Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BROON, n., adj., adv. Sc. form of St.Eng. brown, with meanings not found in Mod.Eng. Where brown is illustrated the meaning is peculiar to Sc. This form also often disguises the Sc. pronunciation [brun]. Broon is also used as a v., with meanings as in Eng.

1. n.

(1) A brown horse (Abd.2, Ags.1, Fif.10, Lnl.1 1936). Bnff.(D) 1927 E. S. Rae Hansel fae Hame 14:
Lowsed fae the lanely ploo owre gloamin' rigs, A pair o' dowf broons jogs the hameward wye.

(2) “Porter, ale” (Bnff.2, Abd.22 1936). Abd. 1845 P. Still Cottar's Sunday, etc. 136:
An' swig a pint o' stoutest brown To you an' yours.
Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head and Trotters 142:
“Nips,” or caups of foaming broon, Rare barley broo!

(3) Comb.: whitet broon, whitey —, a kind of strong whitish thread, resembling lint yarn and sold in hanks (Abd.9, Ags.1 (whitey — ) 1936). Always used in pl. in Abd. Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb vi.:
Mrs Birse . . . bought in return “an unce o' spice, a pennyworth o' whitet broons, half a peck o' saut.”

2. adj. and adv. in phrs.: (1) the brown man of the muirs, “a fairy of the most malignant order, a genuine duergar” (Prefatory Note to J. Leyden Keeldar in Minstr. Sc. B.); (2) to look brown on, to look with indifference on; (3) to play brown, boil —, “a phr. applied to the broth-pot when it is meant to say the broth is rich, as containing a sufficient portion of animal juice” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2). (1) Rxb. 1802–1803 J. Leyden Cout of Keeldar in Minstr. Sc. Border (ed. Scott) II. 360:
“Brown dwarf, that o'er the muirland strays Thy name to Keeldar tell!” “The Brown Man of the Muirs, who stays Beneath the heather bell.”
(2) Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 291:
Tho' now he looks on me fu' brown, I've kent him glad to wear my shoon.
(3) Dmf. 1810 R. H. Cromek Rem. Nithsd. and Gall. Song 289:
Did she [the witch] but once hint that her pot “played nae brown,” . . . a piece of meat was presented to her.

3. Combs.: (1) broon barneys, ? bread baked with treacle and flour (n.Ir. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl. s.v. brown); (2) broon coo, familiar name for ale; (3) broon coo's lick (see quot.); (4) broon Geordie, “dark brown bread” (m.Dmf.3 c.1920); Brown George is given in N.E.D. as obs. in this sense in Eng.; (5) brown-gled, “the hen harrier, Circus cyaneus. From the brown bar on the tail [of the young male]” (Sc. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 132); (6) brown Janet, — Jennet, “a musket” (Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Gloss., — Janet), cf. Eng. Brown Bess, an old type of musket. The meaning given in the 1788 ed. of “a knapsack” would seem to be erroneous; (7) broon pig, greybeard, a stoneware jar for whisky (Abd.19, Ags.1 1936); (8) broon plate, broon plet-sooans, Cai. term for a kind of porridge made with sowans, of the thick sort which has to be eaten from a plate, in contrast to the thin variety which may be drunk from a mug (Wick, Cai. 1911 John o' Groat Jnl. (24 Feb.), broon plate); “the thin raw liquid was taken from the ‘sids' and, after being strained, was boiled in an ordinary porridge pot until it thickened. In this process it also became brownish. It was then poured into a plate and supped with milk or without” (Cai.3 1935, broon plet-sooans); (9) broon robin, “home-brewed ale” (Ags.1 1936; Lth. 1936 (per Lnk.3)); (10) brown-swallow, “the swift, Cypselus apus” (Rnf. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 96); (11) brown yogle, “the short-eared owl, Asio Brachyotus” (Sh. Ib. 129). (1) Dwn.(D) n.d. W. G. Lyttle Paddy McQuillan 88 (E.D.D. Suppl.):
Hard breid, wheatmeal buns, broon barneys.
(2) Sc. 1846 J. Grant Romance of War III. iv.:
My faither micht hae sent me ae screed, and I houp that naething waur than the broon coo — (as he ay ca'd the yill) . . . keepit him fraed.
(3) ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore of N.-E. Scot. 26:
The hair on one side of the forehead in some children stands nearly erect, somewhat in the shape of the marks cattle make on their skins by licking them. It goes by the name of “the broon coo's lick.”
(6) Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems, etc. 158:
The debtor grows a villain, Lugs up Brown Jennet on his back To hunt HER smile by killin' Our faes, this day.
(7) Ags. 1893 J. Inglis Oor Ain Folk (1894) ii.:
Weel, meenister, there are mair broon pigs comes tae the manse than tae ony ither hoose i' the pairish.
(9) Ags. 1894 Arbroath Guide (22 Sept.) 3/6:
Od, Marget, ye'll hae to treat 's a' to a dram o' broon robin aff yer order.

[O.Sc. broun(e), brun, broone, n., a brown horse (1438), brown colour or cloth (1456), also adj. (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Broon n., adj., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2020 <>



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