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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DUB, n., adv., v. Also †dubb. Cf. Dib.

I. n.

1. A pool, esp. one of muddy or stagnant water; a pond; “a water-hole in a moss” (Mry.1 1925); a sea-pool (Fif. 1940 (per Slg.3); Fif. 1951 P. Smith Herrin' 17) “only visible at low water” (Bwk.3 1951). Also fig.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd Act II. Sc. i. in Poems (1728):
A snug Thack-house, before the Door a Green; Hens on the Midding, Ducks in Dubs are seen.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. iii.:
They live . . . by the shore-side . . . with six as fine bairns as you would wish to see plash in a salt-water dub.
Fif. 1897 “G. Setoun” George Malcolm xiv.:
Run awa an' sail it in the Big Dub . . . along to yon rock. The dub's on the other side o' it.
Edb. 1878 J. Smith Peggy Pinkerton 20:
The dark valley o' the past, wi' its horrid uncleanness in toun and country, its stagnant dub, its poisonous marshes, and its heavin' midden-steads.
Lnk. 1893 T. Stewart Miners 215:
Wi' rosy nebs, o'er icy dubs The young anes skate an' skim.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To G. Hamilton x.:
O ye wha leave the springs o' Calvin, For gumlie dubs of your ain delvin!
Ayr. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 V. 428:
There was a continuous line of little lochs, or as they are called dubbs.
Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Frae the Heather 123:
To lift us from the dub of sin.
Rxb. a.1860 J. Younger Autobiog. (1881) 201:
Wading middle deep in what is now dyked up into a cauld pool (or dub) for Merton Mill.

Combs.: (1) dub-mill, a mill driven by water from a pond; (2) duck-dub, see Deuk; (3) goose dubb, see Guse.(1) Ork. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 397:
There are two other mills in the parish, which go under the name of Dubmills. These are of no use in the summer season.
Ags. 1784 Session Papers, Watson v. Blair (12 June) 21:
She would be as well supplied with water as other dub-mills in the country; that is to say, other mills which were very ill supplied.

2. Humorously: the ocean (Ags.17, Fif.10 1940).Ags. 1875 J. Watson Verse Samples 15:
Our camstairy neebours across the saut dub, Are aye yarkin' up like the barm in a tub.
Fif. c.1894 D. Rorie Mining Folk (1912) 414:
I'd soom the dub for't first, i.e. I would sooner cross the sea than do it.
Dmf. 1899 J. Shaw in Country Schoolmaster (ed. Wallace) 369:
Beyond the dub baith gleg and dunce, Cast off richt soon baith care an' cark.

3. A pool in a river (Bwk. 1892 Miss Russell in Bwk. Naturalists' Club 162).

4. A small pool, esp. of rain water; a puddle (Bnff.12 1930; wm.Sc.1 1950; Arg.1 1929; e.Dmf.2 1917; Sh., Ags., Fif., Arg., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s). Hence dubby, adj., “abounding with small pools” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2), puddly (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10, Lnk.11 1940); “wet, rainy” (Abd. 1825 Jam.2).Sc. 1886 R. L. Stevenson Kidnapped xxvi.:
Here he must tramp in the dubs and sleep in the heather like a beggar man.
Abd. 1909 C. Murray Hamewith 43:
Saft soughin' win's dry the dubby howe.
Ags. 1949 C. Gibson in Scots Mag. (Sept.) 409:
Along the wynds dubs lay long and deep.
m.Sc. 1996 John Murray Aspen 4:
Ah see the muckle skulls o mastodons cleikt
in a dub o black pitch.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 81:
It was like staring at an overcast sky reflected in two dubs in the road.
Fif. 1991 John Brewster in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 164:
Dubs glaizie wi nectar,
Pocked in drouned waps.
Knr. 1832 L. Barclay Poems 50:
Corunna's field, upon the shore, In dubs he stood o' British gore.
Edb. 1720 A. Pennecuik Helicon 54:
Trails me all the Day thro' Dub, and thro' Mire.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 4:
Whan ilka herd for cauld his fingers rubbs, An' cakes o' ice are seen upo' the dubbs.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 42:
Down frae the scra-built shed the swallows pop, Wi' lazy flaughter, on the gutter dub.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 283:
Ilk step they redouble their haste, As through dirt an' dubs they spatter.

Combs.: (1) dub-hole, a puddle (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein); also in w.Yks. dial.; (2) dub-skelper, -skouper, lit., applied to one who travels rapidly regardless of the state of the roads (Sc. 1825 Jam.2; Bnff.2, Fif.10 1940; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 187); hence “used contemptuously for a rambling fellow” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2; Bnff.2 1940); also attrib.; †(c) “applied, in a ludicrous way, to a young clerk in a banking office, whose principal work is to run about giving information when bills are due” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); (3) dub-water, dirty water, such as is found in dubs (Fif.10 1940).(2) Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. xxviii.:
Ghaist, indeed! I'll warrant it's some idle dub-skelper frae the Waal.
Bch. 1832 W. Scott Poems 56:
Hillo! again, to a' dubskelper chiels, Wha carry muck in curricles or creels.
e.Dmf. 1731 in Gentleman's Mag. 123:
If any . . . Land Louper, Dub Skouper, or Gang the gate Swinger, shall bread any Urdam, Durdam. . . .
(3) Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 103:
And like Dub-water skink the Wine.
Per. 1753 A. Nicol Rural Muse 20:
In caps good ale and brandy gade, Just like dub water.
Fif. 1900 “S. Tytler” Jean Keir xiv.:
Nae doot it has been a sair peety to hae the drink going like dub water.
Hdg. 1902 J. Lumsden Toorle 21:
He eats an' drinks Scotch dulse an' dub-watter, as gin they were seybies an' kirn-milk!

5. Now gen. in pl.: mud. Only in n.Sc. Hence dubbie, dubby, adj., muddy, miry (Abd. 1825 Jam.2; Bnff.2, Abd.9 1940; Mry. 1988; Bnff., Abd., Ags., Ayr. 2000s). Also compar. dubbier.Bnff. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 175:
Lassies Wade thro' the dubs wi' kiltit coaties.
ne.Sc. 1952 John R. Allan North-East Lowlands of Scotland (1974) 143:
I know what it must have been to many a boy and girl from the dubby farmyards of Buchan who found in King's not only the last enchantment of the Middle Ages but enlargement into so many things so very different from home.
 Abd. 1707 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VI. 290:
They were assaulted on the high streets with a rable of people who threw stones and dub or mire upon them.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xiv.:
Mains cam' in, skirpit wi' dubs to the vera neck o's kwite.
Abd. 1920 C. Murray Country Places 5:
Gin it's frosty an' clear we can lippen the mear, Gin it's dubby the safter the fa'.
Abd. 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert x.:
The win' wud seen dry the hey an' the peels i' the dubby roads.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 3:
... the mill-puil ower bi Clashmore, that niver ran naewye bit ay bedd in the ae place, growin greener an glaurier an dubbier an cloortier ilkie year ...
Bch. 1735 J. Arbuthnot Buchan Farmers (1811) 14:
Next to [lime as manure] ashes, urine, dubs, mixed with the excrements of different animals.
Bch. 1832 W. Scott Poems 171:
A stranger ance fae Aberdeen, Wi' drabb'lt hose an' dubbie sheen.
m.Sc. 1979 William J. Rae in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 79:
There had been some gey ondings o rain in the weeks afore, and the Cluchar Watter wis aa swallt, wi dubby, orra floodwatters.

Comb.: dub-raker, a road-sweeper. Abd. 1749 Abd. Council Enactment Bk.:
The said day compeared William Bruce dubraker in Aberdeen as principall.

Phr.: washen in Dubbie's wall an' dried on Dinnie's [see Din, adj.] dyke, applied to clothes not properly washed (Abd.15 c.1800).

6. A very deep bog or mire (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.).Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 71:
Brora, ye ken, coms frae da Greek wird ‘shun', meanin a dub or bug.

7. A lavatory bowl (m.Sc. 1930).

II. v. To cover with mud; to bedaub (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 223; Bnff.2, Abd.2, Abd.9 1940). Ppl.adj. dubbit.Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 27:
Ye're dubbit to the een, ye slype, ye hinna focht the day.
Abd. 1922 G. P. Dunbar Doric 29:
They hied them hame owre bog an' steen, Wi' clorty clase an' dubbit sheen.
Bch. 1832 W. Scott Poems 20:
When baith hae been tir'd an' dub'd to the chin, We haltit to dry our wet duds i' the sun.

[O.Sc. has dub, a small and stagnant pool, from 1456, a puddle, a.1500; L.Ger., W.Fris. dobbe, a water-hole, a puddle.]

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"Dub n., adv., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Mar 2023 <>



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