Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GARRON, n.1 Also garran (Uls.), gerron, -an; gurran, -on (ne.Sc.), karan, keran (Cai.), †garon (Sc. 1746 Chrons. Atholl and Tullibardine III. 185), †girran; †gearran (Gael.). [Sc. ′gɑrən, ′gɛr-, but Ork. ′gjɛr-, Cai. ′ke:-, ne.Sc. + ′gʌr-]

1. (1) A small, sturdy type of horse, mostly used for rough hill work, a Highland pony, a Highland gelding (Highl. 1770 R. Forbes Journals (1886) 291); for modern specif. usage see 1944 quot. Gen.Sc. Also attrib. n.Sc. c.1730  E. Burt Letters (1754) II. 30:
There is a certain Lord in one of the most northern Parts, who makes Use of the little Garrons for the Bogs and rough Ways; but has a sizable Horse led with him, to carry him through the deep and rapid Fords.
Ayr. 1787  Burns Letters (Ferguson) No. 112:
She [mare]'s a yauld, poutherie Girran for a' that.
Inv. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 X. 352:
Paths entirely impassible by the country gearrans, though they are perhaps the best climbers of their kind in the world.
Sc. 1806  R. Jamieson Ballads I. 349:
Ald gerrons they downa to labour lee.
Ork. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 XV. 182–83:
The species of horses most esteemed here, for ordinary purposes, is that called the “garron,” supposed to be of Norwegian origin. Their distinctive characters are thick necks and heads, with short ears. They seldom exceed fourteen hands and a half in height, and are very strong and hardy.
Kcb. 1894  Crockett Raiders xxxvii.:
They trampled in upon their garrons till the courtyard was nearly full.
Sc. 1944  Lady Wentworth Brit. Horses 40:
There is a larger size called Garron which ranges about 14.2 [hands] but it is not looked on with favour by the Highland Society as it has been crossed with cart horse.
w.Sc. 1948  Scots Mag. (Oct.) 47:
Those handy little garrons, that in their daily life draw the crofter's plough or cart, carry the creels of peat from the hags, and, in season, game and deer carcases from the hills. This apart from their use as mounts across the fords of the Outer Isles and the rural districts of Skye and the mainland.

(2) An old, stiff or worn-out horse, one without mettle (Lth. 1808 Jam., garron, gerron; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Cai. 1919 T.S.D.C. III., karan; Uls.3 1930). Uls. 1876  W.H.H. Waifs of Conversation No. 7:
One of those old peat cadgers from Ballyhay Moss had used an old garran for drawing turf for many a year.
Cai. 1911  John o' Groat Jnl. (17 March):
Far are ye gaen wi' that auld karan? It'll tak' a lot o' corn to cover 'at chiel's timmerheids.

2. Extended uses: (1) A strong, thick-set or stoutly-built man or boy (Ags. 1808 Jam., gerron; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 59; Bnff.7 1925; Abd.27 1954), a rather loutish fellow (Abd. 1954); (2) a thick-set animal; anything short and thick or good and strong of its kind (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 59); (3) a man without mettle, a coward (Uls.3 1930, garran). (1) Arg. 1929, obsol. 1 :
That laddie's a wild wee garron.
Abd. 1931  Abd. Press and Jnl. (19 Feb.):
The girnie gurran has a peck O' wordies fell garmunshach.
(2) Abd. 1929  J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 8:
“Na, sirs, but sic a gurran o' a pipe 's we've gotten! That een'll haud the full o' 'er, onywye.” “Ay, man . . . bit jist gey heavy to haud i' yer mou'.”
(3) Uls. 1840  W. Carleton Battle of the Factions II. 129:
Hard fortune to the garran that wouldn't have friendship and kindness in him to join and play a stave [cudgel] along with them!

[O.Sc. has garrein, = 1. (1) above, 1631; Gael. and Ir. gearran, a gelding, a hack.]

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"Garron n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2019 <>



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