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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DOW, †Dowe, v.2, n.2 [dʌu]

1. v.

(1) To fade (away), to wither, to become musty (Sh.11, ‡Ork.2 1949; Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Cai.7 1940; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Of the wind: to moderate, die down. Also tr. to cause to decline or fade. Also fig. Commonly found in ppl.adj. dow(e)d, dowit, faded, withered (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.), stale, esp. (a) of food: lukewarm (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.); (b) of fish: not fresh (Abd. 1949 (per Abd.27)), “as fish kept without salt” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.); also applied to fish that have been drying for a day or two (Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 70); (c) of wood: rotten with wet (Rs. (Avoch) 1916 T.S.D.C. II., dowit); †(d) of drink: flat (see 1721 quot.); ¶(e) of work: slack (see 1790 quot.). Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 30:
She ne'er gae in a Lawin fause, . . . Nor kept dow'd Tip within her Waw's.
Sc. 1737 Ramsay Proverbs 14:
Cast na out the dow'd Water till ye get the fresh.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xx.:
Carnal morality as dow'd and as fusionless as rue leaves at Yule.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 26:
Dey might a hed a supper o' fresh fish, if ye'd geen hame in ony kind o' time, an' noo dey'll be dowd at da best o' it.
Mry. after 1750 Pluscarden MS. II. 104:
The thistles were pulled out among the corn and spread out under the sun for an hour or so to “dow.”
Bch. 1948 (per J. Duthie):
An old saying: “The win' dowin The motion of the sea growin.”
Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 161:
Good day kind Maron, here the wark's ne'er dow'd, The hand that's diligent ay gathers gowd.
Ags. 1846 G. Macfarlane Rhymes 111:
That there, tho' noo in healthfu' bloom, You'll dow an' dee yoursel', Jamie.
Ags. a.1879 Forfar Poets (Fenton) 146:
She's dowed my heart an' bleared my een, An' dung me doited an' dementit.
Ags.3 1930:
After putting in a bed of flowers or seeds: “did ye gie them the gairdener's word — ‘Grow or Dow'?”
Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Bk. of Nettercaps 36:
I'm like a Seabie-Tail — I'm dowd an Feeble.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 63:
My fame, my honour, like my flow'rs maun dow.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 75:
The bloom on your cheek will soon dow in the snaw.
Ayr. a.1878 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc. and Poems (1892) 329:
Our gaudiest of flowers Are flowers that soonest dow.
Kcb. a.1902 J. Heughan in Gallovidian (1913) No. 59, 108:
Then Puirtith's raggit claws Richt's risp shall clowe And tholin' shall devall, and doun-hauds dow.

†(2) With o'er: to doze off.Abd. 1778 A. Ross Helenore 84:
Down they creep, And crack till baith dow'd o'er at last asleep.

†(3) Of day: to decline.Ayr. 1842 H. Ainslie in Whistle-Binkie (Series 3) 95:
The day begins to dow.

2. n.

(1) Fading, withering.Edb. 1871 J. Ballantine Lilias Lee 205:
The dow o' the leaf and the fa' o' the year.

(2) Twilight; the time when light is fading.Abd. 1894 W. Gregor in Trans. Bch. Field Club III. 154:
The “Yeel Brehd” was baked on the day before Christmas in the “dow” of the day, i.e. between mid-day and 6 o'clock p.m. The rhyme is: Bake yer Yeel Brehd i the dow, An' that 'ill mack yer bairns thrive and grow.
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc. 222:
Syne canty in the dowe O' a bonny July e'en, I gaed dannering down the howe.

[Of uncertain origin. O.Sc. has dowit, stale (of fish), 1611, deed, flat (of ale), 1651, early Mod.Eng. dowed, dulled, 1502, from which the finite verb is prob. a back formation. The word may conceivably represent O.N. dauðr, dead, but the phonology is not clear and the gap in historical evidence makes verification impossible. Phs. rather to be associated with Mid.Eng. doll, to make (liquor) stale or insipid, poss. cogn. with dull.]

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"Dow v.2, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2023 <>



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