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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.

FURR, n., v. Also fur; †f(e)ure (Cai. 1900 E.D.D.), ¶for (Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister ix.). [fʌr]

I. n. 1. A furrow made by the plough (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 188, fur(e)); the strip of earth turned over in the process. Gen.Sc., and in Eng. dial. Occas. also applied to the spit of earth in digging (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.), and fig. to any small or the least piece of ground. Phrs.: ilka (ivery) fit an fur, every square inch of ground. Cf. s.v. Fit, n.1, II. 7.; to get a fur, to plough and so produce furrows (Sc. 1825 Jam.).Inv. 1721 Steuart Letter-Bk. (S.H.S.) 168:
If he forced your Lordship to that complyance, he was not to expect a furr of land.
Abd. 1758 Abd. Journal (7 March):
The iron plough with two horses went quicker, and with more ease, than the other plough with four horses, and set up the furr with a better shoulder, and made a neater and redder furr.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Holy Fair i.:
The hares were hirplan down the furrs.
Fif. 1800 J. Thomson Agric. Fife 169:
It ought to be sown under fur. In this way, the seed being lodged in the moistest part of the soil, and beyond the reach of the scorching heat, the vegetation of every grain will be secured.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
I wad tak to the stilts again and turn sic furs on the bonny rigs o' Milnwood holmes that it wad be worth a pint but to look at them.
Slk. 1823 Hogg Shepherd's Cal. i.:
Where are they a' now? Neither him nor his hae a furr in the twa counties.
Ags. 1833 J. Sands Poems 82:
James thrashin' ilka foot and fur, To mak' the game start up before him.
Sc. 1875 A. Hislop Sc. Anecdotes 301:
To plough as “e'en as a die” — and put a skin on the “furr” “as sleek as a salmon.”
Rxb. 1915 Kelso Chron. (1 Jan.) 3:
I have a couple of medals for best ploughman in low Berwickshire. It takes a firm hand and lots of power to turn a fur there.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 25:
The cotters' acres, an' afiel' In uplan' fur' or woody biel'.
Tyr. 1929 “M. Mulcaghey” Ballymulcaghey 28:
Tam . . .knew it [the bog] ivery fut and furr.

2. The deep furrow or trench separating one rig from another (Sh. 1953), or marking off a garden bed. Also called the furr o' the rig (Ork.5 1953). Hence phr. rig and fur, lit. of ploughed land, and also fig. applied to a ribbed knitted pattern, as on stockings. See Rig.Sc. 1754 J. Justice Scots Gardiner 143:
I also could choose to sow my Onions in Beds, . . . because they may be better weeded, when one sits in the Furrs of the Beds.
m.Lth. 1786 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) xxiii.:
The next rig redds them to tak' care To cut their fur, and tak' their share O' their nane rig.
Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot. I. 350:
Crown and furr. Ridge and furrow ploughing.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 296:
Athwart the field the judges pace, With care and skill to mete and trace The depth and width of ridge and fur.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 10:
A farm-steid fu' o' kintra stir, Wi' acres braid o' rig and fur.
Fif. 1895 “S. Tytler” Kincaid's Widow i.:
Though they had pistols in their holsters, soiled butt coats on their backs, and rusty steel caps on their heads, . . . [they] savoured more of the “rig and fur” made by the ploughs, than of martial ranks.
Ork. c.1912 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 21:
The oats in the furs and on thin poor land were often hand pulled.
Abd. 1912 Rymour Club Misc. II. 17:
It's ye'll shear the fur', lass, And I'll shear the riggin'.

3. A deep furrow or rut cut by the plough to act as a drain for surface water (Sh.11, Ork.5, Arg.3 1953). Combs. fur-drain(age), water 1714 R. Smith Poems (1853) 43:
Into a deep fur, Or rather into a deep ditch.
Kcd. 1730 Urie Court Bk. (S.H.S.) 133:
Their illegal and unwarrantable cutting and letting out of the water out of the water furr belonging to the said Robert Barclay.
Sc. 1736 Crim. Trials Illustrative of “H. Midlothian” (1818) 48:
The said William Hall pannel told the deponent that he had dropped it upon his being seized in a wet furr near a dunghill.
Sc. 1822 Scott Pirate xv.:
Twa stately owsen, and as many broad-breasted horse in the traces, going through soil and till, and leaving a fur in the ground would carry off water like a causeyed syver.
Ayr. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 V. 590:
There was at first a prejudice against tiles in this neighbourhood, in which there is abundance of stones, and the fur drains were for some time made exclusively with stones . . . the fur drainage has greatly improved the quality of the pasturage.
Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 26:
While sheughs an' deep fur-drains were jawin' To spate the burns.

4. The act of furrowing, a ploughing (Ork., ne.Sc. 1953); a turn-over with a spade.Sc. 1743 R. Maxwell Select Trans. 21:
It is advised to plow it with all convenient haste so that it may get three Furs betwixt the latter End of April or Beginning of May.
Dmf. 1761 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. (1928–9) 36:
There was no restriction on the tenant's plowing provided he do not take more crops than four from each break without laying the same out [in grass]; and denies that he ever plowed more than four furrs in any one Break.
e.Lth. 1794 G. B. Hepburn Agric. e.Lth. 58:
He plowed up the ley, and gave it what we call a bastard fallow with three furs, to prepare it for oats and clover again.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xi.:
A bit faugh across the rig i' the en' o' the year, an' syne a gweed deep fur's better nor turnin' up the caul boddom.
Rxb. 1923 Kelso Chron. (6 April) 4:
Gie her a guid furr, Tam; dinna be feared to let the spade in.

5. = fur-horse. See 6. (4).e.Lth. 1885 “S. Mucklebackit” Rural Rhymes 59:
This wad mak' a' our jealous stir In mutual goodwill smother, An' laird an' tenant — hand an' fur — Like twa staigs pull together.

6. Phrs. and combs.: †(1) furr-afore, the horse in a four-horse ploughing team which walks in front in the furrow, i.e. the leading right-hand horse (Ayr. c.1890); ‡(2)furr-ahin, the horse in a ploughing team immediately in front of the plough on the right-hand side. The expression is used even in speaking of two-horse teams (wm.Sc. 1953). Cf. (1) and see also Fore(-a)-hand; (3) fur-beast, = (2) (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 215; ne.Sc., Ags., wm.Sc., Dmf. 1953); (4) fur-horse, id. (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Ork., Fif., wm.Sc., Gall., Dmf., Uls. 1953); †(5) furscam [O.N. skammr, short], the second from the right of the four horses formerly yoked abreast in the Ork. plough (Ork. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XV. 96, 1866 Edm. Gl.); †(6) fur-side, the mould-board of a plough which turns over the fur (Rxb. 1825 Jam., obsol.); (7) hintin fur, the deep furrow between rigs. See Hint, v.3, n.2; †(8) hot fur, see quot.; (9) one fur ley, grassland after its first ploughing-up (wm.Sc. 1953); (10) seed-furr, a shallow furrow made at 15 ft. intervals to mark off the width for sowing (Ork.5 1953); †(11) whole-fur, see quot.; applied to soil which does not crumble but remains integrated after ploughing.(2) Ayr. 1786 Burns Inventory 20–21:
My fur-ahin's a wordy beast, As e'er in tug or tow was trac'd.
(4) Ork. 1868 D. Gorrie Orkneys 16:
When ponies were used [for ploughing], the first or right hand one was called the fur horse, the second the fur-scam.
(6) Sc. 1762 A. Dickson Agriculture 211:
If the beam points to the fur-side, then the plough will have too much land.
(8) Per. 1778 A. Wight Present State Husbandry I. 41:
It only remains to take the first opportunity in the spring, the ground being dry, of sowing; which I propose shall be oats for the first crop; the second crop pease; and not to plough for the pease, until immediately before the seed is to be sown, which is termed by the farmers hot fur.
(9) Bch. 1735 J. Arbuthnot Buchan Farmers (1811) 74:
By one fur ley, we mean all those fields which are broke up with only one furrow.
Abd. c.1760 Trans. Highl. Soc. (1902) 81:
The one fur-ley, or ground broke up before winter and sown after one furrow the following spring, bears 4 crops of corn and 4 crops of grass alternately.
Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 II. 533:
The fauchs, after being 5 years in natural grass, got a single plowing (hence they were called one fur ley).
(11) Sc. 1776 Kames Gentleman Farmer 83:
Ground ploughed too wet, rises, as we say, whole-fur, as when pasture ground is ploughed.

II. v. 1. To plough, to mark or make furrows (in), to set up furrs (ne.Sc., Dmf. 1953); to rut, tear up the soil. Also fig.Ork. 1768 P. Fea MS. Diary (11 March):
Done with plowing the . . . quoy to John Swanay, furr'd Malcom's land.
Sc. 1774 Dmf. Weekly Mag. (26 April) 224:
The ground around the house was furred up [by lightning].
Edb. 1864 W. Fergusson Songs 30:
Labour's lusty front, Deep furr'd wi' care an' toil.
Knr. 1891 “H. Haliburton” Ochil Idylls 102:
They gar him haste to turn his ploo, The lauchin' wee things! for their bread He'd furr the face o' Ben Macdhu!
ne.Sc. 1950 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 330:
Fan it comes tae furrin, fegs Ah hinna got a peer.

2. To make drills (in or for), to earth up, to draw soil around (plants) so as to form a ridge, now gen. with up (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 243; I. and n.Sc., em.Sc.(a), Kcb., Dmf. 1953).Abd. 1749 Abd. Estate (S.C.) 88:
To 1 man ⅓ of a day furring kail in the Haughs . . . 1s. 4d.
Kcd. 1772 Weekly Mag. (6 Aug.) 191:
Robert Wood, being desired by his master to go and fur some kail, refused, . . . for the devil was in the yard, or garden.
m.Lth. 1855 M. Crawford Rustic Lays 74:
Gae furr your tatties, stake your pease.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (11 June):
Da bit o' neep grund haes ta be furred if hit's to be sawn da day.
Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 108:
When the two-stilted plough became general the one-stilted was kept for “furring up” potatoes.
ne.Sc. 1950 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 330:
Fan it comes tae furrin, fegs Ah hinna got a peer.

[O.Sc. for(re), a furrow, from c.1400, O.E. furh, id.]

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"Furr n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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