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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GRUE, v.1, n.1, adj. Also grew, groo, †grou, †grow(e). Cf. Gruse. [gru:; s.Sc. grʌu]

I. v. 1. To shudder, shiver, turn cold, from some emotion, gen. that of fear or repulsion (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Vbl.n. grewin, gruing, grooing, a shivering sensation, as of terror. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxxv.:
I shall never think on Loch Ard but the thought will gar me grew again.
Ayr. 1826 Galt Lairds xviii.:
Miss Shoosie's very ordinar, and Miss Girzie ne'er was bonnie — I grue at the thochts o' either o' them.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Cal. I. 60:
He gart my heart a' grue within me, and dirle as it had been bored wi' reid-het elsins.
Per. 1835 R. Nicoll Poems 85:
Whane'er I see Mysie, I grane an' grue: I maybe hae fa'en in love! What shall I do?
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 102:
Sic fairy tales as shü can tell . . . Wi' ghosts an' goblins maks you grue At nicht ta leave her fireside.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 84:
Weel, the lanely life afore me Is aneuch to gar me grue!
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona ii.:
Ye're either a Stewart or a Stewart sent ye. A good name it is . . . But I begin to grue at the sound of it.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xvi.:
It [a sermon] was a nailer, an' nae mistake . . . He gar't the weemen greet an' the men grue.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xviii.:
We heard the cows tossing their heads and jingling their chains in the byre with a homely and friendly sound. So I took an extraordinary “grooing” in my inside for a drink of warm milk.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo vi.:
I began to talk aboot blind bats and queer creepy fleein' things, and Davie began to “grew.”
Sc. 1953 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 306:
I saw a couple of hoodie crows feeding on a dead carcase on Mid Craig. The sight of them, I confess, made me grue.
ne.Sc. 1991 Alastair Mackie in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 68:
At nicht, the keekin-gless o the galaxies.
The-day your cauld clarity gars me grue.
wm.Sc. 1996 Robin Jenkins Lunderston Tales 64:
Every honeymoon, she supposed, was bound to be something of an ordeal, but this one especially, with the groom contradicting the bride at every turn and grueing whenever she touched him.
Sc. 1998 Sunday Mail 20 Sep 21:
"Foody" cravings don't seem to be linked to iron deficiency but to changes in hormone sensitivities in the brain. It doesn't always produce a yearning to eat a particular food - it can also make you grue at a particular food or smell.
Sc. 2000 Scotsman 1 Jan 7:
It's the forced mass jollity, the see-how-merry-we-are-together miserable drunkenness, the eat-till-you're-sick, it's only once a year - that sort of festive spirit gars me grue. It's such a grotesque parody of something I enjoy; good food, wine and intelligent conversation in the company of friends.
Sc. 2000 Herald 9 May 19:
The kind of talk that fair gars me grue.
Sc. 2001 Herald 6 Jan 13:
At one extreme, they're forcing tepid porridge such as Two Thousand Acres of Sky and Monarch of the Glen down our throats. At another, they're injecting us with druggy tosh like Tinseltown. Either way, it wid mak' ye grue, so it wid.
Sc. 2001 Herald 30 Jan 16:
"I want to remove myself from the countless stories of controversy, of feuds, of divisions and all the other stories that have surrounded me," said Mandelson wearily last week. "I want to lead a more normal life." The exuberant dance of tackety boots on his political remains gars me grue.
Uls. 2001 Belfast News Letter 24 Feb 16:
It micht gar ye grue at siccana fowkgates at tha leid taaks o is gaun like snaa aff a dyke, alang wi tha wurds. Gin sae muckle is gettin loast the day, quhit nummer o Ulster-Scotch wurds haes got loast 400 yeir syne?

2. tr. To cause to shiver or tremble with fright; to cause aversion in (someone). Cf. O.Sc. impers. construction it growis me.Sc. 1932 Border Mag. (Nov.) 179:
It grues me, dad, that auld peat-road, At mirk when beast nor bird is abroad!
wm.Sc. 1987 Anna Blair Scottish Tales (1990) 10:
It grued Willie that he had so little money to spend on her and for several nights he lay awake on his bed wondering where to lay hands on the siller to hire carriages and buy her presents that would impress her.

3. To shiver from cold (e. and wm.Sc., Kcb., s.Sc. 1955). Gen. as vbl.n., a shivering sensation, a fit of shivering, such as that preceding a fever (Sc. 1825 Jam., grewing, growing). Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1732 J. Arbuthnot Rules of Diet 353:
A Chilliness or Gruing affects the Body.
Ayr. 1745 H. Tayler Seven Sons of the Provost (1949) 202:
I was on Monday last taken with a sort of sickness and grewing and about night became feverish.
Edb. 1816 J. Aikman Poems 226:
Grooin' wi' cauld, I'm tired and weet, Oh! rise gude wife and let me in.
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1863) I. 228:
I look up to the machine [shower-bath], a' pierced wi' so many water-holes, . . . and then I let gae the string, and, gruin a' the time, try to whistle.
Hdg. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 68:
Leeze me on hiz “thermometers” that tell o' cauld an' heat — Hoo muckle or hoo little aye will gar ane grue or sweat.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Bog-Myrtle ii. iii.:
If she has a grooin' in her back, and remarks “Ateeshoo-oo.”

4. Of the body, etc.: to shiver; gen. of the flesh: to creep; of the blood: to run cold (Ork., Cai., ne.Sc., Ags., Per., m.Lth., Bwk., Gall., Rxb. 1955). Also fig. Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St. Patrick II. x.:
It gars my vera flesh grew to hear him.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxxvii.:
These stories make one's very blood grew.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Cal. I. 60:
He gart my heart a' grue within me.
wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 133:
It really gars a' my flesh grou to think upon sic a catastrophe.
Mry. 1840 Lintie o' Moray (1851) 60:
Deeds without a name, That made one's spirit grue.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 19:
A peal o' eldritch laughter The nicht's win's back upon me threw, An' gar'd my vera shank-banes grue.
Sc. 1913 D. Macalister Echoes 91:
Greet ye nae mair, o een sae blue, . . . That tear-drap gars my heart tae grue.
Arg. 1918 N. Munro Jaunty Jock 123:
From the sallow visage peered inquiring eyes profound with cunning, and the soul of Wanlock grewed.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 13:
Aw throu itsel the haill warld grues;
The stanes o its mountains shither an pairt

5. To make a wry face, gen. at the sight or taste of something revolting (Cai., Abd., Per., m.Lth., w. and sm.Sc., Uls. 1955).Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 39:
See! how they shake their heads, an' groo At ought but grace an' prayin'.
Ayr. 1817 D. M'Killop Poems 87:
She smiles like a young monkey gruin'.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 56:
Ye wha are unco mim i 'e mou, Wha at a dram do snuff and grue.
Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
The chile grewed at its medicine.
wm.Sc. 1904 “H. Foulis” Erchie xii.:
Parridge and soor dook, that soor the puir wee smout went aboot grewin' wi' its mooth a' slewed to the side.
Edb. 1916 J. Fergus Sodger 20:
He couldna face a bannock, an' a partan garr'd him grue.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 198:
Aw canna bit notice foo some o' the young fowk groo fin they're set doon to sowens or siclike.
wm.Sc. 1954 Robin Jenkins The Thistle and the Grail (1994) 109:
Elrigmuir tasted the wine and grued. It was like water in which scented soap had fallen.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 48:
A derf man, my mither's faither, wha'd grue
mair nor smile.
Gsw. 1992 Thomas Healy Rolling 19:
It seared my throat, burned my gut and there seemed to be no end to it, the whisky, for each glass I drank there was another waiting. I grued at the stuff but drank it down.

II. n. 1. A shudder, a shiver, a cold feeling of horror or repulsion (Cai., em.Sc. Arg., sm. and s.Sc. 1955); “goose skin on approach of a cold” (Sc. 1909 Colville 292). Occas. in pl.: the “shivers,” the “creeps.” Also fig. Hence ¶grueful, adj., terrified, horror-struck.Lnk. 1820 Scots Mag. (May) 423:
A seikenan' grou cam ower my heart, I swarf't amang his hands.
Ags. 1821 Montrose Chron. (12 Oct.) 328:
But I have not gotten the better of the grews.
Sc. 1867 N. Macleod Starling xiii.:
The Sergeant experienced what is called in Scotland a grew — the sort of shiver one feels in a nightmare.
Sc. 1880 W. Black White Wings III. vi.:
He returned — somewhat grueful — his hair wild, — his face wet.
em.Sc. (a) 1894 “I. Maclaren” Bonnie Brier Bush 76:
It sent a grue doon ma back.
Kcb. 1909 Crockett Rose of the Wilderness v.:
A great, ruddy clatch of a man with a black beard, . . . and very red lips . . . The very sight of him gave me the “grews.”
Abd. 1910 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. III. 259:
A “grue” signified the involuntary shudder of the body on standing over the spot destined to be its earthly receptacle.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood x.:
I was fair wud wi' terror . . . I got a cauld grue in my banes.
Gsw. 1933 F. Niven Mrs Barry 122:
There arose a wailing, very flat, melancholy drawling. That kind of singing, if singing it could be called, gave her a grue.
Sc. 1949 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 116:
The very mention of “Culbin Sands” is still sufficient to send a grue through many a man o' Moray.
Gsw. 1966 Archie Hind The Dear Green Place (1984) 116:
Although this disgust was of a moral nature it began to find expression every time he thought of writing, as a nose-wrinkling grue, a flutter of the finger tips, a soured grimace, ...
Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 53:
See that yin? He'd gie onybody the grue. Him? He would make anyone cringe.
Ags. 1990s:
Enough tuh gie ye the grues: Enough to make one shudder with aversion.
Gsw. 1990 Donny O'Rourke in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 8: The Day I Met the Queen Mother 116:
A house of sticky Christmas drinks, splashing
Whiskey into mugs I recall your grue
At Tio Pepe brought in error so many long
First foots ago, before we learned of drams
Or death-cups too bitter for liqueur glasses.
Sc. 1991 William Wolfe in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 64:
But gin the Spirit werena swack
The Strath no geylies fu
Heiven'd whummle an yird'd faa
Giean life a chitteran grue.
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 17:
An thocht wi a groo, on the brookie pots
In the kitchen at Glenardle.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 60:
I noticed wi a grue that Tullio wis weirin a reid an blue strippit sark and derk-blue, licht-wecht brikks: mair bigsie nor ordinar.

Phr.: to tak the grue, to take a disgust, to become “fed up” (Abd., Ags., Per., m.Lth., Ayr., Rxb. 1955; tak the grue Bnff., Ags., Ayr., Dmf.; tak a grue Bnff., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s); to take fright.Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 106:
An' since at life ye've ta'en the grue, And winnae blithely hirsle through.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae 'Tween Clyde and Tweed 67:
When Kirsty tak's the grou At something auld or new.
Abd. 1922 G. P. Dunbar Doric 28:
An' ae braw hizzie staw a cloo . . . But ere 'twas twined she ta'en the grue, An' dwamle lay her leen.

2. A wry face, a grimace expressing horror or disgust (Abd. 1955).Lnk. 1876 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 113:
He gazed upon the temptin' cup, then wi' a hatefu' grue He turned awa'.

III. adj. 1. Ugly, horrible (Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 74, Cai.3 1931). Also in s.Dur. dial.Cai. 1825 Jam.:
A grou wamblin, applied to a misgrown or rickety child.
Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie 7:
An' Poverty glowrs wi' a dour-brow'd scowl, While Justice frowns askant and grue.
Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 173:
An' wow, he was a grue bit, That month-auld Hairyoobit!

Hence †gruous, adj., grim, awe-inspiring. [This however may be a mistake for Grugous.]Abd. 1755 R. Forbes Jnl. from London 30:
Gin ye had seen me than . . . staaken about like a hallen-shaker you wou'd hae taen me for . . . some gruous ghaist.
Abd. 1851 Banffshire Jnl. (2 Dec.):
What daring crime has brought thee here, Our souls to rack wi' gruous terror.

2. Shuddering with fear, dread or loathing, afraid; also, with weakened force, discontented (Cai. 1955).Ayr. 1826 Galt Lairds vi.:
Ye would be none surprised to see me sae grue at the thought of being behadin' to ane o' them.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 103–4:
Peur Robie, he was unco grue An t'ought himsel as geud as deid.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
I war groo for that.

3. Of the weather: shivery, chilly, “stormy” (Abd. 1920).ne.Sc. 1909 Colville 153:
“A grue, cauld nicht” . . . inspiring a shivering sensation.

[O.Sc. has grow(e), grou, grew, greu-, in sense 1. of the v. above, from 1375, n.Mid.Eng. gru, grow, a.1300; M.L.Ger. gruwen, to fear, be alarmed, shudder; cf. O.H. Ger. in-gruen, Mod.Ger. grauen.]

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"Grue v.1, n.1, adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Jun 2024 <>



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