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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

ALAN, ALLAN, ALLEN, AULIN, ALLAN-HAWK, n. The Arctic Skua, Stercorarius parasiticus (L.). (Also: Aulin-scouty, Scouti-alan, -aulin, and many other names.) For other meanings of Allan-hawk see s.v.Sc. 1887 Jam.5:
Allan Hawk. The aulin . . . prob. called hawk from its habit of pursuing smaller gulls till they disgorge their food. Hawk, however, may be a corr. of awk.
Sh., Ork. 1866 Edm. Gl. 4:
Aulin-scouty, the arctic gull.
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
Alan, alen, a species of gull, skua, . . . also named skuti-alan.
Sh.4 1931:
Sh. 1938 M. Powell 200,000 Feet on Foula 138:
"Bonxie" is only our name for the Great Skua and the Allens are the smaller ones.
Sh. 1992 Bobby Tulloch A Guide to Shetland's Breeding Birds 45:
(Stercorarius parasiticus)
SHET: Skooty Aalin or Shooi.
Ork. 1774 G. Low Tour thro' Ork. and Schet. (1879) 13:
In the Pightland Firth saw vast numbers of Gannets . . . also the first Scoutiaulin.
Ork. 1806 P. Neill Tour through . . . Ork. and Sh. 201:
This bird is sometimes simply named the Allan; sometimes the Dirten-allan. . . . They pursue and harass all the small gulls, till these last disgorge or vomit. . . . The common names are derived from the vulgar opinion that the small gulls are muting.
Ork.(D) 1908 J. T. S. Leask in Old-Lore Misc., Ork. Shet., etc. I. viii. 319:
Hid's aneuch tae scunner a scoottie allan.
Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn. 2:
Allan-hawk. . . . The skua was also so called in Mourne, co. of Down.

[Origin uncertain. Cf. alle, Sw. dial. = auk.]

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"Alan n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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