Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GOWL, n.2, v.2 Also †gowle, †goule, †gool.

I. n. †1. The throat, jaws. Sc. 1819 in Hogg Jacob. Relics I. 150:
There you'll see the noble Whigs, . . . Ri'en hose and raggit hools, Sour milk and girnin gools.
Bnff. 1852 A. Harper Solitary Hours 57:
We need never think To gnidge his goule in onie mink, Unless 'tis made o' waith horse hair.

2. A deep hollow between hills (Per. 1808 Jam.), esp. in place-name Windy Gowl, e.g. that on Arthur's Seat being still so called. Also in Nhb. and Lin. dial. Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVIII. 560:
There is a steep and hollow descent betwixt two tops of the hill, which is called the Windy Gowle.
Sc. 1802 A. Campbell Journey from Edb. I. 353:
When the north wind is up, it pours down the gowle or cleft, in furious blasts.
Edb. 1839 W. McDowall Poems 168:
For then o'er Arthur's Seat I rove, To hear the tempest howl. Or breast the storm as it raves, Through the craggy Windy Gowl.
Edb. 1882 J. Grant Old and New Edb. II. 313:
The deep gorge between it and the Sclyvers is named the Windy Goule.

3. Fig. “A term, expressive of magnitude and emptiness; applied to a house” (Jam.2; Gall. 1900 E.D.D.). Lnk. 1825 Jam.:
It's an unco gowl o' a house that.

Hence gowlsome, “large, empty, dreary” (Sc. 1880 Jam.).

4. Any of the natural clefts of the body: the fork, perineal region of man or animals (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Cai., Bnff., Abd. 1955); the pudenda, gen. of women (Sc. 1818 Sawers, in pl.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 69). Combs.: ‡(1) goull-bane, “the top of the femur, where it is lodged in the acetabulum (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ork.5 1955); (2) gowlscad, a very strong hot fire in a fire-place, “a term usually banned for its supposed rudeness” (Cai.9 1939). Cf. II.

II. v. To sit before the fire with the legs apart (Inv. 1955).

[O.Sc. has gowle, goule, a narrow pass, from 1572 (Windie gouile (Edb.)); O.Fr. go(u)le, Mod. Fr. gueule, the throat. In n. 4. the word has fallen together with Gael. gobhal, the fork (of the body).]

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"Gowl n.2, v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Feb 2020 <>



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