Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SMEAR, v., n. Also smeer (Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 14), †smeir, smaer (Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock xvii.), smair-. Sc. forms and usages. [smi:r, em.Sc. (a) sme:r]

I. v. 1. As in Eng. Intensive forms smairie, to besmear, beslabber (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.), smeerich (Abd. 1970), id. Hence smeerichin, slovenly, messy (Mry., Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C.). Combs.: smear-dock(en), smair-doken, smeird-, the mercury-goosefoot, Chenopodium bonus Henricus, used in folk-medicine in ointments for itch (Mry. 1839 G. Gordon Flora Mry. 11); toum-smeared, of buttered bread: spread with the thumb (Ork. 1970). See Thoum.Sc. 1775 J. Moncrief Receipts 12:
Called in Latin Bonus Henricus, others call it the Smear-docken.
Ags. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XI. 212:
Milk-thistle, dock, smeardock.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 12:
A slip or two of “smeird docken”, . . in respect of sore fingers or broken shins.
Ags. 1880 Arbroath Guide (9 Oct.) 4:
Oh! to think that gowkit chiel Has smairiet a' our rosy Jean.

2. Specif., to treat a sheep's fleece with a compound of tar and grease to protect it against damp and parasites (Sc. 1825 Jam.), obs. since the introduction of sheep-dip. Derivs. smearer, a person who smears sheep; smeary, a sheep which has been smeared (Slk. 1825 Jam.), “a person all besmeared” (Id.). Combs. smearing-bught, -house, the pen or shed in which sheep were smeared (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.); smearing-stool, “a stool with a spoked bottom, so as to admit the legs of sheep, to keep them steady during the operation of smearing” (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Hist.Lnk. 1709 Minutes J.P.s. (S.H.S.) 59:
He had stollen, smeired and disposed upon ane hoge shup.
Dmf. 1755 W. A. J. Prevost Annals Dmf. Dales (1954) 87:
He is to maintain the herd at Greatmoor and the meat to the smearers until all the sheep on the farm are smeared.
e.Lth. 1794 G. Buchan-Hepburn Agric. E. Lth. 103:
All the sheep are smeared, i.e. salved, immediately after the harvest, at the rate of two pounds Tron weight of butter to a Scotch pint of tar.
s.Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xlv.:
The hovel, which seemed to be intended for what is called, in the pastoral counties of Scotland, a smearing-house.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck vii.:
Ere ever a smeary's clute clattered on't.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 425:
Those who wish to dip into moorland manners, should attend a sheep-smearing bout.
Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm III. 1117:
The sheep should be laid on the smearingstool.
Ayr. 1844 Ayrshire Wreath 45:
They might have been taken to the smearing-bught.
Sc. 1884 United Presbyt. Mag. (April) 156:
He was to maintain the smearers of the sheep.
Slk. 1915 H. J. C. Clippings from Clayboddie (1921) 142:
The “smearin'-hoose” is still to the fore on many farms.
Sc. 1954 Scots Mag. (April) 37:
Staying south of the Border throughout the autumn and early winter, harvesting and smearing sheep.

II. n. 1. A preparation of tar and oil, etc. for smearing sheep. Cf. I. 2.Peb. 1802 C. Findlater Agric. Peb. 190 note:
He proposes a smear composed of butter, train oil, and turpentine.

2. In dim. form smeerich, a thin layer or spread (Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C., a smeerich o butter; Inv., ne.Sc. 1970).

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

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



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: