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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Mouth, n. Also: mouthe, moutht, mowth(e, mowtht, mouythe, moueth, mowyth(e, mough(t; muth(e, mutht, mwth(e, mwtht, mwcht; muith; mothe, motht, moythe. [ME. (13th c.) and e.m.E. mouth, mouþ(e, mowth(e, ME. muth (c 1250), moth (Cursor M.), OE. múþ. Cf. also Mow n.2]

1. The mouth of a person or animal or a representation of one of these.(1) a1400 Leg. S. ix. 221.
Of his mowthe & of his ene Sprakis of fyre bryste owt
Ib. iv. 233; etc. c1420 Wynt. v. 3594. 1456 Hay II. 43/11. Ib. 121/25, 126/30.
Syne suld he … kys him in the mouth
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 106.
His schewill mouth
Id. lxxv. 47.
Quhone that our mowthis dois meit at ane
1513 Doug. ii. viii. 90.
The wofui moderis … feil sys with mowthis kys thame wald
Ib. iii. iv. 18.
Thar [the harpies'] mowthis miserabill
Ib. vii. 40.
Syk eyn had he … syk mowth and face, perfay
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 180 n.
Sum makis the sing off the croys … one thair mowtht
1568 Skeyne Descr. Pest 12.
Ganting of mowthe
15.. Comrie Hist. Sc. Medic. I. 189.
And doeth away with the stynke of the mwth
(2) a1400 Leg. S. x. i 57.
Twa dragonyse … Blessis of fyre … At nese & mowthe thai schote owte
c1420 Wynt. i. 747.
Hys mowyth [C. mouythe] of kynd is rywyn wyde
1456 Hay II. 49/13.
His coursere … with irne bytt in the mouth
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 2955.
Sche [the whale] haid ane mouth was mare nor any tun
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1170 (Bann.).
The silly scheip durst lay no mowth till erd Till [etc.]
1513 Doug. ii. viii. 63.
Lyke to the edder … With forkit tong intyll hir mouth quytterand
15.. Lord Fergus' Gaist 55.
First with ane fisschis mowth
1560 Bk. Disc. 197.
The mouth of the lawboring oxe aucht nott to be muzilled
(3) c1420 Wynt. v. 2111.
Yhon similakare … Can nowthire spek … Set he hawe mouth [etc.]

b. Mouth behind, the anus, in opposition to mouth before, the mouth. c1420 Wynt. v. 524.
Quhen men suld lat ga Owte off thare bodyis ryfftys off wynd, At mowth before, or than behynd

2. The mouth considered as the means of eating, drinking, tasting and the like. Also fig. and transf.Temperat, intemperat etc. of mouth, = in eating and drinking. (The King's) mouth, = provision and serving of his food and drink.(1) a1400 Leg. S. i. 109.
Paul in his mowth sic fud has done That [etc.]
Ib. xxviii. 417.
A dragon … tuk hyr in his mouth hale To suely hyr
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 509.
Than culit thai thair mouthis with confortable drinkis
Id. xi. 27. 1540 Lynd. Sat. 2474 (B).
Ȝour mowth war meit evin to drink owt a jurdane
a1568 Balnaves Bann. MS. 138 a/10.
Ȝour mowth at laser cule
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 54.
Eats thou not the bodie quhen thou applies the meat to thy mouth?
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 552.
Fra hand to mouth
(2) 1531 Bell. Boece I. xxxiv.
Afore thay wer effeminat with lust and intemperance of mouth
c 1563 Reg. Panmure I. xxxii.
He wos wery temperat of his mouthe bot gewin to leicherie
(3) 1578 Reg. Privy C. II. 689.
The cair of the attendance upoun his hienes mowth and dyet continewing as afoir in the charge of the Lady Countesse of Mar
1579 Acts III. 149/2.
Annabell, Countesse of Mar, gouuernant of his hienes persone and mowth in his infancy
(4) c1500-c1512 Dunb. xii. 10.
fig. Deth followis lyfe with gaipand mowth, Devoring [etc.]
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 47.
Christ … is receaved be the mouth of the saul, that is, be a true faith

3. The mouth considered as the instrument of speech or voice.Also, by metonymy, what the mouth utters, one's words, speech or language.(Be, with or out of) one's awin mouth, (on) one's own declaration or avowal. To write at a person's mouth, to write down his words as he utters them. In (one's, a person's) mouth, on his lips, declared, uttered or spoken by him. Be (by) or with (one's) mouth, by word of mouth, orally; sometimes as against in writing.Also, = the words one utters as distinct from what one actually feels or believes. Freq. in contrast with mind, heart, thought, etc.One's hart is at one's mouth, ? = one speaks one's mind too freely, one displays excessive irascibility.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xvii. 103.
Sum gud of hyre moutht to here
Ib. xxxvi. 250.
Be spek of mouth
Ib. xviii. 537. ?1438 Alex. ii. coloph. 14.
I … said furth as me come to mouth
1490 Irland Mir. I. 18/20. 1513 Doug. vi. ii. 158.
Hir mowth clappit to giddir, and held hir pes
Ib. vi. 70.
Cerebus … barkand with thre mowthis sown
Ib. i. xii. 2, vi. ii. 49. 1581 Hamilton in Cath. Tr. 84/2.
Thair mouth speiks proudnes
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 178/5.
And his mouth suld furthschaw his loving
c 1576 Bann. Memor. 334.
Diverse strange thingis … whilk I had of the mouth of thame that it was told to
1600 Prestwick B. Rec. 84.
Out of the mouthe of the haill inquest abone vrittin
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No.997.
I trow young many our mouth yuiks
(b) 1533 Gau 28/8.
Man liffis noth alanerlie of breid bot of euerie word quhilk cumis of the mwcht of God
Ib. 29/11.
Sua spak God to Moses … ‘I sal be in thy muth and I sal tech thé quhat thou sal say to hyme’
(2) a1500 Colk. Sow ii. 143.
That few folk mycht consaue hir momling mowth
c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 266.
Your angel mouthis most mellifluate
1587-99 Hume i. 4.
Alace, how oft haue I essayed to daunt my lasciue mouth
1585 James VI Ess. 25.
Her … mouth resembled into sound The dance harmonious
(3) 1498 Reg. Privy S. I. 26/1.
Quhill he … revok the sammyn … be his awn mowth or be his autentik lettrez
a1500 Seven S. 2748.
Thy awne mouth has condampnit thé now
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xc. 50.
With thine awin mouth thi sinnes thow suld tell
1600 Misc. Bann. C. I. 164.
He had harde the treuth out of the Kingis awin mouth
1631 Justiciary Cases I. 162. 1678 Kirkcudbr. Test. 31 Dec.
Giwen down be hir avin mouth
1699 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds II. 746 (20 Feb.).
With my oune mouth
(4) 1599 Rollock's Wks. I. 294.
In the hand of sum of his schollers quha wrait at his mouth quhill he teiched
(5) 1456 Hay I. 73/33.
The law sais, in the mouth of twa or three personis all word suld be trowit
c1460 Wisd. Sol. (S.T.S.) 294.
That al the vismanis wyt is in his mouth
1535 Stewart 57225.
This auld proverb … Saying, the loving in ane mannis mouth, Maid of him self, stinkis lyke ony fen [etc.]
1562-3 Winȝet I. 13/21.
Farder, sen all man hes this word reformatioun in mothe
1563-72 Ferg. Tracts 8.
All such as haue the name of Christ hipocriticallie in their mouthes
(6) a1400 Leg. S. xviii. 2.
It ware spedfule … To put in wryt ore tel be movthe
1545 Bk. Carlaverock II. 25.
That ȝe think the credit sent fra me be John Douglas to be of greit importance to be sent by moutht
1562 St. A. Kirk S. 152.
For certain tym appoynted to tham be the superintendent be his mowth spekyng to tham
1573 Edinb. Test. II. 337.
And this wes done be the mouth of the deceisar
1587–8 Perth Guildry 441 (6 Feb.).
All in ane voce be thair mouthis spekand
1629 Boyd Fam. P. No. 134 (21 May).
Aither be wreatte or rather be mowth and in presence
(7) c1420 Wynt. iv. 2546.
Wyth mowth thai grawntyt thare homage
a1500 Henr. III. 147/42. a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 354.
Thairfore meikly with mouth mel to that myld
1494 Loutfut MS. 26 a.
To defend him fra his enemys with his mouth & his toung
1580 Facs Nat. MSS. III. lxx.
We … confesse with our mouthes, subscrywe with our handis
(8) a1400 Leg. S. xviii. 643.
Or with quhat harte or muth suld I Be-gyne to ask thé lady, mercy
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 417.
My mouth [M. mothe] it makis murnyng, & my mynd lauchis
Id. xxi. 41.
Fra everilk mowth fair wirdis proceidis In every hairt disceptioun breidis
Id. lxvi. 9.
The sugurit mouthis, with myndis therfra
Id. xiii. 18. 1533 Gau 82/26.
Mony vordis vith the mwtht vithout the hart is ane paganis prayier
a1568 Scott i. 142. 1562-3 Winȝet I. 52/22.
Ane thing to hef had cloisit in thair breistis and ane vther reddy … in thair mowthe
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xcvii. 48.
With mouthe we say we luif the Lord And far fra him in oure intent
a1599 Rollock Wks. I. 339.
The mouth in the mean time wil be backbyting him, and the conscience will say, thou leis, mouth
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xlvii. 86.
His mouth is hony, bot his hairt is gall
(9) 1600-1610 Melvill 325. Ib. 214.
That the King was fean to tak it upe betwix tham with gentill termes and mirrie talk, saying, they war bathe litle men, and thair hart was at thair mouthe

b. As of or with ane mouth, with one voice. c1520-c1535 Nisbet III. Ep. Ald Test. xi. 51.
Than thir thre, as of aan mouth, lovit and glorifijt God
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 32.
With ane mouth maid protestatioun

c. To close, stop (a person's or persons') mouth(is, to reduce to silence, to silence. d. To open (a minister's) mouth, to authorize him to preach or to resume preaching.c. c1520-c1535 Nisbet I. .
How Christ stoppit the mowthis of the Saduceis
1562-3 Winȝet II. 7/15.
Na man may … ditt the mowthis of the contentious
1558-66 Knox I. 155.
For when he intended to … schaw the maner of his doctrine, by and by thei stoped his mouth with ane other article
1600-1610 Melvill 265.
To close the mouthes of invyfull sklanderars
1627 Laing MSS. I. 177. 1645 Lag Chart. 57.
The takeing of my lord of Quiensberrie hes stoped all yowr freends mowths
d. 1656 Moray Synod 121.
Mr. Richard Maitland deposed in 1647 his mouth now opened to preach the gospel by the synod
a1676 Guthry Mem. (1748) 281.
The assembly did … open the mouth of one John Gillan to preach the gospel

e. Be, in, throw the mouth of(a spokesman); also be, in (one's spokesmen's) mouthis. Be ane mouth, by one person acting as spokesman. As ane tongue of ane mouth, as a single spokesman for the group.(1) 1385 3rd Rep. Hist. MSS. 410/2.
Throw the moutht of Robert Louranson than demstare of oure lord the Kingis curt, it was giffyn for dome that [etc.]
c1500 Barounis Lawis 6.
That dome gevin be the moutht of N soytour of B is evill
1476 Acta Aud. 57/2. 1529 Red Bk. Grandtully I. 70.
Be the moythe of the sayd Jhone Stuart
1534 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 120.
1549 Compl. 157/27.
God hes gyffin thé his lau in thy moutht to be distribut
1562 Dysart Rec. 28. 1629 Justiciary Cases I. 120.
Be the mouth of Jon McAirtour dempster of court
1662 Rothesay B. Rec. 72. 1666 Forbes Baron Ct. 267.
In the mouth of the choncelar
(2) c1515 Asl. MS. I. 327/31.
The xij artikillis … send be the Haly Gast in the xij apostolis mouthis
1562-3 Winȝet I. 6/5.
War ȝe commandit in vaine of God be the mouthis off His prophetis and apostolis to walke attentlie … vpon ȝour flok
(3) c1575 Balfour Pract. 276.
The judge sould command ane suitar that is qualifyit … to gif the dome be ane toung and ane mouth
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i. 114b.
As ane tongue of ane mouth

4. transf. a. A person or persons speaking for another or for others, one's spokesman. 1591 R. Bruce Serm. 196.
For seing the Lord hath appoynted vs to be his mouth, we man not speak what we please
1563 Davidson Answer 253.
The Spirit of God quha spake be His prophetis [etc.] … as His mouth
1638-54 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 338.
I was mouth for those who pressed the danger of novations
1678 J. Brown Hist. Indulgence 203.
Voted for Mr. Blair being their mouth before the council

b. One who speaks in the manner specified by an adjective. c1500 Makc. MS. xiv. 25.
Hef in hait mowthis that hes bene dowbill
1562-3 Winȝet I. 139/13.
I refer the consequence be the blasphemous mowthis to be pronunceit

5. Applied to: The female pudendum.Esp. mouth thankles, also thankles mouth. To serve, persew or mell with, mouth thankles, to go whoring.(1) a1568 Kennedy in Bann. MS. 268 a/7.
Be Chryst my cair ma nevir cule That evir I serwit mowth thankles
Ib. /48.
All this I hard ane auld man raif … of mowth thankles
1536 Lynd. Answ. Flyting 33.
Ȝit full sair I rew That euer I did mouth thankles so persew
a1568 Scott v. 65.
Nor oft till mell with thankles mowth
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1102.
Manie men servis mouth thankless
(2) a1568 Bann. MS. 143 b/12.
He put his hand in at hir spair, … Qoth he, this mowth wald fane be fed
a1568 Kennedy Ib. 268 a/11.
Plesans to put in to that mowth

6. transf. a. The mouth, outfall, lower end, of a stream, river, estuary, gulf or inland sea. b. The entrance to a harbour.a. Early occurrences in place-names include: Cramesmude (1097–1107 Facs. Nat. MSS. I. 6), Brockesmuth (1165–1214 Liber Calchou 17), Twedemud (1217–27 Ib. 33), Salwildmuthe (1214–49 Liber Melros I. 199); Polnelismouthe (c 1320 Reg. Great S. (1814) 22/2), Twedemouth (1337 Rot. Sc. 493/1).(1) c1475 Wall. ix. 1900.
In Tayis mowth the hawyn
Ib. x. 798.
Till Hwmbyr mowth
a1540 Freiris Berw. 3.
At Tweidis mouth
1574–5 Carrick Baillie Ct. 28 Jan.
Betuix the walter of Done muith & the ile of Quhittarne
(2) c1500-50 Brevis Cronica 330.
Att the mouth of the Awmount
1511–2 Wemyss Chart. 139.
To the mowtht of the Blair bwrne
1513 Doug. iii. x. 80.
Arethusa, at thi mouth or ischay [: say]
1531 Bell. Boece I. 68.
King Ewin … arrivit in the mouth of Lochtie
1535 Stewart 38617.
Quhill that tha come onto the mouth of Forth
1596 Conv. Burghs I. 482.
To … duell in the mowth of Lochquhaber
1640 Dumbarton B. Rec. 61.
Erle of Argle … to vissit the mouth of Clyd and plaices about Dunbartane
1641 Acts V. 611/2.
Betwix … the height of the mouth and infall of the said water
1702 Conv. Burghs IV. 329.
Building of ane harbour in the moueth of Lossie
(b) 15.. Lynd. Rutter fol. 4 (B).
To the mought of Ethan
(c) 1584 Lochwinnoch Par. 142.
The fischeing of the watter mwthe of Calder
(3) 1535 Stewart 975.
Tha sailit syne on till ane rever mouth
1579, 1617 Despauter (1617) 88.
Ostia, the mouth of rivers
(4) c1515 Asl. MS. I. 161/5.
The mouth of the se quhilk is callit Caspinos
Ib. /3.b. 1497 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 60.
That ane blockhouse salbe bigyt … at the hevin moutht
1603 Reg. Great S. 506/2.
The beakin and mouth or intres of the port and heavin of Belheavin
c 1641–54 J. Gordon in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II. 527.
A saif harbour for ships having in mouth the iland called Iland Davar
(b) 15.. Lynd. Rutter fol. (B).
To eschew a sand bank in the hau ens mough

c. Applied to a place or district at a seaward end of the Highlands or that gives access to them. 1662 Inverness Rec. II. 211.
This burghe lyand in the mouth of the hylands
1708 Dumbarton B. Rec. 103.
The place being in the mowth of the heillands

7. transf. The mouth or open end of various things:

a. Of various containers or vessels. b. Of a furnace or oven. c. Of a cave, pit, or well. d. Of a passage, tube, or the like.a. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2117 (H).
At the creill mouth I had it thryis but dout
1562 (c 1650) Dundee B. Laws 29.
That na landwart man … presum to oppin ther secks mouthes qhill xi houres be stricken
1581 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 207.
Tuentie new pekis banddit with girthis of irne, ane in the mouthe and ane vther in the boddum
1597 Elgin Rec. II. 63.
Ane purse with ane brazyn mowthe
1618 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II. 99.
To the couper for ten girthis to the sand poik mouthes
16.. Adv. MS. 22.2.11, last p.
Stope the muth of the stoupe with a cloath
1658 Aberd. Council Lett. III. 309.
The mouth of the seck maid up with better stuff
b. 1456 Hay II. 143/23.
It had a grete fournas … bot the mouth of it [etc.]
1611 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I. 335.
For … making ane new mouth to her [an oven] againe
c. (1) a1400 Leg. S. xxiii. 159.
The cawe mowth
Ib. 248.
The mouthe … of the cawe
c1420 Wynt. ii. 1195.
Than off that cove the mouth [C. mouythe] gert he Wytht stannys gryt sone dyttyde be
1456 Hay I. 26/26.
A mouth of a mekle draw well
? a 1500 Rec. Kinloss Mon. 113.
Ane well with ane thrawin mowth … or ane crwik in it
(2) 1456 Hay I. 28/14.
For he fell of the hevin, that is the haly kirk, in the mouth of the pitt of hell, that is avarice
a1538 Abell 6* a.
Hellys moutht opynyt in Royme
d. 1531 Bell. Boece I. xxxiv.
We saw his hanche bane, als mekill as the haill bane of ane man; for we schot our arme in the mouth thairof
1563 Edinb. B. Rec. III. 166.
To close the mouthis of all the oppin conductis quhilk cumis to the hie streit
1619 Perth Kirk S. MS. 25 Jan.
That staikis of great timmer be sett wp in the mouthis of the kirk vennellis

8. Attrib. and comb.a. In senses 1–3, in mouth-bit, mouth-claith (-cloith) (i.e. for wiping the mouth), mouth- (= oral) grawnting. Mouth-granado, on the analogy of ‘hand-grenade’, = fig. ‘an explosive shell delivered by the mouth’, a fiery explosive speech.b. In sense 7a: Mouth-made, arranged with the best stuff at the top or mouth of the container and the inferior hidden below.a. (1) 1541 Treas. Acc. VIII. 29.
xxxvj grete bittis … and xxiiij mouth bittis
1613 Edinb. Test. XLVII. 269 b.
Tua mouth claithis price of baith xxx s.
1642 Ib. LX. 90.
Ane dossane serviottis with burdcloith and watter cloith and ane mouth cloith estimat all to xij li.
1648 Ib. LXIV. 52.
Thrie mouth cloaths or drinking cloathis
c1420 Wynt. iv. 2544.
Professiowne in propyrté Mouth grawntyng suld callyd be
(2) 1661 The Work Goes Bonnely On 7.
This mouth-granado, from that Scotch-witch came To set these glorious kingdoms in a flame
b. 1658 Aberd. Council Lett. III. 307.
But it is notorlie knowin that this mercat malt is composit of aitts, runsches, shillinseeds and such lyk and oft tymes mouth made, some better abov and the rest worse

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"Mouth n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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