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

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Gowk, Gouk, Golk, n. Also: gowke, gouke, goilk, goik, gok, goke, gook(e. [ME. gowke (a 1400), goke (c 1325), ON. gauk-r (Norw. gauk).The typical Sc. form is gowk, also written gouk, and golk with ol for ow as in nolt for nowt (cattle); goke and gook occur also in Eng. dialects.]

1. The cuckoo. Also attrib. c1450-2 Howlat 821.
In come twa flyrand fulis … , The tuchet and the gukkit golk
a1500 Henr. III. 152/69.
With ane grit gowpene of the gowk fart
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxiii. 78.
The golk, the gormaw, and the gled, Beft him with buffettis quhill he bled
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 96.
Scho wald … Syng lyke the merle, … Gaill lyke ane goik
15.. King Berdok 20.
He fure our se and land, To reveis Mayok the golk of Maryland
a1568 Bann. MS. 104 a/51.
Wylcum, my golk of Maryland
1549 Compl. 39/13.
The titlene follouit the goilk, and gart hyr sing guk guk
a1568 Scott v. 26.
In May begynnis the golk to gaill
1590 Burel Pilgr. i. xxi.
The gok, the gled, With speidie flycht richt fast thay fled
1604 Craig i. 30.
The garrient goke would needs with Prognes sister striue
1637 Rutherford Lett. (1671) 134.
So I bigged the gook's nest, & dreamed of dying at ease and living in a fools paradise
a1598 Fergusson Prov. (1641) 21.
Ye breid of the gouk, ye have not a ryme but ane
c 1680 Bk. Pasquils 184.
So destiné divydes the cursed best's nest, The gouke gets one, the divell all the rest

b.A gowk(s) storm, one of short duration. 1584 Calderwood IV. 147.
Mr Johne Howesone … denyeth that he spake anie thing of a gowke's storme
1594 Tytler Hist. IV. 225.]
[An intercepted letter … in which Huntly (in 1594) spoke of the King's rumoured campaign as likely to turn out a gowk's storm
1609 Lett. Eccles. Affairs I. 185.
Bragging … that this tempest wil not continew, and that it will pruif but a gowk storm (for thir be the wordis … that thai commonlie vse)
1662 Mackenzie Affairs 70.
That being done he hoped that this was but a gowk storm

2. A fool or simpleton. a1585 Polwart Flyt. 17 (T).
Gok [H. gooke, Hart gowke], wyt not me to gar thé greit
Ib. 119 (H).
I summond thé, … Gouk, to compeir vpon thy knee
1619 Calderwood VII. 364.
Ye are but a gouke, Sir; I sall fasten your feete, Sir
1638 Bk. Pasquils 20.
St Andreus is an athiest, and Glasgow is ane gouke
1677 Brodie Diary 375.
My woful passion brok out, and I cald him a fool and gouk

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"Gowk n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2024 <>



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