Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.
POUTHER, n., v. Also poother (Sc. 1818 S. Ferrier Marriage II. ii.; Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 31; Kcb. 1893 Crockett Stickit Minister (1898) 63; Sc. 1920 D. Rorie Auld Doctor 16), powther (Sc. 1715 Household Bk. Lady G. Baillie (S.H.S.) 98; Ayr. 1788 Burns Mauchline Wedding v.); pouder (Edb. 1702 S. Leith Rec. (Robertson 1925) 6; e.Lth. 1705 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 365; Bnff. 1792 Trans. Soc. Antiq. Scot. 447; Sc. 1897 Stevenson W. Hermiston v.), pooder (Abd. 1928 P. Grey Making of a King 67). Dim. form poutherie (Ags. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin x.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. powder (Sc. 1825 Jam.). [′puðər, ′pudər. See D, 4.]
I. n. 1.
Sc. form of Eng. powder.m.Sc. 1991 William Neill in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 50:
Poother tae mak yer whiter,
lipstick tae mak ye ridder,
a hunner assortit smells tae droon oot the stink
o common humanity.
As in Eng. Adj. pouthery, poothery, powdery, like powder, charged with powder.Ayr. 1786 Burns Winter Night ix.:
Chanticleer Shook off the pouthery snaw.Bnff. 1887 W. M. Philip Covedale xx.:
Puff the poothery sarpent waukens Warpin' wicked at their feet.Sc. 1935 Abd. Univ. Rev. (July) 222:
An' the pouthery aise gaed furlin' roun' Till ye scarce could see yer han'.w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 51:
As a wee poutherie pow in lang gaiters,
In suitably imperious tones, ...
Sc. combs. and phrs.: (1) powder-brand, a disease affecting grain (see quot.); (2) poother deil, a kind of home-made firework consisting of a small heap of moistened gunpowder set off by a light applied to the top, a Peeoy (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 132, poother-deel). Also poothery-deevil, id.; (3) pouther money, the coins thrown for children to scramble for after a wedding (Arg. 1934), the shout raised by children waiting for this. Prob. orig. money to buy fireworks, to celebrate the occasion. Cf. BA', n.1, 2. (3), Pour, v., 1. (1), Heeze, v., 1. (2), and Heist, n., 2.; (4) pouther pouch, a receptacle for holding gunpowder, a powder-flask, powder-horn; (5) poudery pea, a pellet of gunpowder and peat dross; (6) poudery strae, a cracker made from oat-straw (see quot.); (7) to lat oot the pouther and equiv. phrs., to reveal a secret, “let the cat out of the bag” (ne.Sc. 1966).(1) Sc. 1818 Edb. Ev. Courant (7 April):
The black ears in barley and oats, provincially termed powder-brand, and which are more frequently found in American barley, than in any other variety.(2) Bnff. 1880 J. F. Gordon Chrons. Keith 70:
When a Wedding occurred, Poother Deils and choking the lums with a divot . . . made a brisk commotion below.Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 8:
A poothery deevil hotterin' on th' fleer.(3) Arg. 1917 A. W. Blue Quay Head Tryst 38–9:
The spectacle . . . reminded me in fantastic ways of the bridegroom's party in full retreat from a troop of youthful parasites yelling “Pooder money!”(4) Mry. 1865 W. Tester Poems 162:
Fire awa yer feus-de-joie Till ammunition lack again. Yer pouther pouch again gae fill.(5) Sh. 1964 Sh. Folk Book IV. 37:
The manufactured ball was another homemade firework known as a “poodery pea”.(6) Sh. 1964 Sh. Folk Book IV. 36:
A length of thick oat straw, obviously prepared beforehand. A natural joint closed one end, and the open end had been plugged with a wooden peg. This article I knew to be a “poodery strae”, often used by youngsters as a home-made firecracker.(7) Ags. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xvi.:
The Valentine, hoowever, I managed to keep oot o' his clutches . . . for if he had gotten his four een upon't, it wad hae letten out the poother, an' nae mistak'.Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxviii.:
The pooder was oot immedantly; an' Patie bann't 's sister fat was her bisness.Abd. 1898 J. R. Imray Sandy Todd 138:
She loot oot the poother aboot it hersel' the last time she was here.
2. Fig. usages, deriving from the meaning “gunpowder”: (1) in Curling: the force or strength behind the delivery of a stone, the impetus with which a stone is played (Dmf. 1830 R. Brown Mem. Curl. Mab. 108; Kcb. 1966).Ayr. a.1822 A. Boswell Poet. Wks. (1871 ) 196:
I carena though ye're twa ells short — Hands up — there's walth o' pouther.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 62:
The player . . . is not to give it [curling-stone] powder.m.Lth. 1868 Royal Caled. Curling Club Annual 276:
He gies't a' the pouther that lies in his shouther.Ayr. 1891 H. Johnstone Kilmallie II. xix.:
Canny, M'Clymont clap a guard an ell from this stane. Eh, ye have owre much poother — man, ye're raging like a pest.
(2) energy, fire, force, brains, “gumption”. Hence poutherie, adj., mettlesome, spirited (Per. 1966).Ayr. 1787 Burns Letters (Ferguson 1931) No. 112:
It's true, she [mare]'s as poor's a Sangmaker . . . but she's a yauld, poutherie Girran for a' that.Gsw. 1859 Recent Sc. Poets. (Murdoch 1881) II. 200:
A feckless, lazy loon he is, wi' heid o' whinstane rock — O' for some poother in the pow o' my big Jock!
II. v. 1.
Sc. form of Eng. powder. Also ppl.adj.wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 30:
Dried and pouthert?wm.Sc. 1987 Anna Blair Scottish Tales (1990) 34:
There was that Laird of Cockpen, of course, who went wooing in his 'pouthered' wig, his blue coat and white waist-coat, his ring, his sword and his fine cock'd hat and was dumb-foun'ert when he was refused.
As in Eng. Sc. combs.: (1) powdered beau, see quot.; (2) semi-poudering, see Semi.(1) Cai. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XV. 127:
Primula Scotica, the Scottish primrose, adorns, with its lovely little purple flowers, the savage heights of the coast of the Moray Frith. It is also called the powdered beau, from the white dust which plentifully covers the under side of the petals.
2. tr. (1) To sprinkle (food) with salt or spices in order to preserve it, to salt, cure (meat, butter, etc.) (Sc. 1798 Monthly Mag. II. 435, 1880 Jam.); ppl.adj. pouthered, -ert, salted, preserved (Ayr. 1900). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial. Combs. pouther fool, a fowl given as payment in kind, a Kane fowl, so-called because such fowls were generally salted or pouthered by the recipient; pouthering-tub, a barrel or tub used in salting of meat or the like (Bnff. 1966).Sh. a.1711 R. Sibbald Descr. Zet. (1845) 46:
Their Mutton for the most part being poudered, (that is salted) is dryed in little Houses, which they call Skees [sic].Sc. 1715 Ho. Bk. Lady G. Baillie (S.H.S.) 186:
For a powdering tub 6s., a meal barrill 1s.Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxvi.:
Lord Allan, rest his saul, used to like a pouthered guse.Per. 1852 Jnl. Agric. App. lviii.:
For the best sample (not less than 14 lb.) of Powdered Butter — Three Sovereigns.wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 62:
Mrs M'Millan's cook and your barber seem to be the best hands at poutherin' beef I know . . . I'm thinking, Doctor, you'll find that very excellent pouthered beef.Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 17:
Da minister . . . dat hes his teinds as süre as da bank an' his pouther fools, fat kye, Scots horses, an' glebe.wm.Sc. 1923 H. Foulis Hurricane Jack 17:
He would go ashore . . . and come back wi' a dozen o' eggs, a pound or two o' poothered butter, and a hen.Dmf. 1953 Dmf. & Gall. Standard (2 Sept.) 7:
Fresh butter — 1, Mrs D. Nicol . . . Powdered butter — 1, Mrs D. Nicol.
(2) in extended sense: to besprinkle with any substance.Gsw. 1846 W. Miller Nursery Songs (1863) 13:
I'll kittle his bosie — a far better plan — Or pouther his pow wi' a watering can.
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"Pouther n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Dec 2022 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/pouther>