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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).

Marrow, n. Also: marow(e, mar(r)ou, marro, marraw, morrow, mairow, (merrow). [Late ME. marwe (Prompt. Parv.), maroo (Towneley Plays), e.m.E. marrow, -oll, of uncertain (but perh. Scand.) origin. In the mod. dial. Sc., north. Irish and north. and north midl. Eng.]

1. A comrade; a companion, fellow-traveller or neighbour; a friend. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2925 (Bann.).
Brudir … I rid thé fle To mache thé with a frawart fenȝeit marrow
1490 Irland Mir. I. 87/32.
The hie state that he [the serpent] and his marowis and fallouis had tynt
1513 Doug. vi. ix. 9.
Sone hym [Æneas] warnys Scibilla the sant His trew marrow
1529 Lynd. Complaynt 306.
To be a wacheman to his marrow
1531 Treas. Acc. VI. 32.
To the pure Duchemene quhilkis war left on land be thair marrowis
1532 Acta Conc. & Sess. MS. I. 3.
That na man … rownd wyth his marrow
1531 Bell. Boece (M) I. 167. Ib. II. 225. Id. Livy I. 23/10. 1533 Boece ii. i. 57.
Of inemyis he maid freyndis and marrois
Ib. viii. vii. 263 b.
Myst obscuring the aire sa thik that skantlie ane man mycht se his marrow
Ib. i. vi. 44 b. 1535 Stewart 25412. c1552 Lynd. Mon. 406.
Marrowis in trybulatioun Bene wracheis consolatioun
1570 Inverness Rec. I. 190. 1571 Maitl. F. clxxvii. 93.
Nor to content thy marrowis cowatice Put nocht thy selff in perrell for to pereis
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 135. 1588 Melvill 271.
As Democrit … For to refraishe the mynd a meakles marrow
c1590 Fowler I. 58/8. Ib. 113/42. 1581-1623 James VI Poems II. 97/42.
I reiose Quhen I persaue ue marrois be In trouble sorrou & in noise
1596 Dalr. I. 279/18. Ib. 236/32.
Adrian and Stolbrand … with thair archedeaconis … with sum vthiris faithfull marrowis, fled unto the Maii
Ib. II. 334/19.
In this jornay thir marrowis sho tuke til her, the Erle of Huntlei with his wyfe and his mother [etc.]
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 376.
He is blinde that eats his marrow, but far blinder that lets him
c1610 Melville Mem. 282.
Quhilk he suld kepe secret from Mester Bowes his marrow
1645 Anal. Scot. I. 110.
She demanded of sundry her marrowis quhat they were about all that tyme

b. A colleague, fellow-worker, mate; (a criminal's) associate or accomplice. Also attrib.(1) 1488 Treas. Acc. I. 100.
To Pringil and his marrowis
1504–5 Ib. II. 472.
To Mergret Dennet, Inglis woman … vij li. Item to hir marrow with hir … vij li.
1506–7 Ib. III. 369. 1533 Gau 60/14. 1547 Ayr B. Ct. & Council Bks. 24 Oct.
Quo die the bailȝe foresaid for falt of his marrow and waiknes of court continuis [etc.]
1550 Reg. Cupar A. II. 241.
To vse the office of fowlair craft be himself or be his marrowis
1560 Rolland Seven S. 278. 1563 Lanark B. Rec. 31.
Quhat persoun of the said counsall that revellis ony thing that his marow sayis in the said counsall
1569 Reg. Privy C. I. 653.
Sa let him … waill his marrowes at his own perrell
1586–7 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 485.
To the lokman and his marrowis
1598 Crawford Mun. Invent. II. 210 (12 May).
The master … is for his strait handling in smal acompt with his marouis
1598 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 234.
[The scholars,] except thai be … fund … unhable to hald fute with thair marrowes, sall nocht be put bak
1619 Garden Elphinstoun 444.
His renowne and name abone His marrows muche did mount
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. (1751) 82.
The priest … said they were plundered by the Whigs, Unto another priest his marrow
(b) 1576 Orkney Oppress. 66.
Thomas Navar and his mairow
(2) 1561–2 Treas. Acc. XI. 102.
To the hangman … for upputting of Macgillicallum and his marrowis heid
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 823.
Buttrie bag … thow will wag with the morrowis
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 759.
Speir at Jock thief my marrow, if I be a leal man
(3) attrib. 1623–4 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II. 160.
To Robert Aikinheid and his marrow cairteris for carying … fyve peice of ordinance

c. An associate or partner in business or the like.Also Out-marrow n. 1456 Aberd. B. Rec. MS. V. i. 268.
A bil of complaynt … apone his marrowis of the myln
1495 Liber Aberbr. II. 290.
And than comperit Symone Banerman and allegit he haid and his marrowis charteris and infeftmentis tharapone
1525 Acta Conc. MS. XXXV. 130.
To pas … to Londoune … and … mak finance in ane sickir bank of [£400] steirelingis … and … caus that bank or thare marrowis in Bruges or Handwarp to ansuer for samony ducatis
1527 (1650) Dundee B. Laws 100.
That na master sall tak na marrow in the baik house with him without licence of the dekyne and craft
1564 Lanark B. Rec. 32.
That thair be na marrows in the sellin thairof bot ilk man his awin propir geir
1596 Dalr. I. 221/23.
[St. Benedict,] biging a monasterie, tuik til him certane marrowes
1602 Lett. Jas. VI to Eliz. 150.
Mouing you to take me in for a thridde marrow in that gham

d. Predicatively, const. to or with the companion or associate. 1533 Boece iii. xxi. 124.
He perseuerit faithfull freynd and marrow to Romanys
1551 Hamilton Cat. 97.
Thi princis ar unfaithful, marrawis to theiffis [L. socii furum]
Ib. 175.
The … blissit angellis, quhilk sall be marrowis with us in that eternal lyfe
1578 Reg. Privy C. III. 78.
Thair naturall ewill inclinatioun to be marrowis with thame in thair unlefull spuilyeis

e. transf. — a1578 Pitsc. I. 331/3.
Two gret cannonis, … Thrawinmouth and hir marrow

2. a. Another (person) of the same kind, another like the person named, a counterpart. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 215.
A thief wald have a marrow
1637 Rutherford Lett. (1863) I. 300.
You complain … of your shortcoming. … You have many marrows
1682 Lauder's Observes App. iv. 305.
If that be guilt he hath many marrows

b. Of things: Another identical specimen, a counterpart; an exact equivalent; the second of a pair. 1516 Dumfries B. Ct. 7 b.
A curschaw … of the quhilkis schew schow the marow in plane curt
1616 Edinb. Test. XLIX. 83.
Ane silver coupe … quhilkis is the marrow of the former coup
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 248.
[By an ill-advised marriage] he had … after his death a burden of 30 yeares great jointur upon his estate, which … was the marrow of his Low Country rent … for I find her liverentrix … of Wardlaw
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. 16.
Some had pistols without marrows

c. attrib. as adj.: Identical, matching. 1585 Inv. Wardrobe 320
I ressavit of the marrow garnissing of thir fourtene pece thre chattonis, quhilk makis xvij in the haill

3. A person's equal. a. in rank or authority. b. in ability or the like; also, one who is equal or comparable to another in these respects. c. Said of a place etc. with respect to its fine or advantageous position.Chiefly in negative contexts.a. (1) 1533 Boece i. iii. 37.
Nowthir suffering marrois nor superiouris
a1538 Abell 117 a.
All in dignate is impacient of ane marro
1549 Compl. 173/17.
Julius vald nocht hef ane marrou in Rome, and Pompeus vald nocht hef ane superior
1559 Misc. Spald. C. IV. 89.
Than seik ye to be equall with him quha can hef na merrowis
1637 Rutherford Lett. (1891) 279.
Christ's love is so kingly that it will not abide a marrow; it must have a throne all alone in the soul
(2) a1578 Pitsc. I. 174/26.
This Couchrane was so proud … that he contit no lord to be marrow to him
b. 1560 Rolland Seven S. Prol. 23.
Maister Johne Ballentyne, suith to say, Mak him marrow to Dauid weill we may
1574 Davidson Three Reformers 117.
I trow he left fewe marrowes ma
c. 1596 Dalr. I. 46/1.
[Forres] standes in sa pleisand a place, that it hes na marrow
c 1690 N. Burn Leader-haughs 15 in Roxb. Ball. VI. 607.
One house there stands on Leader side. … Men passing by do often say in south it has no marrow

4. An opponent or adversary in a contest. 1538 Lynd. Justing 43.
Or he spurrit his hors, his speir wes brokin. From tyme with speiris none could his marrow meit, James drew ane sweird
c1550 Id. Meldrum 529.
Nane of thame thair marrow mist
Ib. 745. 1558-66 Knox I. 89.
Thare did everie man reaconter his marrow, till that the 230 slew such as matched thame
1567 Sat. P. iii. 21. a1568 Scott v. 42.
In May frank archeris will affix In place to meit, syne marrowis mix, To schute at buttis
a1578 Pitsc. I. 234/27.
Schir Patrickis horse wtterit witht him and wald on nowayis reconter his marrow
Ib. 347/25.
[He] straik sa furieouslie and so heat at his marrow
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 136.
They came to … fighting hand to fist, that hardly was any found without his mate and marrow to encounter him

b. The opposing party in a law-suit. 1622-6 Bisset I. 293/3.
Brevis of perambulatioun ar raised sumtymes with consent of baith the pairties … uthir tyme the pairtie raises the breve against the will of his marrow

5. a. A marriage-partner, spouse.Cf. also Half-marrow n. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 2063.
Waryit woman that ay castis thy ingyne Thy awin marrow euer to put to pyne
1567 Sat. P. iii. 60.
He mycht haue bene ane marrow to ane Quene
a1578 Pitsc. II. 132/26 (1).
I maryed ane puire woman to be marrow to me
c1590 Fowler I. 45/213.
Those whome lowe hes maid eternall marrowis two
1594 Edinb. Test. XXVII. 200.
The barne to be gydit be him sa lang as he is vncleithit with ane marrow or lemene
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 664. 1637 Rutherford Lett. (1891) 261.
To flee up to our blessed match, our marrow

b. A person's paramour. c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2665.
Mony came with thare marrowis for to meit, Committand, thair, fowll fornicatioun

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"Marrow n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Aug 2022 <>



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