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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

SHEW, v., n. Also shoo, shue (Sc. 1831 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) III. 101), sheu (Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 292), shoe (Ags. 1912 J. A. Duthie Rhymes 78), †show (Abd. 1710 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VII. 223), †shoow (Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 65), †sue (Dmf. 1711 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. (1920–1) 123), †shou; sow. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. sew. [ʃu:]

I. v. A. Forms. Pr.t. shew. Gen.Sc.; pa.t. shewed (s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 207; Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Bch. 1926 Dieth 140; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Gen.Sc.), shewt (Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 184; Abd. 1936 D. Bruce Cried on Sunday 16); pa.p. strong shewn (Sc. 1935 D. Rorie Lum Hat 38; n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1970), weak shewed (Sc. 1818 S. Ferrier Marriage xxxiv.; Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein), †showed (Sc. 1752 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) II. 238). Phr. out (o') the shewin, out of order, unfit, of persons or things, out of the running (in a contest) (Ags. 1970).

B. Usages: As in Eng., freq. in phr. to shape and shew, to make clothes, as a tailor or dressmaker. Vbl.n. shewin, sewing, needlework. Combs. sowing-brod, the tailor's board, shew(in)-machine, †shewing tent, a sewing frame. Deriv. shewer, a sewer, needlewoman.Sc. 1702 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 360:
Teaching of young women in shewing, japanning, pastrie, and others suchlyke.
Slg. 1722 Trans. Slg. Arch. Soc. (1923) 86:
He shall nether shape nor shou within this our freedom without the libertay of a mister askit and givne.
Abd. 1731 Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 1:
A shew'd bed lin'd with green silk.
Ork. 1747 P. Ork. A.S. XII. 50:
One shewing tent and blades.
Sc. 1783 Gil Brenton in Child Ballads No. 5 A. xliv.:
To shape and sue the king's son a sark.
Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 199:
He at the sowing-brod was bred.
Ags. 1826 A. Balfour Highland Mary III. 15:
To teach your poopils moosick, reading, writing, counting, painting, and shooing.
Ayr. 1842 Children in Mines Report II. 370:
She is a real good “shewer”, and cannot win above 6d. a day.
Sc. 1849 M. Oliphant M. Maitland xvii.:
The bairn's showing is maist beautiful. I hae a notion o' bringing her up to be a mantua-maker.
Sh. 1888 Edmondston & Saxby Home of a Naturalist 140:
“Nedder bake nor brew, Shape nor shew, Upon gude Yule, Else muckle dul Will be dy shar Dis year and mair.”
Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 372:
To sit cross-legged and shape and sue.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 25:
Yince in a day the maist o this wheit-seem was shewd be hand.
Gsw. 1931 H. S. Robertson Curdies 23:
I'll see ye at the shewin' meetin' next week?
Abd. 1949 W. R. Melvin Poems 75:
The shew-machine's a' roostit.
Fif. 1950 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 369:
Yer heid's been gaun like an ill-shewed-on button.
Sh. 1959 New Shetlander No. 51. 13:
Never sew on a button while a garment is being worn, that's shewin sorrow tae the back of the wearer.

II. n. The act of sewing or a particular instance of it, a spell of needlework (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.Sc. Comb. shew-up, the closure or shutting-down of a business, a bankruptcy (Watson; Ags., Per., Lth., Ayr., Kcb., s.Sc. 1970). Cf. Eng. slang to sew up, to bring to a non-plus or standstill.

[O.Sc. schew, to sew, 1545.]

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"Shew v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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