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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GAR, n., v.1 Also garr, gaar (Sh., Ork., n.Sc.); gare (Rs.); garro (Ork.). [I., n., em.Sc. (a) gɑ(:)r, but Ork. + ′gɑrʊ, Rs. ge:r]

I. n. 1. Any slimy, filthy, or muddy substance, specif. that produced by algae in a pond or river (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928); Rs. 1911; Mry.1 1925; Sh., Abd.27, Ags.18, Fif.14 1954), green seaweed (Mry.1 1925; Abd. 1920–54), the slime on fish (Ork. 1929 Marw.); any sticky, miry mess (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.).Bch. 1943 W. S. Forsyth Guff o' Waur 12:
My heid grew licht like in a dwam, I slippit on the gaur, And heelster-gowdie fell into the pit.
Ork.1 1944:
It's all in a gar.
m.Sc. 1990 John Murray in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 8: The Day I Met the Queen Mother 110:
a fisher stauns...
castin an castin ower again
the lan's auld rib banes
bare ablow the watter's stuishie
gar ilka staunce he wades atween

2. Any soft, doughy mixture, such as watery leaven or oatmeal and water (used either as food or for a poultice) (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1953).Sh. 1898 Shet. News (21 May):
What'll doo lay at him [a cut], Mansie? A scam o' raw garr?
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
De gruel is like gar, the gruel is thick and badly made.

Hence garrie, -y, garie, adj., sticky, clammy (Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh.11 1954). Combs.: (1) garry-clatch, any slimy or sticky mixture, such as over-wet dough, or slimy mud (Sh. 1954); (2) gar(r)ie-scon(e), a kind of pancake of a sticky consistency.(2) Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 61:
Sheu laid the mulls afore her man an' bairns, wi twa'rt'ree garrie scon's.
Ork. 1905 Dennison Ork. Weddings 35:
At supper large quantities of pancakes (here called scones) were handed about on weichts. . . . There were sowan-scones . . . garie-scones.

3. “The rheum that flows from the eyes, when in a hardened state” (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.).

II. v. To jumble, mix or mess up by stirring, etc. (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., Sh. 1954), to muddy (Sh. 1880 Jam., garr).

[Appar. a variant, with unrounding of vowel, of O.Sc. gor(e), slime, rheum, from c.1420, Eng. dial. gor(e), id., Eng. gore, blood, O.E. gor, dung, dirt, O.N. gor, cud. O.Sc. has also the appar. related form gare, filth, slime, from c.1420. Cf. Goor.]

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"Gar n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2023 <>



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