Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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FLAW, n.1, v.1 Also fla(a), †flawe; †flyave (Bnff.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. flaw, a crack, defect. [fl:, flɑ:]

I. n. 1. A thin layer of turf, pared off the surface of a peat bank (Sh. 1825 Jam., flaa; Sh.10 1952); a turf “torn up by hand without the use of a spade, and used in thatching” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.). Also in n.Eng. dial. Phr.: †to hae a flaa ta ryve wi (somebody), to have a bone to pick with (someone). Sh. a.1711 R. Sibbald Descr. Ork. and Zet. (1845) 14:
The houses in Schetland are all built of rough unhewn stone, the common thatching of them is a sort of Divet (they call there Flais).
Sh. a.1733 in P.S.A.S. XXVI. 201:
That none . . . rive flawes, cut floss, or cast peats in their neighbour's scatald.
Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Shet. 114:
Flaas are compact vegetable layers, consisting of the short fibres of mossy or heathy roots closely interwoven with each other.
Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 592–3:
Hadd out o' mee weigh . . . fur I he a flaa ta ryve wee dee.
Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. I. 172:
Ye're only taen aff aboot fower inch o flaa.

Hence in combs. flaw moss, flaw peat [where flaw has been substituted for the more correct Flow, n.1]. Sc. 1803 Trans. Highl. Soc. 9:
The word Flaw is of Saxon origin, and applied to that sort of peat which is most remarkably soft, light, and spongy.
Peb. 1815 A. Pennecuik Descr. of Twd. 171:
Showing what he could produce from such a barren subject; almost entirely consisting of a deep flaw moss.

2. The quantity of peats cast and spread out to dry in a season from a single lair (Rxb. 1880 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.); the area on which the peats are spread out (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Rxb. 1811 A. Scott Poems 161:
What flaws o' peats they've casten and sae gude.

3. The point of a horse-shoe nail, broken off by the smith after it has passed through the hoof (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 205; Fif. 1825 Jam.; ‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Hence something worthless. Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 133:
Some cannon which on th' field there was Being spik'd up with iron flaws.
Per. 1811 J. Sim Poems 20:
Your reasons are not worth a flaw.
Ags. 1855 Arbroath Guide (11 Aug.):
Our callans, though some are but flichty an' beardless, Ne'er cost their ain parish a flaw.
Bwk. 1900 “A.T.G.” Annals of Thornlea 30:
Other items of lesser note were in rotation tacked on with flaws, and the flaws stuck, when the bills had gone.

4. A particle of soot, esp. from a smoky fire, lamp, etc. (ne.Sc. 1951). Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 5:
An' reek an' flaws Doon lums he ca's.

5. A flake; a segment of the flesh of fish; a very thin stratum of rock (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 50, flyave). Id.:
Gee the bairn a flyave or two o' fish oot o' the bane-half.

6. A falsehood, a fib (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 114:
Allow me, Sir, to shaw My Gratitude, but Fleetching or a Flaw.
Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 118:
They taul sic flaws, An' wantet to mak' black o' white.
Ork. 1904 Dennison Sketches 14:
Ye see the Laird could tell a flaw i' times.

II. v. 1. To pare off turf, as from the surface of a peat bank preparatory to cutting the peats (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Sh. 1952). Vbl.n. flawin (Sh. 1913 J. M. Hutcheson W.-L.). Also in Eng. dial. Ayr. 1817 D. McKillop Poems 14:
Frae hauly rigs we maunna flaw, But battle up his elwan' claw.
Sh. 1898 Shet. News (7 May):
Doo spaeks as if I'd niver flaan banks afore.
Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. I. 171:
Weel, my bank is flaan, an it juist wants ten meenits ta nine.

2. To take or come off in flakes (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 50).

3. To tell lies, to fib. With away, “to magnify in narration” (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Cf. Flow, v., n.1 Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. ii. i.:
But dinna flaw: Tell o'er your News again! and swear till't a'.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 11:
Next fla him an' blaw him, An' tell him a curst sprose.
Sc. 1824 R. K. Douglas Poems 79:
A' flawing I abominate, And lying warse than hell I hate.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 16:
Paetie wus aye a flawan' bulderan' trow.

[O.Sc. has flaw, ? a jot, little bit, c.1480, a kind of nail, 1510, to talk big, 1590, Mid.Eng., E.M.E. flaw(e), a flake, a fragment, a slab of stone. Of Scand. orig. Cf. O.N. flaga, a flake, slab, of earth or stone, Icel. flag, a spot where turf has been cut, flaga, a flake, fragment, Sw. flaga, thin splinter, Norw. dial. flaga, to split in pieces. n. 6. is a development of the meaning “a defect, fault, fallacy.”]

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"Flaw n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Oct 2021 <>



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