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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Spew(e, v. Also: speu, spue, spow. [ME and e.m.E. spew(en (c1200), speowe(n (Ancr. R.), speu (c1300), spue (Wyclif), OE spíwan, spéowan, MLG spien, L. spuere.]

1. intr. a. To vomit. b. To spit.a. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2677.
Thy father thocht to mak ane strang poysoun, And with his mouth in to my watter spew
c1530-40 Stewart Bann. MS 140b/26.
Thay host, thay spew, thay spitt
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 689 (T).
Thy tratling, tinklar, wald gar ane taid spew
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Vomo, to spewe; per os ejiceo
1634 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 118.
Thus saith the Lord to the enemies of Zion, Drink ye, and be drunk, and spue, and fall, and rise no more
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. (1681) i 51.
Some ly in a corner spewing
b. a1568 Bann. MS 33b/27.
Defowling Thy ene in to Thi visage spewit [Makc. MS iv 27 spuit, Arundel MS 256/27 spittit] And for derisioun King of Jowis thai cryit

2. tr. To vomit (food, etc.); to discharge (venom, fire, etc.) from the mouth. Also const. out and up. Also in fig. context.The Dunb. Flyt. quot. may be a further example of 1 above. c1500 Rowll Cursing 196 (B).
Thir vgly devillis … hafe … dyvers facis repleit with yre Spowand vemmin & sparkis of fyre
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 462.
Thou spewit and kest out mony a lathly lomp … And now thy wame is wers than evir it was
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 156/179.
He about the Devillis nek Did spew [Asl. spewe] agane ane quart of blek
a1568 Bann. MS 139b/10.
Sum of vlly spewis ane quairt
1584 Sempill Sat. P. xlv 1093.
This is not blude … But Burdeous wyne that he hes spewit
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I 129.
Thow gaipit and glowirit vpon him, and did vomeit and spew out fyrie brunndes out off thy mouthe
1611 Fugitive Poetry II ii 7/5.
What thouch some spidder, vennom on thee spew
1632 Lithgow Trav. iii 92.
The friars forced me to dance with them … Their musicke in the end was sound drunkennesse, and their syncopa turnd to spew vp all
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. (1681) i 91.
Thou spue venom, like a toad
fig. 1636 Re-examination of the Five Articles Preface.
If the Lord will spew the luckwarm out of his mouth, what may backsliders look for?
1637 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 296.
Grief and sorrow are suspicious, and spew out against Him the smoke of jealousies

b. fig. With reference to speech considered abusive or offensive. Const. furth or out (against a person). c1590 Fowler II 27/27.
Those [sc. words], quhilks ȝit with blawen cheakis, riftingly he speuis forth against me
c1590 Fowler II 30/27.
Thou suld not causit vther mens honours to cum in hazard, nather by irreuerent scuffing & iesting tants by malice speuit furth against Gods predestinatioun
1600 Colville Palinode To the Reader 1.
Behold … a man … who as he … was not affrayed to spew out of his knowledge … the gall and venome of a malitious heart, against his sacred Prince, … so now doth he not stick resolutelie to proclaime … that he is forced to eat vp that same filthie vomit
1632 Lithgow Trav. x 472.
The Jesuite Predicator … sayd, ‘My sonne, … you deserue to be burnt quicke,' … spewing forth also this Fæminine Latine; ‘Nam mansueta et misericord osa est ecclesia [etc.]’

3. passive. To be spat or vomited on. Also absol. ?a1500 Dewoit Exerc. 9.
O sueit Jesu Crist … I … desiris now hertlie … to hals ȝour kinglie heid that wes woundit spewit and scurgit
absol. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 156/200 (M).
Sumthing fra him Mahoun eschewit He trowit agane to haue bein spewit

4. Of a country, building, etc.: To cast out (a person or persons), to reject with contempt, etc. 1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 203.
The Lord … will rather punish the land from heaven immediatelie, or else make it to spewe out the inhabitants
1600-1610 Melvill 33.
Mr. Robert Hamilton … conferrit with Mr. Knox, asking his warrand of that … thretning against the Castel of Edinbruche, that it sould rin lyk a sand-glass; it sould spew out the captan with scham; he sould … com out … down ower the walles
1600-1610 Melvill 226.
God … peyit that lard … his hyre for that piece of service, when … he maid his awin hous to spew him out: for a day … he was fund fallen out of a window

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"Spew v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Mar 2024 <>



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