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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BOO, Bu, Bow, n.1 “Stock of cattle on a farm” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928) s.v. bu). [bu:]


1. Boo-helly, buhelli.

(1) “Sexual continence in a bridal couple between the reading of the banns and the wedding itself” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), buhelli).

(2) “The fifth day before Christmas, being a sort of holiday [Helly, q.v.] on the observance of which the future safety of the cows was supposed to depend” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., boo-helly; 1908 Jak. (1928), buhelli; 1914 Angus Gl., būhelli). [In (1) boo, bu, means home, in (2) the cows of a farm, from O.N. , household, stock of a farm (Zoëga). The second element in both is from O.N. helgi, holiness, inviolability, helgr, a holiday (Zoëga).]

2. Boo-, bow-teind, butünd, “a tithe on cows” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; 1908 Jak. (1928), butünd).Sh. 1732–1735 in Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc. (1911) IV. iii. 119:
Bow or cattle teind consisted of 5 marks of butter for every tid cow [cow with calf].
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Bow-teind, that variety of teind which used to be paid to the minister out of the produce of each cow. Paid in butter, and from a decreet in Kirkwall Rec. Room (from 1765) the rate charged was 4 merks butter for each cow and 2 merks for each quey.

[For first element, see etym. note to 1 above; see also Bow, n.2 The spelling bow is irregular. For second element, see Teind.]

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"Boo n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Oct 2023 <>



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