Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Symbols Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.

BAWBEE, Babie, Babee, Baubee, n. and adj. “A coin of six pennies Scots struck in base silver by James V. and Mary, and in copper by Charles II., William and Mary, and William III. Although issued as sixpenny pieces, the bawbees of base silver were ‘cried doun' to threepenny pieces by an Act of James VI. (1567).” G.M. [′bɑ:′bi, ′bǫ:′bi Sc. (see P.L.D. §§ 85, 93); ′bɒ:′bi sm.Sc., s.Sc.] Modern uses:

1. n.

(1) A halfpenny. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1703 Acc. Bk. Sir J. Foulis (S.H.S. 1894) 325:
For a chopin eall and a babie loafe wt him ther 0. 1. 6.
Sc. 1823 J. G. Lockhart Reg. Dalton III. 176:
There's few properties in the Highlands . . . I would say was more desirable . . . neither debt nor mortgage . . . nor tythes, man, not ae baubee.
Sc. 2000 Herald 22 Feb 17:
The active career of a footballer is short; but on a salary of tens of thousands of pounds a week one would have thought Beckham quite capable of saving enough bawbees to keep them lifelong in the style of living to which we should like to become accustomed.
Sc. 2000 Herald 23 March 19:
While Hibs are scraping about for baw-bees to build their new stand, a look at last weekend's Scotland Rich List 2000 may give them pause for thought.
Sc. 2000 Edinburgh Evening News 27 Jul 11:
To declare an interest of sorts, last week I wrote to Mr Salmond suggesting that if he's inclined to write a book, as occasionally political leaders do when they leave high office, publishers might offer a bawbee or two.
Sc. 2004 Sunday Herald 2 May 7:
Despite the million-pound-plus advances he now commands, Rankin keeps a gimlet eye on his bawbees.
Sc. 2004 Sunday Herald 15 Aug 17:
But couldn't BBC Scotland have spent a few bawbees more on providing a national service (which is why we pay our licence fee) ...
Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 29:
They wad ha'e gotten a pint o' geud eel for t'ree bawbees.
Bnff.(D) 1924 “Knoweheid” in Swatches o' Hamespun 11:
I would not gie him a bawbee.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 57:
A tale, she heard a weerd-wife tell, That thro' the cuintray, telling fortunes yeed, An' at babees an' placks came wond'rous speed.
Fif. 1894 J. Menzies Our Town 24:
Stourie sall no get you for a bawbee less.
Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff iii.:
I know the price tae a bawbee.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 24:
Very few stayed at home from the fair and in normal times most children had a bawbee or two to jingle on that day of days.
Gsw.(D) 1913 J. J. Bell Courtin' Christina 121:
It's terrible to see the number o' young folk that winna walk if they've a bawbee in their pooch.

(2) Money, gen. in pl. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1998 Herald (29 May) 23:
If you will invest only a few of Nike's considerable bawbees (the Scottish equivalent of ecus) in the Blue Brazil, your symbolic gesture for youth development will provide a lead for the authorities, and will put a samba-smile on the face of Scottish football.
Sc. 1999 Daily Record 17 Jun 13:
These opponents claim to be looking after the bawbees on behalf of the Scottish tax-payers.
Sc. 2000 Herald 22 Feb 17:
The active career of a footballer is short; but on a salary of tens of thousands of pounds a week one would have thought Beckham quite capable of saving enough bawbees to keep them lifelong in the style of living to which we should like to become accustomed.
Sc. 2000 Herald 23 March 19:
While Hibs are scraping about for baw-bees to build their new stand, a look at last weekend's Scotland Rich List 2000 may give them pause for thought.
Sc. 2000 Edinburgh Evening News 27 Jul 11:
To declare an interest of sorts, last week I wrote to Mr Salmond suggesting that if he's inclined to write a book, as occasionally political leaders do when they leave high office, publishers might offer a bawbee or two.
Sc. 2004 Sunday Herald 2 May 7:
Despite the million-pound-plus advances he now commands, Rankin keeps a gimlet eye on his bawbees.
Sc. 2004 Sunday Herald 15 Aug 17:
But couldn't BBC Scotland have spent a few bawbees more on providing a national service (which is why we pay our licence fee) ...
Ags. 1929 W. L. Anckorn in Scots Mag. (Mar.) 403:
"I'm no lookin' for bawbees," he replied.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 65:
'Sae I says tae him, where's the sense in fallin oot ower a puckle bawbees? Ye want tae mak a profit oot o Leith - I'll spare ye the bother o administerin the levies, suppressin corruption amang yer officials and the like. I'll buy the citadel back frae ye for Edinburgh. ... '
 Hdg. 1902 J. Lumsden Toorle, etc. 182:
He lacks the "friend-in-need," a wee - My fugitive, - that indispensable Bawbee! (Bawbee, cash capital. A.)
wm.Sc. 1987 Anna Blair Scottish Tales (1990) 9:
It had started on a stall down the Grassmarket with selections of ornaments, pewter dishes, tea and snuff-boxes. But he had had a good eye and the wives of scholars and ministers with taste but not too many bawbees had found that they could beautify their sparse homes modestly and with refined restraint.
Arg.1 1929:
He's gey keen on the bawbees.
Gsw. 1879 A. G. Murdoch Rhymes and Lyrics 97:
My second man . . . Had twa-three bawbees in the bank.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid xiv.:
My grandfather . . . had toiled late and air . . . to gather the needfu' bawbees for my learning.

(3) A dowry.Sc. 1803 [A. Boswell] Songs 8:
And here they cam, awa to steal Jenny's bawbee.
Edb. 1922 P. Macgillivray Bog Myrtle and Peat Reek 60:
I'm young and hae favour o' fortune In gear and a bonny bawbee.

(4) A local name for the John Dory, Zeus faber (Fif. 1960, poss. from the round spot on its side about the size of a halfpenny, traditionally associated with the coin taken from a fish by St Peter (Matthew xvii. 27).

Phrases: (1) At a bawbee, at any value; (2) de'il's bawbee, fairy money; (3) to ken the richt side o a bawbee, to be sharp and shrewd in money matters (Bnff., Abd., Ags., Edb., Ayr. 2000s); (4) plack and bawbee, every penny.(1) Slk. a.1835 J. Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) VI. 339:
I hae been ower lang a soldier to set my life at a bawbee.
(2) Lth. 1819 J. Thomson Poems 147:
Nae mair ye'll get a de'il's bawbee Into your purse, To twin a slate-stane in a wee, Or may be warse.
(3)Abd. 1993:
Naebodie'll cheat him; he kens the richt side o a bawbee.
Edb. 2003:
Aye, yer mither aye kent the richt side o a bawbee.
(4) Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf i.:
My father paid . . . threescore punds, and it stands me in three hundred, plack and bawbee.
m.Sc. 1892 A. Rodger Poems and Songs (1897) 37:
When due, ye maun pay me down plack an' bawbee.

2. adj. Valued at or costing a halfpenny, hence cheap.Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. xv.:
I fand a bundle of their bawbee blasphemies in my ain kitchen.
Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Doun i' th' Loudons, etc. Act III. Sc. 3:
A laddie bairn . . . Slank in afore him, axin wad he buy A bawbee box o' matches for his lunt?

Combs.: (1) Baw-Bee Bible, the Shorter Catechism; (2) bawbee elder, see quot.; (3) bawbee jo(e), baubee —, a street-walker.(1) Sc. 1849 D. Young Memorial of Rev. James Fisher 66:
The Shorter Catechism, — a book, the diminutive size and distinguished worth of which were strikingly expressed in the title by which it was long known in Scotland — “The Baw-Bee Bible.”
(2)Edb. 1867 W. Brown Notes and Recollections of the Tolbooth Church 49:
In Edinburgh, an elder was supposed to have no duties except standing at the plates. Such men were often called by the common people, Bawbee elders.
(3) Sc. 1893 R. L. Stevenson Catriona i.:
Eh, but ye're a green callant! . . . Cleikin' up wi' baubee joes! [Cf. “penny joes on causey stanes” in R. L. Stevenson Underwoods, Late in the Nicht.]
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xiii.:
What's the steer for a bawbee jo?

[O.Sc. bawbé, balbé, babé; bawbee, balbie, babee, babbe. Prob. a shortened form of Sillebawbe, the territorial designation of Alexander Orrok, appointed master of the mint in Scotland 1538. In Scotland a farmer or laird is commonly addressed by the name of his farm or estate, generally shortened when possible — e.g. Muiry for Muiryfaulds or Cannie for Murdo-cannie. For the extension of the name of the mintmaster to his coinage cf. Atcheson, the name of a coin in the time of James VI. In modern times cf. Bradbury = £1 note, from the signature of one of the officials, which it bore.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Bawbee n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Sep 2022 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/bawbee>

2105

snd

Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND:

    Loading...

Share: