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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

AWFU', Awfy, A(a)f(f)a, Yawfu, adj. and adv. Also awfae (Lnk. 1923 G. Rae Langsyne in Braefoot ii.), awfie, affy, aafil. Sc. forms of awful, adj. Superl. awfu'est, awfiest[(j)ɑ:fə n.Sc.; ′ɑ:fĕ + ′:fə em.Sc., wm.Sc.; ′ɒ:fə sm.Sc., s.Sc.]

1. adj.

(1) Very commonly used in Sc. as an intensive epithet, deriving a more or less precise meaning from the context: fearful, shocking, lamentable; ugly, unpleasant; uncommon, remarkable; difficult; very great. Gen.Sc. The colloq. Eng. uses are similar, but rather less various. Sc. [1825] Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 58:
Either you or Mr Tickler would be an awfu' sight in a poupit.
Bnff.(D) 1924 “Knoweheid” in Swatches o' Hamespun 24:
I'd Mistress McSnash in, . . . in an aafa feerich aboot the expense o' byeuks.
Abd.(D) [1788] J. Skinner Christmas Ba'ing xviii, Amusements, etc. (1809) 47:
But, wi' a yawfu' yark, . . . He derfly dang the bark Frae's shins that day.
Abd. 1994 Stanley Robertson in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 16:
She bade in a place cawed the Sma Glen and it wis a gey isolated place wi only a very few hooses and an awfie lot o sheep.
Dundee 1990 Sheila Stephen in Joy Hendry Chapman 60 51:
" ... Jist iz Eh wiz thinkin aboot comin inside (it wiz gettin fell cald oanywie), Eh heard the wee Beetle car comin back. They mak an affy rackit. Bricht orindge it wiz. ... "
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 9:
Sae I thankit him kindly -
syne he gied me the awfiest dunt
i the ribs, an there she stud -
a shilpit wee craitur wi naither
briests nor hurdies fit tae grace
the glossies lat alane the ploo.
Fif. 1983 Hamish Brown Time Gentlemen 116:
Life is yin o they affy hills
Wi aye anither tap tae stairt; ...
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 169:
Coals are an awfy price the now.
Gsw. 1898 D. Willox Poems and Sketches 56:
If onything was tae happen me Meg wad be in an awfu' state.
Gsw. 1991 John Burrowes Mother Glasgow 318:
'Oh, tuts now, Wullie, what kind of talk is that you're giving Star? You make an awfy lot o' things up. Don't you listen to him, Star. He's just a havering auld thing at times.'
w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (2nd ed.) 61:
There wad be the awfu'est thoomin' o' notebook leaves.

(2) Awfu' for, very fond of.Ags. 1925 Forfar Dispatch (3 Dec.) 3/3:
He's awfu' for Farfar hashie.

(3) An awfu' (quasi-noun) = a great many. Gen.Sc.Fif.1 1932:
An awfu' rabbits in thon whins!
Kcb.6 c.1915:
There's aye an awfu' wasps aboot oor back-door.

(4) Comb.: Awfu'-like. See Like.

2. adv. of degree, usually with adjectives or adverbs, “very, extremely”; less freq. with verbs, “very much.”Sc. 1816 Scott B.Dwarf iii.:
Humphrey wasna that awfu' big in the bouk.
Ork. 1952 R. T. Johnston Stenwick Days (1984) 21:
"Weel, I wur aafil herd up in them days, an I thowt whit a peety id wur that this chance o' makkin' a fortune wur gaun tae wist, the wey I hid noathing tae back the horse wi'. ... "
ne.Sc. 1996 Lindsay Paterson in Sandy Stronach New Wirds: An Anthology of Winning Poems and Stories from the Doric Writing Competitions of 1994 and 1995 16:
The room wis affa dark an in the backgrun wis a winda.
m.Sc. 1979 William J. Tait in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 36:
Echty, they said he wis,
But a real gentleman,
Awfy polite.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 21:
I likit yon bit awfu' aboot the wumman that tint the saxpence [etc.].

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"Awfu' adj., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Nov 2023 <>



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