Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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FLOUR, n., v. Also flo(o)er, floo(w)r; †fleur (Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah xliii. 23); †flure (Sc. 1898 L. Walford Leddy Marget 212); ¶flewer (Mry. 1927 E. B. Levack Lossiemouth 29). [′flu:(ə)r]

I. n. 1. Sc. forms and usage of Eng. flower: a bunch of flowers, a nosegay, bouquet (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 51; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Gen.Sc. Dims. floorie; floorack (n.Sc. 1933 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 388). Edb. 1714 W. Maitland Hist.Edb. (1753) 327:
All who are permitted to cry Gazettes and other Papers, or to sell Roses and Flowers (Nosegays).
Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 35:
Each of the bridesmaids had a magnificent flower in her hand.
Per. 1910 W. Bell Kildermoch 108:
To steek his e'en an' streak his corp, an' pit a bit flo'er on his grave.

2. Phrs.: (1) flowers of Edinburgh, the obnoxious smells arising from the garbage and night-soil thrown into the street from the houses after nightfall in 18th cent. Edinburgh. Cf. Gardyloo. The expression is referred to as early as 1773 in R. Fergusson's Auld Reikie ll. 39–40, 206–7, On seeing a Butterfly, ll. 45–6, and seems to originate in a pun between O.Sc. †flewers, flavours, odours, and flowers. Cf. the well-known dance-tune, The Flowers of Edinburgh, dating c.1740, where “Flowers” prob. means the young beauties of the town; (2) flowers o' the Forest, see Forest; (3) flour o' the wall, — water, the first water drawn from the well in the New Year. Cf. Crap, n.1, 4. (5). (1) Edb. 18th cent. in J. Kay Orig. Portraits (1842) II. 4:
The night “flowers of Edinburgh” being somewhat different in their perfume from the sabæan odours recorded by Milton, the moment ten o'clock struck, his guests were under the necessity of burning pieces of papers, which they strewed on the floor, to counteract the overpowering exhalations from the street.
(3) Peb. 1800 Edb. Mag. (Dec.) 476:
Upon the morning of the first day of the new year, the country lassies are sure to rise as early as possible, if they have been in bed, which is seldom the case, that they may get the flower, as it is called, or the first pail-full of water from the well.
Abd. a.1897 Cal. Customs Scot. (1939) II. 100:
The water first drawn . . . was called “the floor o' the wall,” i.e. the flower of the well. Whoever was the first to draw water got all the luck of the year.
Gall. 1939 F. D. Carnell Old Sc. Custom 32–3:
In parts of Galloway, the old belief still exists that water drawn at midnight before New Year has peculiar luck-bringing qualities and will undoubtedly help a girl who draws it to find a husband before next Hogmanay. The first jugful is termed the “flower” or the “cream” and on the stroke of midnight there is a keen competition among the girls to secure it.

3. In dim. or deriv. forms flowerie, fleurie, the ace of spades (Teviotdale 1825 Jam.), from the florid ornamentation usually found on this card to mark the payment of excise duty.

4. Sc. forms and usage of Eng. flour: the meal of wheat, as distinguished from the meal of oats, barley and pease (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Hence adj., flourie; fleury (Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. vi. 233); dim. flourock, a flour scone. Also used attrib. and in combs.: flour(ie) breid, wheaten bread (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ork.1 1952, flourie-). Cf. Breid, n., 2.; flour-meal, wheaten flour (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 247); floury docken, goosefoot, Chenopodium Bonus Henricus or album (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), from the powdery substance on the leaves. Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 IV. 322:
It was happy for the poor that flour that year was cheap, for the poorer sort did at that time used flour-bread.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 146:
Whan I was a callant, I ne'er saw flour breid in my faither's hoose.
Dmf. 1912 J. and R. Hyslop Langholm 726:
She's taen guid care tae eat a' the flourocks afore she crossed the Jordan.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 63:
And weigh oot floor wi' a carefu' pride.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 14:
A bit o' a flooer bannock clined wi' a air o' saxpenny marjereen.

II. v. 1. To embroider flowers or similar designs, esp. on muslin and cambric. Gen.Sc. Vbl.n. flooerin, fine embroidery, esp. that done in Ayrshire in the early 19th cent.; also in comb. flowering-web, id. Rnf. 1814 J. Sinclair Gen. Report Agric. Scot., App. II. 320:
Another source of employment arose, here, from a successful imitation of the Needlework of the Continent, in the introduction and most rapid extension of the Flowering and Tambour work of Flanders.
Ayr. 1826 Galt Lairds vii.:
She made her leeving by seamstress-wark and floowring lawn.
Dmf. 1857 J. W. Carlyle Letters (1883) II. 377:
Ann flowered me a most lovely collar.
Ayr. c.1860 J. A. Morris Art of Ayr. Needlework (1916) 15:
Often in the outskirts of towns, one would be stopped on the road by a poor worker, with the words “Will ye buy a wee bit flooerin'?” taking it out hesitatingly from beneath her shawl.
Ayr. 1894 K. Hewat Little Sc. World i.:
Locally the industry was called “Flowering-web.”
m.Sc. 1917 “O. Douglas” Setons xvi.:
I made this goon when I was a lassie for ma marriage. They ca'ed this “flowering.” I mind fine sittin' sewin' it on simmer efternunes.
Ayr. 1939 Catalogue Sc. Art. Exhib. in London 209:
Ayrshire white needlework, or “flowering” as it is called locally, is one of the few traditional handicrafts of Scotland. It flourished in Ayrshire in the late 18th century — no examples can be authenticated earlier than 1795–but came to an untimely end in the 19th.

2. To weave a flower or similar ornate pattern, esp. in Paisley shawl-making. Hence (1) flooerer, a Paisley pattern weaver; (2) flower-lasher, id. (see quots.) and vbl.n. flower-lashing. (1) Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 5:
There was darners and clippers, and flowerers, Wi' bleachers fu' trig frae the braes.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 67:
The flooerers cuist their wabs in the fire, the weavers brak their lumes, and the haill toun gaed daft thegither.
(2) wm.Sc. 1842 Children in Trades Report ii. i. 32:
The pattern so drawn is sent to the “flower-lasher,” to be arranged for the loom. . . . As each yellow square is seen he twines a string, called a “lash,” behind each thread in the simple.
Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers (1879) 23:
Flower-lashing had become an important branch of industry in connection with our local manufacture, and the patterns, instead of being read on in the weaving shop, were given to the weavers on the simple, headed and bridled, ready to attach to the harness-tail.
Rnf. 1950 per R. Galloway:
Flower-lasher. An operative in the weaving of Paisley Shawls. This was a very skilled trade. Threads were tied to the warp threads at appropriate points according to the colour required. These threads hung down below the warp and were pulled down by the drawer at the appropriate time to be caught into the pattern, thus changing the colour. The adoption of the Jacquard loom brought this to an end and the word died out with the operatives.

3. In ppl.adj. flour'd, flower'd, of sheep, scabby, losing their wool (Teviotdale 1825 Jam.).

[O.Sc.flour, flour, 1375, flur, flower, a.1400, O.Fr. flour, flur, Lat. flos, flower. Flour, “the flower of wheat,” has been differentiated in spelling from flower since the mid 18th cent.]

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"Flour n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2021 <>



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