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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FRO, n., v. Also froe; froa, frui (Watson), frau, frae, froh, froo, frou, frow. The Rxb. and Bwk. forms froïe, froey given by Jam., Watson, and Wettstein appear to be orig. adjs., sc. milk, etc. [Sc. fro:, Bwk., Rxb. + frø(e)]

I. n. 1. Froth, foam (Sc. 1755 Johnson Dict.; w.Sc., Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Mry., Abd., Ags., Per., Fif., Slk. 1953).Dmf. 1894 J. Cunningham Broomieburn xii.:
It's maist a' frou. He has to shut his een tae drink it.
Fif. 1896 “G. Setoun” R. Urquhart iii.:
The other looks up an' wi' a loud laugh he blaws the fro' o' the porter frae his mou'tache.
Dmf. 1915 D. J. Beattie Oor Gate-en' 54:
Div 'e no' see the froo comin' oot o' his mooth?
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 23:
Black shoogir-waeter, a paep a sook, . . . A've only gotten a sook o froa — A hehna gotten a drink!
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' the Ling 67:
An' switchin' [eggs] yet, Tüme a' the gowden froe intill't.
Slk. 1985 Walter Elliot Clash-ma-clavers 20:
The river that day wus whuppit tae frae

2. Specif.: whisked cream, a mixture of cream and whey beaten up and sprinkled with oatmeal. Hence combs. froh-milk, id. (Mry., Bnff., Abd., Ags. 1953); ‡fro(h)-stick, see quots. (Abd. 1953).Sc. 1760 R. Pococke Tours (1887) 116:
A great pot of whey was over the fire, of which they were making Frau.
Abd. a.1897 in M. M. Banks Cal. Customs Scot. I. 89–90:
This [cream] is whisked by the “froh-stick” . . . [which is] always made in the same manner. It consists of an upright stalk about 18 inches long, to one end of which are fixed pieces of wood in the shape of a cross, with arms of equal length. On the ends of the arms are grooves, and into these and in a circle round the cross is fixed a rope of hair taken from the cows' tails. The hair is properly cleaned and then twisted into a circle large enough to go round the ends of the cross. . . . Of course in whisking the cream, a few pieces of the hair come off. . . . It is accounted lucky to get such a piece of hair in the portion of the cream one gets.
Ags. c.1900 Ib. III. 90:
After Michael Fair we had “froh milk” or “vrocht milk” for supper. There must be three hairs from the “froh stick” floating on the surface; if they were not there, they had to be put there. This was to keep the milk from swelling on the stomach.
Mry. 1951 People's Jnl. (10 Nov.):
The working of the “frostick” was a knack. We had a little rhyme which we used to repeat to ourselves — “Not too high, not too low, not too fast and not too slow.”

3. A suck from a bottle of liquorice water (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Cf. 1927 quot. under 1.

II. v. To froth, foam (Abd., Per., Fif., Slk. 1953); to bubble.Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 178:
Gif . . . frowin' to its base or border Rude nature a' Her quagmires — stagnant pools like ordure — Did to us shaw?
Lnk. 1818 A. Fordyce Country Wedding 68:
His cattle were crazy, and fro'd like a spunge.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 19:
The pluiffin ter froes up atween the causastanes.

[A reduced form of froth. See P.L.D. § 71.]

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"Fro n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2023 <>



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