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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

STOWP, n. Also stoup; †sto(a)p, stope; ¶stoop. Dim. forms stowpie, stoupie; ¶stubie. [stʌup; Rnf. sto:p; I.Sc. stup]

1. A wooden pail or bucket, gen. used for carrying water from a well, and usu. narrower at the mouth than at the bottom to prevent spilling (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Dmf. 1825 Jam., stubie; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 269; Rnf. 1920; ne. and em.Sc. (a), Lth., wm. and ‡sm.Sc., Rxb. 1971), occas. a milk-pail (Slg. 1971). Combs. stowpfu, stoupfou, a pailful (Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 120, stowpfu), water stoup (Jam.). Now only dial. in Eng. For fauld stoup see Fauld, n.2, 2.Mry. 1708 E. D. Dunbar Social Life (1865) 212:
A laddle, a watter stoup.
Ags. 1712 A. Jervise Land of Lindsays (1853) 342:
A barm stop.
Gsw. 1729 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 324:
The wrought stowp for draining the water from the quarrie.
Edb. 1735 Process Wright v. Din 50–51:
A Pint Stoup in the one Hand, and a wooden Water Stoup in the other Hand.
Sc. 1759 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 661:
Centinels were placed at the wells, and the stoups, or vessels, were ranged.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 212:
His Mither-in-law went to a cooper, and got them a big wooden stoup.
Lth. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 4:
Sour-milk barrels twa or three An' twa gude new milk-stoups.
Sc. 1824 S. Ferrier Inheritance I. iv.:
She was encompassed by a girr or hoop supporting two stoups.
Bwk. 1859 Bards of Border (Watson) 6:
Where young maiden Helen sang in her glee, Or hied wi' her full stoups up the brae.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 40:
[He] cuppid a fauld stoup fu' o' the for-spoken water ower Black Jock's riggin.
Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore 158:
The coo that gied the gude stowpfu' o' milk, an' pat her fit in't when she had dune.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 81:
Though ye gaither a' day, Ye winna gaither a stoup-fou [of mist].
Mry. 1887 J. Thomson Speyside Par. 76:
Tak' the water stoups an' fill that bowie tae the brim.
Gsw. 1898 D. Willox Poems 16:
A “stoup,” a wooden vessel which held about six gallons.
Knr. 1948 R. S. Young Kinross-shire 59:
He carried on a regular business in selling the water to Milnathort housewives. His price was one halfpenny a race, i.e. two stoups full.
Uls. 1953 Traynor:
Stoup, stoap, stope — a wooden vessel for carrying water. It is square in section and larger at the base by about a third than at the top; a couple of feet in height and about six inches across in the middle; the handle is a cross-bar between two of the sides an inch or two below the top.
Bwk. 1958:
Throw awa the cannies an get stoupies — said to a child that keeps on saying “I cannay.”
Rnf. 1965 T. E. Niven East Kilbride 238:
The method of drawing water was primitive, a stowp being lowered by a cleeked pole.
Arg. 1992:
They'd tae go tae a well tae carry the water in. An they had all the stops - that's whoot they called pitchers or buckets ...

2. A smaller-sized vessel for holding liquor, sometimes also used as a drinking-vessel, acc. to its size, which varied considerably, a mug, flagon, tankard, decanter (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1939; n. and em.Sc. (a), Lnk., Wgt. 1971), freq. with the name of the measure of its capacity prefixed, as chopin-, gill-, mutchkin-, pint-, quart-stowp; hence the measure itself (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1939). Obs. or dial. in Eng. Now chiefly hist.Mry. 1708 E. D. Dunbar Social Life (1865) 205:
A leam stoap and a pewter head.
Sc. 1717 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 19:
She ne'er gae in a Lawin fause, Nor Stoups a Froath aboon the Hause.
Inv. 1720 Steuart Letter Bk. (S.H.S.) 122:
To contean about 4 Dantzig Stoaps or 4 Scots pints.
Ayr. 1723 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (7 Aug.):
Anent uttensills for the sacraments they have a silver queff & one stoup & table-cloaths.
Sc. 1736 Mrs. McLintock Receipts 15:
Put them [apricots] in a Stoup, and set them on the Fire.
Edb. 1743 Edb. Commiss. Test. MSS. CVII.:
A pynt choppen and mutchkine stoups.
Sc. 1767 Boswell In Search of a Wife (Pottle 1957) 73:
To make room for the strong ale to be decanted in the stoup.
Ayr. 1788 Burns Auld Lang Syne ii.:
And surely ye'll be your pint stowp! And surely I'll be mine!
Sc. 1819 J. G. Lockhart Peter's Letters x.:
Huge pewter jugs, or, as they called them, stoups of claret.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xii.:
You are too young a man yet for stoup and bicker.
Gsw. 1879 A. G. Murdoch Rhymes 94:
O for the whisky stowp — The rowsy-towsy whisky stowp.
Kcd. 1890 J. Kerr Reminiscences I. 90:
Yon crystal stoupie ca'd a gill.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 57:
He liftit the half-mutchkin stowp fae neath Symington's nose.
Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (27 May) 4:
Whisky was retailed in the public house in pewter measures each with a hinged lid the half gill at 3d, gill at 6d, half mutchkin at 1s. and mutchkin at 2s. These ‘stoups' are now valued by collectors of pewter.
Sc. 1931 J. Lorimer Red Sergeant ii.:
I called for a small stoup of claret and a matchet of bread.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 132:
James enjoyed his company but was a thing puzzled at his calls, for he had Rick set down as a man for the stoup and the skirt and not so much for the family life he saw at Girtridge.

Phrs. and combs. (1) het or hot stowp, a drink of mulled ale (see Het, 1. (7)); (2) to roup or sell the stowp, the roup(in) o the stowp, of a mock auction procedure in the Curlers' “Court” or jollification after a curling match (see 1890 quot.); (3) stoupfu, -fou, as much (liquor) as a stowp will hold; (4) stoup plane, a kind of cooper's smoothing-plane with a rounded stock resembling a stoup (Sc. 1899 A. Mathieson & Sons Catalogue 74).(1) Mry. 1757 Session Papers, Cramond v. Allan (19 Jan.) 18:
They had used Treacle instead of Sugar, for their Drink or hot Stoups.
(2) Ags. 1886 A. Willock Rosetty Ends 77:
A coort was held, the ‘stoup' bein' ultimately selt at seven shillin's an' saxpence.
Sc. 1890 J. Kerr Hist. Curling 153, 362:
All distinctions forgotten amid the excitement of “the roupin' o' the stoup.” . . . ‘My Lord' . . . directs the officer to ‘roup the stoup,' which is done by him in the character of an auctioneer, descanting all the time on the great weight and value of the stoup; offers are made for the contents in the way of an ordinary auction or roup; and after it is knocked down to the highest bidder, trifling bets are sometimes taken as to whether the purchaser has gained or lost, two reporters being appointed to count the proceeds in another room. . . . While the reporters are absent for this purpose, the court goes on, another stoup being used; and any fines collected during that time, and also during the roup of the stoup, are added to the original amount, and belong to the purchaser.
(3) Rnf. 1805 G. McIndoe Poems 104:
Stoupfous o' whisky.
Edb. 1812 W. Glass Cal. Parnassus 21:
Now rap an' ring, an' gar them bring The biggest stoupfu yet we've seen.

3. A jug, esp. a milk- or cream-jug (Rxb. 1942 Zai; ne.Sc., Ags. 1971). Freq. in dim. stowpie. Comb. stoupfu, a jugful.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 52:
Stoupfu's of crouds an' ream she aft wad steal.
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 92:
The table was soon loaded with bickers of brose and porridge and stoups of creamy milk.

4. A kind of sea-shell, a whelk or Buckie.Edb. 1897 T. Thomson Rhymes 22:
The lassies fill their baskets wi' Clams, stoups, and silverwillies.

[O.Sc. stop, = 2., 1473, stowp, = 1., a.1500, Mid.Eng. stope, stowp. The Sc. forms are etym. ambiguous and might derive from one or other of O.N. staup, a drinking-vessel, or Mid. Du. stoop, jug, or poss. in some cases O.E. stoppa, a bucket.]

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"Stowp n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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