Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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DOSS, adj., v.1, adv.

1. adj. Spruce, neat, tidy (Cld. 1808 Jam.). m.Sc. 1924  “O. Douglas” Pink Sugar (1928) 88:
Ay, McCandlish has gotten his place rale doss. Nae credit to him — wi' twae gairdeners.
Lnl. 1896  A. M. Bisset Poets Lnlsh. 188:
Though hamely her claithin' — yet what aboot that? She lookit aye doss in her shortgoon and brat.

Hence ‡(1) dossie, a small, neat, well-dressed person (Lnk., Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.); †(2) dosslie, “neatly, but simply” (Ib.); †(3) dossness, “neatness, conjoined with simplicity” (Ib.).

2. v.

(1) To trim, to make neat, to spruce (up) (Bnff.2, Abd.9 1940; Lnk. 1825 Jam.2). Gen. with up. Cai. 1949 9 :
To doss one's hair; all dossed up.

†(2) With about: “to go about any business in a neat and exact way; to do every thing in a proper manner, in the proper season, and without any bustle” (Fif. 1825 Jam.2).

Hence dossie, adj., applied to one who dosses about (Ib.).

3. adv. Neatly, tidily. em.Sc. 1909  J. Black Melodies 83:
Auld freends hae gane, auld times hae changed, Whaur peats were han'led doss.
Lnk. 1927 10 :
A laird had one of his tenants dining with him and was annoyed at his untidy way of eating. He said to him, “Sup doss, man, sup doss.”

[Cf. O.Sc. dos, to dress, attire, a.1508; Du. dossen, id.]

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"Doss adj., v.1, adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2019 <>



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