Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WORRY, v., n. Also worrie-; wirry, wirri (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1974), wirrie-, and in colloq. form worrit, as in Eng. Pa.t., pa.p. worried, worrit.

I. v. 1. tr. To strangle (Dmb. 1925; I.Sc. 1974). Sc. 1758 Session Papers, Petition W. Hercules (9 Aug.) 11:
Gripping her fast about the Neck, by which she was almost worried.

2. tr. and intr. To choke on a mouthful of food, to suffocate (Sc. 1771 Weekly Mag. (8 Aug.) 173; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; I., ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1974), also in n.Eng. dial.; to choke with laughter. Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 385:
You fasted long, and worried on a Fly.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 39:
She squattles up a mutchkin at a waught, which was like to wirry her.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxii.:
The yalla feeder worried on a neep.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 108:
If a lee could ha' worried him, he'd ha' been chokit lang syne.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
Da ku is wirried upon a taati.
Lth. 1953 Edb. Ev. Dispatch (31 March):
The cow was choked, a condition fairly common at this time of year, and the term “worried” is applied to this condition in certain parts of the country.

3. tr. Specif. of smoke, etc.: to stifle, suffocate. Also intr., to be stifled (Ork. 1974). Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 27:
Hence frae this Beast let me be hurried, For with his Stour and Stink I'm worried.
Sc. 1755 Captain Car in Child Ballads (1956) III. 434:
‘Dear mother, gie owre your house', he says, ‘For the reek it worries me.'
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 129:
Wi' snaw an' seut maist like tae wirry.

4. To devour, swallow greedily, gobble up (Sc. 1887 Jam., wirry; Abd., Ags. 1974). Also in n.Eng. dial. Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 226:
Kings, and Bears oft worry their Keepers.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 150:
His gentle Stamock's master To worry up a Pint of Plaister.
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 165:
A great fat carle with a red face, and so short necked that you would think he would worry every word he spoke.
Lnk. 1805 G. McIndoe Poems 65:
Great claggs o' meat they ne'er could worry.
m.Lth. 1858 Dark Night xix.:
Worryin' up the thing that way daes nae guid, like whan it's sookit aff grad'wal.
Slk. 1892 W. M. Adamson Betty Blether 98:
The doug-hips, haws, gowk's cheese, sourocks, an' ar'nuts that ye'll hae worried in the land o' yer nativity.

5. In proverbial phrs.: (1) no to worry upo' kliers, to speak one's mind freely (Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 229, Sh. 1974). See Clyre; (2) to eat the cow and worry on the tail, to be deprived of success in an enterprise by failure in one small point (Abd. 1910); also to be a stickler on trivialities. Gen.Sc.; (3) to worry in the band like MacEwin's calf, to be hanged; (4) worried in the hoe, (i) “applied to a head of grain which is so much confined in the short-blade, or seed-leaf, that it does not fairly get out” (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 216). See Hose, n., 1.; (ii) transf., “applied to music on the bagpipe, when the chanter not being properly filled, the sound stops” (Ib.). (2) Sc. 1715 J. Maidment Old Ballads (1844) 33:
He . . . like a fool, did eat the cow, And worried on the tail.
m.Lth. 1895 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 174:
Are ye gaun to split frae your pairty for juist this ae thing? — are ye gaun to eat the coo an' worry on the tail?
(3) Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 83:
Ye'll worry in the band like MacEwin's caff.

6. Combs.: (1) baldie-worrie, worrie-baldie, an artichoke (Gall. 1887 Jam.; Kcb. c.1900), a calque based on the obs. form archichoke, Baldie being a Sc. nickname for Archibald; ¶(2) worry-boggle, a rogue, rascal. Cf. Worriecow; (3) worry-carl(e), (i) a snarling, ill-natured person, one who is dreaded as a bugbear (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl., wirry-carl; Sc. 1808 Jam., wirrie-; Bwk. 1874 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club VII. 206; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., worry-, wirry-); (ii) a large coarse winter pear, a Wash-warden, q.v. (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Cf. obs. Eng. choke-pear; (4) worricow, see sep. art.; (5) worrie-craw, -crow, a hobgoblin, the devil; an unprepossessing person; a general term of abuse. This is prob. a conflation of Worricow and scarecrow. (2) w.Lth. 1718 News from Bathgate 18:
When he return'd to you, he told the Fray, And how these Worry-boggles stopt his Way.
(3) (ii) Rxb. 1822 J. L. Hilson More Yesterdays (1906) 12:
The worry carle is fair to look upon, as they lie mixed up with others of a better sort.
Rxb. 1836 A. Jeffrey Acct. Rxb. 96:
The Worry Carle particularly is totally unfit for eating when taken from the tree, but when kept for months and boiled becomes not only palatable but delicious.
(5) Ayr. 1824 A. Crawford Tales Grandmother 64:
As for my twa or three wirriecrows of subjects, they are aye mendin'.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 181:
Now haud ye cheerie, neebors a', And gliff life's girnin' worriecraw.

II. n. An altercation, wrangle, argument, a to-do (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 211; Ags. 1974). Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) 112:
A wirry wi' some o' the wives aboot the price o' butter an' eggs.

[O.Sc. wery, to strangle, a.1400, to be choked, 1420.]

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"Worry v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Nov 2020 <>



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