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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.

GAB, n.2 In phrs.: 1. the gab o' May, a spell of stormy weather about the beginning of May (n.Sc., Ags., Kcb. 1953); also called the caul' gab (see Cauld, adj., 3.); Marw. (1929) gives the form gaps o' May for Ork.; hence gabach, adj., cold, applied to the weather at this time (Rs. 1911);

2. the gab o' winter, a spell of cold weather in early autumn (Abd.12 1916; Abd.2 1945).1. ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 150:
The first days of May . . . were supposed to come accompanied by cold and wet, and hence they were called the “gab o' May.”
Abd. 1904 Abd. Weekly Free Press (30 April):
A blast as from the Arctic swept down upon us on Sunday and Monday [24th and 25th April]. . . . People said consolingly that it was the “gab o. May”, but that did not lessen the fact that it was bitterly cold.
Abd. 1952 Buchan Observer (6 May):
We have the Gab o' May, or May's cauld kalends to reckon with, and the question comes whether to consume the last of the neeps and straw by keeping the cattle housed instead of turning them out of doors.
m.Sc. 1991:
Gab o May ...that spell of bad weather and frost you sometimes get...
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 28:
We caad it myrrh. It cam at the bare time
O lang blae licht an broon new-shaaven ley,
Skwylin teuchat, reek o burnin grouth,
The caal Gab o Mey.
Sc. 1999 Sunday Herald 28 Mar 28:
The weather doesn't really turn until after the Gab o' May, the last snow storm that sweeps across the hills in the middle of May killing newborn lambs, nesting birds and the first spring flowers; a Calvinistic reminder that we shouldn't relax until the end of May.
Sc. 2003 Times 23 May 25:
... here in North-East Scotland we are well aware of the "Gab o' May", when snow showers are to be expected around May 8; ...

[Prob. Gab, n.1, mouth, opening, used fig. = commencement. ]

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"Gab n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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