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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.

CAUSEY, CAWSEY, Cawsay, Causie, Causa, n. See also Cassie, n.2 and v.2, and Calsay. [′kɑ:zɪ̢, ′kɑsɪ̢ Sc., but m.Sc. + ′k:z; ′kɑsɑ, ′kɑse s.Sc.]

1. A street or pavement laid with cobble-stones as distinguished from flagstones. Given in N.E.D. a.s chiefly Sc. Eng. causeway, a raised path or road across wet or marshy ground, is derived from the earlier causey. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1983 John McDonald in Joy Hendry Chapman 37 44:
A reid dawin.
Sun and Yirth jurmummelt.
A bairn's face taks lowe
i the causey.
Sth. 1736 in C. D. Bentinck Dornoch Cath. and Par. (1926) 298:
Likewayes once a week during the winter and Spring Seasons Cleanze the Cawsay and passages or Lanies before their houses and belonging to their possessions.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays and Leg. of the North (1908) 33:
Donal' Gillon liked the bottle, Aften staggered hame, Barely fit to keep the causey; Whisky wis to blame.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann, etc. 15:
Doon i' the causey his cairt wad stand As he roared oot “Haddies!” below his hand.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 33:
Ae nicht he'll skite
on crackt bitter causey
and freeze in his bluid,
his body huddert
like fremmit land.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 138:
He hovers there, standing back from the folk that pass up and down the causey, watching the coach that sits outside the bishop's lodgings a few yards away.
Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 22:
He peching on the cawsey lay, O' kicks and cuffs weel sair d.

Hence caus(e)yer, “one who makes a causeway” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2).Rnf. [1850] A. McGilvray Poems (1862) 333:
With masons, and founders, and plumbers, Bricklayers, and caus'yers, a mob.

2. “The paved or hard-beaten place in front of or round about a farmhouse” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.; Dwn. 1931 North. Whig (2 Dec.) 5/7). Known to Lnk.3 1939.Ant. 1900 T. Given Poems 149:
The wren tae the bluebonnet sings his refrain On causey o' cottier or lordly domain.

3. “A close” (Ant. 1931 North. Whig (2 Dec.) 5/7).

4. A cobble-stone. Also used of any stone in gen. (Abd. 1967). Transf., phs. by association with causey-bool in 6. (2), a playing-marble (Fif. 1975). Used collectively in quot.Fif. 1938 St Andrews Cit. (24 Sept.) 4/2:
In 1768 the Cross was taken down and a cross of causey laid.

5. Phrases: (1) cantle (cantel) o(f) the cawsey (causie), see Cantle, n., 3; (2) crap o' the causey, see Crap, n.1, 4; (3) crown o(f) the causey (causie), the centre or middle of the road (Bnff.2, Abd.19, Ags.1, Fif.10, Slg.3, Lnk.3 1939). Also used fig.; (4) to crop the causey, see Crap, v., 4; (5) to kiss the causey, to “come a cropper,” to meet defeat (Fif.10 1939).(3) Sc. 1808 Jam.:
To keep the crown of the causey, to appear openly, to appear with credit and respectability, q[uasi] to be under no necessity of lurking or taking obscure alleys.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Sc. Proverbs 77:
He kens the loan frae the crown o' the causey as weel as the duck does the midden-hole frae the addle-dub.
Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 55:
... she haunted the roads, always holding the crown of the causeway.
Dmf. 1810 R. H. Cromek Rem. Nithsd. and Gall. Song 93:
My auld auntie tauks ay the crown o' the causie.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Calendar I. i.:
Sic a man . . . will maybe keep the crown o' the causey langer than some that carried their heads higher.
(5) Sc. 1788 R. Galloway Poems 23:
For many a braw baboon we see, . . . Until their noddle turn them ree And kiss the causey.
Ags. 1826 A. Balfour Highland Mary I. xi.:
An' ye ha'e nae wish to kiss the causey, an' dinna want to make a poppy-show o' yoursel, you'll never offer to take it that length.

6. Combs.: (1) causey block, = (2), used fig. as in quot.; (2) causey-bool, -bullet, cobble-stone (Ags.17 1939, -bool); (3) causey cart, a cart used in the streets of a town, specif. a scavenger's cart; (4) causey clash, street talk; gossip (Abd.19, Fif.1 1939); (5) causa croon = Phrase (3); †(6) cawsey dancer, “a gadabout, one who is continually in the street” (E.D.D.); (7) causey doller, = (2), a cobble-stone (Ags. 1958). See Doller; (8) causey e'e, an outlet of water, esp. from a spring; not known to our correspondents; †(9) causey-faced, applied to “one who may appear on the street without blushing, or has no reason for shame before others” (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); having an impudent look, brazen-faced (Fif. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 37); (10) causey-layer, one who lays cobbles or paving stones (Fif.10 1939); (11) †causey-mail(l), a charge or toll imposed on carts using the streets in a town. See Causeway, 3; ‡(12) causey-paiker, “a street walker” (Sc. 1879 Jam.5 s.v. paiker); †(13) causey-raker, a street-sweeper, scavenger; (14) causey-saint, one who is well behaved and pleasant out of doors, i.e. away from his home circle (Ags.17, Lnk.3 1939); (15) causie stane, -steen, a cobble-stone (Ork., ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1975), a granite sett; †(16) causey-tales, — talk, common talk, gossip; cf. (4); †(17) causey-webs, in phrase to make causey-webs, (see quot.).(1) Abd. c.1880 Abd. Univ. Review (Winter 1941) 52:
Brownish buns, streaked with white, which young Aberdeen styled "causey blocks". The name suggested their substantiality.
(2) Ags.10 1925:
His clogs clattered owre the causey-bullets.
(3) Abd. 1759 Gordon's Mill Farming Club (1962) 118:
Take a farmer so bred six or eight miles into the countrie, where he must make out his rent by the plough instead of the shovel & causeycart, then he is put into a nonplus.
(4) Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail III. xiii.:
It's no for a courtesy o' causey clash that he's birlin' his mouldy pennies in sic firlots.
(5) Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 8:
She aye hes kept the causa croon.
(6) Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of the Lairds vii.:
She had a wife for me, far more to the purpose than sitch a cawsey dancer as Annie Daisie.
(8) Abd. 1909 Memories of Auchterless in Bnffsh. Jnl. (9 Feb.) 6:
In my young days it was largely a marshy quagmire, ending in the “causey e'e,” the happy hunting ground of the auld wives' deuks.
(10) Mearns 1890 J. Kerr Reminisc. of a Wanderer I. 8:
A mason an' a causey-layer neist aifter that we trace.
(11) Edb. 1711 Burgh Rec. Edb. (1967) 207:
They have been constantly in use past memory of man to exact ane certain custom by way of causey maill for each cart.
Edb. 1798 Edb. Weekly Jnl. (24 Oct.):
The following Branches of the City of Edinburgh's Common Good, to be Set . . . 1. Impost on Wine, Merk per pack, and Causey Mail.
(12) Per. 1928 W. Soutar in Scots Mag. (Feb.) 363:
There are nane But scoukars on the lang straucht o' the Toun Whaur haik the causey-paikers, ane be ane.
(13) Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 211:
I'd rather roost wi' Causey-Rakers, And sup cauld Sowens.
(14) Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Sc. Proverbs 119:
He is a causey saint and a house deil.
Fif.1 1934:
“A fireside-deil and a causey-saint,” said of a person crabbed at home and genial with those he meets out of doors. [Fif.10 1939 gives “hoose-deil and causey-saint.”]
(15) Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 12:
I walk upon the croonmost causie stane.
(16) Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Ye needna mak causey-tales o't; Do not publish it.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xix.:
Causey talk in the forenoon.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie III. xxvi.:
“The laird wants to ken what is't that ye hae heard.” “O' just a wheen havers, Miss Mizy! — just a wheen havers!” replied Bell — “causey talk — Vox populi!”
(17) Abd. 1825 Jam.2:
A person is said to make causey-webs, who neglects his or her work, and is too much on the street.

[O.Sc. causa(y), cawsa(y), a piece of paving, a paved portion, from 1459; variant of O.Sc. causé, cawsé(e); the ending in Sc. normally changes to -a(y), and the original forms are rare. Also crown of the causey, 1635 (D.O.S.T.). Causey, cawsey are given in D.O.S.T. as later spellings of causay. See also Calsay.]

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"Causey n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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