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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

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) 1375 Barb. ix 127.
Eftir the Martymes, Quhen snaw had helit all the land
a1400 Leg. S. xviii 1003.
Gret cald … of ser snaw I haf tholyt
1564–5 St. A. Kirk S. 233.
The woman excused be hyr brother throw impediment of this instant vehement storme of snaw
c1590 Fowler I 218/7.
Floachs of snawe
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Nix, snawe
1646 Peebles Gleanings 258.
To the Haddanes … in casting the wreithis of snaw (a neidles wark) the tyme of storme at the back of Tued caal
c1650 Spalding I 31.
Vpone Thuirsday the sevint of Februar thair began ane gryt storme of snaw with horribill heiche wyndis
def. art. a1500 Henr. Fab. 1844.
In the snaw he schulit hes ane plane And heillit it all ouer with calf
1549 Compl. 59/19.
The snau is ane congelit rane
1589–90 Ayr Common Good Acc. MS.
For schuling the snaw of the calsay ij s.
(b) c1600 Montg. Suppl. xxv 1.
The tender snow, of granis soft & quhyt
(2) 1456 Hay I 58/2.
The frost and snaw was sa fell, and sa stark weder
a1500 Henr. Fab. 458.
Ȝow for to serve I wald creip on my wame In froist and snaw, in wedder wan and weit
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1698.
Birdis blyith … neir slane with snaw and sleit
1490 Irland Mir. III 12/1.
The watter that cummys of the dew the snaw [etc.]
1513 Doug. vii Prol. 50.
Scharpe soppys of sleit and of the snypand snaw
1535 Stewart 55431.
In middis of wynter baitht in frost and snaw
1570 Sat. P. xv 16.
Hap ȝow with schouris Of hailstaines, snaw, and sleit!
(3) ?a1500 Dewoit Exerc. 35.
In the winter tyid quhen baith rane, snaw [etc.] … fell apoun ȝour bair tender heid
1513 Doug. iv v 140.
New fallyn snaw
1533 Boece 512.
Snaw daly falling
1549 Compl. 59/19.
The snau … fallis aye in cald vedthir
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 23.
Thair fell ane greit storme … of snaw

c. specif. A substantial covering of snow.Some examples, esp. Stewart, may belong, rather, in a above.(a) a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 434.
Thou may not … wyn throw Mount Scarpre for the snawe
1535 Stewart 39162.
The snaw … leit nocht the gait be schawin
1596 Dalr. I 31/28.
How deip saeuir be the snawe [etc.]
1610 Southesk MSS 14.
The passages sum thing onaisie for thair wes allreddy gryt snawe
(b) 1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 23.
Mony flockis pareist in snow

d. With def. art.: A snowstorm, a period of snowfall. 1558 Black Bk. Taymouth 124.
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

e. Without the article: A fall of snow, a period of snowfall. 1531 Bell. Boece (M) II 214.
Eftir quhilk followitt huge snaw
1616 Shetland Sheriff Ct. MS 24.
Thair being snaw that nycht, his futstop wes to the bankis
16.. Hist. Kennedy 45.
Ane day of snaw, as the same wes werrie thik of drift

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. 1535 Stewart 39157.
In wynter in ane kne deip snaw
1531 Bell. Boece (M) II 263.
Becaus it was ane vehement snaw he gart ane smyth schoo his hors bakwarttis that nane suld follow him be his fute steppis
pl. 1456 Hay II 132/8.
Than … the erde helis with snawis
1531 Bell. Boece (M) I 205.
In that sessoun the erd is couerit with snawis
1531 Bell. Boece II 112.
The river … was … be inundation of snawis, boldin above the brayis
1531 Bell.Boece (M) II 67. c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus ii 393.
Mont Caucasus … all excandidate With snawis fell
1596 Dalr. I 5/20.
[There are] mony weitis, deip snawis
c. c1520-c1535 Nisbet Ep. Ald Test. xi 70.
Ices and snawis, blesse ye the Lord

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. a1400 Leg. S. x 37.
He mad thare hartis quhyt as snaw
a1500 Henr. Orph. 100.
This lady … Barfute with schankis quhytar than the snawe
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 1361.
With blanschite saill milk quhite as ony snaw
1513 Doug. xii ii 84.
The quhilk stedis … Excedit far the snaw in cullour quhite
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iii 146.
Vesta … Quhite as the snaw that euer lay in slak
1585 James VI Ess. 11.
Can quhytest swans more quhyter mak the snaw?
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. Sig. S i r.
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
comb. a1649 Drummond I 6/8.
Snow-passing iuorie that the eye delights
b. (1) ?1438 Alex. i 311.
As in grit wynd dois haill and snaw Sa come thay on but dreid or aw
?1438 Alex. i 1649.
The Turkis with arrowis braid Schott thikker weill than hale or snaw
1535 Stewart 501.
The fedderit flanis flaw … thik as ony snaw
(2) a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 33 (Asl.).
O polisand graf and mydding cled with snaw
1567 G. Ball. 123.
Clenar than maid sall I be, Than euer snaw hes bene
c1590 J. Stewart 21/220.
Chast virginetie … Resembling … The snawe
(3) 1580 Hume Promine 153.
As the snaw meltis from the sone away, Sa from his sicht the wickit sall decay
1596–7 Misc. Spald. C. I 92.
The remanent … delie meltit away lyk the snaw
comb. 1584-9 Maxwall Commonpl. Bk. 28b.
Quhat doith feid soiner than ane snaw bing?
(4) c1590 Fowler I 218/12.
A breist thought quhyte more cold then snaw I see
(5) 1554 Duncan Laideus Test. 171.
Fair weill Menteith, quhair oft I did repair And come onsocht ay as dois the snaw
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 451.
As welcome as snaw in harvest
(6) 15.. Lichtoun Dreme 42.
Sittand on ȝule ewin in ane fresche grein schaw Rostand stray berries at ane fyre of snaw
c1590 Fowler I 220/10.
Her soure sueit words … Which breathd from lyflye snaw engendreth flamme

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"Snaw n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Feb 2024 <>



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