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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MOSS, n., v. Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. A marsh, bog, a tract of soft wet ground (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Freq. in collocation muir and moss. Hence mossy, boggy, swampy, found in a moss.Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife (1803) 150:
In some parts there are mosses, in other moors.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 219:
Nor speers gin she has aught to say, But scowrs o'er Highs and Hows a' Day, Throw Moss and Moor.
s.Sc. a.1784 Hobie Noble in Child Ballads No. 189 xiii.:
He's guided them o'er moss and muir, O'er hill and houp, and mony ae down.
Ayr. 1791 Burns Tam o' Shanter 8:
The mosses, waters, slaps, and styles.
Rxb. 1798 R. Douglas Agric. Rxb. 7:
Moss, in Scotland, is equivalent to morass or bog in England, when these contain the black or dark-coloured substance formed by stagnant water from corrupted vegetables, which is sometimes in a fluid state, and sometimes dry and porous.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xii.:
Ane o' our lads has been out wi' his gun at the moss — ye used to like wold-fowl.
Rs. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XIV. 120:
Many of the natives, rather than be at the trouble of digging for wells, drink mossy and surface water.
Bnff. 1876 S. Smiles Sc. Naturalist 134:
The Dens . . . are found to branch out into various lesser Dens, until they become lost in the moors and mosses of the interior.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man xii.:
It was a three-cornered piece of land . . . across the base of the triangle there ran a moss.
w.Lth. 1930 w.Lth. Courier (3 Jan.):
He crawls among the heather, Hides in a mossy hag.
ne.Sc. 1952 John R. Allan North-East Lowlands of Scotland (1974) 19:
The countryside was bare and wild. Most of it was muir if dry and moss if wet.
ne.Sc. 1952 John R. Allan North-East Lowlands of Scotland (1974) 69:
Nothing could be done with bogs and mosses; as for the earthfast rocks, the farmers piously left those ancient landmarks where the Almightly had set them.
Sc. 1953 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 134:
The high “mosses” of the Cairngorms are certainly a unique topographical feature of the British Isles and also include the most remarkable natural sanctuary in Scotland.

2. Specif.: a bog from which peats are dug, a moorland on an estate which is allocated to the tenants for cutting fuel (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 38; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Gen.Sc.Rs. 1714 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) II. 145:
Your lordship never sent the summonds as to the mosses of Delny.
Abd. 1739 T. Mair Ellon Presb. Rec. (1898) 418:
Therefore these Butts being nearest the old Moss are most ewest.
Dmf. 1777 Dmf. Weekly Jnl. (29 July):
Last Saturday evening, a woman who lives at Carruchan near this place, went out to the moss to foot peats.
Bnff. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 536:
He has presently no accommodation of moss; the moss on which he had a locality being exhausted, and no new one yet settled for him.
Sc. 1825 J. Mitchell Scotsman's Library 118:
Any gentleman, whether possessing property or not, who was popular, and ready to assist the poor in their difficulties, might expect a day in the moss, as they were wont to term it, and could have them longer for payment.
Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 103:
Frae the Causey moss For full three weeks there hadna been Ae cartload [of peats] at the Cross.
Bch. 1929 Abd. Univ. Review (March) 131:
Bit the moss is fell near awa', an' faur there wiz bog it's feckly ploo't lan' noo-a-days.

3. Combs.: (1) Auld Mossie, the ace of spades card (Ayr. 1963). Cf. (45); (2) draw-moss, see Draw, v., 17.; (3) moss-aik, -oak, the trunks of ancient oak trees buried in a peat bog and thus preserved, bog oak; a seat made of this (Gall. 1963). Cf. (26); (4) moss bailie, the estate officer who supervises the working of a peat moss, apportioning lots to various tenants and seeing that their contracts are not exceeded (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). See Bailie, (31) and (50); (5) moss bank, the bank from which peats are cut (n.Sc., Per. 1963); (6) moss bent, a stretch of rough grassland from which the layer of peat has been removed; (7) moss blu(i)ter, (i) the common snipe, Capella gallinago (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Kcb., s.Sc. 1963). See also Heather-Bleat(er), Bleater, Blitter, n.1, Bluiter, n.4; (ii) the bittern, Botaurus stellaris (Gall. 1903 E.D.D.); (8) moss-boil, a bubbling spring or fountain in marshy ground; the source of a river (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 351); (9) moss-brow, a bank of peats. See Broo, n.2, 4.; (10) moss-brummle, the cranberry, Vaccinium oxycoccus. See Brummle; (11) moss-bummer, the bittern, Botaurus stellaris (s.Sc. 1808 Jam.). See Bummer; (12) moss cheeper, -cheiper, -cheepuck, the meadow pipit, Anthus pratensis (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Slg. 1885 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. & Archaeol. Soc. 61; Uls. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds, -cheepuck; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m. and s.Sc., Uls. 1963). Cf. heather cheeper s.v. Heather, n., 7. (3), Cheepart, n., 1., Cheeper, n., 3.; (13) moss-cock, the eider-drake, Somateria mollissima (Ags. 1919 T.S.D.C.); (14) moss-corn. the silver-weed, Potentilla anserina, or the edible root of this plant (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Cf. Mascorn; (15) moss-crops, -craps, and Ork. variants mussa-cruppan, -en, (i) grasses of the genus Eriophorum, esp. the hare-tail cotton grass, Eriophorum vaginatum, and the narrow-leaved cotton grass, Eriophorum angustifolium (s.Sc. 1777 J. Lightfoot Flora Scot. II. 1080; Sc. 1880 Jam.: Peb., Ayr., Slk. 1886 B. & H. Plant-Names 342; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork., n. and m.Sc. 1963). Also mussakruppan (Ork. 1929 Marw.). Hence comb. moss-cropper, jocularly, a gatherer of wild grasses, a botanist; (ii) the silver-weed, Potentilla anserina (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Cf. (14); (16) moss dake, a wall dividing farm-land from a moss. See Deck, n.3; (17) moss-day, a day's work by a gang of workers cutting peat; (18) moss donnack, the black-headed gull, Larus ridibundus (Abd. (Inverallochy) 1955), ? mistake for tarrock; (19) moss-drummer, the lapwing, Vanellus vanellus (Bwk. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 119). Sic, but phs. a wrong identification of (11); (20) moss duck, the wild duck, the mallard, Anas platyrhyncha (Abd. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XII. 804; Abd., Rnf. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 156; ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna ofDee” 147); (21) moss earth, peat; peaty soil; (22) moss-fa'en, of a tree: fallen and embedded in peat (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.); (23) moss-farmer, the tenant of a mossland farm who is expected to carry out drainage and improvements in return for a reduced rent. Cf. (34); (24) mossfaw, a building in a ruinous state (Fif. 1825 Jam.). Prob. fig. extension of (22); (25) moss-feal, a peaty turf surface as a kind of soil; (26) moss-fir, the wood of ancient fir trees which have sunk into peaty soil and thus been preserved, gen. used as fuel (Per. 1963). Cf. (3); (27) moss-flow, a wet peat bog, a quagmire, swamp (Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 255). Cf. flow moss s.v. Flow, II. 1. (2); (28) moss-flower, ? the bog-cotton; (29) moss-fog, mosses commonly found growing on peat bogs. See Fog; (30) moss-gate, a pathway or roadway along which peats are carried from the moss. See Gate, n. 1.; Cf. (51); (31) moss-grieve, the estate-official in charge of the rights of peat-cutting in a moss (ne.Sc. 1963). Cf. (4) and (50). See also s.v. Grieve, n., 2.; (32) moss-hag(g), †-haug, a marshy hollow or pit in a moor where peats have formerly been cut (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Sc. 1963). In pl. used of dangerous, inaccessible boggy moorland. See also Hag, n.1, 3. (1). Also in n.Eng. dial. Deriv. moss-hager, a hunted fugitive in Covenanting times who frequented such country; (33) moss-hole, id. Gen.(exc. I.)Sc.; (34) moss laird, a somewhat jocular name for an improving tenant who was given an area of rough moorland rent free or at a nominal figure for a fixed period of years in return for his labour in rendering it arable, esp. with reference to those who tried to reclaim the mosses on the Forth between Per. and Slg. Cf. (23); (35) moss lark, the meadow pipit, Anthus pratensis (Ayr. 1909 Science Gossip (Aug.) 227). Also -laverock (Bnff. 1963). Cf. (12); †(36) moss-leave, right or permission to cut peats in a moss; (37) moss-leek, ? = 5.; (38) moss leerie, a will-of-the-wisp (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). See Leerie, n.1, 1.; (39) moss-litter, granulated peat used for bedding animals (Abd., wm.Sc. 1963); (40) moss-lizard, the common lizard; (41) moss-mail, -meal(l), a due payable to a landlord for the rights of putting peat in his moss. See Mail, n.1; (42) mossman, an individual appointed to act as mediator and settle any dispute arising during communal peat-cutting on an estate moss; (43) moss-million (Ayr. 1886 B. & H. Plant-Names 342), -mingin (Cld. 1825 Jam.), -mining (Lnk. 1880 W. Grosart Shotts 258), -mimock (Rnf. 1837 Crawfurd MSS. XI. 60), the cranberry, Vaccinium oxycoccos. The second element is of uncertain form and orig., but for mimock cf. Gael. mionag, id. Found in the form Mossminion as a place-name in Clydesdale; (44) moss-oak, see moss-aik; (45) Moss o' Byth, the ace of spades playing card (Bnff.7 1925; Bnff., Abd. 1963), from the flowery or mossy appearance of the decoration of this card on which the revenue duty is payable. Cf. (1) and slang Eng. mossy-face, id.; (46) Moss o' Meigle, id. (Ags. 1952); (47) moss owl, the short-eared owl, Asio flammeus (Ags. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 129), which frequents and nests in marshy places; (48) moss pit, a water-filled pit in a peat moss, variant of the much commoner (49); (49) moss pot, = (48) (Bnff. 1860; ne.Sc. 1963). See Pot; (50) moss reeve, see (31). Also in Chs. dial. It is possible that the second element is a mistake for the Sc. form Grieve; (51) moss-road, a track to a moss along which peats can be carried (Abd. 1963). Cf. (30); (52) mossroom(e), mosseroom, the portion of peat moss assigned to a tenant on which he may cut peats for his own use; (53) moss-seat, a bench covered with moss; (54) moss-siller, payment for the right of peat-cutting. See Siller; (55) moss-sod, a turf taken off the surface of peat ground before cutting can begin; (56) moss sparrow, the reed-bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus (Bnff. 1963); (57) moss-stock, a trunk or thick branch of a tree submerged in a peat bog; (58) moss tenant, = (23); (59) moss thief, a border raider (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). Cf. (61); (60) moss-thristle, ? the marsh plume-thistle, Cnicus palustris (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 104); (61) mosstrooper, (i) a border yeoman who carried out armed marauding cattle-raids across the mosses to the other side of the Border. Hist. Hence ¶mosstroopery, n., mosstrooping, ppl.adj., marauding; (ii) the hare-tail cotton grass, Eriophorum vaginatum; (62) moss trout, the brown trout, Salmo trutta; (63) moss ward, an area of peat-moss allocated to a tenant on which he may cut his own peats; (64) moss-water, †mose-, brown, peat-stained water; (65) moss whin, the petty whin, Genista anglica (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 51); (66) moss willow, ? the dwarf silky willow, Salix fusca (Per. 1903 E.D.D.); (67) moss-work, the labour of peat-cutting and stacking.(3) Ayr. 1768 Burns Halloween xxiii.:
He takes a swirlie, auld moss-oak, For some black, grousome Carlin.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 23:
He claps his auld bum down on the mossaik by the cheek o' the chaumer door.
Kcb. 1898 Crockett Standard Bearer xxi.:
He sat on the greater outer bench of moss-oak by the door cheek.
(5) Per. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Per. 494:
He then digs a new drain at the foot of the moss-bank.
Abd. 1903 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 84:
Many of the “mossers” sought such shelter as the projections of the moss-bank afforded.
Bnff. 1926 Banffshire Jnl. (4 May) 6:
There he crouches in the doubtful shelter of a wet moss-“bank.”
(6) Rnf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 486:
Mr Napier of Blackstone has planted about 15 acres of moss bent, that is, the stuff left after the peat is taken off, with trees of all kinds.
(7) (ii) Rxb. 1825 R. Wilson Hist. Hawick 154:
Cultivating wastes, where the whaup and mossbluiter are heard.
(9) Sc. 1876 Bk. of Sc. Story 725:
The Gude-wife of Auchincleuch will have something else to do than jump frae the moss-brow.
(10) Bwk. 1856 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1857) 214:
Vaccinium oxycoccus . . . It is called the Moss-brummle and Moorfowl berries.
(12) Lnk. 1774 Weekly Mag. (24 Feb.) 269:
A gentleman in this neighbourhood found in one of his fields, the nest of a small bird commonly called a Moss-cheeper.
Bte. 1820 J. Blain Hist. Bute (1880) 22:
Of fowls or birds abiding or coming in their seasons . . . we have the . . . moss-cheeper.
Dmf. 1874 R. Wanlock Moorland Rhymes 49:
Roun' by Necony the heather blumes bonnie, And sweet is the lilt o' the moss-cheiper's sang.
Lnk. 1897 Annals Sc. Nat. Hist. 207:
Meadow Pipit, Anthus pratensis, local name “Mosscheeper.” — Abundant in spring, summer, and autumn all over the grass and heath lands of the district.
Ayr. 1913 J. Service Memorables 22:
I ken . . . a moss-cheeper's [nest] wi' five wee gapin' gorlins in't.
Uls. 1951 E. E. Evans Mourne Country 81:
Above the limits of cultivation the only bird that can be considered common is the meadow pipit, called also the heather-grey or moss-cheeper, which flits mockingly from one's feet.
wm.Sc. 1988 Scotsman 30 Jan 7:
Great tits and blue tits are calling. A moss cheeper looks at me, calling in protest. I take the hint and move away from her nest.
(14) Slk. 1818 Hogg Hunt of Eildon (1874) ii.:
He found nothing to eat save one or two moss-corns and a ground walnut.
(15) (i) Peb. 1802 C. Findlater Agric. Peb. 192:
The earliest springing food of sheep is a plant bearing a white cotton head upon its seed-stalk, vulgarly designed Moss-crop.
Rxb. 1868 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club V. 379:
It was our duty to rejoin the main company, who had left the “moss-croppers” to themselves.
Ork. 1911 Old-Lore Misc. IV. iv. 185:
I tha bonny lang daes o' tha voar-time whin da mussacruppan rises amang da lobba.
Ayr. 1929 Herding a Hill Hirsel 15:
A Blackface ewe on a “moss flow” on a misty day in company with the mosscrops and the golden plovers.
Mry. 1959 Bulletin (21 Feb.):
The sheep are away up the hill to look for moss crop.
(16) Lnk. 1902 A. Wardrop Hamely Sk. 32:
Wee industrious mites [ants] in mossdakes.
(17) Abd. 1892 Innes Rev. (Spring 1956) 17:
There were as many as 20 gallons o' sowans in a large pot for the priest's moss-day.
(21) Sc. 1805 W. Aiton Moss-Earth 108:
To render it as solid and dry as the nature of the moss-earth is capable of.
Lnk. 1831 W. Patrick Plants Pref. xx.:
Extensive tracts of land, covered with moss earth.
(23) Per. 1835 J. Monteath Dunblane Trad. (1887) 73:
A simple moss-Farmer, originally from Kilbryde.
(25) Sc. 1748 Caled. Mercury (14 April):
The Lands are very improveable; there is great plenty of Marle, Moss-feal and rich Clay on the Ground.
(26) Sc. 1729 Session Papers, Memorial against Lady Southesk (6 Feb.) 1:
The Moss-fir, Peats and Turfs yearly brought by the Tenants to the House of Kinnaird.
Sth. 1826 Crofter's Comm. Report (1884) App. A. 298:
Searching for Moss Fir . . . Any person who does search for and take up wood shall at all times cover in the pit neatly and closely with swarded turf, and so as that no water will stagnate thereon.
Sc. 1854 H. Miller Schools 273:
A little, old man sat . . . stripping with a pocket knife long, slender filaments from off a piece of Moss Fir. He was . . . preparing these ligneous fibres for the manufacture of a primitive kind of cordage, in large use among the fishermen, and which possessed a strength and flexibility that would scarce have been expected from materials of such venerable age and rigidity as the roots and trunks of ancient trees that had been locked up in the peat-mosses of the district [Gairloch, Ross-shire] for mayhap a thousand years.
(27) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality viii.:
The hundreds forced from their ain habitations to the deserts, mountains, muirs, mosses, moss-flows, and peat-hags.
Ayr. 1929 Herding a Hill Hirsel 15:
A Blackface ewe on a “moss-flow” on a misty day.
(28) Per. a.1855 P. R. Drummond Bygone Days (1879) 376:
Mary is fairer than primrose or mossflower.
(29) Ayr. 1805 W. Aiton Moss-Earth 109:
The water-courses in moss . . . are much obstructed by the moss-fog.
Lnk. 1831 W. Patrick Plants Pref. xx.:
Moss-fogs, such as Sphagnums, Bryums, Polytrichums.
(30) Abd. 1849 Acts 12–13 Vict. c. 14. 392:
The Mossgate to his Moss of Whitecairn by the Parks of Invernorth and Craigellie.
(31) Ags. 1758 Session Papers, Ogilvie v. Nicol (6 Aug.) 28:
The Defender gave orders to his Moss-Grieve not to allow the Pursuer to get any peats out of his moss for money.
Abd. 1790 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. III. 64:
The town's moss-grieve should annually perambulate the said marches, and report thereanent.
Abd. 1952 Abd. Press & Jnl. (16 April):
Ludquharn Moss. — All those requiring Peat Banks (increased price 4/6) apply on or before 7th May to Wm. Murray, Moss Grieve.
(32) Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 224:
Into moss-haugs, or pools below.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xii.:
When I was in the moss-haggs and moors, wi' precious Donald Cameron, and worthy Mr. Blackadder.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 45:
Where only rocks, moss-hags, clints, garries, gall and heather were to be seen.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xviii.:
If you could cast some part of it (as you went by) in a moss hag, you would find yourself to ride much easier without it.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Bog-Myrtle i.:
Who . . . know better how to loup a moss-hag than how to make a courtly bow.
Peb. 1902 W. S. Crockett Scott Country 412:
A coveted sheltering place for many a poor oppressed moss-hager.
(33) Edb. 1851 A. Maclagan Sketches 130:
The water-kelpie screamed wi' glee, Then in a moss-hole plunged his licht.
Mry. 1887 J. Thomson Recoll. 53:
Ye doited, stupit feel . . . fat are ye deein' there ower the head in a moss hole?
(34) Slg. 1795 Stat Acc.1 III. 487:
Here are settled 30 families called Moss-lairds . . . at a very low rent, in recompence for their labour in clearing away the Moss.
Per. 1802 A. Campbell Journey I. 95:
A moss-laird, as he is in derision called, gives his labour the first year for one-fourth of an acre, the second for one-half of an acre, and so on, for the first twelve years . . . The poor tenant actually pays rent for what he has cleared.
Slg. 1884 Trans. Highl. Soc. 150:
In former days a good deal of moss land was handed over in small patches to cottars, who were allowed to retain the produce on condition of removing the moss and cultivating the land. For nineteen years they had the land free, for other nineteen at a very moderate rent, and afterwards at a higher rent. They were called “moss lairds”, but many of them were poor, and now they are nearly extinct.
Per. 1936 J. P. Maxton Regional Brit. Agric. 301:
Flanders Moss, once the scene of reclamations carried out by small improving tenants known as “moss-lairds”.
(36) Sc. 1709 Compend of Rights 168:
Moss Leave by an Heretor to another . . . to win, cast and lead Peats, Turfs, Elding, Feual, Feal and Divots.
(37) Sc. 1890 H. Stephens Bk. Farm IV. 437:
In November and December, “moss leek” and coarse bent and heath come in for use.
(40) Abd. 1961 Buchan Observer (28 Nov.) 4:
Or watchin' the moss-lizard birslin' 'imsel' on the warm fittock.
(41) Per. 1725 Caled. Mercury (13 April):
The Heritors of Over-Muirtown have a Servitude on the Mosses of Middle-Drummie and Haltoun of Creichie, for casting of Peats for their own and Tenants Uses, without Payment of Moss-Mails.
Abd. 1751 Aberdeen Jnl. (23 July):
The annual Allowance of £20. 19. 2. scots to the Tenants for Moss-mail.
Dmb. 1794 D. Ure Agric. Dmb. 94:
Two shillings for moss-meal are sometimes paid to the proprietor of the moss, for a days casting.
Bnff. 1889 Trans. Bnffsh. Field Club 59:
The rent was £9, with 3 days' work, and public burdens including ground officer's meal, moss mail, school dues, and the like.
(42) Dmf. 1758 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. (1928–9) 28:
The Baillie thereafter constituted and appointed James Campbell . . . to be mossmen for settling disputes arising at the mosses.
(43) Lnk. 1880 W. Grossart Shotts 258:
The fruit or berries [of the cranberry] are called mossminings in some parts of Lanarkshire.
(45) Abd. 1922 Banffshire Jnl. (14 Nov.) 2:
By the way can any reader supply the information as to when and why the ace of spades came to be dubbed the “Moss o' Byth”?
Abd. 1952 W. M. Alexander Place-Names 29:
By some whimsicality, amongst card players “The Moss o' Byth” means the ace of spades.
(48) Sc. 1773 Dmf. Weekly Mag. (19 Oct.) 191:
And on Wednesday last, a labouring man, in going from Beith to his brother's house, about a mile distant, unluckily fell into a moss pit and perished.
(49) Bnff. 1722 Trans. Bnffsh. Field Club (1891) 29:
He comes to an untimely end, having been drowned in a “moss pot”.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 40:
Clip kelpies i' their moss-pot chair.
Abd. 1887 R. S. Robertson Bogie's Banks 52:
A big black moss-pot noo she neared.
Bch. 1932 J. White Moss Road iii.:
Of course, we all ken that Betsy's an auld randy an' should be ducked in a moss-pot.
(50) Sc. 1927 Dict. Occupational Terms (H.M.S.O.) 39:
Moss Reeve: Contracts with farmers to cut peat fuel and supply moss litter; removes, by spade, top layer of moss or heather which covers peat, and prepares for peat digger; dries moss for sale as litter; may also dry and cut peat.
(51) Cai. 1869 M. Maclennan Peasant Life Intro. xvii.:
Then to school he trudges by devious ways, cart-track, or “moss-road,” or how he may.
Bch. 1932 J. White Moss Road i.:
The moss and the moss-road were lying . . . warm and bright in the July afternoon, the heads of the cotton-flowers shining like silver.
(52) Rnf. 1703 Caldwell Papers (M.C.) 302:
Ane moss roome in the Nether Ramsheid mosse.
Ayr. 1726 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (20 July) 276:
Mr Thomas Hunter gave in a petition to the presbytry craving they would please to appoint a Commitee for designing a mosse-room for peats to him & his successors according to Law.
(53) Lnk. 1806 J. Black Falls of Clyde 139:
Upon a moss-seat Jamie sits alone, In pensive guise.
Sc. 1821 Scott Kenilworth xxxiii.:
A grotto, ornamented with rustic work and moss-seats.
(54) Rnf. 1750 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) M. 65:
Clippings had a servant in 1750, to ca' the plew, and herd the Moss, for a pair of shune, a pair of hose, a sark, and all the Moss-sillar.
(55) Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm III. 1038:
I, cover with moss-sods (from the turf-banks) laid perfectly close, the shear of each fitted to the other.
(56) Bnff. 1876 S. Smiles Sc. Naturalist 401:
It frequents the mosses . . . It is called the “Moss Sparrow” by the country people.
(57) wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 163:
In atween the clefts o' a moss-stock ane o' my feet gets wadged.
(58) Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VI. 481:
The establishment of the moss tenants (or lairds, as they are called) in the mosses of Kincardine and Flanders.
Per. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Per. 496:
The obloquy of becoming a moss-tenant gradually became less regarded.
(60) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 104:
There are five kinds of thistles common in Scotland — the burr or horse thristle; the corn thristle; the moss thristle; the swine thristle; and the Scotch thristle.
(61) (i) Edb. 1720 A. Pennecuik Helicon 78:
We were very ill fash'd with the English Land-Loupers, And the haill Country was o'er-run with Moss-Troopers.
Sc. 1805 Scott Last Minstrel i. xix. note, xxi.:
Moss-trooper, a borderer, whose profession was pillage of the English. These marauders were called moss-troopers because they dwelt in the mosses, and rode, on their incursions in troops. . . . A stark moss-trooping Scott was he As e'er couch'd Border lance by knee.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize II. viii.:
No man of that time was more famous among roisters and moss-troopers, for the edge and metal of his weapons.
Slk. 1835 Hogg Mary Montgomery (1874) 587:
In passing through the wood of Tarras, on the Border, they were encountered by a band of moss-troopers.
Sc. 1845 Carlyle Cromwell clxxxiii.:
Rebellion . . . with much mosstroopery and horsestealing.
Sc. 1881 J. Russell Haigs 89:
A moss-trooping and reiving race whose chief pleasure was foray.
s.Sc. 1910 R. Borland Border Raids 61:
Those undisciplined marauding bands which infested the Borders, and to which the name “reivers” or “mosstroopers” is usually assigned.
Sc. 1951 F. R. Banks Border Country 1:
Of moss-trooper riding over hill, and dale, of the constant watching for the raider by ford and pass.
(ii) Bwk. 1925 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club XXV. 540:
An abundance of “Moss-troopers.” one of the pretty Border names of Eriophorum vaginatum.
(62) Knr. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVIII. 479:
The Dovan affords excellent trout, and the trouts are all of what are called the burn, or moss kind.
(63) Mry. 1780 Caled. Mercury (20 Dec.):
Two Eighteen Parts of Land — a Moss Ward . . . and a Close of Bigging opposite the High Church of Elgin.
(64) Sc. 1802 Child Ballads (1956) II. 193:
For ye ha been christned wi moss-water, An roked in the reek.
(66) Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 60:
Lichen, and liver grass, And the moss willow Curtain the narrow pass.
(67) Per. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Per. 509:
Though moss-work be laborious.

4. Peat, the material of which peats consist (Sc. 1800 Monthly Mag. I 237).Sc. 1732 De Foe Tour Scot. (1769) III. 332:
A Tract of Ground full of Holes, filled with a boggy Substance, which in this Country is called Moss.
s.Sc. 1773 Gentleman's Mag. (June) 265:
The Solway-flow contains 1300 acres of very deep and tender moss.
Sc. 1805 W. Aiton Moss-Earth 164:
If dung cannot be found, moss mixed with hot lime . . . should be applied.
Abd. a.1880 W. Robbie Yonderton xx.:
As moss was plentiful, a good fire cost no more than a bad one.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Merry Men i.:
The road . . . went over rough boulders, so that a man had to leap from one to another, and through soft bottoms where the moss came nearly to the knee.

5. = moss crops (see 3. (15)), grasses of the genus Eriophorum, esp. the hare-tail cotton grass, Eriophorum vaginatum (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1915 Jedburgh Gaz. (17 Sept.); Cai., w.Lth. 1963). Also in n.Eng. dial.Rxb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVI. 66:
The plant, called the moss, rises before any other in the spring, affords excellent nourishment, and is carefully sought after by the flocks.
Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 204:
Eriophorum Vaginatum. . . . While just springing it is known by the name of muir-crops, moss, purlaing, and line or ling.
Ayr. 1929 Herding a Hill Hirsel 15:
If it comes a hard, black frost in the spring . . . the “moss will not pull.”

6. In dim. form mossick (Ayr. 1963), and double dim. mossickie (Lnk. 1963): the meadow pipit, Anthus pratensis. Cf. 3. (12) and (35).

II. v. 1. To work in a peat bog, cutting and setting up peats to dry (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 115; w.Sc. 1880 Jam.; ne.Sc., w.Lth., Uls. 1963). Vbl.n. mossing, peat cutting (Id.); deriv. mosser, one engaged in cutting and drying peats (Gregor; Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Abd. 1963).Mry. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XIII. 75:
For mossing, men receive 1s. 6d., and women, 9d. per day, without victuals.
Abd. 1892 J. Smith Hame-Spun Rhymes 151:
Till mossin' time again cam' roon.
Bnff. 1922 Banffshire Jnl. (18 April) 2:
The crafters, mossin' to the tap, can hear, Hine, hine awa', the grouse scraich ower the meer.
Abd.7 1925:
Moss, the peat moss where men called “casters” cut the peat, and women, called “rowers” took the peat in special barrows to hillocks where they were “sett” to dry and harden in the sun. The workers in a body were called the “mossers.”
Abd. 1951 Buchan Observer (3 July):
The casting was sometimes given over to men who then laid themselves out as mossers for the two months, mid April to mid June.
Abd. 1959 People's Jnl. (1 Aug.):
It's been a gran' 'eer for mossin' tho', an' some o' the mair forcey chiels hid hame their first cuttin' afore the hiner-en' o' June.

2. Of soil: to produce a crop of grasses of the genus Eriophorum, see n., 5. Only in vbl.n. mossing, a crop of these grasses (Cai., Rs. 1963).Rs. 1877 Trans. Highl. Soc. 199:
There being no “mossing” or fresh growth till rather late for giving sheep a good start.
Sc. 1889 H. Stephens Bk. of Farm III. 73:
The ewe hirsels are then allowed access to these reserved pastures during the day, and are turned out again to the mossing or higher ground during the night.
Sth. 1927 G. Meiklejohn Settlements 15:
The “mossing” of the Sutherland pastures is valuable feeding.

[O.Sc. mosse, a bog, 1375, wet boggy soil, 1473, moss-cheeper, meadow pipit, 1684, moscrop, a.1199, mosgrive, 1651, mosshag, 1680, moslefe, a.1590, mosmaill, 1505, mosman, 1489, moisrowme, 1525, moss-trooper, border raider, 1651, mossward, 1656, mossy, boggy, peaty, 1596.]

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"Moss n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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