Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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YOWE, n. Also yow, yeow, youw (Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Iktober 17)), youe; †yew (Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 209); ¶hjow (Sh. 1951 New Shetlander No. 27. 34). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. ewe (Ayr. 1782 Burns Death of Poor Mailie ix.; Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 199; ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 153; Sh. 1888 B. R. Anderson Broken Lights 90; Sc. a.1894 Stevenson New Poems (1918) 38; Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 70; Ork. 1929 Old-Lore Misc. IX. ii. 76; Peb. 1953 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 171). Gen.Sc. Dim. yowie (Ayr. 1782 Burns Death of Poor Mailie x.; Edb. 1869 J. Smith Poems 122; Gall. 1928 Gallov. Annual 88; Abd 1946 J. C. Milne Orra Loon 26), ewie (Abd. c.1760 J. Skinner Amusements (1809) 63, m.Sc. 1842 A. Rodger Stray Leaves 19). [jʌu]

1. As in Eng. In proverbial expressions: Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 209:
Ae scabbit yew spills twenty flocks.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xliv.:
They liked mutton well that licket where the yowe lay.
Slk. 1967:
There's mair as ae yowe o the brae face = There are plenty of fish in the sea, e.g. in choosing a wife.

Combs.: (1) rotten yowe, a ewe affected with sheep-rot, hence transf. of a person with symptoms of chest disease. esp. frequent spitting (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1974); (2) yowe brose, Brose made with the juice of mutton; (3) yowe bucht, ew(e) b(o)ught, a pen or enclosure for ewes at milking- or weaning-time (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 276, Per. 1974). Also attrib. See Boucht, n.2; ‡(4) ewe cheese, cheese made from ewes' milk; (5) ewe-daisy, tormentil, Potentilla tormentilla (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 72); (6) ewe-flower, ? = (7); (7) ewe-gowan, the common daisy, Bellis perennis (n.Sc. 1825 Jam., “apparently denominated from the ewe as being frequent in pastures, and fed on by sheep”; (8) yowe herd, a shepherd; (9) ewe-hog(g), see Hog, n.1, 1.Combs. Gen.Sc.; (10) yow-lammie, dim., a little ewe lamb. Gen.Sc.; ‡(11) yowe-milk, ewe's milk, specif. used in making cheese. Hence derivs. ewe(s) milking, ewe-milker; (12) yowe(s)-tremmle, -trimmle, -trummle, a cold spell in early summer about the time of sheep-shearing, supposed to chill the sheep (em.Sc.(a), s.Sc. 1974). See Tremmle, n.; (13) yowe's yirnin, fig., a silly person. See Yirn, v., 2.(3). (2) Rxb. 1894 Sc. Fairy Tales (Douglas) 139:
They offered it yowe brose.
(3) Wgt. 1707 Session Rec. Kirkinner MS. (19 Oct.):
In Spring last in time of harrowing, and another time in the ew bought.
Sc. 1723 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 134:
In bonny Ew-bught May.
Slk. 1813 Hogg Queen's Wake 252:
At ewe-bught, or at evening fold.
Rxb. 1901 W. Laidlaw Poetry 67:
Ewe-bughts at the dawn of morn At milkin' o' the yowes.
Abd. 1920 R. H. Calder Gleanings I. 3:
Mary to the yowe-buchts is gane To milk her daddy's yowes.
(4) Rxb. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 16:
She had brought the auld ewe-cheese.
Rxb. 1910 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 9:
Ewe cheese was quite a common article in shops in Hawick when I was a boy [c.1850].
(6) Slk. 1825 Hogg Queen Hynde 14:
The little ewe-flower starred the lea.
(7) Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck x.:
Enough to mak the pinks an' the ewe-gowans blush to the very lip.
Bwk. 1879 W. Chisholm Poems 53:
He wad watch the wee ewe-gowan waken.
(8) Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 72:
Tam the yowe herd, frae his mornin whey, To tent the yowes he's comin wast this way.
(10) Abd. 1863 G. MacDonald D. Elginbrod liv.:
Gin't be a puir bit yow-lammie like at ye're efter.
(11) Sc. c.1750 D. Herd Sc. Songs (1776) I. 48:
I've heard a lilting at our ewes milking.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xxiii.:
A half-dressed ewe-milker shut it in their faces.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxxviii.:
Maybe ye may like the ewe-milk cheese better.
Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 133:
Yowe-milk kebbuck, sweet to pree.
(12) Sc. 1925 H. McDiarmid Sangschaw 2:
Ae weet forenicht i' the yow-trummle I saw yon antrin thing.
Abd. 1930 Abd. Press & Jnl. (8 March) 6:
We have still to weather the borrowing days, the caul' gab, the coo's quake, and the yowe trummle before we are clear of unpleasant weather.

2. Fig. A stupid, weak-willed person, one who is easily led (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 213). Ags. 1894 F. Mackenzie Cruisie Sk. xviii.:
Ca' me a Philistine, ye black-faced yeow that ye are?
Abd. 1900 Abd. Wkly. Free Press (15 Sept.):
He may be disna wear gowd-rimmed specs fin he cud see best athoot them, like that muckle yow, Tammie Fraser.

3. A fir cone, freq. in dim. (ne.Sc., Ags. 1974). Also attrib. So called from the resemblance in shape and appearance to a curly-fleeced sheep. Abd. 1867 A. Allardyce Goodwife 9:
Rowin up sma crimpit things [pats of butter], Jist leyk a young fir ewe.
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood xiv.:
Trotting away down the road to the yowie woodie.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xiv.:
As mony fir yowes as ye can lay yer hans on.
Abd. 1963 Abd. Press and Jnl. (20 July) Suppl. I.:
The Gorack hill with its yowies from a fringe of fir trees.

[O.Sc. yhow, ewe, 1456.]

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"Yowe n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Oct 2021 <>



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