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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BOWIE, BOWEY, n.1 [′bʌui Sc., but s.Sc. + ′bui]

1. A barrel for holding water or ale. Gen.Sc.  Mry.(D) 1806 J. Cock Simple Strains 133:
For, now, he's left time's fleeting stage, Wha pat the Ale-wives in a rage, Nae mair their bowies he will gage, Wi' his foul stick.
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 30:
Some of them had a bowie 'neath the spoot at the gable to catch a suppie rain water from the roof.
Mearns 1929 J. B. Philip Weelum o' the Manse iii.:
At the lower end of the row was the commodious washing-house with a big barrel, known as the bowie, placed at its end for catching the rain from the roof.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 38:
I' the far nook the bowie briskly reams.

Comb. bowie lum, a chimney formed by a bottomless barrel set in the ridge of a roof above the hearth.Abd. 1970 Deeside Field No. 6. 95:
Two very old thatched cottages with "bowie lums" used to stand here.

2. “A small tub for washing” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 87).

3. A wooden vessel for holding milk; a broad shallow dish for holding milk, porridge, broth, etc., at meals. Known to Bnff.2, Ags.1 1935.Sc. 1828 Scott F. M. Perth xxxii.:
“I have forgotten my tallies,” said the ready-witted Frenchwoman, “and will return in the skimming of a bowie.”
Abd. 1923 J. R. Imray Village Roupie, etc. 7:
A cruisie, an am'ry, some lozens o' gless, A sma' sowen bowie, an' a three-neukit press.
Ags. 1860 A. Whamond James Tacket ix.:
The guidwife had caused a large deep tub to be made, for the purpose of holding the skimmed milk that was set apart for common use. This was called the skim'-milk bowie.
Rxb. c.1870 Jethart Worthies (3rd ed.) 52:
Knowing Sandy's capacity for a bicker of brose, or a bowey of stiff porritch

4. “A bucket for carrying water [milk, etc.], with an iron or wooden bow, or semi-circular handle” (Per. 1825 Jam.2; Kcb.9 1935).Sc. [1725] Ramsay Gentle Shepherd (1783) 55:
To bear the milk bowie no pain was to me, When I at the bughting forgather'd with thee.
Sc. 1930 John o' London's Wkly. (12 April):
He . . . came out to the lawn at Abbotsford where some workmen were engaged. He turned a bucket upside down and asked the men, “What did I do just now?” “Ye whummled the bowie,” said the men.

5. “A round wooden vessel as a measure of capacity (for potatoes)” (w.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

[O.Sc. bowy, bowie, bowé (1538), a shallow dish, bowl, or small tub (D.O.S.T.). Prob. a dim. of *bow from O.E. bolla, O.N. bolli, a bowl. Cf. bow s.v. Boll.]

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"Bowie n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Jun 2024 <>



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