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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

BELLWAVER, BELWAVER, BALWAVER, v. To straggle, stroll; move here and there without a definite objective. Also fig. Also ppl.adj. bellwaverin. [′bɛl′we:vər, -′wɑ:vər (old)]ne.Sc. 1979 Alastair Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 63:
I wid want my dowieness, my bellwaverin moods
to be tint in your dreich coronachs.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 127:
Fin they [grouse] grow dowie they jist belwaver aboot, peer things, hauf rinnin', hauf fleein' ony wye that happens.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 30:
"Mary-Lou's my baby, the gal I love the best."
Ay weel, it bellwavers intil the nicht
an' awa, freith i the muinlicht.
wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan II. 126:
And thereby keep him frae ony mair bellwavering or wandering up and down the streets.
Lnk. 1825 Jam.2:
It is said of any piece of cloth, hung up to be dried, that it is “bellwavering in the wind.”
fig. Sc. 1793 “Tam Thrum” Look before ye Loup 5:
Your lang stories i' the newspapers, invitin' men of a' ranks and conditions to come an' reform the Government, set them a' a bellwaverin'! vbl.n. balwavering, incoherence.
Sc. 1876 Book of Sc. Story 97:
Can ye no gang on wi' your story, without a' this balwavering and nonsense about coming ower ane o' our Professors.

[Bell perhaps due to bellwether, the animal that leads the flock with a bell, hence that roams at its will with sheep following aimlessly. Waver is found in O.Sc. from 1375 (see waver in N.E.D.) in senses of wander, stray from, sway to and fro, a frequentative from wave, v.]

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"Bellwaver ". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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