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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

CHOW, Chowe, v., tr. and intr., n.1 Gen.Sc. forms of Eng. chew. See also Chaw, v.1 and n.1 [tʃʌu]

I. v.

1. tr. To chew, lit. and fig. (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 134; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn; Ork., Cai., Bnff., Edb., Fif., Arg., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s). Vbl.n. chowin. Cf. Chaw, v.1, 1.Sc. 1920 T. McWilliam Sc. Life in Light and Shadow 45:
There wisna muckle to be got fae'm. The ae half o' 's sintence he chowed, an' syne he swalla't that wi' the ither.
Sc. 1991 T. S. Law in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 35:
"Ach, Jean, ye neednae bother, hen,
for this I'll tell ye: ye'll can ken
he neever will chowe cheese again."
Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 62:
Bit de chowin wus oot-be-tald, abeun a'. The geudman yackled on a piece o the mulls a lang time.
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 64:
Wi winna-ding chiels, aye keep chowin the fat
an be a bit sceptical, (nae herm in that),
for aabodie kent yince, the yirth form wis flat.
Peb. 1793 Carlop Green (ed. R. D. C. Brown 1832) ii. 42:
And speldings, and sweeties, for schits [spoiled children], Tae chow and sook at hame.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake, etc. 139:
I'll chowe contentment's cud at hame, An' never rue it.
Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe 253:
I never liked to tell a story twice ower; for it's aye like chowin' yer bannock after ye hae swallowed it.

Phrases: (1) to chow(e) one's chafts, to gnash one's teeth, to grumble (Bnff.2 1940), cf. Chowl, v. (1); (2) to chowe the leek, to “eat the leek,” to suffer humiliation (Abd.2 1940); (3) (to look like) a chow'd moose (mouse), said of a worn-out or debauched person (e.Dmf.2 1917; Rxb. 1825 Jam.2, — mouse; 1923 Watson W.-B.; Cai. 2000s).(1) Ags. 1892 Brechin Advertiser (21 June) 3/3:
Poor critic loons may chowe their chafts.
(2) Gsw. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Lilts on the Doric Lyre 76:
Doun mischanter's brae We a' maun trudge, an' chowe the leek.
(3) Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xviii.:
I had a' the appearance o' a chow'd moose.
Edb. 1994:
Yer faither'll be in soon looking like a chow'd moose and wantin his tea.

Comb.: chow-gaw, -gore, "a sheep whose bad teeth prevent proper mastication" (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). The cause is an irregular lengthening of the molars which causes the cud to be imperfectly masticated and to become impacted between the teeth and the cheeks. For gore cf. O.N. gor, cud.Slk. 1912 H.J.C. Clippings from Clayboddie (1921) 47:
The way he could spot a stranger or an over-year ewe, or a chowgore.

Proverbs:Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 195:
Yee caannay hwussul un chow mail. You can't whistle and chew meal (at the same time).
Uls. c.1920 J. Logan Ulster in the X-rays (2nd ed.) xi.:
One claimed that his minister could preach for half-an-hour, and the other claimed that his could speak for three-quarters of an hour. “Aye,” drily retorted the other, “coorse fother wants long chowin'” (coarse fodder wants long chewing).

2. intr. To be angry, vexed. Ppl.adj. chowin', “provoking” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., rare).Ags. 1918 J. Inglis The Laird 15:
He chows an' he girns when he sees an auld Can, The bairns' dirty faces come under his ban.

II. n. The act of chewing; a quid of tobacco (Cai.7, Bnff.2, Fif.10, Slg.3, Arg.1, Kcb. correspondents 1940). Cf. Chaw, n.1, 1; something to chew, one or two sweets, esp. given to a child (Ork., Abd. 1975); a quid of tobacco used as money in the game of draughts.Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc. 192:
I hae na turned the chow in my cheek . . . sin' I gied your frien' here a rough guess o't; but, ye'se get it a' owre again.
Gsw. 1990:
In the colliery my father worked at, the miners played draughts for 'chows'.

Phrases: 1. on your chow (see quot.), prob. a metaphor taken from eating: “at your last mouthful”; 2. to gie words a chow in the middle, to articulate indistinctly.1. Ags. 1934 G. M. Martin Dundee Worthies 178:
In all the “bool” games a peculiar expression was used “on your chow.” . . . The meaning of “chow” was when a boy was reduced to his last “bool” and lost, the boy with a surplus of ammunition good-heartedly offered to lend a bool or bools to allow the game to proceed.
2. Sc. 1923 R. Macrailt Hoolachan 28:
I'll ha'e to speak English to her. Let's see. Ye drap oot a' the R's, and gie the words a chow in the middle.
Gall.(D) 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 5:
I gie the words a gude chow in the middle.

[O.Sc. has chow, chowe, v., from c.1500, but not the n. (D.O.S.T.); Mid.Eng. chowen, O.E. ceōwan, variant of cēowan, to chew.]

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"Chow v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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