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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.

SCOWDER, v., n. Also -re, scouder; scowther, skouther, skowther, scouther, scoudher (Uls.); skooder, scooder, scuuder (Sh.); scuther (Ork.); scudder. [′skʌudər, -ðər, Sh. ′skudər, Ork. ′skʌðər]

I. v. 1. tr. To burn, scorch, singe, to over-roast or -toast (bread or the like) (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 154; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 265; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc. Vbl.n. skowtherin, a roasting, singeing; to inflame the skin by abrasion, chafing or heat (Dmf. 1920; Ork. 1969). Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. p.1746 Jacobite Minstr. (1829) 290:
He's in a' Satan's frything pans, Scouth'ring the blude frae aff his han's.
Abd. 1748 R. Forbes Ajax 3:
Ye ken right well, fan Hector try'd Thir barks to burn an' scowder.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 139:
Ky hae tint their milk wi' evil eie, And corn been scowder'd on the glowing kill.
Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' 6:
Gude scouder'd bannocks hae nae gou!
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize I. ii.:
Seeing it [bannock] somewhat scowthert and blackent on the one cheek.
Slk. 1824 Hogg Confessions (1874) 519:
The grass withers as gin it war scoudered wi' a het ern.
Fif. 1867 J. Morton C. Gray 32:
I'll hae to toast the wee bit cheese, And spread the scouther'd meal.
Gall. 1881 J. K. Scott Gall. Gleanings 29:
He scouder'd his fingers wi' liftin' the pan.
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 249:
It wis dat wy scuddered wi' dryin' burstin'.
Lnk. 1910 C. Fraser Glengonnar 79:
Them that gang to the ill place'll get an awfu' skowtherin'.
Sh. 1960 New Shetlander No. 54. 19:
Scoodered loff an mermalade.

Comb. scowder-doup, a jocular name for a blacksmith.Dmf. 1808 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 608:
Whan i' the bleeze the sheep-head hirsles . . Till scowderdoup sings aff the woo'.

2. Of frost or rain: to cause foliage, etc., to wither, to blight (Per., Fif., Ayr., Gall., Slk. 1969).Sc. 1799 J. Struthers Poet Wks. (1850) II. 202:
Cauld winter wi' his scowdering eye.
Sc. 1875 Stevenson Works (1907) XIII. 305:
The snell an' scowtherin' norther blaw Frae blae Brunteelan'.
Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 46:
On stookit strae wi' scowther'd taps.
Lnl. a.1895 Poets Lnl. (Bisset 1896) 185:
Nae tether stown by cantrip airt, Nor scowther'd bauks o' corn.

3. Fig. To reprove, correct or chastise severely, to blister with rebuke. Ppl.adj. scoutherin; deriv. scoudrum, chastisement (Abd. 1825 Jam.; Bnff., Abd. 1969); the loss or chagrin occasioned by failure.Sc. 1874 W. Allan Hamespun Lilts 71:
He brocht his scoutherin' sermon to a close.
Gsw. 1889 A. G. Murdoch Readings iii. 28:
Under sic a scoutherin' lash o' knowledge.
Abd.7 1925:
When a man tries some line of action, usually a bad one, and it fails, they say he got a scoudrum, like Eng. “he burnt his fingers”.

4. intr. To become scorched or singed, to burn, roast (Sh., Abd., Per., Lnk., Gall. 1969).Abd. 1832 A. Beattie Poems 138:
Nor wad it [a bridle] skaum, — nor wad it scowder, Though i' the mids o' flaming youder.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 54:
To scouther forever in hell's blue flame!
Fif. 1882 S. Tytler Sc. Marriages I. iii.:
The good oaten bread which must ‘scouther' unheeded.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 28:
Keep stirrin' and dinna let them scouder.

5. To rain or snow slightly, drizzle (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 150; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork. 1969). Vbl.n. scowtherin, a sprinkling of newly-fallen snow (Watson); deriv. scowtherum, a slight shower (Gregor).

II. n. 1. A scorch, singe, burn or the mark made by it (Sc. 1882 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.Sc.; the act of scorching, singeing, or burning; a hasty toasting or heating (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Also fig. Also in n.Eng. dial.Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) Il. 187:
Till in a birn beneath the croock They're singit wi' a scowder.
s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 358:
Love had gi'en his heart a scouder.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf vii.:
I'se gie you a scouther, if there be a tar-barrel in the five parishes.
Sc. 1823 Scots Mag. (May) 573:
They [oatcakes] 're no just sae gude the day; for ye ken, ma'am, it's har'st, and they got a hasty scouther.
Arg. 1882 Arg. Herald (3 June):
Come awa ben, woman, an tak a bit scowther o' the grieshach.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 110:
They joost gied it a bit scowder ootside an kin' o' het it half-through.

2. An oatcake, roughly baked by being toasted on a pair of tongs over a red fire (Uls. 1830 W. Carleton Traits (1844) II. 131, 1931 Northern Whig (15 Dec.) 10). Also fig. of any “half-baked” person, a novice, etc.Uls. 1830 W. Carleton Traits (1877) 259:
“Franky”, they would say, “is no finished priest in the larnin'; he's but a scowdher”.

3. A jellyfish, because of its stinging effects when touched (Cld. 1825 Jam.; Arg. 1969).Bte. 1820 J. Blain Hist. Bute (1880) 25:
The sea sun, or medusa's head, called with us the tailed scouther.
Sc. 2005 Dunoon Observer & Argyllshire Standard 15 Apr 6:
Always fit and active, Mary swam across the Holy Loch from Kilmun to Robertson's Jetty, a distance of a mile. Once while swimming across the Loch she swam in to a "scowder" a large and very venomous jellyfish which attacks the nervous system of anyone unfortunate enough to come in contact with it. She was quickly bundled into the attending boat and was very ill for over a week.

4. Fig. A contemptuous epithet for a rogue, scamp, sc. one likely to be singed in hell.Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 24:
You'll maybe be better aff i' the ither place, — ye auld scowder.

5. A slight or flying shower of rain (Lth., Cld. 1825 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 149; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork., Bnff., Slg., Lnk., Ayr. 1969); a sprinkling of snow (Gregor). Hence scowth(e)rie, -y, beginning or threatening to rain or snow (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Lnk. 1969).m.Lth. 1794 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) 27:
Mair scouthry like it still does look.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 140:
The wintry scowthers past and gane.
Bnff. 1889 Banffshire Jnl. (31 Dec.):
'Twis jist a scouther seen ootblawn.
Ayr.4 1928:
We had a bit scouther o' a sho'er but no muckle to speak o'.

[O.Sc. skolder, to scorch, singe, 1508, appar. an early variant of scalder, intensive form of scald. Cf. Mid.Dan. skolde, Mid.Sw. skolda. For the -th- forms see D, letter, 4.]

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"Scowder v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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