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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Saw, Sow, v.1 Also: sawe, sau, schaw(e, schau; sowe. P.t. sew(e, seu, schew; sawit, -yt; sowd. P.p. sawin(e, -yn(e, -ing, -en, sauin(e, -en, sawn(e, sawnne, saune; sown, soune; saw; sewyt. [Early and north. ME and e.m.E. sawe(n (c1200), sau (Cursor M.), midl. and south. ME and e.m.E. sowe(n (c1200). ME and e.m.E. p.t. seow (c1175), sew, siew (both c1200), seuȝ (c1250), seu (Cursor M.), also sceued (Cursor M.), sowide (Wyclif), sowed (1535); p.p. sawenn (Orm), sauun (Cursor M.), sawen (Rolle); isowe (a1250), sowen (1523), also i-sowed (Piers Plowman), OE sáwan.] To sow.

1. tr. To scatter or deposit (seed) on or in the ground so that it may grow; to plant (a crop) in this way. Also fig.pres. a1400 Leg. S. xxvii 988.
He socht to saw thare bere & ry
Ib. xl 133.
To schau his seiyde & wine his corne
1457 Acts II 51/1.
That all thar tenandis plant woddis and treis mak heggis and sawe brvme
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1723.
Lauboraris … Sum sawand seidis fast frome place to place
Ib. 1744. 1501 Treas. Acc. II 82.
For sedis to saw in the garding in Strivelin vj s.
1549 Compl. 24/24.
Ȝe sal sau the cornis on ȝour feildis bot ȝour enemeis sal eit it
1552 Elgin Rec. I 116.
That na persoun this ȝeir schaw vther seidis in the feldis folloving
1637 Innes Sketches 519.
That the soorest waye to make them [supra firr tries] prosper is to saw them in the seid
1662 Irvine Mun. II 88.
He sawing the cropt therof upon the ground the said yeir
p.t. 1434–5 Chart. Cupar A. II 33.
At that corn sal … remayn stil witht the husband of the biris that sew it
c1515 Asl. MS I 325/22.
Trytolanum that first sew cornes on erth
1500 Acta Conc. II 461.
That the sade James lauborit telit and sew the aitis and cornis that grew on the twa merk of the Stanyburne
1553 Blackfriars Perth 234.
Certane neichbours … sew ane pest of wald seyd in the eist end of thair said croft
1569 Canongate Ct. Bk. 75.
Ane crop of quheit quhilk the said Michaell sew on twa riggis of land of the landis of Restalrig
(b) 1707 Cunningham Diary 26.
They sowd 19 bolls corn on it and had about elevin scoir threeves growing
p.p. 1402 Reg. Panmure II 184.
Quhil the tym the corne be sawyn agayne
c1420 Bute MS c. 109.
And ony thyng that is byggyt or sawyn anyrly pertenys to the ayre
14.. Acts I 44/2.
1439 Cop. St. A. 177.
Sawin in the said Grange thretty and thre bollis of quhete; item, sawin xviij bollis of pese
1450 Reg. Episc. Brechin. I 146.
Certane corne sawine within the commone
1456 Hay I 38/27.
And thare was the first quhete that ever was sawin with man
1497–8 Acta Conc. II 123.
A part of his seid being sawing and the remanent redy til saw
The proffittis of … vj score of bollis [of aitis] that he micht haf sawin upone the sammyn landis [erit and telit] be him of the sade last yeire
1508 Reg. Privy S. I 240/2.
xxx bollis of alkin corn sawin on the ground
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Luke xix 21.
1548–9 Reg. Privy S. IV 20/2.
1560 Conf. Faith in 14.. Acts II 532/2.
Ȝit sall it efter bring furth frute as liuely seid sawin in gude ground
Ib. 534/1.
We … confes that dornell cockell and caffe may be sawin … in the middis of the quheit
1570 Edinb. Test. II 122.
Thrie bollis beir to be sawin … sex bollis beir by the seid, price of the boll xx s.
1581 Lanark B. Rec. 81.
1592 Edinb. Test. XXIV 168.
xvj bollis aittis reddy to the happer albeit thair was than sawin on the ground … xxiiij bollis aittis
a1689 Cleland 17.
(b) 1662 Soc. Ant. XXII 220.
Ye said ‘I would he had sown my lint seed’
1689 Foulis Acc. Bk. 117.
Ther was soune hotspurs in the east border … last weeke and this day … next the mid. row of gooseberrie bushes

b. With sede, etc., fig. and in fig. context. a1400 Leg. S. i 77.
Cristis lare techit he And sew sa Goddis sede thane At he to Criste mony wane
Ib. xvii 13.
And schawand Goddis sede scho drev Towarte Arle
Ib. xl 133.
In Goddis ȝard to set plucht To schau his seiyde & wine his corne
Ib. 203.
Thare he saw sawyne il seide
Ib. vi 119, etc.
c1460 Wisd. Sol. (STS) 478.
Quha dreidis al vindis … sall neuir weill saw his corne
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 137.
The seid of lufe was sawin in my face
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 269 (Asl.).
Quha lykis to … saw the seid of werteu & sapiens
1513 Doug. iv Prol. 8.
In fragil flesch ȝour [sc. Venus's] fykkil seyd is saw
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 431.
Quho hes this seid [sc. of sin] amang ws sawin
1562-3 Winȝet II 56/17.
Vpon that guid seid of the quheit quhilk the Sone of Man hes sawin in his croft
1567 G. Ball. 189.
And nocht sa mekle bastard seid Throw out this cuntrie sawin
1580 Cath. Tr. 37/1.
It is necessarie that seid be sawin for the tyme to come … that the kirk be not left barren and waist to the posteritie
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. in 1573-1600 Cath. Tr. (STS) 78/2.
Sauing the seid of arrogance throu opinion of knalege and treu religion
1596 Dalr. I 325/11.
1619 Garden Elphinstoun 1307.
About this tyme was sawen The seminar and seeds Of … futur warre
1581-1623 James VI Poems II 111/20.
Shall coloured knaues so malapertlie lie And shamelesse sowe there poysoned smitting seede
(2) c1590 Fowler I 156/13.
Love … sawes his breirs and thornes within my hart

2. To scatter seed on (land, etc.); to plant or supply (land) with seed. b. fig. To strew (land) with (of) something. c. transf. To strew (something, material or non-material) with, full of (something) in the manner of sowing land with seed.pres. a1500 Bernardus 391.
Lat tham … tel and saw and dyk and delff the erde
1513 Doug. vi xiv 96.
Quhar thou thi ryggis telys forto saw [L. serentem]
1540 Wemyss Chart. 157.
Scho tholit … Alexander Dundas … to ryfe out teill and saw the marcheis
15.. Misc. Spald. C. IV 105.
The kirk of God … is the ground that he takis plesour to labour he earis it he sawes it and he scheiris it
1585 Perth B. Ct. 31 May.
And causit delff the north half of the said ȝearde saw the samin and sett the samin with bow caill
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii 13b. 1640 Rec. Old Aberd. I 69.
The haill husbandmen … sall saw the twalff pairt of thair haill laboring in pese
1663 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds I 262.
[£11 5 s. Scots] for ceartane beir … to saw my croft
1688 Kirkcudbr. Test. (Reg. H.) 25 Feb.
With sixtein load of corne and tuo bolls of beir to sau the land
p.t. 14.. Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 250.
To the takin Alex. Makfersan bailȝie to the bischop … sew the Larde of Echtis falde … uppoun the samyn grond
1501–2 Acta Conc. III 139.
[He alleged] that he nor his forbearis thir xl yeris sew nocht the sadis landis
1609 Melrose Reg. Rec. I 79.
Quhilk rig he possessit sew schuir and led away
p.p. 1458 Peebles B. Rec. I 128.
Al the wast land that was lynt or corn sawin
1483 Acta Conc. II cxxxiii.
He [shall pay] … the penny male … for the land that was sawin with his sede
1516 Fife Sheriff Ct. 33.
1534 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 111.
The landis foyrsaidis now savin with aittis
1535 Reg. Episc. Brechin. II 186.
Wilȝam Dempstar [etc.] … has rewyn out telit and sawyn ane part tharof [sc. of the common]
1549 Compl. 29/5.
Ve haue sauen oure feildis to the behufe of oure enemeis
a1568 Jok & Jynny 19.
My berne … hes of hir awin … Ane calf ane hog ane futebraid sawin
1580 Edinb. Test. VIII 62b.
I ordane my land to be sawin with my awin seid
1586 Reg. Privy C. IV 65.
[They] have intrusit thameselffis in hir haill landis foirsaidis sawne and occupyit the same
b. 1460 Hay Alex. 3235.
Off dede and hurt men … thik the feild was sawin
c. 1513 Doug. iii ix 13.
Hys tawbart and array sewyt [L. consertum] with breris
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 672.
Argumentis sawin full of sophistrye
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 145.
I send unto yow ane sepulture of hard stane collourit with blak sawin with teiris and bones

d. Of seed: To be sufficient for (a certain area of land). 14.. Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 250.
That is alsmekill land as a celdr of atis will schawe
a1699 Skene Agric. MS (ed.) 68.
The peiss sows farder than anie grain … , for example fourten pecks of peiss, of beir and wheit a boll, and fyve furlets of oates will sowe an aker

e. Of an area of land: To be sufficient to take (a certain quantity of seed). 1566 Crail B. Ct. MS 7 Aug.
With the thrid of the yerd and als meykill of the croyft to schaw ane pecce of linyget

f. Of dung: To fertilize that area of land for the sowing of which (a specified quantity of seed) is requisite. 1566–7 Inverness Rec. I 146.
That quhar William McCoren sauld him of muk that wald haif sawin thre bollis beyr … nochttheles the said Patre hes not gottin bot alse mekle muk as will saw xiiij peckis beyr

3. intr. or absol. To scatter or plant seed on or in the ground. Also fig. and in fig. context. c1420 Wynt. i 1620.
And men he kend tyll ere and sawe
1509 Reg. Privy S. I 285/1.
With power to tele and saw nochtwithstanding … statutis of the forest made in the contrare
a1568 Scott i 174.
Caus … Mechanikis wirk, husbandis to saw and scheir
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 751.
Saw thin and maw thin
1600-1610 Melvill 287.
Let us nocht say with the slugart … nor for feir of wound and wather leave af to saw and schear
a1601 Boyd Sonet.
Unhappie is the man … That teils the sand and sawis in the aire
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xxxi 17.
I sau I sett—no flour nor fruit I find

b. Of seed: To be capable of being sown (over a certain area).Skene Agric. MS (ed.) 68 (see 2d above).

c. transf. With frute, seid, to beget or as if to beget (a child). a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 1099.
The frute thou beris … The Haly Gaist it in my body sew
a1568 Sempill Sat. P. xlvii 40.
He sew na seid in to hir Sandelandis

4. tr., intr. or absol. In collocation with reap (raipe) (Repe v.), sheer (Scher(e v. 10 e, q.v. for further examples) and, once, ryise (Ris(e v. 4) in fig. or transf. uses of the above senses. a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 128/17.
Mark quhow the apostle S. Paul vritis on this maner ‘It quhilk is savine ane naturall body sall ryise ane spirituall bodye.’ S. Paul callis our bodeis efter the resurreccione spirituall bodeis nocht changit in sprites bot clede with spirituall giftes
1558-66 Knox II 289.
Edinburgh since that day had reaped as thai sew
1588 King Cat. 185.
Quhat so euer a man saues the same sal he raipe, for quha sawes in his flesh he sal sheer corruption of the flesh, bot quha sa sawes in the spirit shal sheer lyf ewerlasting

5. tr., fig. To disseminate or spread; to propagate or foment (beliefs, states of affairs, etc.).pres. 1456 Hay I 13/35.
He [sc. the Devil] sett him … to saw errouris and herisies in the faith
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1900.
Sawand poysoun and mony wickit thocht In mannis saull
Id. Hasty Credence 41.
O wicket tung, sawand dissentioun
c1490 Porteous Noblenes 180/19 (Asl.).
It is na rek nor compt of his lyf that sawis nocht deligence quhilk awalkynnis all vther wertuis
1543 Corr. M. Lorraine 13.
I departit in Cathtnes to saw discord
1562-3 Winȝet I 77 marg.
1568 Haddington Corr. 271.
Thair culd na better way be fundin nor to saw iolasie betuix vs
1581 Sat. P. xliv 83.
Efter that Sathan … To rais his kingdome tentation did sau Into the hairtis of men
1600-1610 Melvill 326.
p.t. 1513 Doug. ii ii 70.
Vlixes … dangerus rumour amang the commonys hedis Skalit and sew of me in diuers stedis
Ib. vii v 140.
Causys of stryfe and batale I wald thou sew [1553 schew]
a1561 Norvell Meroure 19a.
God … Sewe in their sinnat ciuile seditione Which sprang and grew to their confusione
1581 Sat. P. xliv 125.
Knox held steue the pleuch And Methuen seu adulterie so teuch
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 219/155.
But as the diuill is ready bent goode uorkes to hinder ay So seu he in this nauie stryfe
p.p. a1400 Leg. S. xi 404.
Quhen the apostolis had al-quhare In that land sawyne Goddis lare
1456 Hay II 89/7.
That thair gude renoune be wyde sawin and publist our all realmes
1551 Hamilton Cat. 26.
With meiknes ressave the word that is plantit or sawin amongis yow
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3381.
1567 G. Ball. 203. a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. 304/25.
I feir that men … Hes sawin suspitioun
1573 Davidson Sat. P. xlii 898.

b. To start up, establish (a school). 1648 Inverurie 303.
Mr. William Forbes … is ordayned to have a care to sowe a school there to propagate the gospell

6. To scatter, mainly, on the ground, as one scatters seed; to sprinkle or spread about. 1460 Hay Alex. 1542.
And all trunschionis sawin on the grene
a1500 Henr. Fab. 147.
Ane sow to quhome men … In hir draf troich wald saw the precious stanis
Ib. 1896.
Sawand this calf thir small birdis to sla
1513 Doug. vii ix 28.
Armouris swerdis [etc.] … I sall do saw and strow our all the feildis
1590–1 Crim. Trials I ii 238.
The Dewill … commandit [them] to saw the peces of glas langis the mwre
1596 Dalr. I 308/7.
Siluer lyk seid he sew vpon the ground

b. To distribute or disperse. Also reflex. 1375 Barb. iv 686.
Bot the prophetis sa thyn ar sawyn That nane in erd now is knawin
a1400 Leg. S. xliv 89.
And quhen thar meble ilke day Ves nere delt clenely away Thane sawyt thai … Thare gudis w[n]mowable sone
c1420 Wynt. vi 1897.
And in hys almus he sew sylver Till all pure folk that had myster
c1475 Wall. xi 1226.
Feill off that kyn in Scotland than was sawyn
a1500 K. Hart 818.
To the ȝet come rydand on ane day Wirschip of Weir, quhilk sawis honouris hie
1581-1623 James VI Poems II 18/5.
Yett are thay catcht in girnis that thay did sau
reflex. a1400 Leg. S. xvi 187.
Crystis discipilis … sawit thame in placis seyre

7. To shed, spill (blood). 1535 Stewart 9601.
Wemen … sall nocht … draw abak quhair mekill blude is sawin

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