Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COWK, COUK, KOWK, Couck, v., n. Also found in Eng. dial., but the more common Eng. dial. form is keck. [kʌuk]

1. v. To strain, retch because of nausea, vomit (Bnff.2, Abd.19, Slg.3 1940). Abd. 1798  A. Shirrefs in
D. Crawford Poems 90:
Ay [ae] couk, I'm sure, wad mak a breach, Thro' a' that were within its reach.
Abd. 1824  G. Smith Douglas 22:
Ye're lucky come; afore anither ow'k, 'Tis likely ye'll get feightin' till ye couck.
Ags. 1907  Arbroath Guide (2 March) 3/7:
She at once began to couk an' to hoast.
Edb. 1787  W. Taylor Scots Poems 11:
A tradesman, ablins too a Gowk May richer grow than better fowk . . . Yet his pride may gar Auld N — kowk.

2. n. The act of retching (Bnff.2 1940); a retch (Abd.9, Abd.19 1940). Mry. 1938 2 :
He ga'e a muckle cowk an spewed a' ower the floor.

Hence cowker, “a straining to vomit” (Sc. 1790 F. Grose Gl.).

[Cf. O.Du. kolcken, to gulp, Du. kolken, to belch; Ger. kolken, to gulp, Ger. dial. kölken, kolksen, to vomit, Dan. kulke, to gulp.]

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"Cowk v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 May 2019 <>



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