Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
CURN, Kurn, Curran, Kirn, n.1 Cf. Corn, n.1 [kʌrn, kɪrn]
1. A grain or particle (Bnff.2, Ags.2, Slg.3 1941).
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd Act. II. Sc. i. in Poems (1728):
And on the Haggies Elspa spares nae Cost; . . . she can mix fu' nice The gusty Ingans with a Curn of Spice. Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxvii.:
Mind to spice high with Latin; a curn or two of Greek would not be amiss. n.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
To express the greatest want, it is said that one has not meal's curn. Fif. 1882 “S. Tytler” Scotch Marriages II., Harry Balfour's Elopement i.:
He's cleaned out his cap, ilka curran'. Edb. 1887 R. S. Inglis in D. H. Edwards (ed.) Mod. Sc. Poets (10th Series) 306:
To get a scone or bannock baket, When box an' barrel are clean raket, Nor ae kurn left to feed a mouse. Rxb. 1825 Jam.2:
A curn o' bread, a small piece of bread.
Hence curn(e)y, kirny, adj., (1) “grainy, full of grains” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); †(2) “knotted, candied; as honey, marmalade, etc.” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2). Cf. quernie s.v. Quairn.
(1) Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Meal is said to be curny, when the grains of it are large, or when it is not ground very small. Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xx.:
It [wheat-flour]'s no that ill food, though far frae being sae hearty or kindly to a Scotchman's stomach as the curney aitmeal is. em.Sc. (a) 1894 “I. Maclaren” Bonnie Brier Bush 269:
Saunders has been . . . for five and thirty year . . . eatin' naethin' but kirny aitmeal.
2. A (small) number or quantity; a few (Mry.11925; Bnff.8 c.1920; Abd.2, Ags.17, Fif.10, s.Per. (per Fif.13) 1941). Also dim. curnie (Bnff.2 1941). Of persons: a band or company. Often used with a following noun with ellipsis of of.
ne.Sc. 1929 M. W. Simpson Day's End 28:
A gey curn year — twal' oot come Caun'lemas — Ha'e worn awa' sin' yon day Bell was ta'en. Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 344:
O send poor Andie friends in curns, Or but one “bonny Dutchess.” Ags. 1894 G. A. Mackay in People's Friend (30 July) 483/1:
East o' this, a fell curran miles, Miss Elliott. Edb. 1776 Weekly Mag. (11 July) 82:
Of gowd and siller ('twixt us twa) It costs a curn. Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc. 109:
Behold ye wa's o' Alloway This curn o' canty carlies.
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"Curn n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2021 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/curn_n1>
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