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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TURR, n., v. Also toor, tour(e) (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.), †towr; tur(e) (e.Sc. 1825 Jam.); as v. also turry. Sc. forms and usage of Eng. turf. Pl. turves. For other Sc. forms see Tirr, Truff, n.1 [‡tu:r]

I. n. As in Eng., a sod, also freq. applied to the surface layer of a peat-bog cut as fuel, a surface peat (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 191; Fif., Ayr., Rxb. 1973). Also in Eng. and Ir. dial. Also fig.m.Lth. 1774 Session Papers, Petition J. Thomson (28 June) 13:
To lead out the muck, fetch in the corn, lead three darg of turs, four bags of coals.
Sc. 1776 Lord Ingram and Chiel Wyet in Child Ballads No. 66 C.xiv.:
O is my ladie's fauldis brunt? Or is her towrs wun?
Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 III. 274:
Till within these two or three years, the principal fuel of the common people was turf, but, as they are now prohibited from paring the ground, they use coals.
Sc. 1806 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 696:
Stans a hauddin' o' my ain', Theiket weel wi' turs an' strae.
Lnk. 1818 A. Fordyce Country Wedding 185:
We'll yoke our pleugh, and deeply fur Corruption's heart; Her spretty knowes, an' ketty turr We'll tear apart.
Ork. 1832 D. Vedder Sketches 22:
Every farmer pays a given sum to the proprietor in proportion to the turf he cuts.
Sc. 1891 R. Ford Thistledown 98:
It's a bonny turr. It's a peety to see it put doon upon sic a skemp.
Kcb. 1897 Crockett Lochinvar xxxi.:
A peat-stack, or rather a mound of the large surface ‘turves' of the country.
Ayr. 1913 J. Service Memorables 23:
The farm-houses were mere bothies, biggit o' tours and theekit wi' rashes.

Combs.: 1. toure battle, a schoolboys' battle of pelting one another with peats; 2. turf-coal, a fine quality cubical coal; 3. turf-cutter, an attendant on the Town Champion (see Toun) of Musselburgh whose duty is to cut sods ceremonially at the Riding of the Marches; 4. turf-dyke, toure-, a wall of sods; 5. turf-riggin, the sods forming the ridge of a thatched roof; 6. turf-stack, a stack of surface peats.1. Ayr. 1905 E.D.D.:
He was fined 6d, when at school for taking part in a toure battle among the boys.
2. Ayr. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 V. 444:
Five-quarter, parrot, turf and little coal, at the depth of 70 fathoms.
3. m.Lth. 1935 Scotsman (14 Aug.):
The Provost [of Musselburgh] then ordered the Town Champion and the Turf Cutter to set out on their round of the burgh boundary. . . . At each point, the turf-cutter cut a divot and cast it with the declaration, “It's a' oor ain.”
4. Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 293:
I hae lain for hours ahint some auld turf-dyke.
5. Sc. 1829 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 221:
The growin turf-riggin o' my father's hut!
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 282:
Thoo could'st ca' this toure dyke owre on me evenoo for my sins.
6. Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 181:
The peat-stack, and turf-stack our Phoebus shall be.

II. v. 1. To remove surface turf (Cai., Bnff., Mry. 1973). Vbl.n. turven, -in, turrying, the cutting of turf, coll. sods, surface peats (Sh. 1825 Jam., 1866 Edm. Gl. . turven), comb. turrying spade, a spade used to remove surface turf, a flauchter-spade (Per. 1905 E.D.D.).Kcd. 1841 Trans. Highl. Soc. VII. 178:
Turvin, jambs, and slabs, 40 s.
Abd. 1878 J. Davidson Inverurie 352:
They protected the burgh muir from being indiscriminately turfed.
Per. 1905 E.D.D.:
You must turry before casting peats in the moss.
Sh. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. vii. 269:
Der muckle tryste afore wiz when da tushkar taks ta turven.

2. Of the sky: to cover over with small, fleecy, “mackerel” clouds (Sh. 1905 E.D.D.). Hence adj. turfy, applied to a mackerel sky (Id.).Sh. 1898 “Junda” Klingrahool 22:
Da turfy clood-taps never shift.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (4 March):
Da müne is comin' up as red as a fiery braand, an' he's begun ta turf da sky i' da sooth.

[O.Sc. turr, 1461, the forms without v arising from its vocalisation in the Mid.Eng. pl. and vbl. forms turves, turven, after r. Cf. Hairst, Ser, Tirr.]

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"Turr n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Feb 2023 <>



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