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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.

POUSS, v.1, n. Also poos(s), puss, poose, pous(e). Sc. forms and usages of push. I. v., tr. and absol. 1. To poke or thrust (a stick, etc.); to prod, strike with a sharp thrusting blow, punch.Wgt. 1707 Session Bk. Glasserton MS. (23 March):
He saw Robert Stewart in Knock pouse his staff backward in the Kirk upon the Sabbath day.
Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis:
To pouss one in the breast.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 98:
They pous'd, they jundy'd ane anither.

2. To tug, jerk, “rug the hair” (Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. XIII. 35, pouse).Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs 249:
Pride prinks her brow for the deil to pouse.

3. Specif., to press down and agitate clothes in washing them, to “drive clothes hastily backwards and forwards in the water” (Sc. 1808 Jam.), to Poss or Post clothes.Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
Gie the claes a guid poussing.

4. Phr. to pouss one's fortune, to take steps to improve one's financial status, to push one's fortune (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis).Sc. 1719 Ramsay Works (S.T.S.) I. 134:
Now, William, wi' maun to the Bent, . And pouss our Fortune.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
You and me wad gang and pouss our fortunes.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Ayr. Legatees v.:
If you were going to pouse your fortune, you could not do better than pack up your ends and your awls and come to London.
Sc. 1848 J. W. Carlyle Letters (Froude 1883) II. 33:
Having left home with “a bannock” to “poose their fortune”.
Fif. 1887 S. Tytler Logie Town III. xviii.:
You hae been in luck, you hae pussed your fortune to some purpose.

II. n. ‡1. A thrust, prod, blow, stroke, knock, push (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Obs. in Eng. in 17th c. Dim. poussie, pussie, id., specif. in marbles, a faulty shot in which the marble is lobbed rather than flicked (Edb. 1966, pussie); also in combs. poussie-hander (Per. 1966), poosie-knickle, pussy-knuckle, (Ayr. 1966) id., and as v., to throw in this way (Edb. 1966, knuckle). See also Knuckle, v., 2. (2). Comb. pouss-tub, a wash-tub in which clothes are beaten and pummelled in the washing process (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Cf. I. 3. and Poss.Ayr. a.1796 Burns Reply to Trimming Ep. ii.:
I gi'e their wames a random pouse.
Sc. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (Nov.) 201:
I was a wee hailikit mysel' in these days, gieing Jenny a bit pooss in the bye gaun.
Sc. 1928 Scots Mag. (July) 312:
Ye wad never hear his word when the bools was at the worst, Sandie had a poosie-knuckle and aye was runkit first.
Sc. 1951 Sunday Post (26 Aug.):
Pussy-nickle — The method of propelling a “bool” by placing it in the hollow made by the bent forefinger and thumb.

2. A snatch, sharp tug (Sc. 1829 Scott Works Gl.). Cf. v., 2.Dmf. 1820 J. Johnstone Poems (1857) 139:
Would some but gie your lugs a pouse, They'd ser' you right in Corrie.

[O.Sc. pouss, to push, 1560, a push, 1645, to pouse a fortoune, 1657, O.Fr. pouss(er), a (to) push, Lat. pulsare, to beat, strike. The Sc. form remained unpalatalised but push was adopted later from Eng.]

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"Pouss v.1, n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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