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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SAW, v.1 Also saa; shaw; shaaw; sha(a)ve, shawve, shauv(e), †shia(u)ve (Abd.). See P.L.D. §§ 34, 137. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. sow (seed). [sɑ:, sǫ:, Abd. + ʃɑ:(v)]

A. Forms: Pr. t. saw, saa; shaw (Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 133; Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier 98); shaave (Abd. 1878 Ellis E.E.P. V. 778), shauv (Mry. 1875 W. Tester Poems 84), shauve, shawve (Abd. 1906 Banffshire Jnl. (26 June) 2, 1925 Ib. (21 April)), shiauve (Bch. 1825 Jam.); pa.t. strong: sew (Sc. 1788 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 558; Sh. 1888 B. R. Anderson Broken Lights 79; ne.Sc. 1969); shew(e) (Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 70; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Sh., ne.Sc. 1969), shoo (Sh. 1931 Shetland Times (14 March) 7), shue (Abd. 1929 J. Milne Dreams o' Buchan 1), shu [su, ʃu]; weak: sawed (Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery xiii.; Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; ne.Sc. 1969), saad (Sh. 1859 Ellis E.E.P. V. 818, 1952 Robertson and Graham Grammar 34), saw't (Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 87; Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 183) [sɑ:d, sǫ:d, sǫ:t]; mixed form: sewed (Ags. 1870) [su:d]; pa.p. strong: sawn, (Rxb. 1942 Zai; I. and ne.Sc. 1969), sawen, sawin, saan (Sh. 1952 Robertson and Graham Grammar 34), saun (e.Lth. 1885 S. Mucklebackit Rural Rhymes 33) [sɑ:n, sǫ:n]; shaan; shauven (Abd. 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert xi.; ne.Sc. 1969) [ʃɑ:vn]; weak: sawed (Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein), sawt (Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 183) [sǫ:t].Peb. 1712 Burgh Rec. Peebles (1910) 185:
A part of Hamilton should be tilled and sawen.
e.Lth. 1730 Trans. E. Lth. Antiq. Soc. X. 33:
Hallf a boll in the bear measure 9s sterling which shu 2 riges of the fauch.
Inv. 1769 I. F. Grant Old Highl. Farm (1924) 153:
Said Day sawn of Kininveys oats by the ash tree . . . 2 bolls.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Death and Dr. Hornbook viii.:
“Guid-een”, quo' I; “Friend! hae ye been mawin When ither folk are busy sawin?”
Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 355:
Ane to saw, and ane to gnaw, and ane to pay the Laird witha'.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 70:
A'body shewe, that had to saw, For rigs was braw an' dry.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy vi.:
There's aye something to saw that I would like to see sawn.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 324:
The harrows lying birstling on the sawn croft.
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister x.:
Tod, we've been sawing it like seed a' alang the glen.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
If ye lay aa ta aa ye'll neder till or saa.
Lnk. 1923 G. Rae Lowland Hills 44:
I've sawn my peas! They'll a' be sawin' peas the morn.

B. Usages: 1. As in Eng. In Sc. freq. with advs. aff, doun, out; specif. to sow for a grass-crop, to sow grass as a rotation crop with corn. Gen.Sc.Abd. 1759 Gordon's Mill Farming Club (1962) 89:
That Break or Division of the infield which carries the last cropt of oats is to be sowed down with ryegrass and white Clover.
Kcb. 1789 Dmf. Weekly Jnl. (13 Jan.):
Sowing out with grass seeds, alongst with the third crop.
Ayr. 1799 Edb. Weekly Jnl. (4 Sept.) 281:
About 30 Acres sown off last Spring with Clover and Rygrass seeds.
Gall. 1810 S. Smith Agric. Gall. 151:
The sweepings of the hay loft, or gleanings from the barn floor, and hay stack . . . scattered over the soil, forms frequently what is termed sawing out.
Fif. 1832 Fife Herald (1 March):
About Five Acres of the Nursery, sown down with the White Crop of last year.
m.Lth. 1897 P. H. Hunter J. Armiger 155:
It wad be better to turf it ower raither than saw it doun.

Derivs. and combs.: (1) sawer, shauver, a sower; a machine for sowing seed (Abd. 1969); (2) shawin, shaavin, sowing, seed-time (ne.Sc. 1969). Combs. (i) shaavin-box, a box on wheels for sowing seed, a drill-sower; (ii) sawin cubbie, a straw seed-basket used by farmers (Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 35, Ork. 1969); (iii) sawin happer, a canvas sheet from which seed was broadcast by the sower (Ork., Abd., Ayr. 1930). See Happer, 2.; (iv) s(h)awin-sheet, id. (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encyl. 418; Cai., ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Lth., Wgt. 1969); (v) sawin-time, shaavin-, seed-time (ne.Sc. 1969); (3) combs.: shauve-acker, fig. one who scatters liberality about in a profuse manner, orig. from the practice of Moray Firth fishermen in strewing offal on the water near the shore to attract fish (Bnff. 1921 T.S.D.C.). See Acker, n., Aiker, n.2; shaw-bere, sow bere!, a phr. expressive of the call of the plover. See Bear, n.(1) Knr. 1886 H. Haliburton Horace 27:
Noo doun the rig the sawer swings.
Abd. 1932 R. L. Cassie Scots Sangs 40:
The shauver strins the corn doon.
(2) Sc. 1882 Jam.:
The sawin's late the year.
Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier 98:
Dinna be feart to bend your backs in guid shawin' weather like this.
Abd.15 1950:
Near Byth House there is a piece of land called “The Bow's Shauvins”, an area onee sown with a boll of oats.
Abd. 1967 Buchan Observer (21 Feb.) 2:
Atween the hairst an' shaavin'.
(i) Abd. 1926 Banffshire Jnl. (23 March) 2:
The broadcast distributor has killed the “shaavin-box”, and the wecht in which the carrier brought on his head a new supply.
(iv) Bnff. c.1715–60 Factor's Account MS.:
Shawing Sheet and Basket.
Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Yonderton xv.:
To convey some bags of seed in a cart to the fields, where they were set down at such distances apart as would be most convenient for replenishing the “Shawin-sheet”.
Ags. 1901 W. J. Milne Reminisc. 115:
This wicked boy “had a guts like a sawin' sheet”.
(v) Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 12:
An' ilka chiel is whustlin' noo, For sawin' time is here.
Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 33:
Syne roon again comes shaavin' time Wi' grubber, roller, harra.
(3) Abd. 1921 R. L. Cassie Doric Ditties 1:
The plivers ‘shaw-bere' shrill.

Phr. ane tae saw, ane tae maw, and ane te pey the laird witha, proverb describing the rigours of tenant 1992 Press and Journal 17 Nov :
We have come a long way in grain production from out grandfathers' times. As I've mentioned before, their projected yields were: "Ane tae saw, ane tae maw (eat), and ane te pey the laird witha".

2. To throw out (a fishing-line) from a hoat, to shoot (a line) (Mry., Bnff., Abd. 1940), specif. of the cord to which each section of the line is attached. Hence shawn bow, a buoy used to float a long line (Mry. 1934), -line, -tow, a small rope flung to carry a larger one (Mry. 1914 Trans. Banffshire Field Club 26).

[O.Sc. saw, schaw, to sow, a.1400.]

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"Saw v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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