Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SCAR, adj., n., v. Also scaur, scarr(e), skar(r); skair, sker(r). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. scare. See also Skeer. [skɑr, sker]

I. adj. 1. Timid, easily frightened, shy, not very approachable, wild, apt to run away, esp. of animals (Sc. 1808 Jam., n.Sc. Id., skair; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl., sker; Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 183; Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork. 1969). Comb. skairlike, -leukin, having a timorous look (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 156, 230). Deriv. scaury, id. ne.Sc. 1714  R. Smith Poems 84:
He [a horse]'s neither gaady, wood nor scar.
Sh. c.1733  T. Gifford Hist. Descr. (1879) 78:
That none keep scar sheep, except it be in the holms or nesses.
Ayr. 1785  Burns Address to Deil iii.:
Thou's neither lag nor lame, Nor blate nor scaur.
n.Sc. 1806  R. Jamieson Ballads I. 294:
As skittish and scare as a deer.
Bwk. 1823  A. Hewit Poems 126:
Night was comin' made them scaury.
Edb. 1844  J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie x.:
[He] staggers hame in braid daylight, Bleerit, blin' and scaur.
Abd. 1861  J. Davidson Poems 44:
Ho, timid hare, why thus so scare?
Fif. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxv.:
But noo I am douce, dowie, dweeble an' skair.

2. Untidy, unkempt, haggard-looking (Cai.8 1934, skerr).

II. n. A fright, scare (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Ork., Kcb. 1969); something which causes fright (Sc. 1882 Jam.). Deriv. scarsem [ < -some], horrible, frightful. Sc. 1816  Scott Antiquary xxxviii.:
They're a scaur to unlearned folk like me.
Rxb. 1821  A. Scott Poems 74:
But howlets, glens, nor bogly burns could be A scar to me, whan Jean I hoped to see.
Kcb. 1828  W. McDowall Poems 19:
But hoolie, fish, on your return, I fear ye'll get a scar.
Gsw. 1877  A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 24:
Oor left lugs noo will get a scaur — The crack is growin' waur an' waur.
Uls. 1879  W. G. Lyttle Readings 68:
I niver got sich a scaur in a' my life.
Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 112:
Gid gaoo! sic a scarsem sarro!
Per. 1895  R. Ford Tayside Songs 203:
Were there nae de'il ava, Or some siccan scaur.

III. v. 1. To scare, frighten, put to flight (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 93; Sc. 1882 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Arg. 1931; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Ork., em.Sc. (a), Ayr., Kcb., Wgt. 1969). Vbl.n. scarrin, a fright. Sc. 1709  W. Steuart Collections ii. iv. § 14:
This doctrinal debarring may scar such from partaking.
Sc. 1747  Caled. Mercury (7 Dec.):
Two Horses in a Chaise were scarr'd by two Drums beating up in St. Mary's Wynd.
Edb. 1772  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 70:
Some wi' mutches that might scar Craws frae their meat.
Ayr. 1786  Burns Death and Dr Hornbook xiii.:
Mony a scheme in vain's been laid, To stap or scaur me.
Sc. 1796  Scots Mag. (Jan.) 55:
Ablins the cause o' reformation haes gien a' scarrin.
Sc. 1816  Scott Antiquary xxvi.:
The noise that scarr'd us awa.
Sc. 1832  Fraser's Mag. (June) 573:
A' clean skaured awa' by the blessed light o' the Sun of Righteousness!
Per. 1835  R. Nicoll Poems 153:
But there's ower mony lasses, An' wooers are scaur'd.
Uls. 1879  W. G. Lyttle Readings 38:
I wud set her up tae scar craws aff the prittaes.
Ayr. 1901  G. Douglas Green Shutters xxv.:
He never met what scaured him!
Kcb. 1912  W. Burnie Poems 99:
The weak and the timid to scaur.
Ork. 1929  Old-Lore Misc. IX. ii. 76:
Da stoopid amiter o' a maister waas stootly skarred wi' siccan a feralie.

Hence sca(u)r-craw, scarre-, scare-crow, lit. and fig. (wm.Sc. 1882 Jam.). Sc. 1704  A Letter dropt in the Street 1:
The rueful remembrance of the Church of Scotland's Ruin this way before the year Sixty, may be a Sear-Crow and a Monitor to you.
Edb. 1772  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 54:
Like scar-craws new ta'en down frae woodies.
Sc. 1823  Scots Mag. (Feb.) 205:
The duds on his back was fitter to busk a scaur-craw.
m.Lth. 1857  Misty Morning 254:
Naething mair than a auld scarrecraw.
Hdg. 1908  J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 189:
The duddies o' scaur-craws an' hags!

2. To take fright, become alarmed, run away in fear, bolt (Uls. 1953 Traynor; Cai. (skerr), Lth., Wgt. 1969); tr. to shie away from, avoid; intr. to turn away in disgust (Ork. 1969). Comb. skar-gait, of a horse: easily startled in traffic (Rnf. 1825 Jam.). See Gate. ne.Sc. 1714  R. Smith Poems 76:
At Midmar he will not scar.
Sc. 1729  R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) IV. 91:
The servants talked of aparitions, but hoped he would not scarr.
Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 119:
Lindy scares at lasses, when they woo.
Edb. 1772  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 99:
A' body at the Kirk will skair.
Sc. 1823  Scott St Ronan's W. xxviii.:
It's the wanton steed that scaurs at the windle-strae.
Abd. 1861  J. Davidson Poems 43:
I trow the “iron horse wad scare” As he gaes snorting past.
Ork. 1920  :
I clean skar 'im for he's loosy.

[O.Sc. skere, to take fright, a.1400, to frighten, a.1438, sker, easily scared, 1508, reg. from Mid.Eng. scarre, skerre, to alarm, O.N. skj.arr, timid, skirra(sk), to avoid, shrink from. The skair forms are after Eng. scare, the precise phonological development of which is uncertain. For sker(r) cf. Norw. dial. skjerra, to frighten.]

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"Scar adj., n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Oct 2018 <>



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