Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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FOO, adv. Also fou, fu, †fow. I. and n.Sc. variants of Hoo, adv., how. The forms are occasionally found outside this area (see 1896 and 1901 quots.).

1. How, by what means (I., n.Sc. 1952). Hence fooever, ‡fooanever, fusomever, however (Ib.). Abd. 1739  J. Skinner in Caled. Mag. (1788) 501:
I wat na fow, but on a bank, . . . The Cousins bicker'd wi' a clank.
Ags. 1803  Scots Mag. (Sept.) 639:
But will awins! We little ken Fu' an' fat way our days sall en'.
Mry. 1824  J. Cock Homespun Lays 120:
My butter, cheese, an' curns o' woo, Are sell't an' spent, I watna fu.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xiv.:
It was not the mere writing that dismayed him, it was the composition — “foo to begin” — and the “backin'.”
Cai. 1874  in Ellis E.E.P. V. 685:
Foo an ever, 'is is 'e facs o 'e case.
Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 106:
An' I s'all tell thee a' utright, Fu' Robie cam' tae me the night, An' fu' I flet the gapas heem'.
Fif. 1896  D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 292:
I man lat ye see foo's the best wye t' pit yer taties.
Ayr. 1901  “G.Douglas” Green Shutters xxv.:
Nae-ae prizes! Ay, man! Fow's that, na?
Ags. 1915  V. Jacob Songs of Angus 44:
For foo can an auld wife ken what a lassie's thinkin'?
Abd. 1924  Swatches o' Hamespun 45:
Foo-ever caul, Ye followit ilka furr or straik Without devaul.
Sh. 1949  New Shetlander No. 17. 21:
The [Orkney] greeting — Hoo ir thoo? is Shetland's fu is du?

Phrs.: (1) †foo-ca'-ye't, †fucait, †fu' ca' (ye) 'im, what do you call it (him), ‡foustica'it (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Abd.7 1925); foostica't, fuisticat (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh.10 1952), †fushica'd, -ca'm (Sc. a.1825 H. Blyd's Contract 3), ‡fooshtyemaycat (Abd.27, Ags.19 1952), what is it you (may) call it (him), a mode of referring to a thing or person, the name of which is temporarily forgotten or euphemistically suppressed; †(2) fou'd be, however it be (was). Also †funabe(is), fouanabees (Ags. 1819 R. Mudie Glenfergus I. xviii.), lit “how an it be,” i.e. nevertheless, however. The -(i)s is the old 3rd pers. sing. ending of the pres. subj.; (3) foo's a' (wi' ye), = Eng. “how are you?” (n.Sc. 1952), a common mode of address when meeting a friend; (4) foo that, in introducing a noun clause: how, that (ne.Sc. 1952). Also that fou, that fou that (Abd.27 1950). (1) Abd. 1746  W. Forbes Dominie Deposed (1765) liii.:
'Tis strange what makes Kirk-fouks so stupid, To make or meddle with the fucait.
Mry. 1806  J. Cock Simple Strains 138:
[He] Lads and Lasses disna spare Wha try the fu'-ca'-ye't!
Abd. 1824  G. Smith Douglas 97:
I'd sing, as fu' ca' 'im sang for Meg.
Abd. 1887  Bon-Accord (10 Dec.) 17:
This foo-ca-ye-im Gray's gotten his berth noo.
(2) Abd. 1739  J. Skinner in Caled. Mag. (1788) 502:
What way it was he miss'd the mark, I canna tell, but fou'd be, He fell that day.
Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore 59:
Funabeis on she gaes, as she was bown.
Abd. 1790  A. Shirrefs Poems 355:
Tho' I'm a poet, and but poor, Yet, fu' na be, I dinna jeer.
(3) Cai. 1776  Weekly Mag. (25 Jan.) 145:
Whar's this you're gaen'? an' fu's a sin the streen?
Per. 1811  J. Sim Poems 23:
Nane will say for him fu's a', Nor for him care.
Bnff. 1855  Banffshire Jnl. (9 Oct.):
“Fu's a' wi' ye, Jock?” “Brawly, Betty, fu's a' wi' yoursel?”
Sh. 1922  J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 106:
Gude evenin'. Foo is a' here da night?
(4) Bch. 1804  W. Tarras Poems 31:
I marvel muckle fou that I, Sae joggl't wi' adversity, Shou'd e'er attempt to sing.
Abd. 1891  Bon-Accord (3 Jan.) 20:
I triet tae explain that fou it wisna me that haed a haud o' the dog, bit the dog o' me.
Abd. 1903  W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 38:
Counsel — “What did he say about the matter?” Dilly — “Foo that the pawtron sud gie's the preevelege o' a leet.”

2. Why, for what reason (ne.Sc. 1952). Also foo for (Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 28). Bnff. 1847  A. Cumming Tales 61:
I won'er foo ye cringed sae lang.
Abd. 1912  G. Greig Mains's Wooin' 10:
Sae they likely will; but foo are ye spierin'?
m.Sc. 1937  A. Fleming Strawberry Field i.:
Aye . . . That's foo I'm here the day.

[O.Sc. has fow, phow, how, from 1543, not restricted to n.Sc., as a variant of quhow, O.E. hu, id. The f- has developed in n.Sc. on the analogy of the other f- (wh-) interrogatives, Fa, Far, Fat, etc.]

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"Foo adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Apr 2019 <>



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