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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.

CLABBER, Clob(b)er, Clabar, Claber, Clauber, n. and v. [′klɑ(:)bər, ′klɔbər]

I. n.

1. Mud, clay, dirt, mire; “any soft dirty matter” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 134; Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.). Mainly Uls., but known to Arg.1 and Kcb. correspondents 1940 (Edb., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s). Also found in Cum. dial. (E.D.D.).Arg. 1992:
Playin amongst the clabber.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Thir Notandums 114:
Whaur it was a' clauber yesterday, it's as hard as a horn the day.
Kcb., Dmf. 1988 W. A. D. and D. Riach A Galloway Glossary :
clobber mud, dirt
Uls. 1928 “M. Mulcaghey” Ballymulcaghey (1929) 53:
Tam dipped the rod in the clabber an' marked the cow.

Hence clabbery, clobbery, “dirty, muddy” (Ayr. 1879 Jam.5, clobbery).Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.:
Don't put the dog into that clabbery hole.

2. A lump, a “dollop.” Not known to our correspondents.Kcb. 1896 S. R. Crockett Cleg Kelly xx.:
He pu'ed a handfu' of the hair oot o' my heid. Aye, and rubbit my face wi' a clabber o' glaur.

3. “A wastrel” (Kcb. 1916 T.S.D.C. II.).Ib.:
He's just a clabber o' a man.

II. v.

1. To cover with mud or dirt; gen. found as ppl.adj. clabbered, clabberd, “covered with mud or dirt” (Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicholson in County of Cai. 68; Cai.7 1940; Rs. (Avoch), Crm. 1916 T.S.D.C. II., clabberd; Kcb.10 1940); (Ayr., Dmf. 2000s).sm.Sc. 1988 W. A. D. and D. Riach A Galloway Glossary :
clabber to cover, smear with dirt; also gabber.
Dmf. 1925 W. A. Scott in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 20:
Houses on the edge of the road get doors and windows clabbered with mud in wet weather from passing cars.

2. With up: “to clabber up a dyke is to pile up the stones, in a temporary way, that have fallen down” (w.Dmf. 1899 J. Shaw Country Schoolmaster 345).

III. Combs. and phrs.: ‡1. clabardancer, “a dancer on the high road” (Arg.1 1929), cf. 2; 2. clabber dancing, street-dancing; cf. 4.; †3. clob(b)erhoy, “a dirty walker, one who in walking clogs himself with mire” (Ayr. 1825 Jam.2); 4. clabber jigging, street-dancing; cf. 2; 5. clabber-up, adj. (see quot.).2. Rnf. 1993 History on your Doorstep, The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum 35:
I loved the Clabber Dancing. On a summer's night, some folk would come out their houses with an accordion maybe, and everybody would dance. If you had children and couldn't get out, it was great just dancing on the clabber - the dried-up glaur.
3. Sc.(E) 1873 D. M. Ogilvy Willie Wabster's Wooing 16:
Nae cloberhoy wi' clorty claes, She winna scransh yer corny taes.
4. Gsw. 1935 A. McArthur and H. K. Long No Mean City 13:
He heard the sound of a mouth organ. “That'll be a clabber jigging, Johnnie,” he exclaimed. “Come along an' have a deck (look).” Dancing was then, in 1921, and still is, the most popular sport in Glasgow's slumland. And some fine dancers . . . began on the pavement with the clabber jiggings.
5. Uls. 1910 C. C. Russell People and Lang. of Uls. 42:
A “clabber-up” dinner is a “gather-up” or “scratch” dinner made from whatever materials may be handy.

[Gael. clàbar, filth, mire, clay (MacBain).]

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"Clabber n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2022 <>



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