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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

OO, n.1, v.1 Also ool (Cai.8, Rs.1 1934), †oul (Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Fif. and Knr. (1803) 33), †owl (Per. 1729 D. P. Menzies Menzies Bk. 363), ull- (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); woo, wou. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. wool. The -l forms are due to anglicisation. See P.L.D. § 78.3. [Sc. u:, nn.Sc. u:l. The w- is occas. sounded. For the -s pronunciation in which the word had come to be thought of as a collective rather than a pl. cf. Eng. dice, pence, truce.]

I. n. 1. As in Eng. Also fig. = blankets.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 165:
Humph, quoth the Dee'l, when he clip'd the Sow, A great Cry, and little Woo.
Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Shop Bill 32:
Safter far na' ony woo, that grows on mutton.
Fif. 1798 R. Flockhart Sketch of Times 10:
When to be braw they had a view, They mixt it with the black ewes woo.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf i.:
It's the woo that pays the rent.
Ayr. 1818 J. Kennedy Poet. Wks. 44:
They frae their sad position flit An' den amang the woo.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 197:
The perishin' sheep eatit the 'oo aff ane anither's backs.
Ags. 1897 A. Reid Bards of Angus 2:
Wi' their ain 'oo' they aye were cled.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 163:
They had gran' oo, but wur kin o' coorse o' the flesh.
Lnl. 1910 J. White Eppie Gray 9:
She wore a plaid o' hame-spun oo'.
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Navember 4):
Some folk's oo needs a hantle o creesh.
Ags. 1947:
She's gettin oo on her coat = She is getting above herself, “too big for her boots.”
Abd. 1959 People's Jnl. (25 July):
Niver hae Ah been sae thankfu tae tirr an' win intae dry duds an' in amon the oo'.
Dmf. 1997 Nell Thomson Spit the First Sook 5:
The only toy I remember was a doll made from a black stocking leg and stuffed wae sheep oo! and brightly dressed.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall in Alec Finlay Atoms of Delight 107:
A slocken smile, scaled frae a burnie's mou
Waves rowe the crib o simmer
Saft as oo.

Hence (1) oo(e)n (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 120; Abd. 1923 Banffshire Jnl. (23 Jan.) 8; Mry. 1925), -in, oowen (Ags. 1794 W. Anderson Piper of Peebles 18), woo'n (Rnf. 1813 G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 37), wou'n, †wooling, woollen (I. and n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1964); (2) ooie, -(e)y (Sc. 1825 Jam.), †owy, †wooy (Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 20), woolly, covered with wool (I., n., em.Sc., Kcb. 1964), also fig.; mouldy (Arg. 1964).(1) Gsw. 1725 Table of Dues of the Bridge, etc. of Gs. (1 June):
Every Pack of Wooling-cloth . . 0 2 0 Every Pair of Wooling or Twocards . . . . . . . . 0 0 4.
Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 13:
Row'd in a coarse woo'n moorlan' sheet.
Ags. 1794 W. Anderson Piper of Peebles 18:
There was a cross of oowen thread, Of twa ply twisted, blue an' red.
Ags. 1880 Brechin Advertiser (3 Aug.) 3:
To cleed the bairnie's feet Wi' saft an' cozie 'ooin hose.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 308:
They made an awfu siller, an made cotten, an linen, an ooen wabs for the Glesca an Embro Merchants.
Abd. 1923 Banffshire Jnl. (23 Jan.) 8:
They were . . . “wobs o' claith”, o'oen, harden, splush, “kylige”.
Ags. 1964:
A ooen clout — a woollen floor-cloth.
(2) Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 9:
What Swains their ooy lambkins guide.
Bwk. 1801 “Bwk. Sandie” Poems 33:
See! even the owy race forget their play.
Ags. 1899 D. W. Buchanan Lays 114:
Saft 'ooey clouds driftit owre the sky blue.
Gall. 1903 Gallovidian V. 140:
Sic wee 'oo ey flichens are only fit to dicht queels on.
Cai. 1930 John o' Groat Jnl. (9 May):
If some o' wir fouk hid a 'oo 'ie face lek 'at they wid be at him wi' a baine kaime.

Combs. and Phrs.: (1) a(w) ae (w)oo, lit. “all one wool”, usu. in reference to an imaginary conversation in Sc. in which no consonants are used (see 1859 quot.); in extended usages: all one, all the same (Sc. 1808 Jam.), of one stock, similar in nature, on an equal footing, “birds of a feather” (I. and n.Sc., Fif. 19 4); (2) oo-buggie, a bag made of a whole sheepskin used to hold wool (Sh. 1964). See Bogi: (3) woo-card, a board covered with rows of metal pins or teeth drawn to and fro on another of the kind in teazing wool (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 481; I.Sc. 1964). Obs. in Eng. from 17th c. Also wooling-card, id. (Gsw. 1725 Table of Dues of the Bridge (1 June)). See Caird, n.2; (4) woo-clat, a lump or tangled mass of wool. See Clat, n.; (5) woo-creel, a wicker-basket for holding wool (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 481); (6) oo-fleckit, covered with bits of wool, woolly. Used fig. in quot.; (7) oo-gathering, the gleaning or collecting of loose tufts of wool left by sheep in the fields; (8) woo kame, a comb for wool (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 34); (9) wool-land, a district in which much wool is produced; (10) oo leddy, a woman who gathered loose wool from the fields. Cf. (7); (11) wool-mark, a sheep-mark made on the fleece; (12) ool-market, a wool-market; (13) oo-mill, -mull, a factory for making woollen cloth, a tweed-mill (Bnff., Abd., Ayr. 1964). Hence oo-mullart, a tweed-manufacturer (Abd. 1964). See Millart; (14) oo rem, the grease in wool (Sh. 1964). See Ream; (15) oo rowin, the making of carded wool into rolls for spinning (Ork. 1964). See Row; (16) (w)oo shears, a shears for clipping fleeces (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 34); †(17) ulltigger, one who begs wool for spinning (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). See Thig; (18) woo wheel, a spinning-wheel; (19) wool-willie, a wool-cleaning machine, a willy; (20) to come wi oo feet, to come gently and softly, or with light steps. Used fig. in quot.: (21) to gaither oo on one's claise, to do well for oneself, to feather one's own nest (Abd. 1825 Jam.).(1) Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems II. 128:
Whether France be bund or free, It's a' ae wou' to John.
Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of Lairds xxxviii.:
We maun bow before our betters — our betters! the thing mostly sticks in my throat — but it's a' ae woo.
Sc. 1859 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 67:
Customer (inquiring the material), Oo? Shopman. Ay, oo. Cus. A' oo? Shop. Ay, a' oo. Cus. A' ae oo? Shop. Ay, a' ae oo.
Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs (1870) 13:
A' ae oo', a' ae price.
Wgt. 1885 G. Fraser Poems 117:
For a' are comeo' ae descent — we're a' ae 'oo.
Fif. 1911 P. Smith Voyage o' Life:
First, skipper and men were a' ae 'oo. They didna need tae bend and boo Tae some folk, as we maun dae noo.
Bnff. 1930 E. S. Rae Waff o' Win' vii.:
We're a' ae 'oo, an' a' maist dear As frien' tae frien'.
ne.Sc. 1996 Ronald W. McDonald in Sandy Stronach New Wirds: An Anthology of Winning Poems and Stories from the Doric Writing Competitions of 1994 and 1995 70:
" ... Ah didna heve harpoons nor chap up whales eether, bit nae doot we wis aa ae oo. ... "
ne.Sc. 2003 Press and Journal 18 Aug :
I got ma ain back at the recordin at nicht bi quotin at remark an syne lat bleeter wi the weel kent story o the twa billies discussin a sheep's fleece. Ye ken the een, or div ye? Aa ae oo.
(4) Peb. 1838 W. Welsh Poems 8:
This monster's hands were like woo' clats.
(6) Abd. 1931 D. Campbell Uncle Andie 54:
Yer brain maun be oo'-fleckit the nicht.
(7) Ayr. 1899 H. Johnston Glenbuckie xxii.:
I got it by working for it — hard 'oo'-gathering and hard spinning.
(9) Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. iv.:
She travelled into what are called the wool-lands, where she bartered her work for the finest wool.
(10) Ayr. 1899 H. Johnston Glenbuckie xxii.:
In these journeys the 'oo' leddy was never ill-off for lodgings and comfortable fare. . . . She would return home with a stock of wool which generally kept her spinning till the sheep-shearing season again returned.
(11) Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 93:
It is in your power to follow your strayed stock, and claim it anywhere by the wool-mark.
(12) Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie i.:
Lettin' ye ken the places whaur the Fair days and the 'ool-markets was.
(13) Abd. 1876 S. Smiles Sc. Naturalist 2:
Their house was situated at the foot of Rennie's Wynd, near Hadden's “Woo mill.”
Ags. 1899 C. Sievwright Garland 30:
The last and only time I paid a visit to the miller there still existed an 'oo mill.
Abd. 1905 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 279:
A woollen manufactory, known as the 'Oo' Mill.
(15) Dmf. 1891 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 76:
She wanted tae gang tae the oo-rowin' at Glencrosh.
(16) Ork. 1939 Orcadian (15 June):
I wiz wantan the lane o' a pair o' 'oo shears fae thee.
(18) Lth. 1819 J. Thomson Poems 36:
A gude woo' wheel, my wife to spin on. A lesser ane for winding yarn.
Ags. 1821 J. Ross Peep at Parnassus 20:
Thrice the Witch an woo-wheel whirl'd.
(19) Sc. 1773 Caled. Mercury (27 Jan.):
Great and small Cards, Wheels, Reels, and Wool-willie, and sundry other utensils.
(20) Per. 1910 W. Blair Kildermoch 106:
I had mony troubles i' my day, an' I canna say, as the wife said, they cam' wi' oo feet.

2. A sheep-mark in Orkney, in which the skin on the sheep's face is raised into a knob by being tied round with string (Ork. 1929 Marw.), or by having the flesh cut and twisted. Hence oowed, marked in this way. See also Button.Ork. 1813 Old-Lore Misc. IV. i. 5:
3 laps in left lug, a bit behind, a bit behind in right lug and a wool on the face.
Ork. 1887 in R. Pococke Tours (S.T.S.) 140:
A shear on the right lug, two holes on the left, and oowed on the face . . . oowed, the flesh on the face cut to the bone, and the flesh twisted round so that it rose like a wart or mole.

3. In pl. forms oos(e), ousel, ooze, ouze, woollen fluff, also fluff from cotton, Caddis (Lnk. 1822 G. R. Kinloch MS.; Ayr. 1825 Jam.). Also fluff in general. Gen. (exc. I.) Sc.; a plug of cotton or silk put into an inkpot to keep the ink from spilling (Per. 1825 Jam.). [u:z; m.Sc. + us]Gsw. 1879 A. G. Murdoch Rhymes 82:
Wi' the oose o' the blankets she made up a plug, Which drew, like a blister, the flae oot o' my lug.
ne.Sc. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 17:
The oose on the back o' a lamb.
m.Sc. 1928 O. Douglas Eliza for Common 123:
“New carpets always do that.” “Oh, but not like this — hanfuls of oos. . . . fluffy stuff.”
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 154:
The flair has no' been soopit, Ablow the bed there's oose.
Abd. 1958 People's Jnl. (27 Sept.):
She wages war 'gainst oose an' stour Frae dawn till gloamin' fa's.
Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 15:
Mind take the hoover tae that oose in ablow the bed. Remember to vacuum clean the fluff underneath the bed.
wm.Sc. 1989 Janice Galloway The Trick is to Keep Breathing (1990) 8:
Strings of oose shelter in corners, waving ghost arms. It's time I got this place clean.
wm.Sc. 1998 Alan Warner The Sopranos (1999) 82:
Buzz carries the full hives into his front room and sucks all the bumble bees out with the vacuum cleaner, filling all those vacuum cleaner bags, even emptying the full one of its ousels out the back door so's some dust motes adhere to the telly screen in the garden.

Derivs. and comb.: oosage, fluff (Arg. 1936 L. McInnes Dial. S. Kintyre 15); oosie, oozie, -y, fluffy, having a good nap or pile, furry (Ayr. 1910; m.Sc. 1964); fig. scatter-brained, wool-gathering; as a n., a chair-cover (wm.Sc. 1959) [′usi, ′uzi]; ooze fly, the fluff on a floor that has not been dusted (w.Lth 1940).Sc. 1733 P. Lindsay Interest Scot. 163:
Their Yarn is fully as fine as ours, but when tried by a magnifying Glass, theirs appears rough and ouzie, and of a bad Colour.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost viii.:
A breathing lump of mortality, groosy and oozy and doozy.
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts and Larks 123:
Ere Time's young oosie chaffs were needin' weedin'.
Gsw. 1902 J. J. Bell Wee MacGregor ii.:
“Whit's thon big white oosie beast?” . . “It's a Polish bear.”

II. v. To rub or wear the nap off cloth, to fray, to make shabby.Bnff. 1847 A. Cumming Tales 71:
When Poverty's caul hand has 'oo 'd the duds, an' rubbed them bare.

[O.Sc. oull, 1447.]

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"Oo n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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