Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COUP, COWP, v.2 and n.2 Also found in n.Eng. dial. (E.D.D.). [kʌup]

I. v.

1. tr. To barter, exchange (Sc. 1808 Jam.; 1855 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 722, cowp; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Known to Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents, Fif.10 1940. Sc. 1701–31 R. Wodrow Analecta (Maitland Club 1843) IV. 296:
Kirkes and Ministers are couped like horses, and bargains are made to please men and partys, in thir matters, most shamefully.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxvii.:
They [the troopers] . . . rade through the country couping and selling a' that they gat, like sae mony west-country drovers.
Bwk. c.1830 W. A. Foster in Minstrelsy of the Merse (ed. Crockett 1893) 152:
And weel I lo'e the bonnie lad That couppit hearts wi' me.

2. tr. “To expose to sale” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; 1923 Watson W.-B.).

3. tr. and intr. To traffic, deal; to buy and sell, esp. in connection with horses; “used . . . only of an inferior kind of trade” (Abd. 1825 Jam.2). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1940. Bnff. 1879 M. Grant in Bnffsh. Jnl. (16 Sept.) 3:
He canna' coup wi' Ballindalloch.
Abd.(D) 1875 W. Alexander Life among my Ain Folk iv.:
He was far from certain that “couping” cattle was to be strictly so [as honest industry] defined. “He'll coup till he coup owre the tail i' the gutter some day.”
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 35:
But when it comes to coupin' horse I'm juist like a' that e'er were born, I fling my heels and tak my course.

II. n.

1. A barter, deal (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1940). Lnl. 1910 J. White Eppie Gray 13:
Whiles had a cowp tae eke a leevin', An' didna stick at doonricht theevin'.

2. “A good bargain; any thing purchased below its just value” (Gl. Survey Mry. (per Jam.2)); “a benefit, advantage” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 31). Cf. Cawper. Known to Abd.9 1940. Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 31:
He hizna a great cowp o't.

3. “Applied to a person's character; as, ‘He's nae great cowp' (He is of a worthless character)” (Ib.).

[O.Sc. has cowp, coup(e), to buy; to buy and sell; to trade in, 1540; to give or hand over by sale, 1597; vbl.n. cowping, couping, buying and selling; dealing or trading, 1542; also cowp, cowpe, an act or course of trading; a bargain, 1576, also used attrib. (D.O.S.T.). From O.N. kaup, a bargain, kaupa, to buy, to make a bargain (Zoëga), Norw. kaup, trade (Torp), cogn. with O.E. cēap, price, cēapian, to buy, bargain, buy and sell (Sweet), and Eng. cheap.]

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"Coup v.2, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Jun 2021 <>



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