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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

GAIVE, v., n. Also gave, ‡gaivel, †geave. Cf. Gove, v., n.1 [ge:v]

I. v. 1. To move about in a clumsy, purposeless or restless fashion (Bwk. 1916 T.S.D.C. II.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., 1942 Zai).Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man I. iv.:
Callant, clap the lid down on the pat; what hae they't hinging geaving up there for?
Dmf. 1903 J. L. Waugh Thornhill vi.:
He went out to the back door and called down the garden: — “What the deevil are you twae hempies gave, gavein aboot there for?”
Kcb. 1916 T.S.D.C. II.:
Sit doon, Jackie, an' dinna gang gaivin aboot in folk's road.
ne.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
He was gaivin' aboot like a bull.

Hence gaivie, n., a clumsy fellow (Watson).

2. “To toss the head upwards and downwards, as a horse that needs a martingale” (Lth. 1825 Jam., gaivel). Cf. Cave, v.1, (1).

3. To stare in a stupid, vacant or idle manner, to stare wildly (Rxb. 1825 Jam., gaivel; 1923 Watson W.-B., gaive, ‡gaivel). Also in Cum. dial. in form gavel.

Hence gaivie, n., one who stares stupidly (Watson).

II. n. “An epithet given to a person oddly or fantastically dressed: ‘an unco-like gaive'” (Kcb.2 c.1930).

[Of somewhat uncertain origin: v. 1. and 2. are voiced variants of Cave, v.1, q.v.; 3. may be an extended sense of this with influence from Gove.]

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"Gaive v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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