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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SCOUK, v., n., adv. Also scook, skook, scowk, skowk, skuik (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. skulk. [skuk]

I. v. 1. As in Eng.: intr., to move in a stealthy, secretive way, to dodge or sneak about, lurk (Kcd. 1825 Jam.; n., em.Sc. (a) 1969), of human beings or wild animals, or fig. of a stream (Cld. 1880 Jam.); refl. to conceal (oneself). Hence scoukar, a loafing lurking person.Bnff. 1782 Caled. Mercury (14 Aug.):
He wad na slouch, neit jake, na scouk.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 31:
A scoukin scoundrel, lurkin' in the wood.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ ii. xii. 77:
Ye'll fin' it whaursaeevir ye scouk yersel.
Sc. 1928 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 363:
Scoukars on the lang straucht o' the Toun.
Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 57:
Fat the divvle hiv ye been skookin' in there for?
Cai. 1963 Edb. John o' Groat Liter. Soc. Mag. 13:
Oft have we skooked ahint a dyke.
em.Sc.(a) 1991 Kate Armstrong in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 115:
Hornshottle croftlaund, whaur the wind sings tae the gress
At catches the yett's fingers; whaups cown.
Black-broukit music sheets scouk in the press.
When the lift's lown.
m.Sc. 1994 John Burns in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 25:
Iain skowkit back intae the shaddas.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 17:
An likewise open ivery hert
Sae awbody can see an ken
Each scunnersome an gastrous thing
Scowkin an lurkin ben.

2. (1) intr. to scowl, to look from under the eyebrows balefully or furtively (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 162; Cld. 1882 Jam.; Cai., Bnff., Abd., Slg., Fif. 1969). Hence scoukin, furtive, sullen, of a look; having a skulking, furtive or hangdog look, thief-like, of a person; scary, of a horse (Cai. 1969), skookin-leukin, having a sour, frowning countenance (Gregor). Also fig.Sc. c.1715 Jacobite Minstrelsy (1829) 133:
They grin, they glour, they scouk, and gape.
Sc. 1775 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) III. 347:
No blackclout ever shall be there, Nor none that scouks like an auld bear.
Kcd. 1825 Jam.:
Ye're a scoukin ill-far'd like carle.
Abd. 1852 A. Robb Poems 27:
Wi' skookin' brows an' hingin' mou'.
ne.Sc. 1956 Mearns Leader (9 Nov.):
Bleary een, oot o' fitch he skookit at's like a hoolet.
em.Sc.(a) 1991 Kate Armstrong in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 110:
Tae whitna maitter scarts atween these banks
on loan a whilie, we sall gie particlar name. But gif
the medium be the message, raither mind hoo thocht
or scoukin haar kenna the immigration laws.

(2) tr. to contract (the brows), draw (the brows) together in a frown (Bnff., Abd. 1969).Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 71:
Sae may ye skook yir brow an' skool.
Bnff. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 81:
His een did blinter, his broos he scookit.

II. n. 1. A furtive look, a glance from under the brows or from the tail of the eye, a squint; a frown, a sour, gloomy aspect (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 162; Bnff., Abd., Ags. 1969).Sc. c.1715 Jacobite Minstrelsy (1829) 133:
There's something for my graceless son, That awkward ass, wi' filthy scouk.
Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 50:
Wi' horrid scouk he frowns on a'.
Bnff. 1955 Banffshire Jnl. (12 April):
I took a canny skook the wye o' the door.

2. A place through which one looks furtively, a peek-hole, a hagioscope in a medieval church (Mry. 1949).

3. A skulking, cowardly fellow, a sneak, one with a hang-dog look (Cld. 1882 Jam.; Cai., Inv. 1969).Abd. 1930 D. Campbell Kirsty's Surprise 55:
Apologise, indeed ye dirty skook.
Rs. 1943 C. M. Maclean Three for Cordelia ii. ii.:
“I won't have any boy at Tharrus speaking to me like a churl”. “Wha' 's that?” “A skook”.
Fif. 1998 Tom Hubbard Isolde's Luve-Daith 3:
Sair guidit bi a cushle-mushle o scowks,
A sleekit core o foongers an come-ups.

4. Fig. Shade, shadow; shelter, protection, surveillance. Ppl.adj. skowkit, of a bonnet: with a projecting brim. Cf. Scoul. v., 1. (2).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 162:
Sit i' the skook o' the trees. He wiz fleyt t' face the fowk, an' he cam in ooner the skook o' the doctor.
Abd. 1892 Innes Review VII. ii. 96:
My faither jest threw aff his pled and his skowkit bonnet.

III. adv. In a hidden manner, furtively, with a gloomy scowling mien.Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 162:
He ran skook up the dyke-side.

[For the form cf. Bouk, n.3 O.Sc. scowking, skulking, 1375.]

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"Scouk v., n., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Dec 2022 <>



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