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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).

Stew, n. Also: stewe, (stewy), steugh. [MDu., MLG stof, Da. støv dust, f. stuiven v. to fly about; OE stuf-bæþ hot-air bath, OF estuve (11th c. in Larousse) a vapour bath, pop. L. of Gaul *extupa < *extupare to give off vapours, steam. Also in the later dial.]It is not clear how the Sc. word relates to these apparently distinct etymological strands, however since the sense of vapour and dust together occurs in a number of instances, including the first, some connection with F. estuve seems not impossible, perhaps making a semantic link with MDu., MLG stof, Da. støv.

1. (A cloud of) vapour, mist, dust, smoke. Also fig. a blast of filthy or stinking air or speech. b. A stench. 1375 Barb. xi 621.
Sic a stew rais out off thaim then Off aneding, bath of hors and men, And off powdyr, that sic myrknes In-till the ayr abowyne thaim wes, That [etc.]
1513 Doug. ii x 88.
Quhar thir towris … down fall … and reyk vp rys, With stew, powder and duste myxt on this wys
1513 Doug. iii viii 139.
The grisly Ethna dyd rummyll … The stew of byrnand heyt law from the grond … Vpstrikis
1513 Doug. iii viii 148.
1513 Doug. vii vii 132.
Within, the fervent bullyr violent Of watir makyng reky froith vpsprent So swellis vp the skum … The veschell may na mar the broth contene, Bot furth it poplys in the fyre … Quhill vp fleys the blak stew [L. vapor ater] in the air
1513 Doug. viii iii 23.
All sammyn kest ensens; and with a stew Besyde the altar blude sched and scalit new, Beand lew warm, thar full fast dyd reik
1513 Doug. ix ii 8.
O citesanys, how gret ane ost … Is lappit in ȝone dusty stew
1513 Doug. xi v 14.
The hevynnys hye dyd walxin dirk Involuyt with the reky stewys myrk
1513 Doug. xi xvii 21.
The blak stowr of puldir in a stew Als dyrk as myst
1513 Doug. xii viii 22.
Eneas … with hym … bryngis … a rowt coill blak of the stew
1513 Doug. xii x 89.
Smoik of sowr and byttir rekis stew
fig. c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 339.
Tuk I nevir the wosp clene out of my wyde throte Quhill I oucht wantit … Bot quhen I … had … gottin his biggingis [etc.] … Than with a stew stert out the stoppell of my hals
1568 Lyndesay Pref. (STS) 401.
Thay tuke the auld man Walter Mill and cruellie brint him: althocht fra that fyre rais sic ane stew quhilk struke sic sturt to thair stomokis that thay rewit it euer efter
b. c1540 Lynd. Syde Taillis 116.
He thocht na schame to mak it wittin How hir syde taill was all beschittin … (Quod he) ȝour tail makis sic ane stew, That be Sanct Bryde, I may nocht byde it

2. A turmoil, commotion, stir; brawl.Lyndesay Pref. quot. may belong here, equally there seems to be some element of sense 1 in Chron. Fortirgall quot. 1559 Chron. Fortirgall 129.
The symmyr afoyr that the gret steugh com in Scotland anent the fayth that our progenitouris had long tym afoyr that
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 576 (T).
With scoiris and crakis athort his froisnit front, In runkillis run ruwth in the stewis brunt

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"Stew n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Jun 2022 <>



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