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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GOVE, v., n.1 Also goave, †goif (Bnff. 1792 Trans. Soc. Antiq. Scot. 442). [go:v]

I. v. 1. To stare, gaze; to stare stupidly or vacantly (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl. (with about or round); Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 166; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Cai., Abd., Per., Edb., sm. and s.Sc. 1955); to gaze with fear (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 233); to wander aimlessly about (Kcb.4 1900; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb.4 1955). Also ppl.adj. govin. Also in Yks. dial.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 112:
But lang I'll gove and bleer my Ee, Before, alake! that Sight I see.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To Major Logan ii.:
When, idly goavin, whyles we saunter.
Uls. 1804 J. Orr Poems (1935) 141:
Gypes co'ert the wharf to gove, an' stare, While out, in boats, we bustle.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 150:
As whan a tumbler at a fair, Whair thousands round him goave and stare.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods (1895) 137:
A while shut in my gangrel feet An' goavin' mettle.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet 44:
The dull cattle that “goved” upon her.
Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 237:
This ill-suits a spirit tameless — — Goaving through the city aimless.
Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 57:
Tam's wae face wis a study. He was kin' o' dumfoonert. He jist steed an' goaved.
Sc. 1953 Scots Mag. (June) 174:
Frae oot the gless thar goaved yestreen lik steekit windies twa blae een.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 51:
They'd gie him scouth, hairts duntin wi fricht
at the ill-gated skybe wi's stibble-bleck face
an' govin yella een.
em.Sc. 1988 James Robertson in Joy Hendry Chapman 52 71:
Syne they luikit doun at their frien, wha hadna sae muckle as smiled aa the while, and he juist goaved at the Frith ...
Sc. 1995 David Purves Hert's Bluid 38:
The'r no mukkil in't for the bairns,
an the sang dwynes doun for the auld:
howdert thegither in hames,
bleirin awa dreich days
goavin at fremmit ferlies
on ane electronic screen.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 45:
Whit's the daft laddie daein goavin up at the jail there? Dis he ken some puir body locked up inside?

Hence go(a)ver, one who wanders aimlessly about (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Rxb. 1869 Hawick Advertiser (9 Jan.) 3:
He told me where they [poachers] had gone to, and that the “Gover” was one of them.

2. Of animals: to toss the head from side to side (Mry.2 1937), to start with fright. Also fig. Cf. Cove, v.1Sc. 1808 Jam. s.v. goif:
Cattle are said to gove, when startled.
Rxb. 1808 A. Scott Poems 20:
Rude sonneteers Ran goavin wild to grasp at fame.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 10:
Our young cowt gov'd, I gae'm a whack, He pranced, an' syne the back-rape brak.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xlvi.:
There Brownie stood an' shook his horns . . . frae side to side like a govin' beast.

3. To toss the head coquettishly, “to flaunt, to play the coquette” (Sc. 1825 Jam. s.v. goif).Sc. 1821 Blackwood's Mag. (Jan.) 402:
I would rather add a whole night to the hour than Ronald Rodan and yon govan widow should waur us.

4. In n.phr. gove-i'-the-wind, “a foolish, vain, light-headed fellow” (Rxb. 1825 Jam., ‡1923 Watson W.-B., -wund). Also corrupt form go-be-the-wund, “one who utters hasty expressions” (Ib.).

II. n. A vacant stare (Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 692; Rxb. 1825 Jam., ‡1923 Watson W.-B.; Per. 1955).

[O.Sc. has gov(e), goif, to stare, from a.1400. Of obscure origin: cf. Gaive.]

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"Gove v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 May 2024 <>



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