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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SPUNE, n., v. Also spüne, speun(e), spuin (Rxb. 1958 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 34); spin (Gsw. 1898 D. Willox Poems 86). spun (Lnk. 1880 Clydesdale Readings 152), spane (Ags. 1890 Arbroath Guide (15 Nov.)); speen (Abd. 1700 Rec. Old Abd. (S.C.) I. 224; ne.Sc. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 152; Bnff. 1844 T. Anderson Poems 76; ne.Sc. 1973). Dim. forms spoonie, speeni(e). [I., m.Sc., spøn, spyn, spɪn, Ags. spen; ne.Sc. spin. See P.L.D, §§ 35, 128.] Sc. forms and usages of Eng. spoon (Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xlv., 1880 Stevenson Deacon Brodie (1924) i. i. 2; Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 205; Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 82; e.Lth. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 58; Rxb. 1921 Hawick Express (13 May)).

I. n. 1. Sc. forms.Kcd. 1934 Lewis Grassic Gibbon Grey Granite (1995) 205:
The City of Dundon stands midway the coast where they cease their speaking of beets and speens and take to a gabble of buits and spunes.
Per. 1995 Joy Hendry Gang Doun wi a Sang: a play about William Soutar 10:
Here, tak yer punishment. Be gratefu that it isnae waur nor this. (he takes a bottle of castor oil, uncorks it) Mums - get me a spuin, please.
ne.Sc. 2004 Press and Journal 19 Jan 14:
Aa the eers wis reca'd for me fin I lookit at the engrav't timmer speen at comes alang wi the brose caup presentit annually tae the winner.
Edb. 2005:
Ah hate cleanin silver spuins.

Sc. usages. (1) in combs. and derivs. (i) speen-box, a lidless wooden box hung on a kitchen wall for holding the household spoons (Abd. 1930); (ii) spoon-creel, a small wicker- or straw-basket used as in (i) (Ags., Per., Slg., Lnk., Ayr. 1971). See Creel; (iii) speun(e)-cubbie, = (ii) (Ork. 1971). See Cubbie; (iv) spoon-due, the perquisite of the public hangman to take a ladleful of salt or fish from the sacks or baskets of these exposed for sale in the burgh market. See Ladle, Lock, n.2, 1.(2); (v) spunefu(l), speen(i)-, a spoonful. Gen.Sc. Dim. form in speeniefu'-lick, a sample taste from the cooking-pot (Abd. 1930); (vi) spune-gabbit, adj., having a spoon-shaped mouth, i.e. with a thick protruding under-lip (Fif., w.Lth., wm.Sc. 1971). See Gab; (vii) spoon-hale, adj., in good health, able to enjoy one's food (Fif. 1825 Jam.); (viii) spunie, a pancake (see quot.); (ix) spune-meat, soft or liquid food eaten with a spoon (Ork., ne.Sc., Ags., Ayr., Dmf. 1971); (x) spoon-shaft, a spoon handle; (xi) spoon-shank, = (x) (Slg., Fif., w.Lth., wm.Sc., Dmf. 1971); (xii) speen-thick, adj., of liquid food: thick enough to be taken with a spoon instead of being drunk. For quot. see Sowans, 2.(4).(ii) Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 116:
Glancin' green-horns snugly laid, In Lucky Dad's ain spoon-creel.
Ayr. 1824 A. Crawford Tales Grandmother vi.:
The Tales o' my Grandmother, and the works o' Janet Little, will go down to posterity together, and will be found in the same spoon-creel in mony a cottage in the West.
Fif. 1890 A. Burgess Poute 116:
At ither times — like “spoon creels” — they mak' them ten inches below the sma' o' their back.
Abd. 1913 Trans. Abd. Working Men's Nat. Hist. Soc. III. 118:
The rantle-tree, deece, bassie and rolling-pin, speen-creel.
(iii) Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 118:
His ither shuther junded ap, An' whumbled the speun-cubbie.
Ork. 1911 Old-Lore Misc. IV. i. 20:
Another important article in the kitchen was the speune-cubbie, made of gloy and bent.
(iv) Slk. 1741 T. Craig-Brown Hist. Slk. (1886) II. 108:
A right to levy all the spoon-dues from all bags of salt and fish sold in the public market.
(v) ne.Sc. 1925 Scots Mag. (March) 470:
Het the tea-pot an' mask the tea. Pit in twa speenifuls.
Sc. 1999 Edinburgh Evening News 11 Sep 16:
Whatever we were having for Sunday lunch, Granny decided just to hae a spinfu' of the mince. Later in the afternoon she was violently sick (so, too, was the dog, by the way!) and it was confirmed that the "onions" she had used for flavouring were, in fact, daffodil bulbs.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 58:
Ither weel-meanin bodies
Jump oot frae ahin the curtains
Wi a speenfu o English pheesic
Tae purge the Scots spikker
O aa orra idioms,
Aa non-standard spikks
An Tom Leonard winnerfu wordies.
Sc. 2002 Scotsman 1 Jan 8:
It's enough to make you take two spinfu's [sugar] in your cocoa.
(vii) Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxix.:
Be thankfu' ye're a leevin mortal, an' aye spoon-hale.
(viii) Kcb.1 1933:
A spunie i.e. a pancake; baking spunie, i.e. baking pancakes. The word is evidently derived from the fact that the batter is dropped on to the baking pan from a spoon.
(ix) Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Witch- Wife i:
I've spuned at him wi' spune meat sin' cock-craw.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminiscences 36:
All food, with the exception of vat and bere bannocks, being speun mate.
Abd. 1959 Scottish Studies III. 60:
Snap up the speen-mait, the breid'll keep.
(x) Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poetry I. 161:
Deep in the earth the spoon-shaft's stuck.
(xi) Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 117:
He rummled my hass wi' a spune-shank.
(xii) Abd. 1921 Swatches o' Hamespun 16:
Thin sowens bodet sober health, an' a sober crap. Sae they were made speen-thick.

(2) In Phrs.: (i) horn and spune, by metonymy = food and drink, victuals; (ii) spune and trencher, a plate struck with a spoon as a device to attract attention (see quot. and Trencher); (iii) the spüne o the breest, the hollow at the foot of the breast-bone (Sh. 1971). In Mid.Eng. used of animals; †(iv) to fill the spune, to make a living; (v) to hae mair (in the heid, etc.) than (or naething but what) the spune pits in and equivalent expressions, to be (un)intelligent, to be more than usually clever or stupid (ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Kcb. 1971); †(vi) to have the spune at the mouth, to be on the verge of success; (vii) to hae one's spune in a' folks' brose, to be a busybody, to poke one's nose into everyone else's business; (viii) to mak a spune or spoil a horn, to strive hard whether successfully or not, to cut a figure in the world for good or ill, to succeed or fail in a big way. See also Horn, n., 1. (20). Gen.Sc., obsol.; (ix) to pit in one's spune, to interfere in something, meddle in another's affairs (ne.Sc., Fif., wm.Sc. 1971). Cf. (vii); (x) to stick the spune intae the wa, to drop a topic of conversation, from laying one's spoon into a wall-recess or cupboard after a meal.(i) Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 46:
Swith to the launds that had your lauch, An' sorn on them for horn an' spune.
(ii) s.Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 210:
If any farmer has lost any of his cattle, or wishes to sell any of them to the neighbouring villagers, he sends a boy through the town, or village with a spoon and trencher, on which he beats and by this noise the people are brought out to the sale or warned to give information concerning the cattle.
(iii) Sh. 1900 Shetland News (31 March):
He crippl'd da spüne o' his breest apo' da gunn'l o' da bit o' boat.
(iv) Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 86:
How the great bulk fill the spoon Maun rest a wonder.
(v) Mry. 1888 Lays & Leg. (Douglas 1939) 81:
There's hantle mair within his pow Than pat the speen at Brakenhowe.
Abd. 1889 W. Allan Sprays 77:
There's mair than what the spoon pits in within the harnpan.
Gsw. 1898 D. Willox Poems 197:
There's naething in ye but what the spin puts in.
Kcd. 1958 Mearns Leader (25 April):
Ye widna think there wis muckle mair in him than the speen put in.
Abd. 1968:
There's mair in his heid than the speen pits in or the been-kame rugs out.
(vi) Edb. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar li.:
The affair miscarried, and that just as we had the spoon at the mouth.
(vii) Sc. 1876 S. R. Whitehead Daft Davie 105:
She likit to hae her spune in a' folks' brose.
(viii) n.Sc. 1820 Hogg Tales (1866) 262:
Cliffy Mackay will either mak a speen or spill a guid horn.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xiv.:
Alan was the lad to make a spoon or spoil a horn.
Rnf. 1861 J. Barr Poems 157:
For it's nae joke, it's nae joke, The takin' o' the wife: It's “mak a spoon or spoil a horn,” As lang as ye're in life.
Fif. 1895 S. Tytler Macdonald Lass viii.:
Will I make a spune instead of spoiling a horn?
Dmf. 1920 J. L. Waugh Heroes 52:
For I couldna mak' a spune, an' I've spoiled mony a horn.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 60:
But Dod! when he's a man he'll cowe them a', He'll either mak' a spune or spoil a horn.
(ix) Abd. 1966:
Dinna pit in your speen, i.e. don't interfere, keep out of it.
(x) Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 47:
Inta the wa Aw'll stick the speen.

2. In golf: a club with a slightly concave head and backward sloping face. Now adopted in Eng. Freq. in combs. baffing (see Baffie), long, mid(dle), short spoon; spoon-shot, -stroke.Fif. 1805 Session Papers, Cleghorn v. Dempster (17 Dec.) 16:
The next stroke . . . must be played either with a heavy spoon or iron club, and not with the play club.
Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Poet. Remains (1883) 62:
A short, enticing, long or short spoon stroke.
Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 18:
The long and middle spoons are often pressed into doing duty for a grassed driver, from their ability to “loft” the ball; but besides this, from their tougher build, they are admirably fitted to jerk it out of a grassy rut.
Sc. 1858 Chambers's Jnl. (4 Sept.) 157:
The play-club, long-spoon, mid-spoon, short-spoon, . . . putter and baffing-spoon.
Sc. 1891 J. G. McPherson Golf & Golfers 36:
Three short spoon shots easily and safely reached the green.
Abd. 1909 C. Smith Abd. Golfers 136:
Mr Thompson, with his “long spoon,” then the correct club “through the green.”
Bnff. 1967 Banffshire Advertiser (28 Sept.) 12:
I've jist deen the acht hole in ane — as bonny a speen shottie as I've iver stricken.

II. v. To cut the face of a golf club so as to give it a backward slope. See I. 3.Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfers' Manual 79:
Grassed — A term used instead of spooned, to signify the slope of a club face.
Fif. 1897 R. Forgan Golfer's Manual 15:
Each of which is perpendicular, not sloped backwards, or spooned.

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"Spune n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Dec 2022 <>



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