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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SCARROW, n., v. Also skarrow, scarra; skerry, scairy. [′skɑrə]

I. n. 1. A faint light or reflection of light, of the moon, from a wall, etc. (Gall. 1825 Jam.; Kcb., Dmf. 1969). Also fig. a figure of speech, a metaphor.Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 7:
He stalks the bent, wi' scarrow o' the moon.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xi.:
The red glow of the dying fire at Craigdarroch lay in a low “skarrow” of lurid light on the water.
Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 155:
Skerry, or Scairy, a shadow, a reflection, a metaphor. A woman was telling me how she had employed her Sunday reading in Revelation, when I began to corner her concerning the woman clothed with the sun, explaining how many thousand times it was larger than the earth, and so inconceivably hot that any woman would have melted in a moment, when she answered me rather patt — “Oh! sir, St. John's account o' her maun be a scairy”.
Kcb. a.1900 Gallovidian No. 59. 109:
The scarra o' this lang't-for age appears Like to the sun, when he his risin' nears.
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' Ling 22:
He lowses by the scarrow o' the müne.
Dundee 1989 W. N. Herbert in Joy Hendry Chapman 55-6 95:
lang herr, carn-tangilt,
ticht skin an freckled, an yir een;
lik a skarrow o sun inna heich tarn ...

2. A shadow (Slk. 1825 Jam.), shade.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 421:
The scarrow o' a hill, the scarrow o' a craw, the shadow of a crow, — on the earth when it flies in the air.
Kcb. 1909 Gallovidian No. 44. 177:
I gaed a glent . . . alang by the scarrow o'e hill.
Dmf.2 1917:
Come oot o' the sun intae the scarra.

II. v. To emit a faint light, to gleam intermittently or indistinctly.Gall., Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
It is said of the moon, It's scarrowing.
s.Sc. 1898 E. Hamilton Mawkin xv.:
A strong moon was scarrowing through the clouds.

[Irreg. variant of shadow. For r in place of a dental, cf. porridge < potage.]

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"Scarrow n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2024 <>



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