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

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First published 1983 (DOST Vol. V).
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Plew, n. Plewis, n. pl. Also: plur. plews, pleuis, pluis, plwis; plowes; comb. plow-. [ME. plouis (13th c.), plowes (Manning), ploes (north., 15th c.), e.m.E. plowes, plur., ME. and e.m.E. plow (14th c.), plo (c 1460), plowe (1466), sing., late OE. ploᵹes plur. (1131).This plur. form is regularly derived f. OE., and the comb. form (see also Plew-irnis, Plewland, Plewman) appears also to derive f. the earlier inflected form; the sing. form is no doubt by back-formation f. these.]

1. A plough, the implement. = Pleuch n. 1.Also proverb.plur. (1) 1513 Doug. viii. vi. 13.
Na couth thai eir the ground, nor occupy The plewis
1555 Peebles B. Rec. I. 218.
Ordanis tua vesitouris … to vesy yeirlie … all … commonteis … at the streking of the plewis yerelie
a1568 Bann. MS. 93 b/17.
Now he tarrowis To ryd the he gait by the plewis [: brewhous, newis]
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xcv. 24 (see Lay v.1 3 (1)). 1577 Prot. Bk. J. Scott 38.
Na persoun to be stoppit … topastothe plewis langis the dame dyk to thair awin landis
a1578 Pitsc. II. 246/4.
The plewis had nocht gein xii oulkis togidder … for frost and snaw
1581 Reg. Privy C. III. 386.
[They] cuttit the plewis brak the somes thairof hundit away the oxin [etc.]
1581-1623 James VI Poems I. 221/183.
& cairfull lauboreris do beginn to yokke the painfull pleuis [v.r. ploughes]
1649 Sc. N. & Q. III. 123.
The oxen of both plewes ran away with the pleugh
1513 Doug. xii. Prol. 259.
Welcum weilfar of husbandis at the plewys [: bewys]
(2) 1416 Liber Melros 539.
That the saide remowing of thair plvis … sal gener thaim … na … damage in tyme to cum
c1420 Wynt. viii. 3162 (see Plew-irne n.). 1483 Acta. Aud. *125/2.
Nyne oxin … takin & spulȝeit … out of the said Robertis plewis of Lasinstoun
1544 Reg. Privy S. III. 159/1.
The … cutting of his plewis houching and slaying of xvi of his oxin
(3) c1420 Wynt. viii. 6356.
In Lowthyane as men sayde Ma than a hundyr plwys war layde [W. it laid]
1513 Doug. xi. vii. 55.
The folk … This grund sawys full onthriftely With scharp plewis and steill sokkis seir
1571 Black Bk. Taymouth 137.
Fra that furth … gret frost that no plwis ȝyd quhil aucht dayis eftyr
1620 Grant Chart. 319.
To cut and tak of my wodis … for plewis kartis … and siklyk
1628 Soc. Ant. XXIII. 267.
Four pair of harrowis twa cairts and thrie gangand plewis pryce xxx lib.
1662 Edinb. Test. LXX. 187 b.
Threttene horsis and mears with tua plewes and thair wholl furnitour
sing. 1476 Acta Aud. 41/1.
The actione … anent the brekang of his plew
1581–2 Misc. Stair Soc. I. 107.
George laborit nocht the saidis landis be his awin plew bot be his tenentis
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 302 (see Bone-pleuch n.).

2. A plough-land. = Pleuch n. 4.(1) sing. c1420 Wynt. vii. 3609 (C).
As to be said a plew of land
1465 Liber Dryburgh 278.
All and haile our plew of land
uninfl. plur. 1428 Liber Melros 521.
The saide assis … saide at thai fande the West Maynis twa plew of lande
plur. 1550 Reg. Great S. 105/2.
4 lie plewis terrarum
1572 Prot. Bk. W. Cumming 156.
Fyf plewis of land
(2) 1625 Inverness Rec. II. 164.
Heretabil proprietar of the tua plewis land of Vester Inschis
(3) 1503 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I. 74.
That the thrid of the tua plevis of the Ester Park … wald saw [etc.]
1542 Reg. Cupar A. II. 185. 1552 Misc. Spald. C. IV. 221.
Ane dawauch of land … extending to four plewis
1602 Retours Inq. Spec. Nairn (44).
5 aratris vulgo plewis de Moynes

3. The persons working a plough; hence, the tenants of a plough-land. = Pleuch n. 5.(4) 1548–9 Treas. Acc. IX. 293.
To gadder … xx s. of ilk pleucht to the … biging of the fort of Inneresk … for inbringing of the silver of the plewis
Ib. 295.
The taxatioun of the plewes
1620 Ellon Presb. 106.
Ilk aucht plewis to leid ane leit of the said peitts

4. attrib. and comb. in sense 1 above. Cf. Pleuch n. 5.See also Plew-irnis, -land and -man. 1589 St. A. B. Ct. 17 June.
James Dewar ȝoungar plewwrycht
1662 Reid Auchterarder 222.
When the meir was well ane of his plow oxen grew sick
1695 Murray Kilmacolm 103.

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"Plew n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Jan 2023 <>



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