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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

SPRUSH, n.1, adj., v. Also sproosh, sprooch; spruch; spruish. Sc. forms of Eng. spruce. [spruʃ, sprʌʃ]

I. n. 1. As in Eng.: (1) now obs.: Prussia. Used attrib. in Sc. comb. sprush ston, a weight formerly in use in Prussia, given as 28 lbs. Troy weight or approx. 25 lbs. avoirdupois.Inv. 1727 Steuart Letter-Bk. (S.H.S.) 274:
60 sprush ston of best bareband flax in three bealls.

(2) the spruce fir (Ayr. c.1780 Scotsman (5 March 1960) 7; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 268; Abd. 1932 Dieth Bch. Dial. 104; Per., Lnk. 1971).

2. Specif. Sc. usages: (1) from II.: a sprucing or smartening (up), a tidying or setting in order (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 179; Ayr. 1929; Sh., Ags., Per. 1971).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 179:
His wife's geen 'im a sprush, he leuks twice as weel sin he got 'ir.

(2) lemonade (ne.Sc. 1966, sproosh), prob. ad. Eng. spruce beer, a beer flavoured with spruce juice. Cf. also II. 2.

II. adj. 1. = Eng. spruce, as fine and elegant as Prussia leather, trim, smartly turned out (Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 155; Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 13, spruch; Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 49; Rxb. 1826 A. Scott Poems 45; Edb. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar xxvii.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor; n., em.Sc.(a), Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 1971). Also adv. (Ayr. 1791 Burns Johnie Lad ii.). Comb. and deriv. sprush new, brand-new; sprushie, dressy (Slg., Ayr. 1971).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 114:
That when the Pride of sprush new Words are laid, I like the Classick Authors shall be read.
Gsw. 1777 Weekly Mag. (23 Oct.) 88:
His bonnet he, A thought a-jee, Cock'd sprush when first he clasp'd me.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 45:
Hou braw he wes, hou braw he wes an crouse,
nae coorse-lik orra burd had claes sae sprush.

2. Brisk, smart in one's movements, spry (Sh., Bnff., Ags., Slg. 1971).Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 16:
Lads brisk an' sprush as bottl'd ale.
Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Witch Wife vi.:
A fine young gentleman like you, let him be ever so braw and sprush.
Bnff. 1954 Banffshire Jul. (23 Nov.):
Sin' we were young, sprush chiels.

III. v. As in Eng.: to smarten up, to tidy, make trim (Ags. 1858 People's Jnl. (30 Jan.) 3; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 179; Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 23, spruish; Ayr. 1929; Fif. 1939 St Andrews Cit. (12 Feb.); Sh., n. and em.Sc.(a), Lth., Lnk. 1971).

[O.Sc. has Spruce, Prussia, 1503, spruse wecht, 1511, sprusse stane, 1548, in sense I. 1.(1), sprush, = II. 1., 1681.]

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"Sprush n.1, adj., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Oct 2022 <>



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