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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STEW, n., v. Also steu, stue, styoo, styew; and intensive forms steuch, stjooh. Dims. stewach, steutlach. [stju(x)]

I. n. 1. (1) Dust, specif. dust in motion, a thick dust-laden atmosphere, a cloud or swirl of dust or the like (Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 467; Sh. (steuch), ne.Sc., Ags. 1971). Also in n.Eng. dial. Adj. stewie, stuey, styooie, dusty, dust-stained (ne.Sc. 1971). Comb. mill-stew, the dust which flies about in a mill (Sc. 1808 Jam.).Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 38:
Roads wis dauk, wi' blinnin stew.
Abd. 1865 G. MacDonald Alec Forbes lxx.:
Yer rosy goon'll be clean blaudit wi' the stew o' 't.
Bnff. 1891 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 37:
She prayed that the evil one might ding him into stew.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (15 May):
Geng inby i' da paet neuk; doo'll be oot o' da stue o' dis reek.
Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 61:
Gie yer styooie face a sweel.
Sh. 1928 Shetland Times (7 Jan.):
Scoitin whaar da steuch wis comin' frae.
Abd. 1932 Abd. Univ. Rev. (March) 105:
The flichts an' the cyards an' the reel are a' ta stew lang seen.
Sh. 1952 J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 100:
Till we see him laek a comet In a steuch o spunks an reek.
Abd. 1959 People's Jnl. (1 Aug.):
Wark on the lan' his been a maist biordinar stuey affair fae start tae finish.
Abd. 1993 Aberdeen Evening Express 2 Mar 7:
John Major's never lashed oot at naebody. He couldna knock the stew aff a bap, 'at bloke.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 15:
Then Ma taks a wee pincers an pous and pous oot her eyebroos and it's affa sair, bit Ma says, "Nae pain, nae gain!" an her ee-broos luik aa bauld efter yon, jist a wee thin line in blue styew peinted abuin her een, ...

(2) in fig. phrs. implying rapid, energetic movement, sudden disappearance (ne.Sc. 1971).Abd. 1937 Abd. Press & Jnl. (27 Aug.):
It teuk roon the neuk like styoo!
Bnff. 1955 Banffshire Jnl. (19 July):
At sic a lick ye could hardly see him for stue an' sma' steens.

(3) fig. a hubbub, a to-do, a “dust-up.” Phr. to raise the stew, to stir up trouble, create a “scene.” Not always distinguishable from colloq. Eng. stew with sim. meanings.Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 54:
T'o we're no dere ta see da fun, I kno dey'll be a steuch.
Sh. 1919 T. Manson Peat Comm. 84:
Dey'll be a steuch at hom if I dunna turn up.
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood iv.:
To start speirin' might only raise the stew.
Sh. 1963 New Shetlander No. 67. 29:
Noo here in Spain, oh whit a steuch!

2. A coating or sprinkling of dust or any powdery substance (Abd. 1971). Adj. stewie, as in stewie bap, a floury roll (Abd. 1975).Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 2:
The stew o' meal an' peat.
Abd. 1946:
Div ye tak a stewach o meal ower your potage?
ne.Sc. 1956 Mearns Leader (13 Jan.):
A wee steutlach o' steu stickin' tae a cove's tap-kwite.

3. Sea-spray, vapour (Sh. 1904 E.D.D., Sh. 1971).Sh. 1899 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd (1922) 135:
Da boat brüsin' an' souchin' i' da sea, fil da stue o'm wis comin' ower her quarters.

4. A rank, obnoxious smell, a strong pungent aroma, a stench (Rnf. c.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) S. 147, steuch; Cld. 1880 Jam., stew, steuch; Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (27 Nov.); Sh., wm.Sc., Kcb. 1971, steuch).Ayr. 1841 J. Paton Songs 1:
Nae need ye'll hae tae heat knife blades To raise a stewch and smell.
Kcb.4 1900:
“That's an unco steuch ye're raisin” (said to a blacksmith burning a horse's hoof).

II. v. 1. To emit smoke or vapour, to smoulder (Kcb. 1971).Ayr. 1928:
Said of a poor fire: “juist steuchin awa.”

2. To cast spray or vapour.Sh. 1899 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd (1922) 132:
Wi' da sea stjoohin i' your face.

3. To cause a foul smell, to stink (Cld. 1880 Jam., Ayr. 1928, steuch; Sh., Slg., wm., sm.Sc. 1971).Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 63:
Da stink o brimstin in a bizz Cam steuchin but.

[O.Sc. stew, a thick atmosphere, 1375, to stink, 1563, of uncertain orig. Connection with M.L.Ger., Mid. Du., stof, stove-, dust, is hard to establish phonologically; there may have been some influence from Eng. stew, a heated room, bagnio, to simmer food. The -ch of some of the variants is no doubt echoic, cf. Feuch, n.1, Feuch, n.3, Feuch, int.]

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



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