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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.

SOO, n.1, v.1 Also sou; su (Sh.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. sow, a female pig. [su:]

I. n. 1. As in Eng. Common in Sc. in colloq. and proverbial expressions.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 165:
Humph, quoth the Dee'l, when he clip'd the Sow, A great Cry, and little Woo.
Sc. c.1860 Scotsman (13 Sept. 1910):
“Like the fat soo, he gets aye weel creeched” — A rich man is always getting more.
Abd. 1930 N. Shepherd Weatherhouse vi.:
A soo's snoot stewed on Sunday and on Monday a stewed soo's snoot.
Abd. 1934 Sc. N. & Q. (Oct.) 150:
Fat d'ye expect fae a soo but a grunt?

2. Applied indiscriminately to both sexes of the animal (Sc. 1798 Monthly Mag. II. 435; Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Sc. combs. and deriv.: (1) soo-back, ¶supach (Edb. 1884 R. F. Hardy Glenairlie iv.), (i) a ridge or natural hump, e.g. in the roof or pavement of a coal-working (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 62), a ridge of clay formed by glacial action (Ayr. 1925 Kilmarnock Standard (9 May)), a drumlin (see Drum, n.3). Called hog(s)back in Eng. and U.S. in both the above senses. Vbl.n. ¶sow-backing, bumpiness or unevenness of the surface of the soil, ice, etc.; (ii) a woman's cap or head-dress with a fold or ridge running from front to back (Ags. 1808 Jam.; Per. 1928). Also attrib. and as ppl.adj. in comb. Soo-back(it) mutch, id. (Fif. c.1875; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 267); (2) soo-boat, a small square-sterned rowing boat or dinghy which is towed behind a larger ship out at sea, and is used for plying between it and the shore (Ork. 1887 Jam., 1929 Marw., Ork. 1971). Also in reduced form soo (Jam.). So-called because of its shape; †(3) sow-brock, the badger (Fif. 1825 Jam.); (4) soo-cairt, a low-bodied-cart, a pig-float (Per. 1971); (5) soo-cruive, -crave, crae, -cray, a pigsty (Slk. 1933; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Ork., m. and s.Sc. 1971). See also (15) below; †(6) sow-day, see quot.; (7) soo-hoose, a pigsty (Watson); (8) sooie, a lump of oatmeal dough trimmed off the edges of the round before it is baked, and given as a morsel to children (ne.Sc. 1949). Also soo. Also in pl.; (9) soo-luggit, having long loose-hanging ears (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Per.1971); (10) soo-moo't, -mouthed, soo-moued, of an animal: having a projecting upper jaw (ne. and m.Sc. 1971), also of a person; (11) soo-same, sow-, pig's fat, lard (Per. 1971). See Same, n.1; (12) soo's back, sow's-, a hump or ridge, esp. in a coal-mine (Fif., Lnk., Ayr. 1971). See (1) (i) above; (13) soo's bands, in boat-building: strips of wood nailed on temporarily to keep the boat boards in place (Sh. 1962); †(14) sow's coach, the game of Hot Cockles (Lth. 1825 Jam.); (15) soo's cruive, -crave, -cray, -crue, a pigsty (Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; e. and wm.Sc.) See Crue, Cruive; (16) soo's egg, as in phr. he never said soo's egg, he kept mum, with the implication of purposeful concealment (Abd. 1948); (17) soo's heids, the nodular part of the sea-weed tangle, which clings to the rock (Abd. 1955); (18) soo-shell, the truncated gaper shell, Mya truncata (Ork. 1954 Ork. Miscellany II. 56); †(19) sow-siller, hush-money, a bribe to ensure silence (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); (20) soo's lug, (i) one of the mould-boards of a drill- or double-breasted plough (Mry. c.1900; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1971); (ii) tech., in soldering; an overlap of lead folded over to strengthen a joint at a corner (Edb. 1950 B.B.C. Broadcast (12 May) Inv. 1971); (iii) a similar corner of paper, as in grocers' packages (Ib.); (iv) a three-cornered sugar-coated bun (Lnk. 1971); (v) phr. as thick as a soo's lug, said of heavy, good-quality cloth (Lnk. 1971); (21) sow's mou, a twist or screw of paper used as a bag for sweets or other fairly small items (Abd. 1825 Jam.); ¶(22) soo's race, see quot.; (23) soo's tail, (i) also in form soo-tail, a wrongly tied knot (see quot.) (Ork., Per. 1971); (ii) in phr. soo's tail tae-, an expression of defiance or derision (Fif. 1924 A. M. Houston Auchterderran 138); (24) soo's troch, a pig's trough (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 267; Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1971). Phr. to see (somebody) by the soo's troch, to escort (a guest) at parting to the gate or limits of one's grounds (Abd. 1971); (25) a soo wi anither snoot, also a sow wi' a different snout. (That's) another story.(1) (i) Sc. 1847 Royal Caled. Curling Club Annual 143:
The Rink — free from every bias, clear of every obstruction; no water-springing, snow-falling, no sow-backing.
s.Sc. 1874 J. Geikie Great Ice Age 97:
Long smoothly-rounded banks or “drums” and “sowbacks”, which run parallel to the direction taken by the ice.
Sc. 1891 J. G. McPherson Golf & Golfers 2:
To watch the lie of the green, carefully noting any hollow to catch or “soo-back” to avoid.
(ii) Per. 1831 D. Grewar Glenisla (1926) 49:
The old “sow-backit mutch” was the kind of head-dress worn by the women.
Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 61:
Her lang broon wig was hingin' oot aneth her sooback mutch.
Slg. 1872 Chambers's Jnl. (14 Dec.) 788:
She wore the same style of peaked cap or souback mutch.
ne.Sc. 1874 D. Macgregor The Scald 27:
An auld crookit carlin she was wi' that kind o' mutch ca'ed a souback.
Gall. 1881 J. K. Scott Gall. Gleanings 65:
A soo-backit mutch she wore, heich i' the croon.
Sc. 1897 Trans. Edb. Naturalists' Club 219:
The “sooback” may still be seen in some of the Western Highland districts, but it has long ago almost entirely ceased to be worn in the Lowlands. The last of them the writer saw was about the fifth decade of this century.
(4) Lnk. 1951 G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot 99:
His sturdy Clydesdale was yoked to what he called “a soo cairt” in my laddie days.
(5) Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 84:
In a bothy sleep and sit, Kin-lodgin' to a sow-cray.
Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier 17:
Sounds of remonstrance from the soo-cruive.
Edb. 1928 H. Lauder Roamin' 32:
The “soo craes” at Wattie's place.
s.Sc. 1936 Border Mag. (April) 51:
Dykes an' soo-craves left to fa'.
(6) Ork. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVI. 460:
In a part of the parish of Sandwick, every family that has a herd of swine, kills a sow on the 17th day of December, and thence it is called Sow-day.
(8)Sc. 1935 Victor McClure Scotland's Inner Man 151:
There is no smell in the world so good, nor one that bides so well in a Scotsman's memory, as that of the kitchen when oatcakes are being made. It is one of the writer's earliest memories - that and picking up stray bits of the oatcake dough, then called "soo."
(9) Arg. 1742 Arg. Justiciary Rec. (Stair Soc.) II. 517:
A grey coloured horse sow lugged.
s.Sc. 1900 Abd. Wkly. Free Press (8 Dec.):
If yer dowg, as ye ca't, is no shuttle-gabbit, gor, he's soo-luggit.
(10)Abd. 1995 Sheena Blackhall Lament for the Raj 24:
Soo-moued, ringle-eed Jock McBride
Is socht bi polismen far an wide
An identikit o his coorse physog
'S bin sent frae Turra tae Auchenshog.
(11) Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 14:
It wad take a vast o sow-same ti cleester a cloor gotten that gait!
(12) Sc. 1789 J. Williams Mineral Kingdom I. 107:
We bring up a level mine under the pavement of the coal, quite through the ridge, in order to level the coal upon the other side of it. Some of the Scots colliers call this a ridge, others of them call it a hirst, and some of them call it a sow's-back.
Sc. 1895–6 Royal Caled. Curling Club Annual 90:
Noo, Schulemaister, doon the soo's back, and mind it's gleg ice.
Dmf. 1937 T. Henderson Lockerbie 59:
Away went the stone, travelling right down the sowsback.
(22) Sc. 1903 R. Ford Children's Rhymes 83:
The “soo's race” ensues; a hurry-scurry round — which continues until someone falls and the game ends by all tumbling in a confused heap.
(23) (i) Ork. 1887 Jam.:
In binding sheaves the ends of the straw band are brought together and twisted into a particular kink; and if that kink is not properly made, the result is a sow's tail.
(ii) Sc. 1715 Jacobite Relics (Hogg 1819) I. 91:
The sow's tail is till him yet, The sow's tail to Geordie.
Fif. 1912 D. Rorie Mining Folk 417:
On the Fifeshire coast the pig is par excellence the unlucky being. “Soo's tail to ye!” is the common taunt of the (non-fishing) small boy on the pier to the outgoing fisher in his boat.
(25)m.Sc. 1939 James Barke The Land of the Leal (1987) 136:
' ... But you mustn't forget that working to Dundribban learning the cheese and working to the farmers making cheese - frae a hunner or a hunner and fifty kye - is a sow wi' a different snout.'
Dmb. 1997:
That's a soo wi anither snoot.

3. A ridge-shaped mass, specif.: (1) a large oblong stack of hay (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot. I. 398; Mry. 1925; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 267). Gen. (except I.) Sc. Dim. sowie. Also in combs. hey-soo, id. (Jam.; Fif. c.1875; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 267), phr. a moose 'ill tak' on a hey-soo, of a person embarking on an enterprise apparently greater than his capabilities (Abd. 1929); soo-knife, a hay-knife (Per. 1971); soo-stack, a hay-stack of this shape (Ayr. 1910; Cai. 1930; Fif., Kcb. 1971); (2) in comb. sow-kill, -kiln, an old type of lime-kiln in which the lime was put in a hole in the ground and covered with sods to retard combustion, thereby forming a mound (Fif. 1825 Jam.; Sc. 1880 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 62). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (3) two peats raised on edge and propped up against one another to dry (Ork. 1929 Marw.); (4) a heap or confused cluster of objects (Sc. 1825 Jam.), fig., anything in a state of disorder, a tangle, a mix-up (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); (5) a small pile of cherry-stones in the game herry the sowie (see quot.). For another meaning of herry the sowie, see 4. (2).Sc. 1809 Farmers' Mag. x. 205:
It [limestone] was laid up in a long ridge or sow as it is called in Scotland.
(1) Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 166:
Severall great sows of hay.
m.Lth. 1793 G. Robertson Agric. M. Lth. 72:
[The hay] is collected into sows containing sometimes 10,000 stone.
Ayr. 1824 A. Crawford Tales Grandmother (1825) II. 16:
A hill I canna see aboon the size o' a hay sowie.
s.Sc. c.1830 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club. (1916) 61:
Gae tear frae the sowie, ane armfu' o' hay.
Fif. 1873 J. Wood Ceres Races 24:
He creepit intil the big hay soo.
Mry. 1909 Colville 146:
The hay was done up first in colies, then trampcolies, and last in hey-soos or trances.
Fif. 1935 St. Andrews Cit. (21 Sep.) 7:
Three “sow” stacks of last year's hay.
Ags. 1963 Dundee Courier (15 Oct.):
The soo was blazing from end to end.
Per. 1990 Betsy Whyte Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1991) 111:
A soo was a huge house-shaped stack, and could be of hay or straw. The hay ones were thatched with straw, or covered with tarpaulins.
(2) Sc. 1784 A. Wight Present State Husbandry III. 641:
The stone is burnt with peat in clamp or sow-kilns.
Fif. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IX. 105:
Mining, breaking, and filling the draw and sowkilns.
(5) Sc. 1803 Scott Minstrelsy III. 26:
Children play at a game with cherrystones, placing a small heap on the ground, which they term a sowie, endeavouring to hit it by throwing single cherrystones. My companions at the High School of Edinburgh will remember what was meant by ‘herrying a sowie'.

4. The small ball or puck made of wood or bone used in the game of shinty. Chiefly in combs. and phrs., with various applications in various types of shinty; (1) cutty soo, cutesoo (Abd. 1887 Sc. N. & Q. I. 200), the game of shinty or the club with which the ball is driven (Abd. a.1897 M. M. Banks Cal. Customs (1937) I. 28). See Cutty Soo, and Suppl.; (2) harrie the sowie, herry-, a kind of shinty. See quot. and cf. Herrie, I. 5. (3); (3) sow-driver, the player who tries to drive the puck into the holes in the game sow-in-the-kirk, q.v.; (4) sow-in-the-kirk, see quot. and cf. Church And Mice, and Kirk the gussie, s.v. Kirk, v.1, 3. Reduced form sow, id. (Jam.).(2) Sc. 1847 Sc. Journal I. 94:
“Harrie the Sowie” is a game played by boys in Scotland, and is a sort of shinty. . . . There is but one [goal], and the struggle consists in the contest of each party to obtain the honour of the hail, or driving the “sow”, which is generally a piece of bone, into the goal.
(3) (4) Lth. 1825 Jam.:
A pretty large hole is made in the ground, surrounded by smaller ones according to the number of the company, every one of whom has a shintie. The middle hole is called the Kirk. He who takes the lead in the game, is designed the sow-driver. His object is to drive a small piece of wood or bone, called the sow, into the large hole or kirk, while that of his opponents, every one of whom keeps his shintie in one of the smaller holes, is to frustrate his exertions by driving back the sow. If he succeeds, either in knocking it into the kirk, or in clapping his shintie into one of the small holes, while one of his antagonists is in the act of striking back the sow, he is released from the drudgery of being driver. In the latter case, the person whose vacancy he has occupied, takes the servile station which he formerly held.

5. The ballan wrasse, Labrus bergylta (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Bnff., Kcd. 1971). Also in comb. sea-sow s.v. Sea.Bnff. 1960 Banffshire Jnl. (26 April):
Poddles, soo's an' codlins.

6. A protective shelter formerly used in military operations in sapping and mining fortifications. Now only hist. Dim. sowie. Used erron. in 1826 quot., phs. for a catapult.Sc. 1803 Scott Minstrelsy I. 246:
They laid their sowies to the wall.
Sc. 1826 Moss-Troopers II. iii.:
To see the castle put in defence and to get a' the sowies ready to fire at them.

II. v. tr. To stack (hay, corn, etc.) (Sc. 1808 Jam.).

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"Soo n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Apr 2024 <>



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