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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

CAUF, Ca'f, Caav, Cauve, n.1 and v. Also cawf, caulf. The English form calf is used in various Sc. combinations. [kɑ:f, kɑ:v Sc., but m.Sc. + kǫf]

I. n. Dim. caufie.

1. A calf. Gen.Sc.em.Sc. (a) 1895 “I. Maclaren” Days of Auld Langsyne 103:
It's a broon and white caufie ye hev, smith.
Kcb. 1797 R. Buchanan Poems 11:
Frisky caufs wad tak' the fley.
w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (1912) i.:
Nancy . . . kept twae kye, and sometimes a cauf or a stirk.

2. “Infield grass, enclosed or protected pasture” (Sc. 1887 Jam.6). Cf. Comb. (3) infra.

3. Combs.: (1) calf-grund (ground), caav-, the place of one's birth and early life; known to Ags. correspondents and Fif.10 1938; (2) calfie's cheese, a kind of soft cheese or curd made with a newly-calved cow's milk (Abd., Per. 1975). See Beest, n.; (3) calf kintra = (1). Gen.Sc.; †(4) calflea, “infield ground, one year under natural grass. It seems to have received this designation, from the calves being turned out on it” (Ags. 1808 Jam.); (5) calf's lick, calfie's —, an untidy twist of hair on the forehead (Cai.7 1938; Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2, Abd.19, Arg.1, Kcb.9 1938). Cf. Eng. dial. calf-lick and St.Eng. cow-lick; (6) calf's mou', calfie's —, “a small shell, the European cowrie, Cypræa europæa” (Mry.1 1925); †(7) cauve reed, ca'f-, “rennets; stomachs of calves, for curdling milk” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 130, cauve reeds); see Reed. Also used attrib.; (8) calf-skins, “the sea ruffled by the wind in occasional spots, called by sailors ‘catspaws'” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.); “often applied to the surface of the water when ruffled by the wind; calf-skins on the water” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); (9) calf sod, †(a) “the sod or sward bearing fine grass; perhaps as affording excellent food for rearing calves” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; 1923 Watson W.-B., obs.); cf. (4); (b) “one's native place or district” (ne.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); cf. (1) and (3); (10)  calf-time, one's youth or early years; (11) calf-ward, an enclosure for calves (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1938); (12) calf-yird = (1); not known to our correspondents.(1) Sc. 1938 St Andrews Citizen (21 May) 3/3:
Mr R — never lost his interest in his “calf ground,” and in spite of the many calls on his time he returned to Cupar on two occasions.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto Tammas Bodkin xxiii.:
“From the East Neuk of Fife?” quoth he. “That is my calf-grund,” quoth I.
Rxb.(D) 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes an Knowes 6:
An the road swaipeet doon afore iz. Ay! doon ti ma caav-grund o Teviotdale.
(2) Abd. 1954 Huntly Express (19 Nov.): 
We'll get "calfie's cheese" for supper and in a very few days the milk will be fit for drinking.
(3)Sc. 1826 H. Duncan W. Douglas I. v.: 
As for my auld mither, it's her calf country.
(4)Lth. 1765 A. Dickson Agriculture 109: 
When it [outfield land] is only two or three years old, it is called, in some parts of the country, calf-lea; and, if ploughed at that age, is commonly very full of roots.
wm.Sc. [1835–1837] Laird of Logan (1868) 423:
Dr Johnson, who had spoken ill o' the Hielans, and the rest o' our calf kintra in former times.
(6)Mry. 1932 E. Gilbert Spindrift 34: 
An' John-o'-Groats an' caufie's mous Grew thick among her hair.
(7) Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 72:
An' Ca'f-reed carrier Samuel Noll.
(10)Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel ix.: 
Where have you been spending your calf-time?
(11) Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel iii.:
I have garr'd the sexton of St Cuthbert's calf-ward serve me for my quarters.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Dr Hornbook (Cent. ed.) xxiii.:
His braw calf-ward whare gowans grew Sae white and bonie, Nae doubt they'll rive it wi' the plew.
(12) Hdg. 1885 “S. Mucklebackit” Rural Rhymes, etc. 17:
This nicht in fancy we'll retrace The dear calf-yird that's far awa'!

4. In dim. form calfie: the smallest size of marketable haddock (Abd. 1930 Fishery Board Gl.).

5. In dim. caufie, a segment of an orange (Abd. 1920). CfGussie, n., 4.

6. A small island lying off the shore of a larger one, found in place-names of Norse orig. [O.N. kalfr, id.] (I. Sc. 1975). Cf. Calf of ManOrk. 1766 P. Fea MS. Diary (8 May): 
Sent 8 men to cast peats in the Calf [of Eday].

II. v. To calve. Bnff.4 1928 gives the form caav and Kcb.10 1938 the form cauve. See also Ca, v.3Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) i.:
Come away, come away, mother, as fast as ye can. Eh, lyst, the cow's cauffed, — and it's a cuddie!

[O.Sc. calf, caff, cawf, a calf; first appearance of l forms, end of 14th cent., and of forms without l, 1437 (see D.O.S.T.). O.E. cealf (W.S.), cælf (Anglian); Ger. kalbe, O.N. kalfr. Common Gmc., orig. meaning of root being “to swell.”]

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"Cauf n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Apr 2024 <>



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