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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PILLOW, n. Also pil(l)o, pilla-, pilly (m.Lth. 1870 J. Lauder Warblings 100). Sc. forms and usages:

1. Sc. form of Eng. pillow.Edb. 2003:
When Ah wis young Ah yaised tae be able tae sleep withoot a pilly - noo Ah need three!

Sc. usages:

As in Eng. Sc. combs.: ‡(1) pillo(w)ber(e), -bearer, †pillaver (Ags. 1712 A. Jervise Land of Lindsays (1853) 342), ¶-bow, a pillowcase (Sc. 1825 Jam., pillowber; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., pillaber; ‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., pillowbere; Slk. 1965). Obs. or dial. in Eng.; (2) pillow-slip, = (1). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial.(1) Sc. 1700 Edb. Gazette (16 May) 20:
Stollen from the Lady Kinloch a Gown and Petticoat of black Cloath . . . two pair of Linnen Sheits, and three Pillo-bows.
Mry. 1708 E. Dunbar Social Life (1865) 209:
Twelve holland pillowbers, twenty-three linen pillowbers.
Abd. 1758 Aberdeen Jnl. (28 Nov.):
He . . . had tore a pillow bearer and twisted the same like a rope, and hung himself up therewith upon the end of the crutch.
Sc. 1771 Weekly Mag. (7 Nov.) 192:
Thieves, who carried off two feather-beds, two bolsters, two pairs of pillowbers, etc.
(2) Sc. 1825 W. Aiton Dairy Husbandry 112:
A linen bag like a pillow-slip is filled with it, and hung up till the serum drop.

2. In leap-frog against a wall: the boy acting as the prop or cushion at the head of a row of bent backs (see quot.) (Kcd. 1965).Ags. 1934 G. M. Martin Dundee Worthies 182:
Sides were chosen and the side that was “down” bent as in leap-frog or backie, but were all in a row at right angles to a wall. One of the boys stood erect with back against the wall and the first “backie” placed his head against the first named, who was called the “Pillow” or “Bolster”. The first leaper got as far up the line of backs as possible, the second and subsequent leapers following. If all the leapers were successful they cried “Hackey-Duck, Hackey-Duck, Hackey-Duck, three times on and off again.” If this side failed to achieve this objective the other side had an innings.

[O.Sc. pillobere, 1503.]

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"Pillow n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Feb 2023 <>



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