Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BROSE, Broas, n. and v.

1. n. Now gen. known in Eng. but with varying significance.

(1) A dish made by mixing boiling water or milk with oatmeal or peasemeal, and adding salt and butter. The mixture may be only roughly stirred up so as to leave lumps. Oatmeal brose had sometimes the addition of the skimmed fat of soup. The word is often treated as a pl. in Sc., but broses is also found. Gen.Sc. See also Athole Brose. [bro:z] Abd. 1922 J. Lawrence in Bnffsh. Jnl. (21 Nov.) 6:
Brose and milk, brose and butter, brose with fat, treacle, “hairst ale,” . . . and even brose without accompaniment whatever, formed no small part of the diet.
Per. 1738 Ochtertyre House Booke of Accomps (ed. Colville 1907) 218:
Eggs and broas.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 52:
For I seen you sip as mony milk brose as wad a sar't twa men to carry on a barrow.
Ayr. 1792 Burns The Deuk's Dang O'er (Cent. ed.) ii.:
I've seen the day ye butter'd my brose.

(2) A meal of which brose was the chief ingredient; also by synecdoche: living, livelihood (Bnff.2, Ags.1 1936). e.Rs.1 1929:
Ploughmen used to get fourteen porridges and seven broses a week, the broses for breakfast.
Abd. 1909 J.T. Jeannie Jaffray i.:
I'm nae surprised to see you gang wi' your maisters: yer brose is in danger.
Ags. 1889 J. M. Barrie W. in Thrums xi.:
Our dinner-hour was twelve o'clock, and Hendry, for a not incomprehensible reason, called this meal his brose.

(3) fig. Applied to a human being in a derogatory sense. Ayr. 1900 “G. Douglas” House with Green Shutters (1901) v.:
“He's a lying brose, that,” said the baker.

2. v. To sweat from exertion or arduous toil. Dmf. 1925 W. A. Scott Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 19:
Tam cam' in a' brosing and sweating.

Phrases and combs.: (1) Athole Brose, q.v.; (2) Birse Brose, brose enriched by whisky instead of cream. Cf. Birse-cup; (3) brose-bicker, a wooden vessel for brose (Bnff.2, Abd.9 1936). See Bicker, n.2; (4) brose-cap, — caup, (a) the wooden vessel in which brose was made (Bnff.2, Ags.1 1936); (b) sometimes jocularly applied to a ploughman; (5) brose-day, Fastern's Een (Shrove Tuesday) (Bnff.2 1936); (6) brose-meal, “meal of pease much parched, of which pease-brose is made” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2; Bnff.2 1936); (7) brose-time, meal time (Bnff.7 1935); (8) kail-brose. See Kail; (9) querny brose. See Querny. (2) Abd. 1912 J.C. in Scotsman (18 Jan.):
“Birse brose” was also quite common a generation ago. I remember having tasted it, and enjoyed it too.
(3) Ags. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XI. 362:
Very probably the brose-bicker disappeared with the gudeman from the table-head, when, in the progress of refinement, he ceased to preside at the family board.
(4) (a) Abd.(D) 1903 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 118:
About Christmas week a raffle was held . . . for . . . such articles . . . as brose caups, spurtles, tatie-chappers, ladles, etc.
Mearns 1932 “L. G. Gibbon” Sunset Song i.:
She'd a face like a broken brose-cap.
(b) Knr. 1890 “H. Haliburton” In Scottish Fields 96:
At the feeing market the question was . . . a common one, “How are the brose-caups selling the day?” which being interpreted meant, “How are ploughmen feeing? what wages are they asking?”
(5) Mry.(D) 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. ii.:
In these days brose-day — what day youth supped its fate from the brose-bowl — was one of the festal customs highly honoured in Braefoot.
(6) Edb. 1861 Daity Review (16 Dec.):
Glasgow brosemeal 1.0 to 1.2.
wm.Sc. [1835–1837] Laird of Logan (1868) 190:
The mill of Goodie was admitted to be the best in the whole district, for shieling barley and oats, and grinding of brosemeal.
(7) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxix.:
“Ye'll think o' puir Cuddie sometimes — an honest lad that lo'es ye, Jenny; ye'll think o' him now and then?” “Whiles — at brose-time,” answered the malicious damsel.

Proverbial saying: Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 222:
I wish you had a Brose to lay the Hair of your Beard. A disdainful Return of a saucy Maid, to a Courtier that she thinks unworthy of her.

[Origin uncertain. Both meaning and form make a connection with O.Sc. bruis(e), broth, doubtful.]

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"Brose n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Aug 2021 <>



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