Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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CAUSEY, CAWSEY, Cawsay, Causie, Causa, n. See also Cassie, n.2 and v., and Calsay. [′kɑ:z, ′kɑs Sc., but m.Sc. + ′k:z; ′kɑsɑ, ′kɑse s.Sc.]

1. A street or pavement laid with cobble-stones as distinguished from flagstones. Given in N.E.D. a.s chiefly Sc. Eng. causeway, a raised path or road across wet or marshy ground, is derived from the earlier causey. Gen.Sc. Sth. 1736 in C. D. Bentinck Dornoch Cath. and Par. (1926) 298:
Likewayes once a week during the winter and Spring Seasons Cleanze the Cawsay and passages or Lanies before their houses and belonging to their possessions.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays and Leg. of the North (1908) 33:
Donal' Gillon liked the bottle, Aften staggered hame, Barely fit to keep the causey; Whisky wis to blame.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann, etc. 15:
Doon i' the causey his cairt wad stand As he roared oot “Haddies!” below his hand.
Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 22:
He peching on the cawsey lay, O' kicks and cuffs weel sair d.

Hence caus(e)yer, “one who makes a causeway” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2). Rnf. [1850] A. McGilvray Poems (1862) 333:
With masons, and founders, and plumbers, Bricklayers, and caus'yers, a mob.

2. “The paved or hard-beaten place in front of or round about a farmhouse” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.; Dwn. 1931 North. Whig (2 Dec.) 5/7). Known to Lnk.3 1939. Ant. 1900 T. Given Poems 149:
The wren tae the bluebonnet sings his refrain On causey o' cottier or lordly domain.

3. “A close” (Ant. 1931 North. Whig (2 Dec.) 5/7).

4. A cobble-stone. Used collectively in quot. Fif. 1938 St Andrews Cit. (24 Sept.) 4/2:
In 1768 the Cross was taken down and a cross of causey laid.

5. Phrases: (1) cantle (cantel) o(f) the cawsey (causie), see Cantle, n., 3; (2) crap o' the causey, see Crap, n.1, 4; (3) crown o(f) the causey (causie), the centre or middle of the road (Bnff.2, Abd.19, Ags.1, Fif.10, Slg.3, Lnk.3 1939). Also used fig.; (4) to crop the causey, see Crap, v., 4; (5) to kiss the causey, to “come a cropper,” to meet defeat (Fif.10 1939). (3) Sc. 1808 Jam.:
To keep the crown of the causey, to appear openly, to appear with credit and respectability, q[uasi] to be under no necessity of lurking or taking obscure alleys.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Sc. Proverbs 77:
He kens the loan frae the crown o' the causey as weel as the duck does the midden-hole frae the addle-dub.
Dmf. 1810 R. H. Cromek Rem. Nithsd. and Gall. Song 93:
My auld auntie tauks ay the crown o' the causie.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Calendar I. i.:
Sic a man . . . will maybe keep the crown o' the causey langer than some that carried their heads higher.
(5) Sc. 1788 R. Galloway Poems 23:
For many a braw baboon we see, . . . Until their noddle turn them ree And kiss the causey.
Ags. 1826 A. Balfour Highland Mary I. xi.:
An' ye ha'e nae wish to kiss the causey, an' dinna want to make a poppy-show o' yoursel, you'll never offer to take it that length.

6. Combs.: (1) causey-bool, -bullet, cobble-stone (Ags.17 1939, -bool); (2) causey clash, street talk; gossip (Abd.19, Fif.1 1939); (3) causa croon = Phrase (3); †(4) cawsey dancer, “a gadabout, one who is continually in the street” (E.D.D.); (5) causey e'e, an outlet of water, esp. from a spring; not known to our correspondents; †(6) causey-faced, applied to “one who may appear on the street without blushing, or has no reason for shame before others” (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); (7) causey-layer, one who lays cobbles or paving stones (Fif.10 1939); ‡(8) causey-paiker, “a street walker” (Sc. 1879 Jam.5 s.v. paiker); †(9) causey-raker, a street-sweeper, scavenger; (10) causey-saint, one who is well behaved and pleasant out of doors, i.e. away from his home circle (Ags.17, Lnk.3 1939); †(11) causey-tales, — talk, common talk, gossip; cf. (2); †(12) causey-webs, in phrase to make causey-webs, (see quot.). (1) Ags.10 1925:
His clogs clattered owre the causey-bullets.
(2) Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail III. xiii.:
It's no for a courtesy o' causey clash that he's birlin' his mouldy pennies in sic firlots.
(3) Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 8:
She aye hes kept the causa croon.
(4) Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of the Lairds vii.:
She had a wife for me, far more to the purpose than sitch a cawsey dancer as Annie Daisie.
(5) Abd. 1909 Memories of Auchterless in Bnffsh. Jnl. (9 Feb.) 6:
In my young days it was largely a marshy quagmire, ending in the “causey e'e,” the happy hunting ground of the auld wives' deuks.
(7) Mearns 1890 J. Kerr Reminisc. of a Wanderer I. 8:
A mason an' a causey-layer neist aifter that we trace.
(8) Per. 1928 W. Soutar in Scots Mag. (Feb.) 363:
There are nane But scoukars on the lang straucht o' the Toun Whaur haik the causey-paikers, ane be ane.
(9) Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 211:
I'd rather roost wi' Causey-Rakers, And sup cauld Sowens.
(10) Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Sc. Proverbs 119:
He is a causey saint and a house deil.
Fif.1 1934:
“A fireside-deil and a causey-saint,” said of a person crabbed at home and genial with those he meets out of doors. [Fif.10 1939 gives “hoose-deil and causey-saint.”]
(11) Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Ye needna mak causey-tales o't; Do not publish it.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xix.:
Causey talk in the forenoon.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie III. xxvi.:
“The laird wants to ken what is't that ye hae heard.” “O' just a wheen havers, Miss Mizy! — just a wheen havers!” replied Bell — “causey talk — Vox populi!”
(12) Abd. 1825 Jam.2:
A person is said to make causey-webs, who neglects his or her work, and is too much on the street.

[O.Sc. causa(y), cawsa(y), a piece of paving, a paved portion, from 1459; variant of O.Sc. causé, cawsé(e); the ending in Sc. normally changes to -a(y), and the original forms are rare. Also crown of the causey, 1635 (D.O.S.T.). Causey, cawsey are given in D.O.S.T. as later spellings of causay. See also Calsay.]

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"Causey n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Jan 2022 <>



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