Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SPUIR, v. Also spüir, spure, spüre, spør, spör, spoor, spor-. [spør]

1. To ask, make inquiry, ask for (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), spør, 1914 Angus Gl., spüir).

2. Specif. to propose marriage (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)), esp. to ask for a girl's hand of her parents (I.Sc. 1971). Hence comb. spuirin bottle, the bottle of whisky brought by a young man coming to offer his hand in marriage (Sh. 1962). Sh. 1898 J. Nicolson Aithstin' Hedder 12:
He wooed and won, and what is more, meant to “spör” and marry before the end of the season. . . . He set out for Hagmark on his blithesome errand, with his “spörin bottle” in his pocket.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 189:
The spörin' was the occasion when the bridegroom asked in a formal way the consent of the bride's parents.
Sh. 1901 T. P. Ollason Mareel 93:
I'm come ower Ta-hem! — ta spüre fir Ellen, — Dat is, shü's promised ta be mine If only ye be willin'.
Sh. 1931 J. Nicolson Incidents 44:
The prospective son-in-law was invariably provided with a “spuirin' bottle” probably for the purpose of mellowing the old man's heart.
Sh. 1932 J. M. E. Saxby Trad. Lore 179:
When marriage was contemplated, there was the sporeen (asking for the lass), the contract, and the wedding.

3. With out: to seek out, hunt for something lost by inquiring after it (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.).

4. With up: (1) intr. to hunt about to search here and there, look about one; to find one's way, hence to turn up, to be found after searching (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., spure-up, 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1971); (2) tr. to search out and find, to come upon (something lost), to discover. (1) Sh. 1888 Edmonston & Saxby Home of a Naturalist 222:
Some spoored up as far north as Wick.
Sh. 1898 W. F. Clark Northern Gleams 37:
Da twa boats micht hae spür'd up at some o' da idder Isles.
(2) Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
De sheep was spøred up.

5. By extension of the meaning of seeking information: (1) in vbl.n. pl. spüirens, tidings, information, news of anything sought after (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.); (2) to be the fate of, hence to befall, happen to. (2) Sh. 1879 Shetland Times (13 Sept.):
What spüred o' him dat night I wad laek ta ken.
Sh. 1888 B. R. Anderson Broken Lights 91:
O Güde spüre da heim-folk 'at bide by da sea!

[Norw. spørre, dial. spyrja, O.N. spyrja, to ask, inquire. The cogn. Sc. form is Spier, q.v.]

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"Spuir v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Sep 2020 <>



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