Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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CLAW, Cla', n.1 and v. Sc. usages. [klɑ: Sc., but m.Sc. + kl: and Rxb. + klɒ:]

I. n.

1. “A kind of iron spoon for scraping the bake-board” (Ags. 1808 Jam.).

2. A scratching, often (of the head) as an indication of mild astonishment. Gen.Sc. Ags.(D) 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) i.:
Stumpie Mertin cam' by, an', lookin' at Princie, gae his heid a claw. . . . “Whaur did ye get that hunger'd-lookin' radger, Sandy?” says he.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Address to the Deil xviii.:
While scabs an' botches did him gall, Wi' bitter claw.
Rxb. 1868 D. Anderson Musings 40:
Yet weel he kenn'd that after a' She'd said and dune, She baith wad gie his back a claw And brush his shoon.
[Cf. section 6 (1) of the v.]

3. A blow. Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 116:
He ca'd his heed upo' the wa' An' gae himsel' a fil'ty claw.
Per. c.1740 M. McLennan Battle of Sherrifmuir in Jacobite Minstrelsy (1829) 78:
For there was sic hashing, and broadsword a-clashing, Brave Forfar himsel' got a claw, man.

II. v. The strong pa.t. clew, ctue [kl(j)u:] is found alongside of the weak form claw'd.

1. To scratch gently, so as to relieve irritation, or sometimes (of the head) as an indication of a.stonishment or incertitude. Obs. in Eng. Gen.Sc. Sh.(D) 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 164:
“Is yon your Yüle yow?” Betty Anderson said, as shu clew her abüne da lug wi' her waer.
Abd.(D) c.1750 R. Forbes Ulysses' Answer in Sc. Poems (1785) 26:
An' there ye'll find A bonny scab to cla'.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 147:
An' fidgin' fain, we claw'd oor pows, To see his ferlie-troke a' shown.
Peb. a.1835 J. Affleck Poet. Wks. (1836) 128:
Ilk ane fidged and clue his crown.
Dmf. 1817 W. Caesar Poems 147:
Auld Meggy sat clawin' her hafit.

2. To scrape; to clean out, empty (Abd.19, Lnk.3 1937). Bnff. 1922 A. Mair in Bnffsh. Jnl. (12 Sept.) 2:
And we often had our pouches clawed.
Abd.(D) 1920 G. P. Dunbar Guff o' Peat Reek 14:
The aul' fowk hed tae scrape an' claw tae cled, an' mait, an' hap.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. Sc. Life and Char. 31:
An empty parritch-pat ye'll claw.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 60:
To claw het pints we'd never grudge O' molationis [efforts].
Kcb. 1895 S. R. Crockett Men of the Moss-Hags xxvii.:
Soldiers are great trenchermen, and can right nobly “claw a bicker” and “toom a stoup” with any man.

3. To beat, strike (Cai.7, Bnff.2, Ags.1 1937). Abd.7 1925:
“I'll claw yer croon,” is a threat to hit someone on the head.
Ags. 1816 G. Beattie John o' Arnha' (1826) 17:
An' gard his cudgel claw their pallets.

4. With aff or awa: to perform any action with speed or eagerness, e.g. to eat greedily, to read quickly, avidly, etc. Obs. in Eng. Known to Bnff.2 1937. Sc. [1769] D. Herd Sc. Songs (1776) II. 200:
And thrice he cry'd, Come eat, dear Madge, Of this delicious fare; Syne claw'd it aff most cleverly, Till he could eat nae mair.
Mry. 1852 A. Christie Mountain Strains 5:
An' though nae ither book they read, They claw it aff wi railway speed.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 212:
Nor did they think it ony sin What they did eat; But claw'd it aff with little din, That they did get.
Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings 9:
Syne claw'd awa the reels and jigs, Like onything.

5. Applied to persons only: to flatter. Obs. in Eng.; last Eng. quot. in N.E.D. 1703. Contr. for 6 (1) below. Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake, etc. 201:
Creep an' cringe! beck an' boo! Claw you me, an' I'll claw you!

6. Phrases: (1) to claw someone's back, to flatter a person, ingratiate oneself with someone; Gen.Sc.; (2) to claw favour, to curry favour; known, but no longer in current use; (3) to claw someone's hide, skin, to punish, beat someone (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1937); (4) to claw a tume kyte, to be hungry (Abd.9 1937); (5) to claw up someone's mittens, see Mittens; (6) to gar (ane) claw whar (faur) it's no (nae) yeuky (-ie), — claw without a youk, to give (someone) a drubbing; also used fig. Gen.Sc. (1) Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick ix.:
An' as for lettin their members bide amang oor ain, an' vote on oor affairs, he said it was juist a case o' giff-gaff, or claw my back an' I'll claw yours.
(2) Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley (1817) xi.:
Ane wha deserts his ain friends to claw favour wi' the rats of Hanover.
(3) Abd. after 1768 A. Ross Fortunate Shepherd MS. 73:
Ae day when I his skin had soundly claw'd.
Mearns 1844 W. Jamie Muse of the Mearns 75:
My wife will claw my hide.
(4) Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
“Ye'll no claw a tume kyte”; spoken to one who has eaten a full meal.
(6) Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 98:
But waster Wives, the warst of a', Without a Youk they gar ane claw.
Abd. 1920 R. H. Calder Gleanings Deeside Par. 13:
I'll gar ye claw faur it's nae yeukie.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie III. xxvi.:
If it wasna mair for ae thing than another, I hae a thought that would gar baith you and them claw whar it's no yeuky.

7. Proverbial sayings: (1) the deil (may) claw the clungest, an expression used by one who has just made or is about to make a hearty meal; (2) ye'll never claw an auld man's heid (pow), you will not live to a ripe old age (Sc. 1825 Jam.2, — pow; Ags.11927; Fif.10, Lnk.3, Kcb.9 1937). (1) Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 43:
The lads in order tak their seat, (The de'il may claw the clungest.)
wm.Sc. [1835–37] Laird of Logan (1868) 541:
Being weel set by for meat, I began to look about me for sowp . . . “Now, Watty, ” thinks I to mysel', “you may bid the deil claw the clungest for at least ae turn o' the orloge.”

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"Claw n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Jul 2020 <>



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