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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GLOWER, v., n. Also †glowr(e), †glour, ¶glouwer (Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr, Maerch 1). [′glʌu(ə)r]

I. v. 1. intr. To stare with wide-open eyes, to gaze intently and curiously. Sometimes followed by at, o(w)er. Gen.Sc. Ppl.adj. glourin(g), staring, “having large staring eyes, with a somewhat silly look” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 66).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 52:
My Mither's ay glowran o'er me, Tho she did the same before me.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 14:
Now stair-head critics . . . . . . wi' glouring eye, Their neighbours sma'est faults descry.
Abd. 1778 A. Ross Helenore 72:
And frae the ill o't sain'd her o'er and o'er, And round about with mazerment gan glowr.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 143–144:
As Tammie glowr'd, amaz'd and curious, The mirth and fun grew fast and furious.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxiv.:
Monkbarns was glowering ower a' the silver yonder.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 142:
He glow'rs as if he'd burst his vera een.
Ags. 1928 Scots Mag. (July) 272:
Auld Weelum himsel cam' hirplin in, his muckle reid een glowerin' in the black face o' him like a varra deil's.

Hence glowrer, glourer, one who stares; also glourie, id. (Jam.5), glowrie,†a nickname for the Devil.Sc. 1715 J. Clerk Memoirs (S.H.S.) 86:
He called to a friend . . . that if he pleased the Glourers might come in, meaning the Gazers and such who rather out of curiosity than sympathy or duty attend the sick till their breath go out.
Rnf. 1863 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie (1876) 135:
An' pu's my moustache for a kiss, In spite o' baith glowrers and gapers.
Ork. 1912 Old-Lore Misc. V. i. 7:
If glowrie gets you in his cleuks, He'll grind you as sma' as fower an' twenty sillo' heuks.

Also used quasi-tr.:Lth. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 73:
They cou'd hae a' wi' better grace Then glowr'd the tenants i' the face.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 199:
As it was the belief among the agricultural population that cows' milk could be taken away, so among the fishing population it was believed the fish could be taken away. This power of taking away the fish was in the eye, and such as had the power “glowrt the fish oot o' the boat” merely by a look.

2. Of the moon, sun, stars: to gleam, shine clearly.Ayr. 1785 Burns Death & Dr Hornbook iv.:
The rising moon began to glowr The distant Cumnock Hills out-owre.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 220:
But tho' they had a glowring moon, Some peel'd their nise, some brak' their crown.
Ags. 1845 P. Livingston Poems 65:
'Twas Sabbath e'en: the setting sun O'er Sidlaw hills was glow'ring.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 230:
When we left the toon, it was a glowerin' nicht, the stars were skeenklin' up i' the lift.
Sc. a.1894 Stevenson New Poems (1918) 117:
The mune glowered, and the wind blew.

3. Of a drunk person: to be at the glassy-eyed stage of intoxication. Hence glourin'-fow (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add.). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 12:
Fou closs we us'd to drink and rant, Until we did baith glowre and gaunt.
Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 38:
'Twill neither mak us glowr nor wink, Like whisky gill.
Sc. 1824 Cornhill Mag. (Sept. 1932) 273:
He took his glass freely aneuch nae doubt, and Sir Walter [Scott] he did sae too, as I did mysel. Oh aye! Sir Walter coud hae sitten till he was half glowerin', just like other fouk.

4. To look threateningly, to scowl; with at: “to look angrily upon” (Uls. 1924 North. Whig (4 Jan.)). Gen.Sc. Orig. Sc. but now freq. in Eng.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 107:
Or has some Bogle-bo Glowrin frae 'mang auld Waws gi'en ye a Fleg?
Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 9:
Now mirk December's dowie face Glours our the rigs wi' sour grimace.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 45:
He views the warsle — laughing wi' himsel At seeing auld brawny glowr, and shake his nools.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 71:
He glow'rs sae grumly whan he luiks at me — I daurna, canna, face him!
n.Sc. 1916 M. Maclean Roving Celt 48:
It's lang he swithered, fu' daft an' dazed, But the bull was glow'rin' an' unco raised.

II. n. Also in n.Eng. dial.

1. An open-eyed stare, an intent look. Gen.Sc. Also fig.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 158:
Then wak'ning, looks about with glegger Glour, And learns to thrive, wha ne'er thought on't before.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 55:
Refulgent glowr o' summer's sun.
Sc. 1837 Wilson's Tales of the Borders IV. 171:
Unless I picked out some female as the object and mark o' a weel-directed and significant glowr.
Kcb. 1883 G. Murray Sarah Rae 62:
Hadna the lads wi' pawky een, And greedy glow'r Waked in the breast o' bonnie Jean Love's gentle power.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 32:
To Domsie's we gaed owre, An' got a sneeshin' fae his box, A kin'ly wird an' glower.

Phr.: †gleg o' the glour, sharp-sighted (Sc. 1825 Jam.).

2. A scowl, a fierce look. Gen.Sc.Peb. 1715 A. Pennecuik Tweeddale 22:
Of Strength prodigious, and of Looks so froward, That every Glour they give would fright a Coward.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Holy Fair viii.:
When by the plate we set our nose, Weel heaped up wi' ha'pence, A greedy glowr black-bonnet throws.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 195:
Few need peenge aneath misfortune's glowr Wad fock do a' the guid that's i' their power.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 189:
She gies an awfu' glowr at Joon.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin viii.:
Whaever cam' in after the first Psalm was gien oot, received frae the elders' bucht . . . a glower that dartit to the very joints an' marrow.
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 1:
An sae, wi a glumse, an a deevil's ain glower He spat on his lüfs.
Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie Poems 22:
And cloods gaed gallivantin' ower Keekin' at John wi' fiendish glower.

Hence †gloury, adj., of the weather: threatening.Sc. 1755 in Curiosities Sc. Charta Chest (M. Forbes) 169:
It warm'd my Heart and made me whistle In spite of gloomy gloury weather.

[Etym. doubtful. O.Sc. has glowr, glour, v., from c.1500, n., from 1629, gloir, a.1568. Phs. a variant of obs. Eng. glore, to stare, itself of uncertain origin. Cogn. words are Mid.Du. gloeren, gluren, to peer, peep. The diphthong of glower is difficult to explain. It may be due to the influence of lower, with its similar meaning. It is noteworthy that the Du. forms have an unstable vowel, phs. under a similar influence from loeren, to peer.]

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"Glower v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Nov 2023 <>



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