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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CAP, CAUP, Capp, Kap, n. [kɑ(:)p Sc., but em.Sc. and wm.Sc. + kǫ(:)p]

1. “A wooden bowl, for containing food, whether solid or fluid” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., kap); sometimes of a shallow shape and with handles or “lugs”; “a wooden cup” (Ork. 1929 Marw.). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.22, Ags.1, Fif.1, Lnk.3, Kcb.1 1938. Also dims. in -y and -ie.Sc. 1737 Ramsay Proverbs 47:
Mickle may fa' between the Cap and the Lip.
Sh.(D) 1899 J. Spence Sh. Folk-Lore 213:
Better a timmer cap o' my ain, than a siller cup that's borrowed.
Abd.(D) 1915 H. Beaton Back o' Benachie 16:
With a horn spoon each partook of pottage from the “fower-luggit cap,” or, as it was sometimes called, “the bicker.”
Edb. 1825 R. Chambers Trad. of Edb. II. 208:
It had been usual . . . for the goldsmith to adjourn with his customer to John's Coffee-house . . . and to receive the order or the payment, in a comfortable manner, over a dram and a caup of small ale.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 70:
The reaming caups Are nimbly handed round.
Dwn.(D) 1886 W. G. Lyttle Sons of the Sod i.:
A grocer was he in a certain bit toun; An' he coupt up his caupie night, mornin', an' noon.

Comb. cap-turner, a wood turner who makes caups from the solid block. For deriv. capper see Capper, n.1 Abd. 1721 Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 89: 
He is a cap-turner and to his trade he wold take a house and bitt of land.

2. “A wooden bowl used as a measure of capacity for potatoes, etc.” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., cap, caup). See also Capfu'. Also a measure for grain.Dmf. 1779 J. Swinton Weights, etc. 72: 
The Annan Cap, in Annan and the middle part of Annandale, (but now laid aside entirely), contains 7 pints 1 mutchkin 1¾ gills Scotch measure.

3. Small beer. See section 6.

4. A shell (from the shape).Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxxiv.:
And for accommodations, ane canna expect to carry about the Saut Market at his tail, as a snail does his caup.

Comb.: caup snail, “the snail which inhabits the black shell, common about old gardens and castles” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 130).

5. Phrases and proverbial sayings: (1) cap(pie) (and) cog(gie), appar. a contribution paid by members of the carpenter trade in a burgh to the common fund of their Incorporation, phs. for social purposes and drink-money. See Cog, n.1; (2) he's as fou's cap or staup'll mack him, “he is as drunk as possible” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 22); known to all our Abd. correspondents (1938); (3) his caup's aye oot fin it's rainin' kail, “he has always an eye on the main chance” (Abd. 1938 (per Mry.2)); (4) my caup's nae aneath yer ladle, see Aneath, 3 (3); (5) the kiss of a caup, a drink; cf. (8); (6) to drink clean cap out, to leave nothing in the vessel; elliptically, clean caup oot (out); sometimes as noun phr.; known to Bnff.2, Abd. and Ags. correspondents (1938); (7) to drink oot o' a toom cappie, to be in want; known to Bnff.2 and all our Abd. correspondents (1938); (8) to kiss (a, the) cap(s), to drink; to drink out of the same vessel; gen. as a token of friendship; to take refreshment (Bnff.2, Abd.19, Fif.10 1938); (9) to make a clean caup = (6); known to Abd. correspondents only (1938). (1)Gsw. 1777-93 Incorporation of Wrights Gsw. (1880) 7, 8: 
1777 Spent visiting "cap and gog [sic] market and shops. 1779 Paid in George Sommerville's at visiting shops and collecting "cappie-cogie". 1793 Received-Robert McFarlane and other four "cappie cogie". 8d each.
(5) Sc. 1715 R. Wodrow Corresp. (ed. M'Crie 1842–1843) II. 115:
And so they asked liberty to march through the town, and got not so much as the kiss of a caup.
(6) Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxix.:
A' your uncle's follies . . . were naething to this! — Drink clean cap-out, like Sir Hildebrand. . . . But . . . gang nae near Rob Roy!
Abd.(D) 1913 C. Murray in Abd. Univ. Review (Nov.) 48:
While, clean caup oot an' hand in han', Here's “Aiberdeen Awa'.”
Abd. 1936 Abd. Press and Jnl. (24 July):
Holidaying in the Birse district I came across the phrase, “A clean caup-out like the wast laft o' the Kirk o' Birse.”
Ags.17 1938:
“It was clean-caup-oot i the back o' the laft ilka time.” An Angus kirk communion story.
Ayr. 1864 J. Stillie Reminisc. Auld Ayr 36:
An' clean caup out was now the toast O' ilka drink that comes.
(7) Sc. 1909 Colville 204:
May you aye be happy and ne'er drink oot o' a toom (empty) cappie.
(8) Sc. 1793 “Tam Thrum” Look before ye Loup 11:
I'll sit down an' kiss caps wi' you wi' aw my heart.
Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
I wadna kiss caps wi' sic a fallow.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 95:
Fin we took haim the nout, we wiz niver bidden cum in, nor kiss a cap.
Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 22:
Auld Reekie gies them shelter, Whare cadgily they kiss the cap, An' ca't round helter-skelter.
Kcb.4 1900, obs.:
I'll come ower some day and kiss a cap wi' ye (that is, drink a cup of tea).
(9) Abd. 1936 Aul' Eel Memories in Huntly Express (Jan.) 6:
Sowens, the great dish on Hogmanay night, never made much appeal to my palate, as the peculiar sourish flavour was not to my taste, but that did not deter me frm making a “clean caup” at a sowen drinking.

6. Comb.: cap-ale, a kind of beer between table-beer and ale, formerly drunk by the middle classes; also called capp, cappy, and cappie ale.Slg. 1898 W. Drysdale Old Faces of Stirling 34:
4d. procured a gill, a bottle of capp, and a piece of oat-cake.
Edb. [1825] R. Chambers Trad. of Edb. (1869) 158:
Cappie ale — that is, ale in wooden bowls — with wee thochts of brandy in it.
Ayr. publ. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc. and Poems 246:
Sae draw us anither drappy, Kate, An' gie us a cake to our cappy, Kate.
Wgt. 1803 R. Couper Tourifications Malachi Meldrum II. xv.:
Finding the day now certainly disposed of, and seeing Macgruther under the influence of Mrs MacIntosh's cap-ale.

7. A bowl-shaped hollow scooped out in the ground for a game of marbles, in comb. cappy hole, the hole game in marbles, also reduced to capie. Cf. O.Sc. coppihool, id., 1605. Sc. 1722 in J. Brand Pop. Antiq. (1849) II. 407: 
I was readier at cappy hole than at my Book.
Sc. 1770 Hailes Ancient Sc. Poems 301: 
I am informed that trule means some childish game, of the nature of cappy-hole.
Ags.1825 Jam.
Three holes are made at equal distances. He who can first strike his bowl into each of these holes, thrice in succession wins the game. There it is called capie-hole, or by abbreviation capie.

8. The receptacle or "pool" for the stakes in the game of loo' the "kitty". Kcd. 1819 J. Burness Plays, etc. 287: 
But Geordie got the gowden prize, For he got tenpence hale; Says he, 'twill mak my cappie rise.

[O.Sc. cap, capp, a wooden dish, a measure of quantity; cap out, denoting the emptying of the bowl in drinking; later forms of cop with usual change of o to a before p (D.O.S.T.); Mid.Eng. coppe, variant of cuppe, corresp. Norw. kopp, O.N. koppr, cup, small vessel. In the Islands, at least, the word has prob. come directly from the Norse, as the bowls themselves were orig. imported from Norway.]

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"Cap n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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