Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

FOUNDER, v., n. Also foon(d)er, foun(dh)er, funder, funner. Sc. forms and usages. [′fu:n(d)ər]

I. v. 1. tr. To fell, strike down (ne.Sc. Ags., Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr., Slk. 1953). Sc. 1768 Weekly Mag. (1 Dec.) 287:
The fellow gave the woman a severe blow on the side of the head, which foundered her to the ground.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 9:
My guidame wad a sticket my mither wi' the grape, if my father hadna chanc'd to founder her wi' the beetle.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxvi.:
Ye strake ower hard, Steenie — I doubt ye foundered the chield.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 44:
But the lass cuist her e'en up as heich as the kirk, Syne she gi'ed him a glower wad 'a' foonert a stirk.

2. tr. To exhaust, to prostrate with fatigue, shock, surfeit, etc. (ne.Sc., em.Sc., Ayr., Slk. 1953). Also fig., to strike with utter dismay, to stagger. Edb. 1740 Caled. Mercury (18 Feb.):
The Crew were so founder'd, by Fatigue, that they had not the use of their Limbs for many Days after their Arrival there.
Dmf. 1863 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 59:
Their meagre looks yer sauls will foun'er.
m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet iii. iv.:
But the puir lad was sae dazed and foundered that frae the first he had nae chance.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xxiii.:
Worn out by travel and distress of mind . . . she had gone to rest . . . “The lass is fair foundered.”
Abd.29 1948:
I'm foonert — I hid far owre muckle shepherd's pie an' dumplin.

3. Specif. of cold or a chill: to prostrate, to cause to collapse (ne.Sc., Fif., w., sm. and s.Sc. 1953). Freq. in ppl.adj. foun(d)ert, chilled, numbed, helpless with (a) cold (Ib.). Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 132:
Get up, then, man, an' come awa, I'm funner't wi the caul'.
Lnk. 1882 A. L. Orr Laigh Flights 84:
Clean foundert wi' your piercin' win' Like lancet keen.

4. intr. Of persons: to collapse, break down, sink helpless, with drink, exhaustion or illness, esp. a chill. Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. In mod. Eng. almost exclusively of horses. ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 44:
Here her Tammie fairly foonert, Lies wi' broken niz an' neck!
Mry. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 80:
I'll wad a croon it's Janet Broon Wha's foonert in first fittin.
Sc. 1935 D. Rorie Lum Hat 30:
Pit up whaur Tam Tinkler foonert i' the snaw.

II. n. A collapse, breakdown, esp. in health (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.: Abd., Fif., Ayr., Slk. 1953), very freq. in wm.Sc., Uls., of a severe feverish chill, as in phr. to tak a founer. Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy Geordie Chalmers 291:
I doot something no canny has come owre um. . . . In he's no witch'd, he's at least gotten a sair foun'er.
Uls. 1901 Northern Whig:
The doctor may, however, be informed that the person he is going to see had, as the result of a severe wetting, “got a founder.”
Tyr. 1929 “M. Mulcaghey” Ballymulcaghey 83:
I got a tarrible foundher in my bones that time.
Ayr. 1951:
A farmer at an Ayrshire wedding recently partook of the various courses including a hot sweet. He was then offered ice-cream, but refused it, saying: “Na, na, lassie, it wid gi'e me a foon'er.”

[O.Sc. founder, to fall helplessly, c.1475. The specif. association with a chill is prob. due to the influence of Fundy.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

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



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: