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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

JAW, v., n. Also jawe, ja. Pa.t. jawed, jawt; jew (Gall.). [dʒǫ:, dʒɑ:]

I. v. 1. intr. Of water: to dash, splash, surge, as waves (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Ppl.adj. jawing, surging. Rarely tr., to cause to surge, whip into waves.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. i. i.:
Tempest may cease to jaw the rowan Flood.
Lnl. 1767 Session Papers, Provost of Linlithgow v. Elphinston State of Process 33:
He has seen the water jawing over.
Sc. 1802 Scott Minstrelsy II. 60:
The stately tow'r, Whilk stood aboon the jawing wave.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxi.:
A naked craig wi' a burn jawing ower't.
Ayr. 1869 J. Stirrat Poems 14:
That far beyond the endless sea, That's jawing between you and me.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 105:
It was said that the billows around him micht jaw, But were powerless to injure Black Jock o' the Law.
Edb. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's 38:
Whan there were nae spring-heids Jawin ower wi' water.

2. tr. To pour (out) abruptly, splash, spill, throw (a quantity of water or other liquid) (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 281; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., wm. and sm.Sc., Uls. 1959). Vbl.n. pl. jawings, slops. Also fig.Gsw. 1717 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 629:
The throwing or casting out of houses or windows upon the streets, lanes or closes any jawings, filth or dirt.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 56:
Never jaw water on a drown'd mouse.
Ayr. 1788 Burns When Guilford i.:
Then up they gat the maskin-pat, And in the sea did jaw, man.
Kcb. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 74:
It jaw't the holy-water in his face.
Abd. 1895 G. Williams Scarbraes 53:
“I'm nae wantin' yer drink” . . . “Tak' it, ye coo”, angrily shouted the man, “or I'll jaw't i' yer face.”
Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 3:
What unco fate mak's him [Burns] the dumpin'-grun' For a' the sloppy rubbish they jaw oot?
Gall. 1951 Gall. Gazette (8 Dec.):
The past tense of jaw — which he often heard in his boyhood days at Kirkcowan, pronounced as “jew.” An old wife might be heard to say “Oh a' jew't oot.”
Ayr. 1998:
A'll hae ti jaw water ower the turf or it'll dee
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 13:
Cauld-hertit hills that winna nou
Gie furth tae men their mineral store
Will jaw oot ceaseless rivers, thick
An reamin fou wi meltit ore.

3. To toss, jerk to one side.m.Sc. c.1840 J. Strathesk Hawkie (1888) 52:
He jawed his head to shun the blow.

II. n. 1. A wave, billow, breaker (w.Sc. 1741 A. M'Donald Galick Vocab. 6; Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls.2 1929; ne.Sc., Ags. 1959).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 155:
Jumpt headlong glorious in the golden Sea: Where now like Gods they rule each wealthy Jaw.
Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Fort. Shepherd MS. 56:
Ae time upon a jaw they're cogling high That you wad think their masts wad hit the sky.
Sc. a.1783 Twa Sisters in Child Ballads No. 10. B. x.:
She tooke her by the middle sma, An dashd her bonny back to the jaw.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 18:
Through jaws an' billows roarin — The ship, sometimes, jump'd corbucks height, O'er whales asleep an' snorin.
Mry. 1830 T. D. Lauder Moray Floods 133:
There wuz ae jaw o' the water that cam' up to my breest, an' anither jaw cam' and fuppit my aunty oot o' my airms.
Fif. 1901 G. Setoun Skipper of Barncraig Intro. 15:
In the storm o' Windy Wednesday a big jaw cam sweelin' ower me an' carried awa' the drum strappet as it was to my shouthers.
Abd. 1957:
“He gets up like the ja's o' the sea” = he gets into awful tempers.

Proverb. phr.: jouk an(d) let the jaw gae (gyang) by (owre), see Jouk, v., 7.

2. A sudden rush, spurt, outpouring of water, a cascade, a quantity of liquid splashed or thrown out (Sc. 1808 Jam.; ne.Sc., Ags., Lnk. 1959). Phr.: to be in a jaw, to be flooded, covered with (muddy) water.Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems II. 96:
An' mony an unco jaw o' bluid, They skailed to ane anither.
wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan I. 190:
If it had not been for the bit jaw o' water that comes through the Kyles, they would a' hae belonged to Bute as weel as ourselves.
Sc. 1849 A. Bell Melodies Scot. 43:
And fast and fierce — but flaw or flag, — The mirth cam' ow'r us like a jaw.
Abd. 1867 A. Allardyce Goodwife xliv.:
The trance is in a jaw.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 121:
Syne, weel contentit wi' it a', Pour in the speerits wi' a jaw.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 9:
Awfu' jaws an' skelps o' rain.
Slk. 1896 J. B. Selkirk Poems 29:
[The burn] . . . till wi' a jaw It jumps the rocky waterfa'.
Gall. 1904 Crockett Raiderland 59:
Waterfalls are gleaming in the clefts — “jaws of water,” as the hill folks call them.

3. A large quantity of any liquid which can be drunk, a draught (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 75; ne.Sc., Kcb. 1959).Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 63:
Sent down wi' jaws o' nappy ale To warm our blude.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
“The cow has gi'en a gude jaw the day;” i.e. the cow has given a large quantity of milk.
Knr. 1886 H. Haliburton Horace 31:
The pump that half the toun's folk ser'd, It winna gie a jaw.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 125:
He was gaun to be very big, and order in a great jaw of drink for the company.
Ags. 1892 Brechin Advertiser (5 Jan.) 3:
Gryte nuggets, too' o' braxie ham, An' jaws o' gude fat kail.

4. Combs.: (1) jaw-box, (a) a water-trough used for scullery purposes, a sink in a kitchen or on a common stair (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; m.Sc., Uls. 1959; Edb., Ayr., Uls. 2000s). Also attrib.; (b) in various fig. usages, as Eng. drain, sink; (2) jaw-egg, ja(a)-, jawed-, an infertile or addled egg, sc. having only liquid contents (Sh., Cai. (jawed) 1959). Cf. Choldro-Egg and Chaa; (3) jaw-hole, -holl, (a) a primitive drain, orig. a hole in the wall of a house through which slops and other refuse were swilled out (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Bnff. 1902 J. Grant Agric. Bnff. 150 Years Ago 10; Fif., m.Lth., Dmf. 1959); (b) (the open mouth of) a cess-pool, a sewer (Fif. 1812 W. Tennant Anster Fair 128; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Abd., Fif., Edb., Kcb., Dmf. 1959); (c) also fig. as in (1) (b) (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (4) jaw-tub, = (1) (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., Uls.4 1959).(1) (a) Gsw. 1846 J. Smith Working Classes 26:
Some years ago the jawboxes were all removed from the stairs, so that they have to carry all their offals down stairs.
Gsw. 1859 Gsw. Herald (29 Oct.):
Every house is supplied with a pipe, a stop-cock and a jaw-box.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 87:
The posies which cam oot from some of the jaw-boxes and reeking closes and stairs in the High Street, kittled my throat.
Fif. 1896 G. Setoun R. Urquhart xviii.:
Tammas Fordel's no the man to pour wine either into jaw-box or condy.
Gsw. 1909 J. J. Bell Oh! Christina! vi.:
Oh! feech! The nesty stuff! If ye pour it doon the jawbox, I'll gi'e ye a penny.
Rnf. 1935 L. Kerr Woman of Glenshiels 19:
The girl went to the jawbox and washed under the brass tap.
Gsw. 1993 Margaret Sinclair Soor Plooms and Candy Balls 14:
Sit up oan the jaw box.
Jist take aff your semmit
Watch ye don't faw aff
Ah'll be wi' ye in a meenit.
Sc. 1994 Scotland on Sunday 9 Jan :
His flat, with its blackened range, rush matting and porcelain jawbox sink, the scrubbed table groaning with newspaper cuttings and indignant correspondence, is a capsule of timelessness under the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle.
  Edb. 1999:
A jawbox wis a sink in a windae wi a bunker at the side fur coal. The hail thing wis boxed in wi wid.
Sc. 1999 Herald 22 Sep 34:
Think, for example, of the Tenement House museum in Glasgow: it beats me why anyone who used to live in a room-and-kitchen for real should want to see another one ever again, but they turn up in their thousands to get misty-eyed over the big black range gleaming with fondly applied Zebo and the delightful jawbox sink with cold running water in which the weekly laundry (later to be hung from the ceiling pulley to dry by evaporation, no wonder we all had pleurisy) was the work of a mere five or six hours.
Uls. 1999 Belfast Telegraph 21 Dec :
The jawbox in the scullery was filled with bottles of Red Label stout and Johnny's duncher cap hung at a jaunty angle from the handle of the bread bin where it had been deposited with careless abandon 12 hours earlier.
Gsw. 2000 Scotsman 31 Oct 10:
Hay is there: as a child, looking across a darkened street into a tenement window, where a naked woman is washing in a "jawbox" sink; as a teenager living happily with the twin icons of Elvis and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, both abiding passions born in his East End ethos of family, community and Catholicism.
(b) Fif. 1896 G. Setoun R. Urquhart xviii.:
The place is little else than a jaw-box itsel' — the jaw-box o' the parish. I'd be geisand afore I gaed in there for a dram.
Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle iii. ix.:
Some folks would make a jaw box o' that stomach of yours!
(2) Sh. 1947 New Shetlander No. 4. 10:
Ae fine, dry day I fan' da nest beside a muckle stane, Wan jaa egg and a mootie ting aal upon its laen.
(3) (a) Edb. 1709 A. Heron Merchant Co. Edb. (1903) 78:
They have a jaw hole in their kitching for that purpose.
Gsw. 1713 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 496:
Making ane window in the turnpyke of the tolbooth, filling up of jawholls there, building of a peice of the Laigh Church dyck.
Edb. 1760 City Cleaned and Country Improven (Broadsheet):
That Jaw-holls or water spouts of Timber, Stone, Lead, etc. may answer the purpose.
Sc. 1825 R. Chambers Illust. Waverley 190:
A little cottage thatched in the Scottish fashion, with the usual accompaniments of a kail-yard, a midden before the door, and a jaw-hole.
Rnf. 1844 Justiciary Reports (1846) 51:
A rat that came to the jawhole of the house.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man i.:
Others set their heads out of the little round “jaw-holes” that opened in each gable wall.
(b) Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. i.:
Ye maun haud wessel by the end o' the loan, and take tent o' the jawhole.
Fif. 1838 A. Bethune Sc. Peasantry 111:
Instead of doubling the jaw-hole, which lay right ahead, she ran directly over its slippery verge.
Fif. 1900 S. Tytler Jean Keir xiv.:
And mind you pour it into the kitchen sink, since there is no longer a convenient jaw-hole.
(c) Peb. 1838 W. Welsh Poems 43:
Mr Mair who previously was far from friendly to the Kirk, which he denominated the “Jaw Hole.”
Lnk. 1884 J. Nicholson Willie Waugh 13:
But to sic jaw-holes filth alane can flow.
Dmf. 1928 J. L. Waugh Heroes 107:
Wae's me! twenty-eicht shillins juist gaen doon the jawhole.

[O.Sc. jaw, n. = 1., v. = 2., from 1513. Orig. doubtful. Phs. from an orig. jall, a by-form of joll, Jow, q.v., with the basic notion of striking, knocking or beating one thing against another, as waves on a rock. Eng. dial. in this latter sense has the forms jawl, jowl.]

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"Jaw v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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