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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

YOWE, n. Also yow, yeow, youw (Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Iktober 17)), youe; †yew (Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 209); ¶hjow (Sh. 1951 New Shetlander No. 27. 34). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. ewe (Ayr. 1782 Burns Death of Poor Mailie ix.; Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 199; ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 153; Sh. 1888 B. R. Anderson Broken Lights 90; Sc. a.1894 Stevenson New Poems (1918) 38; Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 70; Ork. 1929 Old-Lore Misc. IX. ii. 76; Peb. 1953 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 171). Gen.Sc. Dim. yowie (Ayr. 1782 Burns Death of Poor Mailie x.; Edb. 1869 J. Smith Poems 122; Gall. 1928 Gallov. Annual 88; Abd 1946 J. C. Milne Orra Loon 26), ewie (Abd. c.1760 J. Skinner Amusements (1809) 63, m.Sc. 1842 A. Rodger Stray Leaves 19). [jʌu]

Sc. form of Eng. ewe.Cai. 1991 John Manson in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 78:
Pit oot the yowes and lambs
In the morning at the lambin
Bifore gaan back til wark
In Aiberdeen or Embro
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 113:
Cuddly lambs. I suppose they are at times but she's never chased a pelly ould yowe in the rain, slipping and sliding in the gutters, or risen at five to the lambing when the sleet's like to break your face.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web v:
Aiberdonian Scots is nasal, aa in the neb, clippt short's a yowie in spring.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 32:
It's an ower lang day
Syne I saw the mune ...
Wi her eerie skenklin
Ower tree an scaur
Ower flauchtrin een o' yowes
In their happin o' gerse i' the mirk.

Sc. usages:

1. As in Eng. In proverbial expressions:Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 209:
Ae scabbit yew spills twenty flocks.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xliv.:
They liked mutton well that licket where the yowe lay.
Slk. 1967:
There's mair as ae yowe o the brae face = There are plenty of fish in the sea, e.g. in choosing a wife.

Combs.: (1) rotten yowe, a ewe affected with sheep-rot, hence transf. of a person with symptoms of chest disease. esp. frequent spitting (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1974); (2) yowe brose, Brose made with the juice of mutton; (3) yowe bucht, ew(e) b(o)ught, a pen or enclosure for ewes at milking- or weaning-time (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 276, Per. 1974). Also attrib. See Boucht, n.2; ‡(4) ewe cheese, cheese made from ewes' milk; (5) ewe-daisy, tormentil, Potentilla tormentilla (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 72); (6) ewe-flower, ? = (7); (7) ewe-gowan, the common daisy, Bellis perennis (n.Sc. 1825 Jam., “apparently denominated from the ewe as being frequent in pastures, and fed on by sheep”; (8) yowe herd, a shepherd; (9) ewe-hog(g), see Hog, n.1, 1.Combs. Gen.Sc.; (10) yow-lammie, dim., a little ewe lamb. Gen.Sc.; ‡(11) yowe-milk, ewe's milk, specif. used in making cheese. Hence derivs. ewe(s) milking, ewe-milker; (12) yowe(s)-tremmle, -trimmle, -trummle, a cold spell in early summer about the time of sheep-shearing, supposed to chill the sheep (em.Sc.(a), s.Sc. 1974). See Tremmle, n.; (13) yowe's yirnin, fig., a silly person. See Yirn, v., 2.(3).(2) Rxb. 1894 Sc. Fairy Tales (Douglas) 139:
They offered it yowe brose.
(3) Wgt. 1707 Session Rec. Kirkinner MS. (19 Oct.):
In Spring last in time of harrowing, and another time in the ew bought.
Sc. 1723 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 134:
In bonny Ew-bught May.
Slk. 1813 Hogg Queen's Wake 252:
At ewe-bught, or at evening fold.
Rxb. 1901 W. Laidlaw Poetry 67:
Ewe-bughts at the dawn of morn At milkin' o' the yowes.
Abd. 1920 R. H. Calder Gleanings I. 3:
Mary to the yowe-buchts is gane To milk her daddy's yowes.
(4) Rxb. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 16:
She had brought the auld ewe-cheese.
Rxb. 1910 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 9:
Ewe cheese was quite a common article in shops in Hawick when I was a boy [c.1850].
(6) Slk. 1825 Hogg Queen Hynde 14:
The little ewe-flower starred the lea.
(7) Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck x.:
Enough to mak the pinks an' the ewe-gowans blush to the very lip.
Bwk. 1879 W. Chisholm Poems 53:
He wad watch the wee ewe-gowan waken.
(8) Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 72:
Tam the yowe herd, frae his mornin whey, To tent the yowes he's comin wast this way.
(10) Abd. 1863 G. MacDonald D. Elginbrod liv.:
Gin't be a puir bit yow-lammie like at ye're efter.
(11) Sc. c.1750 D. Herd Sc. Songs (1776) I. 48:
I've heard a lilting at our ewes milking.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xxiii.:
A half-dressed ewe-milker shut it in their faces.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxxviii.:
Maybe ye may like the ewe-milk cheese better.
Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 133:
Yowe-milk kebbuck, sweet to pree.
(12) Sc. 1925 H. McDiarmid Sangschaw 2:
Ae weet forenicht i' the yow-trummle I saw yon antrin thing.
Abd. 1930 Abd. Press & Jnl. (8 March) 6:
We have still to weather the borrowing days, the caul' gab, the coo's quake, and the yowe trummle before we are clear of unpleasant weather.

2. Fig. A stupid, weak-willed person, one who is easily led (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 213).Ags. 1894 F. Mackenzie Cruisie Sk. xviii.:
Ca' me a Philistine, ye black-faced yeow that ye are?
Abd. 1900 Abd. Wkly. Free Press (15 Sept.):
He may be disna wear gowd-rimmed specs fin he cud see best athoot them, like that muckle yow, Tammie Fraser.

3. A fir cone, freq. in dim. (ne.Sc., Ags. 1974). Also attrib. So called from the resemblance in shape and appearance to a curly-fleeced sheep.Abd. 1867 A. Allardyce Goodwife 9:
Rowin up sma crimpit things [pats of butter], Jist leyk a young fir ewe.
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood xiv.:
Trotting away down the road to the yowie woodie.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xiv.:
As mony fir yowes as ye can lay yer hans on.
Abd. 1963 Abd. Press and Jnl. (20 July) Suppl. I.:
The Gorack hill with its yowies from a fringe of fir trees.

[O.Sc. yhow, ewe, 1456.]

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"Yowe n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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