Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SCOWTH, n., adv. Also skowth, scouth, skouth, scooth, skooth; reduced form scou, and irreg. scouf, scowf(f), skowf, skoof. [skʌuθ, skuθ; skʌuf, skuf]

I. n. 1. Freedom of movement, liberty to range, (elbow-) room, scope, lit. and fig. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 693; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Ork., n. and em. Sc. (a), Edb., Dmb., Lnk., Wgt. 1969), freedom to express oneself, latitude, permissible limits; plenty, abundance, as much as one could wish. Sc. 1700 D. Williamson Sermon in Parl. Ho. 14:
Prelacy that gave too great scouth to prophane inclinations.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 18:
By break of Day he seeks the dowy glen, That he may Scowth to a' his Mourning len'.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 19:
Whate'er betides them, it relieves their heart, Fan they get scouth their dolor to impart.
Ayr. 1785 Burns To Rev. J. M'Math x.:
They talk o' mercy, grace, and truth, For what? — to gie their malice skouth On some puir wight.
Sc. a.1835 Robin Hood and the Beggar, II. in Child Ballads No. 134. xlii.:
If to get scouth to weild his tree, I fear you'll both be paid.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 26:
Youth maun hae scowth for its outbursts o' glee.
Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 45:
Hech! Ned, on priests ye tak your skouth, But you hae spak the naked truth.
Lnk. 1893 J. Crawford Verses 26:
Unbridled was our glorious scooth, Rampagin' free's the wun' that blaws.
Mry. 1914 H. J. Warwick Tales 148:
She'll nae get muckle scowff fan ye're aboot.
Cai. 1921 T.S.D.C.:
To get one's scou of anything is to get all one wants.
Lth. 1921 A. Dodds Antrin Sangs 8:
A' liket the games wi' the kissin'! And every yin had their scowf.
Ork. 1930 Orcadian (13 Feb.):
A man would say of his farm that whether he had good land or not, yet he had extent enough, “he had plenty o' skouth”.
Ags. 1954 Forfar Dispatch (18 Feb.):
It gies wi mair paice for a crack, for fin Bob's there, we dinna hae the same scowth.
Bnff. 1967 Banffshire Jnl. (20 July) 8:
Staun back, loons, or I gits scouf tae throw.

Hence (1) adj. scowthie, scouthie, capacious, roomy, bulky, big (ne.Sc. 1969); (2) phr. scowth and rowth, room to range and food or means in plenty; abundance, as much as one could wish. (1) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 150:
He's biggit a scouthie house. That's a fine scouthie steer.
Abd. 1887 R. S. Robertson On Bogie's Banks 106:
The fine plenished hoose, and the scouthie yard tee.
(2) Sc. 1825 Jam.:
That's a gude gang for your horse; he'll have baith scouth and routh.
Abd. 1900 G. Williams Fairmer's Twa Tint Laddies 49–50:
“Hame's hame”, quo' he, “there's scouth an' routh O' meat for a' men there”.
Lth. 1928 S. A. Robertson With Double Tongue 27:
For mournin ye'll hae scowth and rowth when twafauld ower a rung yet.

2. Start, advantage, handicap in a game (Rs. 1958, scoof); room to play. Abd. 1904 E.D.D.:
One may claim ‘scouth' [in marbles], i.e. if his bool has been obstructed he sends it farther on.

3. Release or relaxation from work, a holiday, time off. Edb. 1867 A. Leighton Romances 96:
Ye've been sitting owre close. Take scouth for a day.
Ags. 1894 A. Reid Sangs 76:
Like wind they scoored owre dale an' hill, An' took their scowth wi' richt guid-will.

4. Scope, opportunity, chance to improve or prosper (Cai., ne.Sc., em.Sc. (a), Dmb., Lnk., Wgt. 1969). Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 70:
Sae man returns in endless growth Till God in him again has scouth.
Abd. 1928 Abd. Press & Jnl. (8 Nov.) 6:
Still there wid be plenty scooth in Austrawlia an' Canada yet.
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' Ling 71:
Forbye what scouth hae ye ava On ae gut string?

5. Abundance, plenty (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Developed from phr. with rowth under 1. Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poetry I. 144:
Scouth o' sic wights already prance, Unfetter'd owre our isle.
Rnf. 1815 W. Finlayson Rhymes 38:
The sturdy tiller o' our plains, Whose work demands nae scowth o' brains.

II. adv. For a- or in scowth, a-plenty, in abundance. Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs 286:
The rain comes scouth when the wind's in the South.

[O.Sc. scouth, = 1., 1591. Orig. doubtful. Phs. an altered form of Scowp, n.2, scope, on analogy with abstract nouns ending in -th, Drouth, Fouth, truth, etc.]

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"Scowth n., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Oct 2021 <>



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