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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.

SPOUT, n., v. Also spoot, spoutt, sput. Dim. forms sp(o)ut(t)ie. Sc. forms and usages. [sput]

I. n. 1. A spring of water issuing naturally (in a constant stream) from the ground or a cleft in a rock, etc. Gen.Sc.; also occas. applied later to any point where water has been led artificially and may be drawn, a pump (Kcb. c.1929), an outside tap or stand-pipe (Abd., Fif., Wgt., Rxb. 1971).Gsw. 1750 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1911) 316:
The spring commonly called the spoutt or four sisters.
Ags. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 I. 442:
The land abounds with boggs and springs, or what husbandmen call spouts.
Ayr. 1807 R. Lawson Maybole (1885) 42:
Where the water issues from the rock at the Spout of Welltrees.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 84:
I've heard singing 'bout some spout or burn.
Ags. 1840 G. Webster Ingliston x.:
Ye'll see the spoot and the trough whaur the kye drink.
Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong R. Rankine at Exhibition 17:
I'm gaun to the spoot for a drink.
Lnk. 1910 C. Fraser Glengonnar 103:
We got oor water frae a spoot on the road-side.
Bnff. 1925 in W. Barclay Schools Bnff. 69:
Joe had asked out to get a drink of water at Morrison's spoutie.
Mry. 1939 J. M. Dallas Toakburn 86:
Going to the “sputie” for a kettle full of water.

2 (1) A waterfall, cascade, cataract (Gall. 1931 H. Maxwell Place-Names 73; Sh., Per., sm., s.Sc. 1971). Common in plaee-names, also in Gael. form sput. Also in n.Eng. dial.Slg. 1806 R. Forsyth Beauties Scot. III. 388:
The river rushes over the Auchinlilie Lin or Spout, a tremendous chataract.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 67:
It springs oot in a hale, solid spoot — loupin fae the tap oot.
Ags. 1879 J. Guthrie Poems 31:
Past by the Loch, up to the spoot.
Kcb. 1908 M. M. Harper Rambles Gall. 141:
The Spout of Auchentalloch, a pretty waterfall in a very romantic spot.

(2) Transf. of a small fall or avalanche of stones, earth, etc.Sc. 1883 Stevenson Treasure Island xv.:
From the side of the hill a spout of gravel was dislodged.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxvi.:
The little spouts of stones that discharged themselves downward with a crash and a rattle.

3. (1) A narrow enclosed defile or pathway; a gully in the face of cliffs, e.g. the Black Spout on Lochnagar and the Red Spouts on Ben Macdhui in the Cairngorms; a narrow lane between houses. Hence spooter, a nickname for a native of Forfar (see 1924 quot.).Abd. 1891 A. I. McConnochie Lochnagar 149:
There are several fissures known as “spouts” between the precipices.
Ags. 1924 Rymour Club Misc. III. 150:
The citizens are known also as “Spooters” — so called from a narrow street or vennel yclept “The Spoot.”

(2) in mining: a roadway so steep that the hewn coal slides down by gravity to the level where it is loaded into hutches, and in combs. spout-mouth, the outlet of such a road, spout-road, the roadway itself (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 63)

4. A horizontal roof gutter (I., ne., em. and s.Sc. 1971). Eng. spout gen. refers to the vertical pipe leading to the ground. See Rone, n.1Gsw. 1704 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (B.R.S.) 663:
Puting up a spout above the weigh house door.
Sc. 1758 Session Papers, Schaw v. Smith (19 Dec.) 9:
The Lead Spout in the Out-side being full of Rubbish.
Sc. 1768 Weekly Mag. (4 Aug.) 159:
[Lightning] flattened some of the lead spouts.
Abd. 1929 J. Milne Dreams o' Buchan 21:
Spear-like tangles hing In eyven raws fae thack an' frozen spout.
Ork. 1996 Orcadian 11 Jan 19:
The wind came up with a crack, there was wet snow swirling everywhere, and the power went off. Something came adrift and began banging around: it was the spoot that diverts the rain above the back door.

5. The sheath or razor-clam, Solen, so named from its habit of squirting liquid when disturbed (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 267: Sh. 1932 J. M. E. Saxby Trad. Lore 203; I.Sc., Cai., Wgt. 1971). Combs.: spout-ebb, the extreme low ebb where the clam is gen. to be caught; spout-fish, the solen (Wgt. 1905); spout-mother, id.Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife (1803) 135:
Our fishers call them Spouts.
Sc. 1726 W. Macfarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) I. 191:
Abundance of cockles, museles spoutfish.
Ork. 1808 G. Barry Hist. Ork. 294:
The razor, or, as we name it, the spout-fish, is also found in sandy places.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (15 May):
My taes staandin' laek spoots in a cuddy oot troo da socks.
e.Lth. 1912 J. P. Reid Skippers Daughters 14:
A great assortment of shell-fish — cockles, mussels, whelks, spouts, spoutmothers and partens.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xxvi.:
A sandy bottom, where, at ebb, the spout-fish and the cockle might be gathered by the bairns.
Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 124:
Du can see da ooter en' o' 'er at a spoot ebb.
Ork. 1960 Press & Jnl. (5 Feb.):
Fried or stewed in milk, “spoots” are regarded as a delicacy by Island folk.
Sc. 1989 Independent 11 Nov 38:
What curious life can have produced this level of knowledge on gathering the razor clam?
... In Orkney, where the tradition of eating them is strongest, they are known as spoots. 'Come spooting,' said the Orkney schoolteacher with whom we were staying, and we did, but no spoots did we catch, although we tried all the approved techniques.
Sc. 1993 Herald 25 Nov 15:
An Orkney delicacy called spoots could soon be tempting discerning diners in Japanese sushi bars. The raw razorshells went down well when they were served up to Japanese and Korean food buyers by an islands' shellfish firm.
Ork. 1995 Orcadian 20 Apr 16:
Sanday folk enjoy spoot ebb
The low tides around the middle of the month have given a big harvest to the cockle-gatherers at Otterswick, and plenty of 'Spoots' at Kettletoft - both long, shallows beaches on Sanday.
Ork. 2000 Orcadian 11 May 25:
Canned spoots
Sc. 2003 Sunday Mail 22 Jun 31:
Saying that, the Seafood Platter for two could feed an army and boasts lobster, scallops, crab claws, langoustine, mussels, clams and spoots - all for £35.
Edb. 2004:
Last night Eddie's Fish Market in Marchmont featured on a cookery programme and the TV chef (Rick Stein) cooked the spoots as he was told by Eddie - who is a Chinese Scot.

6. (1) A squirt, syringe (Sc. 1880 Jam.; Sh., Fif., Ayr. Wgt. 1971). Obs. in Eng. Also spooter, id. (w.Sc. 1880 Jam.). Also in n.Eng. dial.Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 86:
The stems [of the cowkeek] furnish the mischief-loving schoolboy with his “spout” or water gun.

¶(2) A horn, trumpet.Mry. 1865 W. H. L. Tester Poems 161:
Come, Jamie, tout yer roosty spout.

(3) A shot gun.Ags. 1879 J. Guthrie Poems 34. 59:
Led on by M — ie wi' his spoot. To get a shot . . . Some o' the spouts, though nae weel used.

7. A small quantity of liquid (Slg., Bwk., wm.Sc., Dmf. 1971).Ayr. 1928:
A'll juist tak a wee spout mair.

8. Bad drink of any kind; badly-prepared liquid food (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 178). Deriv. spoutrach, -och, weak, thin drink (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 306, of tea), bad whisky (Ib. 445; Kcb.4 1900).Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 27:
Nae tea amang them in thae days, nane o' that vile spoutroch.
Abd. 1882 W. Scott Poems 169:
A wee drap spoutrach in my e'e That cheer'd my heart an' did nae mair.

9. A rush, dart, spurt, sudden movement (Sh., Cai. 1971); a leap forward. Also used adv. with a spurt or rush.Ayr. 1787 Burns Petit. Bruar Water ii.:
If, in their random, wanton spouts, They [trout] near the margin stray.
Ags. 1892 Arbroath Guide (13 Feb.):
The fish gaed spoot oot amang my fingers.
Slg. 1901 R. Buchanan Poems 182:
Tam made a spoot to get in below the bed.
Sh. 1928 Shetland Times (7 Jan.):
Da kar juist made wan spoot laek a mad horse.
Cai.8 1934:
“Tak' a spoot an' aff” = run away, be off with you.

10. A game of marbles played with a hole in the ground (Dmf. 1950), phs. a different word.

11. Phrs., combs. and derivs. of spout in various senses: (1) spout-girse, angelica, Angelica officinalis, the stems of which are used by children for making squirts (Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork. 1971). See 6. (1); (2) spout-gun, a pop-gun (Fif., Lth., Wgt. 1971); (3) spou(t)tie, -y, adj., (i) of soil: full of springs, spongy, marshy, undrained (Sc. 1808 Jam.; ne., em. Sc.(a)1971); squirting or discharging water. Hence spoutie-drum [ < trump], angelica (Sh. 1952). Cf. (1); spoutiness, a soggy condition, sponginess, of soil (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (ii) giving to spouting or declaiming, vain, foppish (Cld. 1825 Jam.); (4) spout-well, = 1.; (5) spout whale, the porpoise, Phocaena phocaena (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ork. 1866 Edm. Gl.); the fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus (Abd. 1815 J. Arbuthnot Fishes 60); (6) up the spouts, drunk, intoxicated.(2) Fif. 1889 Glasgow Herald (23 Dec.):
Sparing the tow from his yarn to supply shot for spoot-guns.
Fif. 1909 J. Colville Lowland Sc. 123:
The hemlock [furnished] a spoot-gun.
(3) (i) Gsw. 1715 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (B.R.S.) 533:
His land being laigh morish and spouttie.
Sc. 1732 Earl of Haddington Forest Trees (1953) 7:
Spouty, Claey, and Mossy land.
Abd. 1744 Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 141:
In wett spouty grounds, there should be drains.
Per. 1769 Survey Lochtayside (S.H.S.) 27:
There are no rivulets or burns thro' the lower part of this farm which occasions a great spoutiness.
Inv. 1808 J. Robertson Agric. Inv. 26:
The extent of spouty land must be very considerable: and this spoutiness demonstrates the great extent of Till in the county of Inverness.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 349:
For plunging mang the saft and spouty bogs.
Sc. 1892 Blackwood's Mag. (Oct.) 472:
Oak would root itself firmly in the valleys, alder in swamps and spouty land.
(4) Sc. 1714 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (B.R.S.) 516:
Passing from the hie street to the spout walls.
Wgt. 1875 W. McIlwraith Guide Wgt. 118:
The spring of water . . . has been diverted into tiles, and forms a spout-well.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 59:
There's no' muckle wrang wi' that [ale], unless mebbe the bung-hole's been raither near the spoot-well whiles.
(5) Ork. 1701 J. Brand Descr. Ork. 48:
There are likewise a great number of little Whales . . . which they call spout-Whales or Pellacks.
(6) Inv. 1849 J. Paterson Royal Visit 83:
They joy to see folk up the spouts, And spoil their wooin' clatter.

II. v. 1. As in Eng. Sc. comb. ¶spoutin'-iron, a gun (Abd. 1931). Cf. I. 6 (3).

2. (1) To spew, vomit. Phr. spoot-ma-gruel, -groolie, any unappetising liquid food (Bnff. 1971). Cf. spewmagruel, scootmagroo, s.v. Spue, Scout, v1.Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 79:
Wha duly ilka day does swill, Till he does spout Ilk night, at his bed side, a peel.
Abd. 1921:
Spoot ma groolie — tippence a speenfu' — maks ye speak the trooth at the first sentence.
Abd. 1930 N. Shepherd Weatherhouse vi.:
Don't you take her tea if she should offer you any. Spoot-ma-gruel.

(2) To squirt (a substance) out of the mouth (Cai. 1971).Kcd. 1886 North. Figaro (10 April) 10:
“Are ye for yer butter thoom't or spootit?” “Gin ye wint it spootit she pits the butter in till her moo an' saftens't an' spreads't a' owre yer breed saft ike.”

3. intr. To dart, spring, bound, emerge suddenly (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Sh., Cai., Ags., Slg., Wgt. 1971). Also in Eng. dial.m.Lth. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 83:
Frae out a buss a hare did spout.
wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 307:
Away she spouted into the noddy.
Fif. 1862 St Andrews Gaz. (5 Dec.):
If the feckless coofs within her would only ca' her bit armies, she [boat] would spoot out like a juck.
Ayr. 1886 J. Meikle Lintie 18:
It 'ill make a bolt through the hedge. I'll spoot through after't.
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 257:
I spoots oot da door an' aff I skips.
Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 42:
‘Keep the pottie boilin,' cried a wee bit loonie, as he gaed spootin alang.
e.Lth. 1905 J. Lumsden Croonings 231:
Bricht as a star flaucht, I spoot up on hie.

4. Fig. To tell tales, to peach (Fif. 1971).

5. tr. To make a channel or drain in (a place) to allow water to run off.Fif. 1741 Atholl MSS.:
They got not the Levell rightly spouted which in a short time occasion'd the water to be restagned in the West.

[O.Sc. spoutt, razor-clam, 1525, waterfall, 1534, roof-gutter, 1557, well, 1558, tap, 1680, spoutie, full of springs, 1678.]

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"Spout n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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