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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FOO, adv. Also fou, fu, †fow. I. and n.Sc. variants of Hoo, adv., how. The forms are occasionally found outside this area (see 1896 and 1901 quots.).

1. How, by what means (I., n.Sc. 1952). Hence fooever, ‡fooanever, fusomever, however (Ib.).Abd. 1739 J. Skinner in Caled. Mag. (1788) 501:
I wat na fow, but on a bank, . . . The Cousins bicker'd wi' a clank.
Ags. 1803 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 639:
But will awins! We little ken Fu' an' fat way our days sall en'.
Mry. 1824 J. Cock Homespun Lays 120:
My butter, cheese, an' curns o' woo, Are sell't an' spent, I watna fu.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xiv.:
It was not the mere writing that dismayed him, it was the composition — “foo to begin” — and the “backin'.”
Cai. 1874 in Ellis E.E.P. V. 685:
Foo an ever, 'is is 'e facs o 'e case.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 106:
An' I s'all tell thee a' utright, Fu' Robie cam' tae me the night, An' fu' I flet the gapas heem'.
Fif. 1896 D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 292:
I man lat ye see foo's the best wye t' pit yer taties.
Ayr. 1901 “G.Douglas” Green Shutters xxv.:
Nae-ae prizes! Ay, man! Fow's that, na?
Ags. 1915 V. Jacob Songs of Angus 44:
For foo can an auld wife ken what a lassie's thinkin'?
Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 45:
Foo-ever caul, Ye followit ilka furr or straik Without devaul.
Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 17. 21:
The [Orkney] greeting — Hoo ir thoo? is Shetland's fu is du?
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 20:
'Foo aal's Bennachie? As aal's a man?'
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 60:
I dinna ken foo; I dinna ken wye; bit the roose risin ooto jealousy wan intae ma drivin, sae I pit ma fit doon, ...

Phrs.: (1) †foo-ca'-ye't, †fucait, †fu' ca' (ye) 'im, what do you call it (him), ‡foustica'it (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Abd.7 1925); foostica't, fuisticat (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh.10 1952), †fushica'd, -ca'm (Sc. a.1825 H. Blyd's Contract 3), ‡fooshtyemaycat (Abd.27, Ags.19 1952), what is it you (may) call it (him), a mode of referring to a thing or person, the name of which is temporarily forgotten or euphemistically suppressed; †(2) fou'd be, however it be (was). Also †funabe(is), fouanabees (Ags. 1819 R. Mudie Glenfergus I. xviii.), lit “how an it be,” i.e. nevertheless, however. The -(i)s is the old 3rd pers. sing. ending of the pres. subj.; (3) foo's a' (wi' ye), = Eng. “how are you?” (n.Sc. 1952), a common mode of address when meeting a friend; (4) foo that, in introducing a noun clause: how, that (ne.Sc. 1952). Also that fou, that fou that (Abd.27 1950).(1) Abd. 1746 W. Forbes Dominie Deposed (1765) liii.:
'Tis strange what makes Kirk-fouks so stupid, To make or meddle with the fucait.
Mry. 1806 J. Cock Simple Strains 138:
[He] Lads and Lasses disna spare Wha try the fu'-ca'-ye't!
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 97:
I'd sing, as fu' ca' 'im sang for Meg.
Abd. 1887 Bon-Accord (10 Dec.) 17:
This foo-ca-ye-im Gray's gotten his berth noo.
(2) Abd. 1739 J. Skinner in Caled. Mag. (1788) 502:
What way it was he miss'd the mark, I canna tell, but fou'd be, He fell that day.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 59:
Funabeis on she gaes, as she was bown.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 355:
Tho' I'm a poet, and but poor, Yet, fu' na be, I dinna jeer.
(3) Cai. 1776 Weekly Mag. (25 Jan.) 145:
Whar's this you're gaen'? an' fu's a sin the streen?
Per. 1811 J. Sim Poems 23:
Nane will say for him fu's a', Nor for him care.
Bnff. 1855 Banffshire Jnl. (9 Oct.):
“Fu's a' wi' ye, Jock?” “Brawly, Betty, fu's a' wi' yoursel?”
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 106:
Gude evenin'. Foo is a' here da night?
(4) Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 31:
I marvel muckle fou that I, Sae joggl't wi' adversity, Shou'd e'er attempt to sing.
Abd. 1891 Bon-Accord (3 Jan.) 20:
I triet tae explain that fou it wisna me that haed a haud o' the dog, bit the dog o' me.
Abd. 1903 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 38:
Counsel — “What did he say about the matter?” Dilly — “Foo that the pawtron sud gie's the preevelege o' a leet.”

2. Why, for what reason (ne.Sc. 1952). Also foo for (Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 28).Bnff. 1847 A. Cumming Tales 61:
I won'er foo ye cringed sae lang.
Abd. 1912 G. Greig Mains's Wooin' 10:
Sae they likely will; but foo are ye spierin'?
m.Sc. 1937 A. Fleming Strawberry Field i.:
Aye . . . That's foo I'm here the day.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 4:
Foo dae fowk need a heid?
Yon's far the blicht sterts.

[O.Sc. has fow, phow, how, from 1543, not restricted to n.Sc., as a variant of quhow, O.E. hu, id. The f- has developed in n.Sc. on the analogy of the other f- (wh-) interrogatives, Fa, Far, Fat, etc.]

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"Foo adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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