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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

POSS, v., n.

I. v. 1. To press, compress, squeeze down, pound (Slk. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), “to pound or press an elastic body” (Uls. c.1840 W. Lutton Montiaghisms (1924) 32). Also in Eng. dial.Watson:
Poss the meal inti the girnel.

2. Specif., to knead or press down (clothes, etc.) in washing, to trample (a washing) in order to extract the dirt (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 384; Kcb. 1900; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Per., Fif., Ayr., Dmf., s.Sc. 1966). Comb. possing-tub, a deep barrel-shaped wash-tub. Cf. II.; deriv. posser, a stick or rod, often having a flat disc at one end, used to pound clothes in the wash-tub, a clothes-beetle, a dolly (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Kcb. 1900; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Ayr., sm. and s.Sc. 1966). Cf. poss-stick, id., under II.Ags. 1764 Session Papers, Waulkers Dundee v. Brown (2 Feb.) 1:
This cleaning or scouring used sometimes to be performed by laying the cloth in a trough or tub, with some strong lye, and beating it with a log of wood, called a posser, till all the impurities were expressed.
Sc. 1821 Blackwood's Mag. (Jan.) 432:
'Tis strange the good old fashion should have fled When double-girded “possing tubs” were made.
Cld. 1825 Jam.:
To poss claes, to wash clothes by repeatedly lifting them up from the bottom of the tub, and then kneading them down with some force.

II. n. An act of pressure, a push (Sc. 1882 Francisque-Michel 383), specif. the act of pounding or agitating clothes in a wash-tub, gen. in combs. poss-barrel, a barrel-shaped wash-tub; poss-stick, a dolly, posser (Mry., ‡Abd., s.Sc. 1966), poss-tub, a wash-tub, possing-tub (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai.; Dmf., s.Sc. 1966). See I. 2.Abd. 1930 Abd. Press & Jnl. (31 Oct.):
A “bere hummler,” something between a washer-woman's poss stick, and an outsize spurtle.
Bwk. 1937 A. Hepple Heydays 140:
For getting out he might as well have been a cheese mite at the bottom of a poss-barrel.

[O.Sc. poss, to push, knock, butt, 1513, phs. a variant form of Pouss, q.v. which is used in similar senses. Cf. also Post, id.]

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"Poss v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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