Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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STRAW, n. Also †strau (Sc. 1700 R. Wodrow Early Letters (S.H.S.) 76),†streauw (Slk. 1825 Jam.). Sc. usages. For other Sc. forms see Strae, Strow.

1. In phrs.: (1) to bind or tie wi a straw, with aux. v. can, may, in expressions to indicate persons helpless with laughter (see quots.) (Kcb. 1971); (2) to gaither straws, of the eyes: to be closing with sleep. Cf. Eng. to draw straws, id. (1) Sc. 1756  M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 195:
You might have bound the whole company with a straw.
Ayr. 1896  H. Johnston Dr Congalton xvi.:
You could have tied the minister wi' a straw, as the sayin' is.
(2) Sc. 1825  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 29:
My eyes are gathering straws.
Edb. 1828  D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxiv.:
As I had been up since five in the morning, my een were gathering straws.

2. In Combs. (see also Strae): (1) straw-back, a chair with a hooded back made of plaited straw (Ork. 1971). Also attrib.; (2) straw-beuts, rough puttees or leggings made of straw rope wound round the legs (Ork. 1971); (3) straw-card, in lace-weaving: a template used in cutting the pattern on to the jacquard loom (Ayr. 1971); (4) straw-crook, a revolving hook used in twisting ropes of straw, etc. (Abd. 1921; Rs., Nai. 1961 Gwerin III. 213; Cai., Per., Lth. 1971), the form being phs. altered from thraw-cruik, id.; (5) straw-death, a natural as opposed to a violent death. Rare or dial. in Eng.; (6) straw-mouse, the shrew, Sorex araneus (Mry. 1844 Zoologist II. 423; Fif., Kcb. 1971); (7) straw sonk, a pad of straw used as a saddle, esp. for ladies. See Sunk; (8) straw-tap, jocularly, a straw hat, and by extension, its wearer; (9) straw-wald, strawal, dyer's rocket or yellow-weed, Reseda luteola (Rnf. 1837 Crawfurd MSS. XI. 62, strawal). See Wald; (10) straw-wisp, a weak-willed impressionable or easily-swayed person; (11) wandering straw, an unsettled person who moves from job to job (Wgt. 1971). (1) Ork. 1912  J. Omond 80 Years Ago 19:
Old strawback stool. — The hooded straw-back was the symbol of authority and was reserved for the guid man.
(2) Ork. 1920  J. Firth Reminiscences 32:
The straw beuts, or leggings, were composed of a length of sookan wound several times round the ankle and upwards to the knee.
(5) Fif. 1895  G. Setoun Sunshine and Haar ii.:
A straw-death's kindlier.
Kcb. 1897  Crockett Lochinvar xlviii.:
To die a clean-straw death instead of dancing your last on a gallows.
Sh. 1899  J. Spence Folk-Lore 86:
Vikings who fell in fight, or who, thinking themselves unlucky in this, died a “straw death.”
(6) Mry. c.1890  Gregor MSS.:
If a straw-mouse goes over a child's foot, the child's growth is stopped.
(7) Dmf. 1830  W. Bennet Traits II. 140:
Their steeds are caparisoned in straw sonks and hair halters.
(8) Fif. 1879  G. Gourlay Fisher Life 100:
The steam towing service of Leith was hired to the last boat, till a dozen or so have churned away from Anstruther pier with “straw taps” for the Edinburgh railway station.
(9) Abd. 1796  Session Papers, Leslie v. Fraser (29 March 1805) 248:
They preserve some of the stuffs used at their work, such as straw-wald, for manure.
(10) Sc. 1761  Magopico 18:
A plain, undesigning nose o' wax, a cat's paw, a straw-wisp.

[O.Sc. strawald, 1623.]

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



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