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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

COWK, COUK, KOWK, Couck, v., n. Also found in Eng. dial., but the more common Eng. dial. form is keck. [kʌuk]

1. v. To strain, retch because of nausea, vomit (Bnff.2, Abd.19, Slg.3 1940).Sc. 1995 David Purves Hert's Bluid 41:
The-day, A peyed a veisit ti Carntyne
an fylt ma fuit in cowkit pudden an chips,
serred bi sum brither chiel yestrein amang
the aidil puils that decorates the closs.
Abd. 1798 A. Shirrefs in D. Crawford Poems 90:
Ay [ae] couk, I'm sure, wad mak a breach, Thro' a' that were within its reach.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 22:
Ye're lucky come; afore anither ow'k, 'Tis likely ye'll get feightin' till ye couck.
Ags. 1907 Arbroath Guide (2 March) 3/7:
She at once began to couk an' to hoast.
Edb. 1787 W. Taylor Scots Poems 11:
A tradesman, ablins too a Gowk May richer grow than better fowk . . . Yet his pride may gar Auld N — kowk.

2. n. The act of retching (Bnff.2 1940); a retch (Abd.9, Abd.19 1940).Mry.2 1938:
He ga'e a muckle cowk an spewed a' ower the floor.

Hence cowker, “a straining to vomit” (Sc. 1790 F. Grose Gl.).

[Cf. O.Du. kolcken, to gulp, Du. kolken, to belch; Ger. kolken, to gulp, Ger. dial. kölken, kolksen, to vomit, Dan. kulke, to gulp.]

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"Cowk v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Apr 2024 <>



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