAWN, n. Also raun (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 148); ran(d); raa(i)n; row(a)n; roan; roen (Sc. 1775 Weekly Mag. (13 July) 94); and dim. rawnie. [I. and n.Sc. ra:n; s.Sc. ′rʌu(ə)n]

1. The roe of a fish (w.Sc. 1741 A. McDonald Galick Vocab. 73; Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Arg.1 1930; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai.; Uls. 1953 Traynor, rown; I., n. and em.Sc., Kcb. 1967). Also in Eng. dial.; the eggs or berry of a lobster. Sc. 1752  Session Papers, Forbes v. Grant (1 June) 10:
Salmond Rands and other Provisions in that Kind.
Abd. 1765  Caled. Mercury (23 Oct.):
An enormously large fish came ashore on the Sands of St. Fergus, . . . In the belly were two roes, or raans, each 9 feet long and 14 inches in thickness.
Rs. 1772  W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) 156:
Ling is a very rare fish in this country. The roans are extremely good and a very great rarity.
Gall. 1796  J. Lauderdale Poems 64:
As lang's ye pay our annual fees, In milts an' rowns.
Sc. 1821  Blackwood's Mag. (Sept.) 210:
See to the lobster, look at the rawn, it's worth half-a-crown itself.
Sc. 1824  Scott Redgauntlet Letter vi.:
The water being in such rare trim for the salmon raun, he couldna help taking a cast.
Mry. 1830  Elgin Liter. Mag. 270:
The fish [a salmon], of course, was taken home; and its interior dissected. The “rawn” was thrown on the dunghill.
m.Lth. 1857  Misty Morning 300:
Some like herrin'-milts, But I like roans.
Bnff. 1872  W. Philip It'll a Come Richt xxiv.:
He . . . withdrew from his clean coloured handkerchief a large ling roe, and laid it down on the table. “That's a bit raunie”, he said.
Ags. 1950  Forfar Dispatch (2 March):
I gaed doon tee fish-shop for tae see if I cud get rans tae my tea.
Abd. 1955  W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick viii.:
A gweed caapfu o' sowens ur a bilin o' raains.

Comb. and derivs.: (1) rauned, of a fish: full of roe; (2) rawner, rauner, rawener, roener, rowner, an unspawned salmon (Lth., Rxb. 1808 Jam., Per., Slk. 1967); (3) rowan cast, a part of a river where roe is favoured as a bait for angling; (4) rowan-gatherer, the brown trout, Salmo trutta, because of its fondness for salmon roe; ¶(5) rouny, consisting of roe. (1) Sc. 1825  Jam.:
“Raun'd to the tail”, full of fish, a common phrase with fish-women.
(2) s.Sc. 1885  W. Scrope Salmon Fishing 216–7:
There were a vast o' fish in the water, and I saw ane or twae great roeners turning, a sure sign there were mickle kippers too . . . There was just then a great brown rowaner slade aff the redd after him.
Rxb. 1915  Jedburgh Gaz. (3 Sept.) 2:
“She's a guid rowener,” applied to a salmon.
w.Sc. 1937  Scotsman (11 Aug.) 13:
On the northern part of the west coast the late unspawned salmon are usually as scarce as they are on the north coast. So well is the type known in the centre of Scotland, that a special term has been applied to them: they are not called autumn fish as on Tweed, but either baggots, from their full appearance, or rawners, after the Scots word rawn, meaning spawn.
(3) s.Sc. 1847  T. T. Stoddart Angler's Comp. 166:
A piece of water, held in repute from year to year as a rowan cast.
(4) s.Sc. 1885  W. Scrope Salmon Fishing 222:
When we cam' up to the muckle redd, the fiend a haet was there but twae or three rowangatherers whidden about.
Sc. 1935  E. Taverner & W. Moore Angler's Week-End Book 435:
Rowan-gatherer: a Scottish word for the brown trout that are in attendance at the time of salmon-spawning.
(5) Rnf. 1813  G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 165:
Thrice lease me on the rouny spawn!

2. An unspawned salmon, = rawner above. Peb. 1863  Edb. Ev. Courant (11 Feb.):
Most of these [salmon] have turned out to be newly-spawned fish, or rowans just on the eve of spawning.

3. The turbot, Scophthalmus maximus, freq. in comb. rawn fleuk, ro(w)an- (e.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna ofDee” 244; Sc. 1930 Fishery Board Gl.: Abd. 1967). See 1808 quot. Fif. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 IX. 337:
Formerly there was a very plentiful fishing upon the coast here, consisting of cod, ling, haddock, rowan or turbot, skait, &c. . . . But . . . none are now caught but a few cod, rowan, and skait.
Lth. 1808  Wernerian Soc. Mem. I. 537:
This species . . . is here commonly denominated the rawn-fleuk, from its being thought best for the table when in rawn or roe.
Edb. 1865  W. Hutchison Tales of Leith 334:
As plump as ony rawn-fluke.
Fif. 1869  St Andrews Gazette (25 Sept.):
The staple was plaice; flounder, small turbot, roan, brill, and sole were scarce.

4. Fig. A bony emaciated animal (Cai. 1967). Cai. 1946 9 :
A lang teem raan!

5. In weather lore: a name for a fragmented or imperfect rainbow (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 140, rawn, c.1890 Gregor MSS., rawnie); phr. rawns is roastin, reddish-tinted clouds are massing (see quot.). Abd. c.1890  Gregor MSS.:
When the sky “upsets” towards the north, i.e. when large masses of clouds of different hues rise towards the north, or according to an expression sometimes used, “Fan rawns is roastin (from the reddish hues on the clouds)”.

[Orig. from O.N. hrogn, roe, which gives the forms in -ow, the -aw- forms corresponding to Dan. variants ravn, †raun. O.Sc. has roun, 1536, rawne, 1584, Mid.Eng. rowne, rawne, roe.]

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"Rawn n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jan 2018 <>



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