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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

COWT, COUT, Coute, Coutte, Cowte, Cyowt, n.1 [kʌut Sc.; kjʌut (Avoch, e.Rs.)]

1. Sc. forms of Eng. colt, a young horse (see P.L.D. § 78.2). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10, Arg.1, Kcb.10 1940. Dim. coutie.Ags. 1893 “F. Mackenzie” Cruisie Sk. ix.:
But ye ken young couts maun canter.
Peb. 1793 Peggy's Myll (ed. R. D. C. Brown 1832) xxx.:
They cu'dna' get thair feet tae gang Lyk als they saw swiet Willie's; They war, compayrd, lyk spavied couttes.
Ayr. 1928 J. S. Gall Muses 6:
An' tell't her man tae gang an' try The wee bit coutie for tae buy.

Combs.: (1) cout-evil, “properly colt-evil, a disease incident to young horses; E[ng]. strangles, in which the maxillary glands swell so much as to threaten strangulation” (Border 1808 Jam.); (2) cowt-foal, cowte-, “a young horse when sucking” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); known to Kcb.10 1940; (3) cowt halter, -helter, -hailter, “a halter made of rope or straw, consisting of the moo-piece, or the noose for the mouth, and the hehd-stehl, or the pieces that go along each jaw and fasten on the top of the head. Sometimes it has a chowk-bin, or a piece that is tied round behind the jaws” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 31, -hailter; Bnff.2, Abd.2, Arg.1, Kcb.10 1940); (4) cowt-hoose, a stable (Lnk. 1951 G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot 42).(2) Sc. a.1791 Lochmaben Harper in Ballads (ed. Child) No. 192 A. xx.:
In Scotland I've tint a braw cowte-foal, In England they've stawn my gude gray mare.
(3) Sc. 1802–3 Scott Minstrelsy I. 67:
He took a cowt halter frae his horse.
Gall.(D) 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 367:
Weel, whun the fair cam roon Jock took it tae Keltonhill, wi naething on't but a cowt-helter, an led it up an doon the fair in a kin o' careless wey.

Noun phr.: hide the cout - seek it out, ? a variant of the children's game of "hide-the-thimble." Cf. hide the mare s.v. Hide, v., I. and kittle-the-cout s.v. Kittle, v.1, 4.Ayr. 1845 Ayrshire Wreath 135:
That game was ended, and next day they tried hide the cout - seek it out.

2. Extended to persons (cf. use of Eng. colt) to mean: (1) a rough, awkward person (Abd.9 1940), often used contemptuously; (2) “an adolescent boy or girl” (ne.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; cyowt Rs. 1990s); a child. Known to Bnff.2 1940.(1) Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 133:
The Man o' the Well saw the cowardly houn's, The Cromarty Rangers, use begnets an' guns, 'Cause some stupid cowt o' a Hielanman gat Frae an ill-trickit loun roun' the lugs wi' a cat.
Ayr. 1801 T. Walker Ep. to Burns in Poems ascribed to Burns 27:
I'm but a ragget cowt mysel', Owre sib to you!
Rxb. 1802 J. Leyden in Scott Minstrelsy II. 355:
The eddy, in which he perished, is still called the Cout of Keeldar's Pool . . . and the popular epithet of Cout . . . is expressive of his strength, stature, and activity.
(2) e.Rs. (Avoch) 1914 (per Mry.2):
Weel, my loonies, fa's cyowts are ye?
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxii.:
By the time he was seven — and a ragged coute he was as ever stepped without shoes — he could fend for himself.
Lnk. 1882 J. Carmichael Poems 101:
I missed wee Jamie's form, And spiered, at those aroun', where the steerin' cout had gone.

[O.Sc. has cout, variant of colt, 1424; cout-evill also appears, a.1585 (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Cowt n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Apr 2024 <>



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