Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1952 (SND Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

COVINE, Covin, Coven, Covyne, n. [′ko(:)vɪn]

1. A compact or agreement; a plot. Obs. since 16th cent. in Eng. but revived by Scott.Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xv.:
The client himself opined, that it was entirely owing, first, to his own absence . . . being, as he said, deboshed with brandy . . . through the device, counsel, and covyne of Saunders Fairford, his agent.
Sc. 1828 Scott F. M. Perth xxvi.:
You are a close observer of the rules of the city, and are aware of the severe penalties which they denounce against such burghers as have covine and alliance with the Highland clans.

2. (See first quot.) Hist.Sc. 1852 N. and Q. (1st Series) V. 189:
A covine consists of 13 witches (“the Deil's dozen”?), of whom two are officials, the “Maiden of the Covine” who sits next the Deil, and with whom he leads off the dance (called Gillatrypes), and the “officer” who . . . calls the witches at the door, when the Deil calls the names from his book.
Sc. 1884–86 C. Rogers Social Life III. xx.:
To their “covens” or gatherings the foul sisterhood were borne through the air.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood ix.:
The leader of the witches' Coven in Woodilee.
Edb. 1930 L. Spence in Scots Mag. (Jan.) 303:
We find, for example, good evidence that a covin of witches were wont to meet on the Calton Hill about the middle of the seventeenth century.

3. A heterogeneous collection of people, a rabble.Abd.27 1947:
They're a gey orra covin up yonner.

[O.Sc. has covyne, covine, etc., with various meanings, including a compact or agreement, a complot, 1375; as a company of witches the word occurs in the report of the Auldearn witch trial 1662 (R. Pitcairn Criminal Trials III. 603) in which no doubt the quots. in section 2 above ultimately originate. Mid.Eng. covine; O.Fr. covin, m., a thought, project, reunion, covine, m. and f., a thought, assembly, etc. (Godefroy); Lat. convenire, to come together, to assemble.]

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

"Covine n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: