Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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CALLER, CAULER, Callar, Cawler, Cauller, adj. and v. [′kɑlər Sc.; m.Sc. + ′klər]

1. adj.

(1) Applied to fish, vegetables, etc.: fresh, just caught or gathered. Also fig. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1724–1727  Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1733) 90:
Caller nowt feet in a plate.
Sc. 1818  S. E. Ferrier Marriage (1819) II. xi.:
Gin ye had brought me a leg o' gude mutton, or a cauler sawmont, there would hae been some sense in't.
Sc. 1933  E. S. Haldane Scotland of our Fathers xi.:
There were various street cries early in the century. . . . But the very beautiful “caller 'ou” was the best known. Oysters were always popular, and in 1817 they could be had from the fishwives for twelve a penny.
Abd.(D) 1920  C. Murray In the Country Places 29:
I fain would dook in Dee aince mair An' clatter doon the Market stair, — O the caller dilse an' partans there!
Abd. 1938 16 :
In Aberdeen, the cries of “Caller herrin'” and “Caller dulse” are occasionally still to be heard in the streets: “Fresh herrin', caller herrin', two a penny!”
Per. c.1800  Lady Nairne Songs (ed. Rogers 1905) 164:
Wha'll buy my caller herrin'?
Edb. [1866]  J. Smith Poems, etc. (1869) 304:
Four bunch a penny, the bonnie caller radishes!
Slk. a.1835  Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) II. 331:
Do ye think . . . that a man o' taste canna distinguish . . . sweet, callar, fresh lamb, frae auld crock mutton? In phr.: as caller as a kail-blade, very cool and fresh (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1938).
Sc. 1816  Scott Antiquary (1818) xxi.:
They hae contrived queer tirlie-wirlie holes, that gang out to the open air, and keep the stair as caller as a kail-blade.

(2) Applied to air, water, etc.: cool, fresh, refreshing. Still widely known in Mod.Sc. Sc. 1724–1727  Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1733) 66:
When e'er the sun grows high and warm, We'll to the cauler shade remove.
Sc. 1896  R. L. Stevenson Weir of Hermiston v.:
And dry your bonny hair in the caller wind o' the muirs.
L.Bnff.(D) 1934  J. M. Caie Kindly North 21:
I' the yaird, richt clean an' caller, Smells the yird the beadle turns.
Knr. [1886]  “H. Haliburton” Horace in Homespun (1925) 215:
But the loch's cauler gleam, I see it in my dream.

Hence callerness, freshness. wm.Sc. 1835–1837  Laird of Logan II. 115:
The smell whereof is very pleesant and refreshing in the callerness of morning.

(3) Healthy, vigorous (Abd.2, Lnl.1, Lnk.3 1938). Sh.(D) 1886  “G. Temple” Britta 34:
Dere was twa young birds in't the last time I gaed doun — twa yallow caller things, about da size o' hens, an' wi' beaks aye gapin' an' cryin' for food.
Abd.(D) 1767  R. Forbes Jnl. from London (1869) 17:
But the third [girl] wis a cauller, swack bit o' beef.
Abd. 1801  W. Beattie Fruits of Time Parings 4:
She's just as cawler as a trout Tho' five an' fifty.
m.Sc. 1922  “O. Douglas” Ann and her Mother vi.:
Robbie was such a caller baby, so fat and good-natured and thriving.
Rxb. 1826  A. Scott Poems 129:
A cauler young widow, plump, rosy, an' fair.

2. v. To freshen, cool. Known to Bnff.2 and Abd. correspondents (1938). Sc. 1818  Scott Rob Roy xxviii.:
“The night,” she said, “was fair abune head — a night amang the heather wad caller our bloods.”

Vbl.n. callerin in phr. callerin o' the blade, the freshening and cooling of the grass by a shower of rain. Known to Bnff.2 1938. MacTaggart in Gallov. Encycl. gives this s.v. calledin' o' the blade, but this is prob. a misprint for callerin'. Bch. 1930  (per Abd.15):
We'd be a heap the better o' a skyte rain for the callerin o' the blade.

[O.Sc. callour, calour, caller, (1) of fish, flesh, etc.: fresh, showing no signs of flabbiness or staleness, a.1400; (2) of air, water, etc.: fresh and cool,1513 (D.O.S.T.); appar. a variant of Mid.Eng. calver, calvur, calwar, fresh (applied to salmon); for the dropping of v, cf. Sc. Siller, Eng. silver. See also Kalwart.]

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"Caller adj., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Dec 2018 <>



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