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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BOWSTER, BOUSTER, Booster, n.1, v. Also bo'ster (Bnff. 1847 A. Cumming Tales of North (1896) 82). [′bʌustər Sc.; ′bustər Sh.]

1. n. (1) A bolster. Gen.Sc. Also fig. Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. (1817) xliv.:
But if ye want sheets, or bowster, or pillow.
Sh.(D) 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 56:
A'm proppit hir up wi' boosters an' da rug grund sae 'at doo can git at ta luik at hir shooder.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 48:
She quits her bed . . . Gaes ben an' calmly steals awa' the key, Frae neath her brither's bowster.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 36:
Ma needles stot on bowsters o breeze;
Ma sap creeps up the sookers o ma reets
In quaet jubilation.
wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 29:
Hae a blanket and bowster haundie. (Janet goes to the bed and fetches a blanket and pillow).
w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (1914) i.:
Sittin' up in the box bed in the kitchen, wi' twae bousters at her back.

Combs.: bowster cup, a drink taken before going to bed; a “night-cap”; bolster dance, see Bab at the Bowster.Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 179:
His wife, half angry, half pleased . . . mixing him the bowster cup.
Ayr. 1863 J. Manson Lyrics 227:
The bolster dance was then begun.

(2) (See first quot.)Bnff.2 1935:
In threshing with the flail, the bowster was the sheaf or straw on which the top end of the sheaf to be beaten with the souple was laid.
Abd. 1926 in Bnffsh. Jnl. (23 March) 2:
The flail has gone; no need to speak of the “hand-staff,” the “shaikle,” and the “souple,” the “bowster ” and the “chap.”

(3) In pl. the name of a game like house-ball (Mry. 1914 T.S.D.C.).

(4) In phr. to be in bowster, of slates on a roof which lie on top of the previous course without touching the roof-boarding below (Cai. 1958).

2. v. To bolster.Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Calendar I. i.:
And what think you it turned out to be? . . . a . . . spring, a' boustered about wi' heaps o' soapy, limy kind o' stuff.

[O.Sc. bouster, bowster, common variants of bolster, a bolster for a bed (D.O.S.T.). For diphthong, see P.L.D. § 78.2.]

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"Bowster n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2024 <>



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