Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
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.

CA', CAA', CAW, KAAA, v.1 Also erron. car (Lth. 1842 Children in Trades Report ii. K 15). Mod.Sc. forms of O.Sc. and St.Eng. call in all its various meanings. The Eng. form call is illustrated only in usages, combs. and phrs. not found in St.Eng. [kɑ: Sc., but m.Sc. + kǫ: and n.Sc. + ka; kɒ: s.Sc.]

I. Sc. forms of Eng. call.Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web iii:
I didna spikk muckle as a bairn, but I drew picturs constantly. "A dour vratch!" ae great-uncle caad me.
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 37:
A right mixter maxter. Maistly French, as ye'd expect, bit a fair smatterin fae other countries. Ah cawd it the bunnet brigade. Fur some strange reason everybody seemed tae think a bunnet, a beret, ur a balaclava oaffered some protection against bullets an bombs.

II. Meanings with only slight extension from the orig. call.

1. To order (a drink). Still known to Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.19, Ags.1, Fif.10, Lnk.3 1938.Sc. 1745 R. Chambers Hist. of the Rebellion (1869) 341:
He called a dram.

2. To abuse, miscall (Lnl.1 1938; Sh., Bnff., Edb., Dmf. 2000s). Common in Eng. dial. (E.D.D.).Rnf. 1877 J. M. Neilson Poems 62:
She ca'd them up hill an' doon brae.

III. Transferred meanings.

1. (1) To urge forward, to drive, often used of animals (orig. to urge on with calls or shouts); hence, to drive (a plough, etc.). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1832–1846 A. Laing in Whistle-Binkie (3rd Series) 30:
My father wad lead wi' a bairn, But wadn be ca'd for the de'il.
Sh.(D) 1836 “G. Temple” Britta 34:
I ca' da sheep, an' I help at the voar [seed-time, i.e. Spring].
Abd.(D) 1875 W. Alexander Life among my Ain Folk 74:
It's easy ca'in the dyeuks to the mill-dam, ye ken!
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 70:
'I'll no deave ye wi the details, but if there's a witch in aw the west country, it's the lassie Jonet Douglas. Sir George is seik again, and she's castin aboot for anither effigy tae find, and I doot she'll be successfu, for there's a tide amang the folk that's cawin her on. ... '
Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 18:
Whan the saft vernal breezes ca' The grey-hair'd Winter's fogs awa'.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Ca' the Yowes (Cent. ed.) i.:
Ca' the yowes to the knowes, Ca' the, where the heather grows.
s.Sc. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 340:
I winn love the laddie that ca's the cart and pleugh.

Hence caller, the name given to the boy or girl who guided and urged forward the horses yoked to a plough. Cf. ca'ing bairn (see IV. 5.); in a more gen. sense, the driver of a horse and cart, a carter.Sc. 1839 Chambers's Jnl. (10 Aug.) 232:
Auld Peter Dods, the coal-cawer.
Fif. 1700 E. Henderson Dunfermline (1879) 365:
The Coalliers, Bearers, callers, and others employed about the Coall work.
Dmf. 1867 W. MacDowall Hist. Dumfries xx.:
Yoking ten strapping sons in a plough, he held it himself, whilst his youngest boy acted as “caller.”

(2) To drive or bring home from the fields (turnips peats, etc.). Gen.Sc.Abd. 1923 J. Lawrence in Bnffsh. Jnl. (10 April) 3:
“Robbie” Mason and myself were “ca'in' neep” from a field next to the Ardmiddle policies.
Fif. c.1710 P. Birnie in R. Ford Vagab. Song, etc. (1901) 281:
There was hay to ca', and lint to lead.

(3) intr. To be driven; to drive on (one's way), to proceed; to plod on; often followed by awa'. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
That beast winna caw, for a' that I can do.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Young Jockie (Cent. ed.) iii.:
And o'er the lea I leuk fu' fain, When Jockie's owsen hameward ca'.

Phrase: caa awa, to carry on (Bnff., Abd., Fif., Edb., Ayr. 2000s).Sc. 1920 D. Rorie Auld Doctor 1:
O' a' the jobs that sweat the sark Gie me a kintra doctor's wark, Ye ca' awa' frae dawn till dark.
Sc. 1998 Aberdeen Evening Express 4 Dec 11:
That recurring shape was the Shift. She could run one up in about half-an-hour cawing away like a thing possessed on her old pedal Singer machine.
Dmb. 2005:
The motto of Kirkintilloch is 'ca canny but ca awa'.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xxxvii.:
Ay, ay! caw awa' wi' yer chanter, Sim.

2. To drive in (nails, etc.). Gen.Sc. Also intr. and fig. Vbl.n. ca'in', the noise of hammering.Sc. 1802–1803 in Scott (ed.) Minstr. Sc. Border (2nd ed.) I. 199:
And there will never a nail ca' right for me.
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 18:
Winter! A' the scholars ca'in' Fushion intil thooms wi' blawin'.
Fif.10 1938:
“Bile your heid an' ca' tackets in't,” a contemptuous phrase.
Edb. [1801] J. Thomson Poems (1819) 36:
A hammer scarce will ca' a tacket.
Kcb.9 1938:
I heard the ca'in', an wunnert what ye wur daein'.

Phrase: to ca' a nail to the head, to go to extremes, to exaggerate (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1938).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 79:
Yet to the head, the nail ye manna ca'.

3. To knock, push; often used with a prep., e.g. ca' oot, to dislocate; ca' tee, caw tae (Lnl.1 1938), to shut. Gen.Sc.Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 77:
I fell i' the loch, hid's true, bit I'me no' sae seur that I wur ca'd i' hid.
Ork. 1995 Orcadian 16 Feb 19:
So long as I step carefully over it, and do not ca' me tae in it, it is effective in keeping the wind out.
Mry. 1865 W. H. L. Tester Poems 107:
Ca' tee the door, Sammy, an' snaik it, ma loon.
Abd.(D) 1903 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 68:
He had heard of people being “ca'ed oot o' the shouther and being ruggit in again.”
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 42:
I wis gey weariet bidin there, I can tell ye. I powkit aboot ma desk, an caad the styew frae the blackboord cloot, an drew a pictur o Miss McTavish on the boord wi a mowser that suited her rale weel.
Abd. 2004:
I caa'd ma thoom oot o e jeint.
Ags. 1729 Trial of James Carnegie 107:
The Deponent saw Mr Thomas Lyon with his Sword ca' Finhaven's Sword out of his Hand.
m.Sc. 1996 John Murray Aspen 4:
yonder a riven cage o marrieless ribs,
the braith caad fae't
or a femur enn dichtit smuith
bi the lang stravaigin streed
o the baggie breikit beist.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 11:
The energies o space he shuik
An aw the starns cawed doun.
Slg.3 1938:
I'll ca' the heid aff ye.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 41:
Take tent case Crummy tak her wonted tids, And ca' the leglin's treasure on the ground.
Edb. 1931 E. Albert Herrin' Jennie 161:
You could have ca'd her ower wi' a feather.
Edb. 2000:
Ah just cawd him ower wi a dunt.

Fig. in phrase: hard ca'ed, sair —, hard-worked (Kcb.9 1938, sair — ).Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood xvii.:
But she's some hard ca'ed — she hasna time.

4. To set or keep in motion; with about, to circulate, send round (a punch bowl, etc.); “to drive fanners or any other machine which is worked by hand or foot power” (Arg.1 1937); to swing a skipping-rope (Sh., Bnff., Abd., Fif., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s). Gen.Sc. Deriv. cawer, a person who does this (Bnff., Fif., Edb., Ayr. 2000s). Comb. cawin rope, a skipping rope (Bnff., Edb., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s).Sc. 1769 D. Herd Sc. Songs (1776) II. 19:
We ca'd the bicker aft about.
Sc. 1893 R. L. Stevenson Catriona xv.:
It seems they had fund Lapraik in ane of his dwams, cawing the shuttle.
Sc. 1992 Herald 20 Jun 9:
A length of rope, from frayed pulleys or washing lines, and at least three players (two to "caw" the ends) soon attracted others. Newcomers cawed and anyone whose feet got tangled in the circling rope was swiftly relegated to give cawers promotion.
Sc. 2004 Evening Times 20 Apr 4:
Their escorts - Sunday school teachers, perhaps, or temperance workers - "Caw" the ropes for skipping and supervise the races before they distribute the sandwiches.
Abd. [1768] A. Ross Helenore (1868) 199:
Drink in braw cups was caw'd about gelore; Some fell asleep, and loud began to snore.
Per. 1990 Betsy Whyte Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1991) 89:
All the girls and young women, married ones as well, joined in. Jean cut the heels from Ella more than once when she cawed the rope, causing Ella to fall.
Edb. 1811 H. Macneill Bygane Times 33–34:
Advised me to find out some spark Wha wanted business in the law; — For him, he'd ither trade to ca'.
Edb. 1992:
I always used to be a cawer when playing ropes.
wm.Sc. 1990 Sunday Post 7 Oct :
Skipping's next with one long rope and two 'cawers'.
Rnf. 1993 History on your Doorstep, The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum 6:
You churned it, it was just like a barrel and it had a wee window in it and you saw when the butter was turned; you cawed a handle, just like a wringer.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 185:
It seems to me but as yesterday or last week when I was a happy wee callan ca'in the girr on the street.
w.Dmf. 1929 J. L. Waugh in Sc. Readings, etc. (ed. T. W. Paterson) 14:
“Handle! And what micht ye want wi' a handle, noo, Robert?” “To caa' the music roon,” says I.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 9:
The wainches war caain the towe.

5. To ransack, search; sometimes with preps. up, aboot. Known to Bnff.2, Abd.2, Ags.1 1938. Vbl.n. caan-aboot, a long, thorough search.Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
I'll caw the haill town for't, or I want it.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 20:
We've hid a caan-aboot for ye a' mornin'.
Ib. 23:
He caed up the hail hoose, bit he cudna get it.
Abd. 1925 A. Murison Rosehearty Rhymes 123:
We've ca'd for a hoose tull weariet.
Ags. 1794 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' 11:
He says he did Auld Reekie ca', To bring them things to mak' them braw.
Ags.(D) 1880 Brechin Advertiser (21 Sept.) 3/2:
[We] ca'd the road frae side to side.

6. To sell or hawk in a cart (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Arg.1 1938); to go round a place begging.Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xv.:
I wud as seen ca' stinkin' fish wi' a horse worth auchteenpence.
Fif.10 1938:
He'd ca'ed the kintraside for'ears.

7. To malign, abuse, vilify. Per. 1975:
She's aye caain folk.

IV. Phrases and combs.: †1. ca'-agehn, “opposition, contradiction” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 218); 2. caain-time, sheep-driving time; 3. ca-by, the go-by, a rejection, turning-down; 4. ca-for-aa, n., a name for a bicycle without a free wheel (Abd. 1920); 5. ca'ing bairn (see quot.); 6. call-me-to-you, “heart's ease, Viola tricolor” (Lnk. 1831 W. Patrick Plants 124); †7. call-the-guse (see second quot.); 8. ca'-the-churn, a dairy-maid (Abd.22 1938); 9. ca-the-shuttle, a weaver (Bnff.2 1938); also attrib.; 10. no' worth ca'in oot o' a kail-yard, of no value whatever (Cai.7, Ags.2 1938); 11. to ca' (aboot) a story, see 28.; 12. to ca again, to oppose, contradict (Ags., Per. 1975). See Again, adv., (2); 13. to ca' canny, see Ca' canny, v.phr.; 14. to ca doun, (1) to decry, disparage (Ags. 1975). Ppl.adj. ca'in doon; (2) to knock down, demolish. Also fig.; 15. to ca' (call) for, (1) to abuse as (Bnff.2, Ags.2, Slg.3 1938); also in Eng. dial.; (2) to name after (Abd.2, Fif.1, Slg.3, Arg.1 (rare), Lnk.3, Kcb.1 1938); (3) to call on, visit; Gen.Sc.; 16. to call on, to demand, ask for (Abd.9, Ags.1, Slg.3, Kcb.1 1938); 17. to ca(a)' one's (the) girr (gird), to proceed, to carry on (Abd.9, Ags.1, Lnk.3, Kcb.1 1938); 18. to ca one's hans, to put more energy into one's work (Ags.1 1938); †19. to ca' sheep, “to stagger in walking; a vulgar phrase used of one who is drunken, and borrowed from the necessity of following a flock of sheep from side to side, when they are driven on a road” (Fif. 1825 Jam.2); 20. to ca' the cat frae the cream, to perform a very simple and reasonable act; known to Ags.1 1938; 21. to ca' the clash, see 28.; 22. to ca' the cows out o' the kale-yard = 20.; known to Cai.7, Ags.1 1938; 23. to ca' the crack, to converse, talk (Bnff.2, Abd.19, Lnk.3 1938); 24. to ca the feet fae, also to ca the legs fae, to cause (a person) to fall; fig. to astonish, dumfound; 25. to ca' the feeties, to hurry up, to run; †26. to ca' the spree, to lead the drinking; 27. to ca' through, see Ca' through, v.phr and n.phr.; 28. to caw clashes, to ca' the clash, to ca' (aboot) a story, to go round spreading gossip, carrying tales (Bnff.2, Abd.19 1938); also as ppl.adj. ca'd (aboot) story (Abd.9 1938, — aboot —; Ags.17 1938), ca'd clash; †29. to ca' wi', to visit, call upon; †30. to caw one's hogs to the hill, “to snore” (Abd. 1825 Jam.2).1. Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 218:
A cudna haud ma tung, an' a jist ga' 'im ca'-agehn.
2. Sh. 1933 J. Nicolson Hentilagets 14:
An at caain-time hed grouwn ta be A valient, sonsi gimmer.
3. Fif. 1893 G. Setoun Barncraig 10:
"Jenny Heron's gaun to gie ye a' the ca' by," Andrew Morrison remarked to a group of young men one afternoon.
5. Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. Ork. Par. (1922) 108:
When ploughing with the side plough there were no guiding reins on the horses, they being guided by a boy or girl dubbed the “ca'ing bairn.”
7. Sc. 1818 G. Chalmers Mary, Queen of Scots I. 255:
Tennis was much enjoyed by the young prince; schule the board, or shovel-board; billiards; and call-the-guse.
Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
Call-the-guse. This designation, I suppose, is equivalent to “drive the goose”; and the game seems to be the same with one still played by young people, in some parts of Angus, in which one of the company, having something that excites ridicule unknowingly pinned behind, is pursued by all the rest, who still cry out, Hunt the goose.
8. Abd. 1904 W. A. G. Farquhar Fyvie Lintie 107:
Whan ca'-the-churn got butter nane Or sour grew milk and ale-sup.
9. Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxvi.:
A puir ca-the-shuttle body.
10. Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 87:
Gin a la'yer hasna the gift o' the gab, he's no' worth ca'in oot o' a kail-yard.
12. Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 37:
Fu' o' guid nature, modest tee, and plain, But cudna suffer to be ca'd again.
14. (1) Ags. 1944 Forfar Dispatch (3 Nov.):
"Bletherin skate!" I replies in as ca'in doon a voice as I can.
(2) Sc. 1994 Scotsman 10 Oct :
So, a former Highland regional councillor wants to caa doon the Duke of Sutherland's statue (your report, 3 October)? Och, this is definitely an over-reaction.
Abd. 1993:
We hid tae caa doon e waas o e aal smiddy.
m.Sc. 1991 Tom Scott in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 41:
Nae use to hide yoursel frae her fell dingin
That, as gin it tae wes wingan,
Raxes ye and kaas doun aa defences:
Bumbazed I thole near rivit o my senses.
Edb. 1994:
Tollcross his nivver been the same since they cawed doon Earl Grey St.
15. (1) Fif.10 1938:
They ca'ed him for a' thing, i.e. used every form of abuse.
Edb. 1922 P. Macgillivray Bog Myrtle and Peat Reek 67:
They ca'd her for a wanton jade, Sae witchin' was her glancin' O.
Slk. 1892 W. M. Adamson Betty Blether 82:
Wi' that she ca'd me for a' thing that was bad.
(2) Lnk. 1838 McIlwham Papers (ed. J. Morrison) Letter i. 8:
We hae five weans . . . an' noo anither wee chap maks half-a-dozen; . . . I wish to ca' him for yersel', an' I write to tell ye o't.
(3) Sc. 1900 in A. Stewart Alicella (1955) 95:
I have been calling for more of my soldiers' wives.
w.Sc. 1773 J. Boswell Tour to Hebrides (1936) 65:
I went and called for Mrs Dallas.
16. Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.:
Flannen's greatly called on this weather.
17. Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 26:
An' menseless tae, for oot he flang Intill the mirk withoot a wird Lea'in' his dad to ca' the gird.
em.Sc. 1913 J. Black Gloamin' Glints 83:
Sae “Ca' your girr” wi' right guid will, An' mak your ain guid luck.
w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (1912) xi.:
It was beautifu' and edifyin' to hear him caa' his gird, usin' queer-soondin' lang-nebbet words.
18. Bnff.2 1930:
Ca yir hans or we winna win throw the nicht.
20. Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxxiv.:
And the young lads haena wit aneugh to ca' the cat frae the cream.
22. Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary (1818) iv.:
Johnnie Howie has hardly sense aneugh to ca' the cows out o' his kale-yard.
23. Abd.(D) 1920 C. Murray In the Country Places 26:
They taul' me, Heraclitus, that ye had worn awa'; I grat to mind hoo aft we ca'd the crack atween the twa.
Ayr. 1785 Robert Burns Poems and Songs (1969) 66:
On Fasteneen we had a rockin,
To ca' the crack and weave our stockin.
Wgt. 1880 J.F.C. in G. Fraser Lowland Lore 164:
At length, I doff'd my hat an' spak', To try if she would ca' the crack.
25. Ags.17 1938:
That'll gar ye ca' yer feeties.
26. Mry. 1852 A. Christie Mountain Strains 14:
He ca'd the spree, Richt frank an' free.
28. Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 20:
A heard something o't; but I sanna ca'-aboot the story.
Abd. 1825 Jam.2:
To caw clashes, to spread malicious or injurious reports, q[uasi] to carry them about from one place to another, like one who hawks goods.
Abd. 1929 Daavit's Digressions in Abd. Evening Expr. (16 Feb.) 7:
Noo, it's nae ca'd story 'cause Wullie Petterson spak tae een o' the lads that cam' on 'im.
Ags. 1920 A. Gray Songs and Ballads 20:
They ca'ed the clash aboot me, And eh! they were muckle grieved! They ca'ed me a ne'er-do-weel callant, And a' they said, you believed.
Ags.17 1938:
No, am telling ye, that's nae ca'd clash [not merely gossip].
29. Lnk. 1838 McIlwham Papers (ed. J. Morrison) Letter i. 10:
I maun speak to ye o't i' the Spring whan I ca' wi' ye, as I purpose, on my way to see my auld friens at Rafrilan.

[O.Sc. cal(l), caw, with meanings corresponding to III. 1 and 2, and also with modern Eng. meanings. Call, in the sense of “utter a call,” occurs first in O.Sc. in phr. cal agayne, to recall, a.1350. Call, in the sense of “drive,” is recorded first in Barbour Brus x. 223: “Than Bwnnok . . . callit his wayn towart the peill.” The form caw does not appear in D.O.S.T. until 1523 and is the reg. development of the orig. call. The different meanings cannot be assigned to different origins. The two forms and the two meanings are found also in n.Eng. dials. and derive from O.N. kalla, to call. There seems to be no evidence in Mod.Scand. of the meaning “drive.” The extension of meaning may be explained by the fact that the bringing in of the cows necessitated two actions — the calling to attract their notice and the getting behind them to drive them in, when shouting was again employed to stir up the laggards. Hence call = drive, in various other conditions, as in “to drive a nail,” etc.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Ca' v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jul 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: