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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.

SCAUR, n.1 Also scar(re), skarre; scare, skair, skare, sker(r), skear (Dmf. 1812 W. Singer Agric. Dmf. 539); skir, skyr (Sc. 1887 Jam.); ¶skard. [skǫl.:r, skɑ:r, s.Sc. kær]

1. A sheer rock, crag, precipice, cliff, a steep hill from which the soil has been washed away (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl., skard; Dmf. 1889 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 152, skarre, scarre, skair; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., sker; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 263; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; ne. and m.Sc. (scaur), s.Sc. (sker) 1969). Freq. in place-names. Kippford in Kcb. is locally The Scaur. Also in n.Eng. dial. Adj. sca(u)ry, -(r)ie, skerry, rocky, precipitous, bare and rugged, of a cliff-face; ppl.adj. scaured, scarred, of a hill having a precipitous face, sheer-sided. See also Score. Also fig.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 223:
O'er ilka Cleugh, ilk Scar, and Slap.
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 183:
The bare scary braes where grass will not grow, and just like the parts of Largo Law where the rain has washed off the soil.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween xxv.:
Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays . . . Whyles round a rocky scar it strays.
s.Sc. 1812 J. Richmond To Memory of Thomson 15:
Precipitous banks of streams, formed of reddish sand and rocks, are called Scaurs in some parts of the borders of Scotland.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxix.:
The peer lass clodded hersel o'er the scaur.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Tales (1874) 221:
Whaten white scares are yon, Gale, aboon the Cowdyknowes an' Gladswood linn?
Sc. 1830 Thomas Rymer in Child Ballads (1956) I. 325:
It's dont ye see yon broad broad way, That leadeth down by yon skerry fell?
Abd. 1865 G. MacDonald Alec Forbes i.:
That puir feckless body, the minister, never gies a pu' at the bridle o' salvation, to haud them aff o' the scaur o' hell.
Lnk. 1880 W. Grossart Shotts 20:
After many a wimple and scaury brae it reaches Bogfoot.
e.Lth. 1885 S. Mucklebackit Rhymes 222:
Laws, their sheer, scaured. rocky faces turned southwards.
Kcb. 1898 T. Murray Frae the Heather 21:
Of rocks and scaurs and boulders gray.
Rxb. 1922 Jedburgh Gaz. (22 Aug.) 3:
Blackfaces trailing with their lambs at foot along the face of the rubbly scaurs.
Sc. 1948 Maurice Lindsay Collected Poems (1979) 33:
The hurlygush and hallyoch o the watter skinklan i the moveless simmer sun harles aff the scaurie mountain wi a yatter that thru ten-thoosan centuries has run.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick vii.:
Sic rocks alang 'e shore, the Scaars o' Cruden folk caas 'em.
em.Sc. 1988 James Robertson in Joy Hendry Chapman 52 69:
Auld carlines
Wuid wi wae gaed jiggin there,
Flung reels wi Hornie, memories
An fleyed the wits frae the feart
An the damned.
An day wud daw
An brunt on the scaur
Wis the merks
O' their cloot-heeled shune.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 32:
It's an ower lang day
Syne I saw the mune...
Wi her eerie skenklin
Ower tree an scaur
Ower flauchtrin een o' yowes
In their happin o' gerse i' the mirk.

2. (1) A ridge of rock (Rxb. 1825 Jam., skerr); in pl. “rocks through which there is an opening . . . which have such an aperture that a ship may sail through it” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). See also Skerrie.Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 87:
Shaddas o clair steen sett in a tinchel roon the sea foun, lourin inno a hauf-drooned scaur i the wye o the Muckle Firth.
Fif. 1998 Tom Hubbard Isolde's Luve-Daith 3:
This is thon warlt's end. We winna pairt
Here at the endless tryst o watter an scaur.

(2) on the upper Solway Firth: a bank of gravel and stones running out from the shore, as in Howgarth Scar, Powfoot Scar (Dmf. 1969). Also in Cmb. dial.

3. Fig. in phr. the red sker, the gullet, throat (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). See Reid, adj., 1.

[O.Sc. scar, = 1., 1535, Mid.Eng. skerre, O.N. sker, a rock, reef.]

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"Scaur n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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