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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).

SCUR, n.1, v. Also scurr, skur(r). [skʌr]

I. n. 1. The scab or cicatrix that grows over a sore or wound in the process of healing (Abd. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 277; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 152; Abd. 1969). Cf. Scurl.Kcd. 1825 Jam.:
Free of scab and scurr.

2. A rudimentary horn in polled or hornless breeds of cattle which is loosely attached to the hair, not bedded in the skull (Ags. 1808 Jam.; Ayr., Gall. 1969). Hence scurrie, having such horns. Also used as a n. for a cow with scurs, a shorthorn cow (Abd. 1825 Jam.); fig. stunted, stumpy (Kcb. 1969).Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 231:
They build there on what the shepherds call scurrie thorns, low dwarfish thorns.
Sc. 1887 American Naturalist XXI. 1083:
A heifer with only scurs, as the modified horns sometimes found in polled cattle and in cross-bred offspring of polled and horned breeds are called in Scotland. They are little bits of flat horn, loose at the roots, so that you can twist them about, and quite hidden in a mass of hair.
Kcd. 1900 Crockett Stickit Minister's Wooing 240:
Clumps of birches and scurry thorns.
Dmf. 1919 J. Biggar Galloway Cattle 7:
The Galloway increased the total of polled stock in the county, and knocked out the “scurs” or abortive horns very considerably.

3. A mason's term for the rough projecting surface of a stone (Ags. 1808 Jam.).

4. Fig. A low fellow, blackguard, rascal; also jocularly used with weakened force of an old worn-out man. For extension of meaning cf. Eng. scab, sim. used.Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 37:
Wha can tell but some ill manner'd scur Is jeukin' e' now at the back o' th' door.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 246:
Scalbert bodies limping spruce, And scurrs belike the gallows.
Mry. 1851 Lintie o' Moray (Hay) 73:
To tease him by roaring “Scravie”, or “Scur, Scur,” which never failed to draw forth vollies of curses.
Abd. c.1859 Gateway (1918) No. 69. 11:
That's nae an ill byre-wa', for twa loons an' ae aul' scurr tae big.

5. A Sheriff Officer or his assistant, = Eng. bailiff, a pejorative development of 4.Abd. 1835 Abd. Shaver (Sept.) 192:
We hear that the Society of Advocates have come to the Resolution, “that the wearing of white hats by scurs, or the assistants of scurs, is a gross breach of privilege.”
Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 139:
Ony lane widow whase landlord had sent A scur wi' a poinding to roup for her rent.
Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Glendornie v.:
He had acted as a “Scurr”, or assistant to the town sergeants in the discharge of that section of their duties that might be called the criminal department.

II. v. 1. Of a wound or sore: to form a scab, to crust over in healing (Bnff., Abd. 1969).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 152:
Yir finger's beginnin' t' scur, it'ill seen be hail.

2. In ppl.adj. scurred, having undeveloped horns (see I. 2.).Sc. 1963 Guardian (3 Dec.) 6:
Only about half the ewes [of Soay sheep] carry thin spiky horns, the others being polled or “scurred”.

[Orig. uncertain. Phs. a variant of scurf. Cf. Turr < turf. O.Sc. scurr, a low fellow, buffoon, Lat. scurra, 1595, is not obviously connected with I. 4.]

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"Scur n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Oct 2022 <>



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