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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

STURE, adj. Also stour(e), stoor, stur (Jak.); sturr, stare, steer; stoar. [stu:r, stø: r, ste:r, ne.Sc. †sti:r. See etym. note.]

1. Big, large, stout, burly, substantial (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw., stoor.; Sh. 1971). Deriv. stourie, long, slender, gaunt (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 184). Hence stourness, bigness, large size (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.).Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie x.:
Thy twa bare feet, sae stoure an' burly.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 178:
A muckle stour man aboot six foot lang.

Combs.: (1) stour-fisk, “big-fish”, transf. a whale; (2) stour-mackerel, the shad, Trachurus trachurus. See also Mackerel; ¶(3) stoorworm, a monster serpent, a sea-dragon. Liter.(1) Sh. 1832 Old-Lore Misc. VIII. iv. 152:
He tuik da stour-fisk to da top of da Ness o' Hermaness but he fand no kettle to boil da whale in.
(2) em.Sc. 1810 Wernerian Soc. Mem. I. 540:
Scad, Horse-mackerel or stour-mackerel, is said sometimes to have been found in the Frith.
(3) Ork. a.1840 Sc. Antiquary V. 69:
The sea grew black with the blood o the stoorworm, for the ship had cut the monster clean in two.

2. Of persons: strong, sturdy, stout-hearted, valiant (Sc. 1808 Jam. Sh. 1971); of a blow: hard, violent. Hence stourly, forcibly, with vigour.Sc. 1783 Gil Brenton in Child Ballads No. 5 A. xxxix.:
The auld queen she was stark and steer; She gard the door lye i the fleer.
Ags. 1819 J. Ross Ags. Chaplet 32:
Britons sture, aye kept the floor, An' Denmark hude in awe, man.
Gall. 1832 J. Denniston Craignilder 60:
Though he was stalwart, stoor and stern, Yet that could nought avail, man.
Edb. 1866 J. Smith Merry Bridal 155:
I'll gie them a claught mair siccar an' stour.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 121:
A stoorer he'rt might ha'e been yark.
Dmf. 1898 J. Paton Castlebraes 49:
Swuftly an' stourly I laid on a heezel rung.
Lth. 1905 J. Lumsden Croonings 186:
Folk young an' stoure, the tear an' wear O' toons may thole.

3. Rough in manner or appearance, grim, gruff, austere, stern, forbidding (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Slk. 1971); hard, determined, unyielding. Also adv. Adv. stourely.Sc. 1723 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 102:
Minerva mim, for a' your Morals stoor, Ye shall with Billy Bacchus fit the Floor.
Ayr. 1789 Burns Five Carlins xvii.:
Says black Joan frae Crichton Peel. A Carlin stoor and grim.
Peb. 1793 R. D. C. Brown Comic Poems (1819) 116:
Stiff, still, stuir, hard-grown Bailie Brock.
Sc. 1803 Scott Minstrelsy III. 115:
Up and spake lord Durie, sae stoor.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality iv.:
That dour stour-looking carle that sits by the cheek o' the ingle and turns his back on a' men.
Lth. 1851 M. Oliphant Merkland I. ii.:
The bairn Alison is not used to such company as a sture auld wife like me.
Dmf. 1877 R. W. Thom Poems (1883) 8:
There are, in our bleak waste o' sin, Stour natures.
e.Lth. 1885 S. Mucklebackit Rhymes 91:
Thou wearie, estlin' blast Frae “Lumsden's Hole” that stormest stoure!
Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Lady Jean's Son iv.:
There's his auntie, the Duchess, but she's a bauld stour wife.
Ayr. 1913 J. Service Memorables 90:
Sir Fergus demanded from her, stourely, his son.
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' Ling 23:
Winds blaw snell Owre acres stare As Winter's sel'.

4. Of a sound, of the voice, etc.: deep and hoarse, harsh, gruff, rough (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; ‡Lnk., Rxb. 1971). Also in Eng. dial. Adv. stourly.Ayr. 1785 Burns Address to Deil viii.:
Wi' an eldritch, stoor, “quaick, quaick.”
Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 89:
Nae mair we'll start to hear his knock, An' roaring stoor.
s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 375:
I heard a horn fu' stourly blawn.
Dmf. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (July) 386:
Ye may grane out yere ain auld sture and dour laugh.
Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 80:
She had a very stuir voice fan I kenned her.
Rxb. 1880 T. Watts Woodland Echoes 48:
When half-way ower the Staney Mair, He heard a voice low, gruff, an' steer.
Knr. 1894 H. Haliburton Furth in Field 9:
The farmer with the gravity of an officiating elder demanded in a stoor voice.
Dmf. 1954:
The auld queen has a gey stour voice.

[Two different words (though prob. ultimately cognate) have here become confused formally and to some extent semantically. The [ø, e, i and Sh. u] forms represent O.Sc. sture, big, stout, 1375, O.N. stórr, big, great. The other [u] forms are from Mid.Eng. stur, ad. M.L.Ger. stur, Du. (orig. dial.) stoer, harsh, surly, bleak, austere, hard, stubborn. O.Sc. sture, of the voice, grim, of the visage, a.1500.]

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"Sture adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Jun 2024 <>



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