A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)
Snaw, n. Also: snawe, snau, snow. [ME and e.m.E. snawe (c1175), snau (Layamon); snow (c1200), OE snáw.]
1. a. Snow, the substance, viewed either as falling flakes, or as the layer of these formed on the ground, etc. b. A type of weather characterised by snow, freq. in collocation with Frost n.
a., b. (1) Eftir the Martymes, Quhen snaw had helit all the land; Barb. ix 127.
Gret cald … of ser snaw I haf tholyt; Leg. S. xviii 1003.
The woman excused be hyr brother throw impediment of this instant vehement storme of snaw; 1564–5 St. A. Kirk S. 233.
Floachs of snawe; Fowler I 218/7.
Nix, snawe; Duncan App. Etym.
To the Haddanes … in casting the wreithis of snaw (a neidles wark) the tyme of storme at the back of Tued caal; 1646 Peebles Gleanings 258.
Vpone Thuirsday the sevint of Februar thair began ane gryt storme of snaw with horribill heiche wyndis; Spalding I 31.
def. art. In the snaw he schulit hes ane plane And heillit it all ouer with calf; Henr. Fab. 1844.
The snau is ane congelit rane; Compl. 59/19.
For schuling the snaw of the calsay ij s.; 1589–90 Ayr Common Good Acc. MS.
(b) The tender snow, of granis soft & quhyt; Montg. Suppl. xxv 1.
(2) The frost and snaw was sa fell, and sa stark weder; Hay I 58/2.
Ȝow for to serve I wald creip on my wame In froist and snaw, in wedder wan and weit; Henr. Fab. 458.
Birdis blyith … neir slane with snaw and sleit; Henr. Fab. 1698.
The watter that cummys of the dew the snaw [etc.]; Irland Mir. III 12/1.
Scharpe soppys of sleit and of the snypand snaw; Doug. vii Prol. 50.
In middis of wynter baitht in frost and snaw; Stewart 55431.
Hap ȝow with schouris Of hailstaines, snaw, and sleit! 1570 Sat. P. xv 16.
(3) In the winter tyid quhen baith rane, snaw [etc.] … fell apoun ȝour bair tender heid; Dewoit Exerc. 35.
New fallyn snaw; Doug. iv v 140.
Snaw daly falling; Boece 512.
The snau … fallis aye in cald vedthir; Compl. 59/19.
Thair fell ane greit storme … of snaw; Diurn. Occurr. 23.
c. specif. A substantial covering of snow.
Some examples, esp. Stewart, may belong, rather, in a above.
(a) Thou may not … wyn throw Mount Scarpre for the snawe; Kennedy Flyt. 434.
The snaw … leit nocht the gait be schawin; Stewart 39162.
How deip saeuir be the snawe [etc.]; Dalr. I 31/28.
The passages sum thing onaisie for thair wes allreddy gryt snawe; 1610 Southesk MSS 14.
(b) Mony flockis pareist in snow; Diurn. Occurr. 23.
d. With def. art.: A snowstorm, a period of snowfall.
The grettast snaw and storm that was sein in memorie of man; 1558 Black Bk. Taymouth 124.
The great snaw began on Yowl da at ewyn and ilk da fra that furth mayr and mayr snaw; 1558 Black Bk. Taymouth 124.
e. Without the article: A fall of snow, a period of snowfall.
Eftir quhilk followitt huge snaw; Bell. Boece (M) II 214.
Thair being snaw that nycht, his futstop wes to the bankis; 1616 Shetland Sheriff Ct. MS 24.
Ane day of snaw, as the same wes werrie thik of drift; Hist. Kennedy 45.
2. With the indef. art. and pl. a. A fall of snow. b. A layer, covering or drift of snow. c. An instance of snow.
a., b. In wynter in ane kne deip snaw; Stewart 39157.
Becaus it was ane vehement snaw he gart ane smyth schoo his hors bakwarttis that nane suld follow him be his fute steppis; Bell. Boece (M) II 263.
pl. Than … the erde helis with snawis; Hay II 132/8.
In that sessoun the erd is couerit with snawis; Bell. Boece (M) I 205.
The river … was … be inundation of snawis, boldin above the brayis; Bell. Boece II 112.
Bell.Boece (M) II 67.
Mont Caucasus … all excandidate With snawis fell; Rolland Ct. Venus ii 393.
[There are] mony weitis, deip snawis; Dalr. I 5/20.
c. Ices and snawis, blesse ye the Lord; Nisbet Ep. Ald Test. xi 70.
3. In fig. and allusive use. a. As the type of whiteness. See also Quhite adj. 4 a. b. Variously used of other characteristics of snow. Also comb.
a. He mad thare hartis quhyt as snaw; Leg. S. x 37.
This lady … Barfute with schankis quhytar than the snawe; Henr. Orph. 100.
With blanschite saill milk quhite as ony snaw; Doug. Pal. Hon. 1361.
The quhilk stedis … Excedit far the snaw in cullour quhite; Doug. xii ii 84.
Vesta … Quhite as the snaw that euer lay in slak; Rolland Ct. Venus iii 146.
Can quhytest swans more quhyter mak the snaw? James VI Ess. 11.
— To grant that man hes vill & say it is not frie … is als absurd as … saying the snau is blak. For libertie is als inseparable from vill as quhitnes from snau; Hamilton Cath. Tr. Sig. S i r.
comb. Snow-passing iuorie that the eye delights; Drummond I 6/8.
b. (1) As in grit wynd dois haill and snaw Sa come thay on but dreid or aw; Alex. i 311.
The Turkis with arrowis braid Schott thikker weill than hale or snaw; Alex. i 1649.
The fedderit flanis flaw … thik as ony snaw; Stewart 501.
(2) O polisand graf and mydding cled with snaw; Contempl. Sinn. 33 (Asl.).
Clenar than maid sall I be, Than euer snaw hes bene; G. Ball. 123.
Chast virginetie … Resembling … The snawe; J. Stewart 21/220.
(3) As the snaw meltis from the sone away, Sa from his sicht the wickit sall decay; Hume Promine 153.
The remanent … delie meltit away lyk the snaw; 1596–7 Misc. Spald. C. I 92.
comb. Quhat doith feid soiner than ane snaw bing? Maxwall Commonpl. Bk. 28b.
(4) A breist thought quhyte more cold then snaw I see; Fowler I 218/12.
(5) Fair weill Menteith, quhair oft I did repair And come onsocht ay as dois the snaw; Duncan Laideus Test. 171.
As welcome as snaw in harvest; Ferg. Prov. No. 451.
(6) Sittand on ȝule ewin in ane fresche grein schaw Rostand stray berries at ane fyre of snaw; Lichtoun Dreme 42.
Her soure sueit words … Which breathd from lyflye snaw engendreth flamme; Fowler I 220/10.
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"Snaw n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Oct 2019 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/dost/snaw>
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