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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

NURR, v., n. Also nyur(r); n(j)irr, ny(i)rr, and reduplic. form nirr-nirr. [n(j)ʌr, I.Sc. njɪr]

I. v. 1. To growl like a scared or angry dog, to snarl like a cat (Gall., Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Mry., Abd. 1911; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork. 1929 Marw., nyirr; Sh., Cai. 1964), fig. to be bad-tempered and peevish, to find fault with in a nagging manner (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 119; Abd.4 1929). Vbl.n., ppl.adj. nurring, nyirran, -in, nyirran, growling, snarling; fault-finding, nagging (Ib.; Sh., Cai. 1964).Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 367:
A person of a nurring, or cat disposition.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (26 March):
Da yarms an' spittin' o' da cat an' da njirrin' o' Berry waukin'd Sibbie.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 1:
Nurrin teikes snackin an yowfin.
Sc. 1948 Sandy Candy (Montgomerie) 98:
How mony cats, noo, tae a cat On that wunnock sole sat and nyurd awa.
Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 14. 13:
If the stone stops turning and the dog nyirrs.

2. To purr, as a cat (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1964). Deriv. nurri, a pet name for a cat (Ib.).Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 149:
Than wad he [cat] cock his tail fu' straught, And nyurr awa wi' glee.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 138:
Da cat it wis lyin nyrrin apo da hert stane.

II. n. 1. The growl or snarl of an angry dog (Gregor; Kcb.1 1900; Mry., Abd. 1911; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., Rxb. 1964); fig. peevishness, fault-finding (Gregor; Mry., Abd. 1911), a persistent ache or nagging of pain. Phr.: to cry nurr, to growl.Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Works 145:
Gie ane a' the clapping and fawning, The tither cries nurr, and looks sour.
Ags. 1930 A. Kennedy Orra Boughs ii.:
The nirr-nirr of bodily pain would be more terrible than the dulling rub of one grey day after another.

2. In pl.: the whiskers of a cat (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), from their vibration when the animal growls. Cf. Norw. knurrhar, id.

[Orig. imit. Cf. Narr and Norw. knurre, Du. knorren, to growl, O.E. gnyrran, to creak.]

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



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