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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BO, Bu, n.1 [bo: bu:]

1. A hobgoblin.Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 65; Cai.8 1934:
Bo, a “boakie,” a sprite.

2. “Old fellow (contemptuous expr. for a man), a auld bo” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); 1914 Angus Gl.).

3. Combs.: (1) Bu-kow, “any thing frightful, as a scarecrow, applied also to a hobgoblin” (Sc. 1808 Jam. s.v. bu). [See Cowe, a fright.]

(2) Bo-, boo-, bu-man.

(a) “A bogey. The word is used to frighten children” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn. s.v. bo-man).Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff.2 1935:
Bu-man, a goblin; the devil, used as Bu-kow.
Lnl. 1896 R. Fleming in Poets and Poetry of Lnlshire (ed. Bisset) 263:
Wheesht! losh there's the boo-man speakin', See, he's at the window keekin'.
Gsw. 1898 D. Willox Poems and Sketches 258; ne., centr.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Kings, counsellors, and princes fair, As weel's the common ploughman, Hae maist their pleasures mix'd wi' care, An' dread some muckle boo-man.

†(b) “A good fairy, supposed to assist the family at Yule by threshing the corn while the household are asleep” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.).Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
Buman, bu-man, a brownie. Also boman.

[Cf. Norw. , a bugbear or bogey. Jak. derives 3 (2) (b) from O.N. , dwelling, household, farm. See Torp, s.v. bobbe. The word is prob. onomatopœic in origin.]

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"Bo n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Dec 2022 <>



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