Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
COW, COWE, KOW, v.1, n.2 [kʌu]
1. To poll or crop (the hair). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.2 (cowe), Kcb.1 1940; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein 56. Ppl.adj. cowit, closely cut; having short, thin hair (Sc. 1879 Jam.5).Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 342:
Would you make me trow that my head's vow'd when I find the hair on't.Gall.(D) 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 351:
The weans wus scrubbit too' an their hair cowe't.Dmf. 1817 W. Caesar Poems 71:
When ye're upon yon distant shore, Where wild cats yell, where lions roar, . . . Yes, they'll come to your very door, An' cow your beard.
2. To cut, to cut short. Also used fig. Vbl.n. cowin, a piece (cut off); ppl.adj. cowit, kowed, hornless, “humble” (of cows) (Ork. 1929 Marw., kowd; Kcb.4 1900).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 379:
I'd fret, wae's me! to see the[e] lye Beneath the Bottom of a Pye, Or cow'd out Page by Page to wrap Up Snuff, or Sweeties, in a Shap.Ags. 1867 G. W. Donald Poems 20:
Wha kens but it may cowe your days, Gif ye forget.Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 72:
Remind him o' his former want, To cow his daffin and his pleasure.Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 91:
Twa pints o' weel-boilt solid sowins, Wi' whauks o' gude ait-far'le cowins.Ayr. 1787 Burns Ordination (Cent. ed.) xiii.:
They'll gie her on a rape a hoyse, And cowe her measure shorter By th' head some day.
Comb.: cow-the-knot, a short-bladed knife. Ags. 1826 Dundee Advertiser (27 April):
[Witness] knows a cow-the-knot. The knife which Slidders had was like it; it is about three inches long heft and all.
†3. ? To dress by cutting off ragged pieces of skin, etc.Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 17:
The hurly burly being ended . . . they began to cow their cuttet lugs, and wash their sairs.
‡4. To eat up, to consume (Bnff.8 c.1920); “to eat greedily, to munch” (Ork. 1887 Jam.6, kow).Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 302:
Allan's hale, and well, and living, . . . Cowing Beef, and drinking roundly.Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads II. 169:
Auld cruikit carl, wi' your fat yow; It weel will saur wi' the good brown yill; And the four spawls o't I wat we's cow.Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrime, etc. 229:
The brute beside them cows the carpet.
5. To overtop, surpass, outdo (Abd. correspondents, Fif.10, Lnk.11, Kcb.1 1940; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein 56). Lit. and fig.Sc. 1852 H. Miller Schools and Schoolm. (1858) xxv.:
“O, Saunders, Saunders!” exclaimed Robert, “there was surely some God's soul at work for us, or she [boat] would never have cowed yon [wave].”Abd.(D) 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 10:
Wi' college chiels I may be blate, At Logic rarely shine, But ne'er a ane can cowe me At the kissin' o' a quine.Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 60:
But Dod! when he's a man he'll cowe them a', He'll either mak' a spune or spoil a horn.
1. A crop, a hair-cut (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Edb.1 (w.Lth. and Clc.), Arg.1, Kcb.1 1940; Lnk. 1948 (per Abd.27)).Slg. 1935 W. D. Cocker Further Poems 28:
His touzled hair was aye unshorn, his mither ne'er had sent Her laddie to the barber's shop in Gaza for a cowe.Lth. 1885 “J. Strathesk” More Bits from Blinkbonny 39:
There was no fear of anybody “ruggin” that hair for some time, . . . so close was the cowe.w.Sc. 1934 “Uncle Tom” Mrs Goudie's Tea-Pairty 25:
He had ca'ed at Tammy Taidrel's shope tae get a cow.Arg.1 1929:
“Whaar are ye for?” “Oh, ahm gaan for a cow.”Arg. 1992:
Bobby Houston, the barber across the street, tells me that he still - 1990s - hears 'cow' used among his older customers from time to time.
2. A trouncing, a humiliating defeat.Ayr. 1786 Burns To W. Simpson, Postscript ix.:
But new-light herds gat sic a cowe, Folk thought them ruin'd stick-an-stowe.Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems and Songs 220:
War Highland lads instead of Howes, Both France and Spain wad get their cowes.
III. Phrs.: 1. to cow(e) a', — a'thing, to surpass, beat everything; Gen.Sc.; 2. to cowe a' green thing, id. (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1940); 3. to cow someone's horns, to curtail someone's power (Sc. 1808 Jam.); cf. Eng. to clip someone's wings; 4. to cow the cadger, — 1; known to Abd.2, Kcb.1 1940; 5. to cow(e) the cuddy, ¶to cow the caddie, id. (Abd.9 1940; Ags.2 1938; Fif.13 1940); 6. to cow the docken, id.; known to Cai.7 1940; 7. (to) cow(e) the gowan, (1) id.; known to Cai.9 1939; Bnff.2, Abd. and Fif. correspondents 1940; (2) “to overcome, so as to humble” (Kcb.4 1900); †(3) as n.phr.: “a fleet horse, . . . one that cuts the ground” (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.2); †8. to cow the wee whittle, = 1 (Ags. 1824 Literary Olio (24 Jan.) 29/2).1. Sh. 1906 T. P. Ollason Spindrift 86:
Bit av aal A'm endured sin' da day I wis boarn, Da past ook cows a' — Loard hae mercy on Maaly.Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 9:
Weill said I (ablow mi breath)
that cows aa! fin yersel anither
gowk tae faither yer ferlies.em.Sc. (a) 1895 “I. MacLaren” Auld Langsyne 217:
An' the names they cowe a'thing for length.Gsw. 1863 W. Miller Nursery Songs 59:
Ye might ha'e speer'd a body's leave — but ye cowe a'.Rxb. 1851 Poems on Auld Brig (per Rxb.2):
Hech sirs, what science now has brought to pass, And what cowes a' — a Palace built o' glass.2. Abd. 1929 N. M. Campbell in Sc. Readings, etc. (ed. T. W. Paterson) 92:
Weel, gin that disna cowe a' green thing!4. Ags.(D) 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) v.:
That fair cows the cadger.5. Bch. 1913 W. Fraser Jeremiah Jobb 9:
Od, 'at cowes the cuddy!Bwk. 1801 "Bwk. Sandie" Poems 59:
But yet though you are but a laddie, Wha kens but you may cow the caddie.Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 132:
It juist cowes the cuddy, and the cuddy cowes a'.6. Ags. 1893 “F. Mackenzie” Cruisie Sk. vi.:
'Od this dings a'! This cows the docken!7. (1) Sc. 1934 in Border Mag. (June) 86:
Hear him, lads; losh, if that disna cow the gowan, Bauldy ownin' up tae be feart.Abd. 1832 A. Beattie Poems 225:
O' a the bards that I hear chime, You cow the gowan.Lnk. 1881 A. Wardrop J. Mathison's Courtship, etc. 9:
It fairs cowes the gowan a' thegither, tae think that oor Sandy, an' Tam, an' Robin . . . hae a' gotten married but me.s.Sc. 1835–40 J. M. Wilson (ed.) Tales of the Borders (1857–59) X. 132:
It cowes the gowan hoo sae sensible a man as John Darling wad e'er hae looten his dochter tak up wi' sic-like clamjamphrey.
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"Cow v.1, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 May 2022 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/cow_v1_n2>