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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FOWERSOME, n. Also foursom(e), -sum. [′fʌu(ə)rsʌm]

1. A group or party of four persons or things. Gen.Sc. Freq. attrib., esp. of a dance sett or game participated in by four people.Ayr. 1792 Burns The Deil's Awa iii.:
There's threesome reels, there's foursome reels.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xxviii.:
Dancing full merrily in the doubles and full career of a Scotch foursome reel.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1898) ii.:
It brought many a lad and lass together by way of partners at foursome reels and Hieland jigs.
Fif. 1845 T. C. Latto Minister's Kail-yard 93:
Wi' that a foursome yell gat up, I to my heels an' ran.
Dmb. 1846 W. Cross Disruption xxxiii.:
I may say a' the foursome o' us are bridegrooms.
Dmf. 1912 A. Anderson Later Poems 189:
An whiles I think a foursome reel Wad be the very death o' me.
m.Lth.1 1952:
Wad ye come roun the morn's nicht an mak up a fowersome at whist?

2. Hence specif.: a foursome reel Gen.Sc.Sc. 1938 St Andrews Cit. (13 Aug.) 9:
He is much in request to teach foursomes, eightsomes, sixteensomes, and thirty-twosomes.

3. In Golf: a match of four players, two on either side. Gen.Sc., now adopted in Eng.Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 71:
He then may engage in a foursome, having for his partner one who will supply his deficiencies in driving, or as it is phrased on the Links — “keep him up in the swiping.”
Sc. 1867 Cornhill Mag. (April) 494:
In a “foursome” the partners play alternately, the “long driver” on the one side being pitted against the “long driver” on the other, and the “short” against the “short.”
Abd. 1890 Bon-Accord (26 July) 14:
The match was played in foursomes.
Sc. 1921 Grant and Dixon M.M.Sc. 106:
In a “Scotch foursome” two players have one ball against the other two players, and strike it in turn.

[Fower + -some. O.Sc. fouresum, a company of four, from c.1500.]

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"Fowersome n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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