Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COUP, COWP, Coupe, Coap, n.1 [For phonetics, see v. below.]

1. A fall, tumble; an overturning, upset. Also used fig. Gen.Sc., except I.Sc. Sc. 1718 Ramsay Chr. Kirk iii. xxii. in Poems (1721):
And there was little Hopes, But there had been some ill done Deed, They gat sic thrawart Cowps.
Abd.(D) 1916 G. Abel Wylins fae my Wallet 99:
He ventered on a dafty's spec, An' fairly gat a coup.
Gsw. 1879 A. G. Murdoch Rhymes and Lyrics 94:
Misfortune gie my heels a cowp If I touch mair the whisky stowp.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail I. v.:
Dear me, Mr Walkinshaw, but ye hae gotten an unco cowp. I hope nae banes are broken?
Uls. c.1920 J. Logan Ulster in the X-rays (2nd ed.) vi.:
“What happened ye, son?” said a mother to a little boy of seven, as he approached her with a wound on his face. “Ma,” said he, “I got a cowp aff the creepy,” meaning that “he had fallen off a low stool.”

2. A place for emptying rubbish, a dump (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 20; Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10, Slg.3, Arg.1, Lnk.11, Kcb.1 1940). Sc. 1938 St Andrews Cit. (12 Feb.) 10/5:
Mr C. —, architect, stated that he would require a coup for material within the next month or two . . . and he indicated a site which he has in view for the purpose.
Rnf. 1935 L. Kerr Woman of Glenshiels 88:
In the distance rose the large cowp of a coal pit.

3. “The act, right, or liberty of emptying a cartload” (Sc. 1887 Jam.6).

4. A sudden break in a stratum of coal. Slg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 329:
The coal in this district is full of irregularities, stiled by the workmen coups, and hitches, and dykes. . . . These coups and hitches . . . are found where the strata above and below the coal suddenly approach, or retreat from each other, by this means couping the coal out of its regular bed.

5. A draught of liquor. Sc. 1874 A. Hislop Sc. Anecdotes 9:
Drink ae coup o' the lammer-wine An' the tear is nae mair in your e'e.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man III. 39:
The thankless maltster, that neither gi'es coup, nievefu', nor lippine.

6. A company, band of people; sometimes used contemptuously. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 293:
And bann'd wi' Birr the corky Cowp, That to the Papists [sic] Country scowp.
Fif. 1825 Jam.2:
I never saw sic a filthy ill-manner'd coup.
Peb. 1793 Peggy's Myll (ed. R. D. C. Brown 1832) xxxiv.:
But first they set out wi' a cowp. . . . A wee bit on, they . . . Sklent sleely duin to the burn syd.
Kcb. 1895 S. R. Crockett Men of the Moss-Hags xxix.:
I ever counted Jock the best bairn in all the coupe.

7. Phrases: (1) a clean coup-up, used when all the liquor in a vessel has been drunk (Ags.17 1941); cf. clean caup-out s.v. Cap, n.; †(2) coup an' creel, wholly, entirely; (3) free coup (cowp, coap), (a) a place where rubbish may be dumped free of charge (Sc. 1887 Jam.6, coup); also fig.; known to Cai.7, Abd.9, Ags. and Fif. correspondents, Slg.3, Lnk.11 and Kcb. correspondents 1940; (b) “liberty to coup or deposit rubbish free of charge”(Ib.); (4) the haill coup, “the whole of anything, the entire quantity without diminution” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); known to Fif.10, Lnk.11 1940. (1) Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (29 Dec.) 2/7:
The same thing goes round the core — all bashfully refusing at first, but ultimately swallowing, until Airchie, seeing his bottle getting near the lees, whispers to an old cronie — “Gor, it's gaunna be a clean coup-up.”
(2) Dmb. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 9:
When we were coup an' creel in poortith's net.
(3) (a) Sc. 1887 Jam.6:
To advertise a free-coup at such a place is the usual method of notifying that rubbish is urgently required at that place for levelling purposes.
Ags.17 1940:
Doctor to a patient: “You've been makkin' a free-cowp o' that stammack o' yours.”
Arg.1 1929:
Drive that tae the Free Coap.
Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (26 Aug.) 2/6:
I observe they make a free coup of that part — building up an artificial bank — actually pressing the stream back on the island.

[O.Sc. has cowp, coup, an upset, overturning, 1535 (D.O.S.T.); for further etym. see note to Coup, v.1]

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"Coup n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Feb 2020 <>



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