Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

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

1. A hobgoblin. Cai. 1907  D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 65;
8 :
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.;
2 :
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;
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.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Bo n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2019 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: