Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
About this entry:
First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.
LOWSE, adj., adv., n., v.1 Also lows(s)e (Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 68, Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick vii.), louse, lous(s) (Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems II. 101); †lose (Inv. 1710 Inv. Session Rec. (Mitchell 1902) 70). Gen.Sc. forms of Eng. loose. Also in n.Eng. dial. [adj. lʌus; v. lʌuz]
I. adj. 1. As in Eng., lit. and fig.: free, unrestrained, unconstricted; untied, not fastened or bound; unused, spare; dissolute in character. Also Compar. lowsser. Gen.Sc.; of liquor: drawn from the cask, unbottled. Hence lowsance, n., see IV. 5. (1); lously, adv., loosely; lowsness, looseness; diarrhoea (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 323).Inv. 1718 Steuart Letter Bk. (S.H.S.) 68:
He is mostly confined to his bed with a Lousness.Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 31:
Whylst Greece an' Rome kept their auld fire, An' gae nae scoup to lowse Desire.Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems I. 244:
Nae raip hangs lously on the ruck; Nae stane louse on the wa'.Sc. 1831 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) III. 339:
A desperate brattle amang the lowse stanes.Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes xvi.:
As sune as ever ye spy her lowse i' the yard, be aff wi' ye.Gsw. 1879 A. G. Murdoch Rhymes 20:
But them wha cleek the dram will aye be lowse upon their feet.Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 52:
Sheu was a' lous' i' the heudin's, an' as swack i' the lumpie sea as a auld paet kazie.e.Lth. 1885 S. Mucklebackit Rural Rhymes 238:
Ootside, they were, he jaloosed, even thranger. The barnyaird had to be tackled till, an a' the louse strae stackit tidy up.Fif. 1887 S. Tytler Logie Town I. xii.:
He cannot be having an ee to ony lowse cash of Leddy Sprott's, poor simple thing!Abd. 1912 Buchan Ass. Mag. (Jan.) 4:
We hed fower gless o' lowse ale amon' 's.sm.Sc. 1923 R. W. Mackenna Bracken & Thistledown 25:
Peter pit a poke on the scales, and was for fillin' the tea intil't, but the cobbler stopped him. “I'm no peyin' for paper,” says he, an' he glowered at Peter till he weighed the tea lowse.Abd. 1925 A. Murison Rosehearty Rhymes 7:
His claes were a marvel o' lowsness an' fit.Sc. 1931 J. Bridie Anatomist iii.:
Guid save us! A' the fiends of hell are louse the day!Fif.1 1940:
A frequent accident to wooden golf-clubs used to be that they became “louse i' the glue”, i.e. that the glue which, with the whipping or wapping, attached the head of the club to the shaft, had lost its efficacy. m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 50:
Nou coontermandit aw oor unscreivit rules,
dress bi the richt and dinna quote Regulations;
real life is rin bi The Bress frae the Boardin Schuils ...
no bi oor aulder, lowsser congregations.
Combs. and phrs.: (1) lowse-fittit, not bound to one place by one's work, engagements, etc., free to travel (Sh., Mry., Bnff., Ags., Fif., m.Lth., Kcb. 1961). Cf. phr. to hae one's fit or feet lowse, etc., to be at liberty, one's own master; (2) lowse in the heft, see Heft, n.1, 4. (3). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (3) lowse leather, the loose skin of a person who has lost flesh; also fig. as in 1721 quot.; (4) to be at the tail o a lowse tow, to be at a loose end, have nothing in particular to do (Kcd. 1961).(1) Sc. 1717 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1843) II. 315:
Were I as loose footed as I have been, I could come to London to have the benefit of reading it.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Her fit was louss — she was her own mistress.(3) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 38:
You have o'er mickle lose [sic] leather about your lips.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
He's a hantle lowse leather about his chafts.
2. Unemployed, not settled in a job, “on the loose”, vagabond. Obs. in Eng.Lnk. 1711 Minutes J.P.s (S.H.S.) 116:
There are considerable numbers of vagabounds, sorners, louse and idle persons.Sc. 1763 Caled. Mercury (29 Oct.) 518:
There are at present a number of loose people about that country.
3. Of the weather: (1) unsettled, changeable (I.Sc., Cai., Gall. 1961); (2) not frosty, mild, balmy (Ags. 1961).(1) Ork. 1867 C. Clouston Explanation of Pop. Weather Prognostics 29:
Thunder and lightning of all kinds, and at all hours, are so generally thus accompanied, that in Orkney it is commonly called “loose weather.”(2) Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 63:
An', when we lookit for a thaw, An' lowser weather.
II. adv. As in Eng.: free, at liberty, in an unrestrained manner. Gen.Sc.Bnff. 1714 Records Bnff. (S.C.) 291:
I doe not think anie off the Highlanders will brake louse or invest the [low] country.Lnk. 1716 Minutes J.P.s (S.H.S.) 173:
Act anent Servants goeing Loose and Leaveing their Master's Service.Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 61:
The least untentit, lowse spoke word, Gars them draw the duellin' sword.Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xl.:
The strings o' 'er mutch fleein' lowse.e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 36:
Owre wintry roads, for mony a mile Thick-thrang wi' maist o' classes Gaun lowse this day!Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 2:
Where the speaned lambs mene their mithers As they loup lowse, wae and bauld.
†III. n., from v. 6. A rush, race, impetuous course. Obs. in Eng. since mid 18th c. [lʌuz]Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 109:
He took a gey louse doun the rod, fin's maister geed in.
IV. v. 1. tr. To loosen, untie, unfasten, let loose, in gen. Gen.Sc. To lowse doun, to unfasten and let down, of clothes, to undo and open out a parcel, etc. (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 109); to lowse out, to untie and open out. Also in Eng. dial.; to lowse up, id.Sc. 1710 in J. Grant Burgh Schools (1876) 472:
Striking him upon the mouth with his hand, to the lowsen of his tooth.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. v. i.:
Upon me fast the witch and it fell baith, Lows'd down my breeks.Ayr. 1785 Burns To Rev. J. M'Math iii.:
Wha, if they ken me, Can easy, wi' a single wordie, Louse hell upon me.Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 13:
Then on the morn ilk chapman loon Rears up his market shop An' a' his gibbles louses doon.Sc. 1823 E. Logan St Johnstoun II. ix.:
Naething louses the jaw like a soup drink.Sc. 1827 W. Motherwell Minstrelsy 372:
She's louted down unto his foot To lowze Sweet Willie's shoon, O.Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin iv.:
Mrs Williamson, wha had lichtit a beengie o' whun cowes i' the floor-head, was lowsin' the cradle string.Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 340:
I hae seen the stooks ta'en doon, an' the sheaves lowsed oot tae dry.Lnk. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Lilts 96:
Sic a fankled heid is wrocht The deil he couldna louse it.Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong Robbie Rankine 57:
The straps that festened his hands and feet were lowsed.Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 123:
Lowse up yon pell, daa, an' pit her inunder da mill.Abd.4 1930:
Ye've tied a knot wi' yer tongue 'at yer teeth winna lowse.Ags. 1933 W. Muir Mrs Ritchie viii.:
He's lowsed doon a' my hair.Sc. 1950 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 174:
Just you lowse the lace on the top o' the creel and pit yer han' doon in. Sc. 1991 Roderick Watson in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 106:
That uncle o mine - I ken it plain -
He'd like to see me hung,
He'd lowse the ties o bluid an name
Gin e'er I askit him for a bun! Dundee 1996 Matthew Fitt Pure Radge 8:
straucht an smert
the ba is lowsed
sherp as a skelf
burlin aa weys
a buhlitt em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 27:
" ... Will I be fee'd for endless terms?
An will he niver lowse ma cheens
Or strike the shangies frae ma airms? ... " Dundee 2000 Ellie McDonald Pathfinder 10:
Ae day suin I'll lowse the knot
an fae the poke'll skail
a smirr o rain,
a seagull's peenge,
a lang-forgotten look o love.
Fig. in phrs. to lowse one's hert, jaw, pack, pock, wisp, to speak out forthrightly and unrestrainedly, to give rein to one's tongue, to “open up”, to unburden oneself, — one's scawl, to break into rebuke or denunciation.Bnff. 1702 J. F. S. Gordon Chron. Keith (1880) 82:
Hugh Jamieson, discoursing on that head, said he would Louse his wisp, and that he would prove, by two honest women, that the mill did grind without a clap.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. ii. i.:
But loose your Poke, be't true or fause, let's hear.Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 72:
At times when she [the Muse] may lowse her pack, I'll grant that she can find a knack, To gar auld-warld wordies clack.Ayr. 1786 Burns Address to the Deil xviii.:
An' lows'd his ill-tongu'd, wicked Scawl.Ags. 1819 A. Balfour Campbell I. xviii.:
He begude to tell his mind, an' crowsly did he speak when he loused his pock.Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 243:
Come louse your heart, ye man o' the muir; We tell our distress ere we leuk for a cure.e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 152:
The news was trockit thro' the town; Rumour, as usual, loused his packs.
2. Specif.: to cut or undo the band of a sheaf of corn before feeding it into a threshing mill. Gen.Sc. Hence lowser; lowsin-loft, see 1941 quot. (Cai., Abd., Ags., Lth., Wgt., s.Sc. 1961); to lowse for or tae a mill (Abd. 1960).Abd. 1905 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 135:
I'll be ower to feed's mull an' gie Annie a heat at lowsin'.Abd. 1920 C. Murray Country Places 23:
She lowsed for the mill an' she trampit the soo.s.Sc. 1941 Scotsman (6 Feb.) 4:
The cutting of sheaf bands is referred to as “lowsin,” while the loft on to which the sheaves are thrown for threshing is called the “lowsin loft.”m.Sc. 1947 Scots Mag. (April) 8:
A gaed up tae the lowsin' loft where auld Geordie was feedin' in tae the mill.Mry. 1956 Bulletin (2 Oct.) 8:
When threshing time comes the whole laborious business is to do again. The forker pitches to the “lowser” who feeds the sheaf to the mill.wm.Sc. 1960:
On the mill, waiting to receive the sheaves as they landed, were two women known as “lousers”. Their job was to lift the sheaves and cut the string that held the sheaf together.Abd. 1961 Abd. Press and Jnl. (5 Aug.):
Lowsin' to the mill was my job, while my father fed.
3. (1) tr. To unbind (an animal) from a stall, etc., esp. to unyoke (a horse from a cart or plough or vice versa). Gen.Sc. Also fig. in phr. lowsed laden, see 1941 quot.Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 12:
Gallant Hay, wha lows'd his pleugh, Wi's yoke restor'd the day, man.Sc. 1819 Scott H. Midlothian ix.:
His usual hour, which was that at which David Deans was wont to “loose the pleugh.”Ayr. 1876 J. K. Hunter Life Studies 96:
I'll loose my cart whaur I like for you.Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie xxxiii.:
Gien ye lowsed them they wad but tak to the watter wi' fear, an' droon the seener.Slk. 1914 Southern Reporter (17 Dec.) 9:
When Sandy had “lowsed” the pony and settled him for the night.Rxb. 1941 Scotsman (6 Feb.) 4:
A cart unyoked with the load still on is said to be “lowsed laden,” and very curiously that term is often used to denote the discomfiture of someone who has been too cocksure and has come to grief in one way or another.
(2) Hence absol.: to unyoke a draught animal, to cease to plough, etc. Gen.Sc.Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 56:
At length baith tir'd wi' heat o' noon, They loos'd an' on the lee lay down.Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb ii.:
It'll be twall o'clock ere we win to Turra to lowse.Wgt. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 7:
He was not to lowze unless it came down an even-down pour.Rxb. 1916 Kelso Chron. (7 April) 2:
Hind — “Fifty-five tae six. Well, a handfu' meenutes is naither here nor there. Aa think Aa'll lowse.”Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 78:
The ploomen hae lowsed, an' the day's darg is ower.
(3) By extension: to cease from any kind of work or activity, to stop work, to “knock off” (Sc. 1825 Jam., 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 43), gen. of persons, occas. by metonymy of animals or things. Gen.Sc. Ppl.adj. lowsed, freed from the day's work; hence, by extension, tired, weary (Lth., Slk. 1961).
Also vbl.n. lowsin.Sc. 1705 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 383:
To the masones and barrowmen, for helping holls about the coallhous after they loused from work . . . 0. 4. 0.e.Lth. 1715 J. Paterson Musselburgh (1857) 120:
Entering at six of the clock at night, and lowsing att six of the morning.Slg. 1763 Indictment of W. Kirk (1 Aug.):
When you loosed from your Work at six o'clock at Night.Slk. 1827 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) vi.:
If he were here, he wad hear it every day when the school looses.Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 287:
I' the drap o' the day, when the harrows lowses.Dmf. 1863 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace 1899) 95:
The horses lowsed at Durrisdeer.Bwk. 1879 W. Chisholm Poems 94:
While stappin' hameward frae the fields, Baith herd and hind are lowsed.Abd. 1887 North. Figaro (9 April) 10:
I managed tae lowse at dennir time an' gyang hame an' dress for the meetin'.Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums xii.:
Not every weaver in Thrums could “louse” when his back grew sore.Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 306:
Then up wi' the stane an' the besom, An' here's to the frost an' the snaw, An' hey! for a brange at the lousing, The saut beef, the lang kail, an' a'.Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 46:
Roond half the warld ye've toss'd yer dram but sune ye'll hae to lowse.Lth. 1945 Weekly Scotsman (14 April):
I advised him to see his doctor straight away, but he said: “Na, I'm ower late the nicht. He'll be “lowsed.” I'll see him the morn.”wm.Sc. 1948 J. Corrie Last Day 66:
Maw, the pit's lowsed an' my daddie's hame. wm.Sc. 1977 William McIlvanney Laidlaw (1985) 121:
'Jist in fur a quick yin before we lowse. Ah only enjoy smokin' in the firm's time.' ne.Sc. 1979 Alastair Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 64:
They are lowsed fae routine's sweaty wheel
and the clickin wheep o the clock. Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 71:
Ah'll see ye ootside the work when ye louse. I'll meet you outside the factory when you finish work. Arg. 1992:
Ye'll soon be lowsin. Is that you lowsed? Arg. 1998 Angus Martin The Song of the Quern 55:
O, ye may watch at Maidens
an ask for them bi name,
but the maisters o the ringin ert
ir lang lowsed an hame. w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 19:
Drookit miners at lowsin, whan hame fae the mine,
Suin stripp't aff thir pee-wee's, ti a scrub in the bine.
(4) tr. To cease (work). Rare.Gsw. 1872 J. Young Lochlomond 55:
An' hoo the tailor had to lowse His wark, an' hoyte up in a crack The base auld lurdon on his back.
(5) Combs.: (i) loosing shower, a fall of rain which compels outdoor-workers to stop; (ii) lowsin-time, time to stop work, the end of the working day. Gen.Sc.(i) Per. 1842 Edb. Ev. Courant (3 Sept.):
Hitherto there has not been one “loosing shower,” as a breathing time for the weary shearer.m.Sc. 1999 John Milligan New Writing from the Scottish Borders 6:
But a rare soond breengin intae ma thochts
That lowses me tae deek, as aye it dis
Tae merk the passin geese (ii) Ork. 1774 P. Fea MS. Diary (31 May):
Begun to the big Sheed just before Loseing time.Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's Well xv.:
Looking at their watches . . . lest they should work for their master half an instant after loosing-time.Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin vi.:
Lowsin' time cam' belyve.Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 110:
Aften aboot lowsin'-time when the horses were suppered.Kcb. 1893 Crockett Stickit Minister (1898) 143:
The men are very exact about “lowsin'-time.”Abd. 1895 G. Williams Scarbraes 42:
They set to work and were joined by several “orra chaps” after lowsin' time.s.Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Penny Wheep 30:
The lowsin' time o' workers a' Like emmits skailin' everywhere.w.Lth. 1957 Scotland's Mag. (June):
Men coming pouring out and haring down the path at “lousin'” time.
4. tr. and intr. To discharge rain or snow; to break, of a storm (Sh. 1961).Sh. 1894 Williamson MSS. (22 May):
He's standin lousin a snaaie shooer.Sh. 1928 Manson's Sh. Almanac:
He may have been thirty or forty miles away when it lowsed.Sh. 1949 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 130:
A lousin is a regular downpour.Sh. 1961 New Shetlander No. 58. 25:
He was aamist ta da hide, sae heavy did da rain lowse.
5. (1) To release, deliver, set free from constraint or obligation. Hence lowsin, lowsance (prob. < lowsins), release (Sc. 1818 Sawers); a celebration to mark the end of an apprenticeship, when the apprentice is released from his indentures. Cf. n.Eng. dial. lowsening, id.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 54:
It is not a death but lousance.Fif. 1838 A. Bethune Sc. Peasantry 120:
Gin ye'll promise to dee a' this, without cheatry or lounery, ye'll hae lowsance frae yer bondage.Abd. 1875 G. Macdonald Malcolm II. iii.:
Wha they say was humpit whan he was born, an' maist cost her her life to get lowst o' him.Kcb. 1897 66th Report Brit. Ass. 466:
When the apprenticeship was finished, there was “the prentice lowsan” — i.e. there was a feast, a “high” tea with a little drinking of whisky. When an apprentice blacksmith finished his apprenticeship, his companions and friends sometimes gave a ball, called “the lousin ball.” m.Sc. 1999 John Milligan New Writing from the Scottish Borders 6:
But a rare soond breengin intae ma thochts
That lowses me tae deek, as aye it dis
Tae merk the passin geese
(2) To release (goods, etc.) by payment, redeem from pawn.Sc. 1706 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 434:
To James davies men brought 6 load of coalls to them for loosing them at 5s. 6d. the load.Gall. 1731 Session Bk. Minnigaff (1939) 545:
To lowse a book pauned for a grot to a poor schollar . . . 4s.Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's Well ii.:
As for the letters at the post-mistress's, . . . they may bide in her shop-window, wi' the snaps and bawbee rows, till Beltane, or I loose them.
(3) Sc. Law: to withdraw an arrestment on goods held for debt, by the debtor finding the requisite surety, corresp. to Eng. phr. “to dissolve an attachment”. Hence loosing of arrestment, “the recall of the prohibition made to the arrestee, enabling him to pay the funds in his hands to the common debtor” (Sc. 1896 W. K. Morton Manual 344).Sc. 1707 Morison Decisions 799:
The Lords found the arrestment to have been effectually loosed; though the letters of loosing were not intimated to the arrester.Sc. 1798 Monthly Mag. (Sept.) 176:
A Loosing of Arrestment — A Writ to discharge such attachment, which issues of course on the debtor giving security for payment of the debt.Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 608:
An arrestment may be loosed on caution, wherever it is laid on for securing an illiquid debt.Sc. 1927 Gloag and Henderson Intro. Sc. Law 545:
A loosing entitles the arrestee to pay to the debtor, but in case he does not do so preserves the security obtained by the arrestment.
(4) To allow a company at table to start a meal by saying grace (Peb. 1902 E.D.D.). Cf. Yks. dial. to lowze the table, id.Peb. 1911 S.D.D.:
Lowze us = say grace for us.
6. intr. with refl. force: (1) to become loose or free, come unfastened. Gen.Sc. Obs. in Eng.Sc. 1827 W. Motherwell Minstrelsy 372:
The buckles were sae stiff they wadna lowze.Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 93:
Great walls may be toppled over and lie bellyflaucht on the ground without the bits of them lowsing from ane anither's grip.Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 28:
For an eerie soond comes to me on the lowsin' o' the wun'.
(2) to set to with vigour on a task or in conversation, etc.Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 109:
He wiz unco bauch on't at first, bit fin he louset on't, he cam a tearin' speed.Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 56:
He was a most comical customer when “he eence lowsed.”Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. 80:
As I lowsed ipun her [a song], an opened oot, you kno, and give her sheet.
(3) Specif. of anger or scolding: to let oneself go, to break out on (someone), to explode (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 109; Sh., Cai., ne.Sc., m.Lth. 1961), also with out on, doun on (Cai. 1902 E.D.D., Cai. 1961). Vbl.n. lowsin, a scolding, rating (Cai.4 1920); pa.p. lowst, roused to anger (ne.Sc. 1961).Abd. c.1782 Ellis E.E.P. V. 774:
He lowsed on 'im wi'z tongue.Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xlix.:
Than she lows't the richt gate aboot the minaister an' a' 's ation.Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers viii.:
Katherine has a gae sharp tongue when she's lowst, for a' as quait's she luiks.Abd. 1928 A. Black Sketches 23:
Ae day, fin yer bullets gaed deen, ye hid tae louse oot on the enemy wi' a pick han'le.
(4) Of frost: to thaw (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 109; Sh. 1961). Also rarely tr. Comb. tow [thaw]-lowsin, a thaw (Ork. 1961).Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 152:
As often has November's freese Loused a' to the Winter wun'.Sc. 1880 Jam.:
The frost's lousin.
(5) Of a cow: to swell with milk in the udder (Ayr., Kcb. 1961); with doun: to show signs of calving (Ork. 1961).Ayr. 1825 Jam.:
A cow is said to be lowsing, when her udder begins to exhibit the first appearance of having milk in it.
(6) Of perspiration: to break out (Sh. 1961).Sh. 1899 Shetland News (8 July):
Idders 'at hae scores waander behint wi' no evin da swaet lows'd apo' dem.
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