Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

MAW, n.2 Also mawe, maa, mar (Kcb. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 209); myave (Abd.). [mɑ:, Abd. + mjɑ:v]

1. A mew, seagull (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth. 191526 Wilson; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Rxb. 1942 Zai), esp. the common gull, Larus canus. Gen.Sc.; also, less commonly, the black-headed gull, Larus ridibundus (Sc. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 209; Sh., Cai., Lth., Slk. 1962) and the herring gull, Larus argentatus (Cai. 1887 Harvie-Brown & Buckley Fauna Cai. 232, Cai. 1903 E.D.D.; Sh., Cai., Fif., Lth. 1962). Sh. 1701 J. Brand Descr. Zetland (1883) 240:
The taking of Fowls of divers kind, as Maws, Herons, &c.
Sc. 1827 W. Motherwell Minstrelsy 353:
The thing of my love's face that's white, Is that of dove or maw.
Rnf. 1853 J. Fraser Poet. Chimes 21:
Yon lonely maw, that, ever and anon, Dives into the parting bosom of the bonnie Forth.
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (16 Aapril):
Da bairn toucght da maa's penn wis faaen frae a angel's wing.
Sh. 1931 Sh. Almanac Companion 189:
Shu gae a aafil screecgh, an' loupit i' da air laek a maa.

2. Combs.: (1) blue maa, (i) the common gull, Larus canus (Sh. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 207, Sh. 1962). Cf. (6); (ii) the herring gull, Larus argentatus (Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 394, Cai. 1962); (2) herring maa, the lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus (Sh. 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 312; Sh., Cai. 1962); (3) huidie maa, see Huidie; (4) loch maa, the common gull, Larus canus (Sh. 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 306; Cai., Wgt. 1962); (5) maa-craig, a rock frequented by gulls. See Craig, n.1; (6) peerie maa, the common gull, Larus canus (Sh. 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 306, Sh. 1962); (7) pickmaa, peck-, pikki-, the black-headed gull, Larus ridibundus (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), pikki-; Dmf. 1953, pick-; Sh. 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 303; Sh., Cai., Ayr., s.Sc. 1962). See Pick; (8) sea maw, = 1. (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. Freq. in the proverb keep your ain fish guts for yer ain sea maws, charity begins at home (Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 47; Cai. 1916 J. Mowat Proverbs 8; ne.Sc. 1962); (9) tang(ie) maw, tanyie- (Edm.), tainne-, tannje- (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)), a small species of gull, esp. the common gull, Larus canus (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1951 Sh. Folk Bk. II. 33; Sh., Cai. 1962). Jak. gives also as = the lesser black-backed gull and the kittiwake, but this is doubtful. See Tang; (10) white maw, the herring gull, Larus argentatus (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 309; I.Sc., Cai. 1962). (1) (i) Sh. 1896 Trans. Edb. Naturalists' Club 158:
The Shetlanders will tell you of a “white maa” (herring gull), a “blue maa” (common gull), a “saithe gull” (lesser black-back), or a “baagie” (greater black-back).
(5) Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 133:
The gull that kept us company has gone to roost in the distant maa-craig.
(8) w.Sc. 1703 M. Martin Descr. W. Islands 73:
About the bigness of a Sea-maw of the middle size.
Sc. 1773 Boswell Hebrides (13 Oct.):
The seamaws or gulls are very numerous.
Dmf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 I. 32:
The sea gulls, commonly called in this parish, sea maws, occasionally come from the Solway Frith.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxx.:
Thae women at Aberfoil are like the scarts and sea-maws at the Cumries, there's aye foul weather follows their skirling.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Ayrshire Legatees x.:
He said it behoved us to gi'e our ain fish guts to our ain sea-maws, and that he designed to fee Thomas Birlpenny's hostler for our coachman, being a lad of the parish.
Fif. 1894 D. S. Meldrum Margrédel v.:
Much was said by the matrons about what was due to one's own sea-maws.
Dmf. 1920 D. J. Bell-Irving Tally-Ho 34:
The Hoddam holms were white wi' “sea mars”.
Abd. 1925 A. Murison Rosehearty Rhymes 118:
Fae mony a deuk an' wild seamaw My daiddy shot langsyne.
(10) Ork. 1929 E. Linklater White Maa's Saga 75:
A white-maa is a herring-gull, the fierce, yellow-beaked thief that steals eggs and chickens wherever it may.
Sh. 1932 J. Saxby Trad. Lore 182:
White-maas (herring-gulls) watch over fishermen and foretell to them.

[O.Sc. maw, id., from c.1450; O.N. máv-, oblique stem of már, mew.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Maw n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 7 Jul 2020 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: