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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GUSE, n., v. Also g(j)üs (Sh.), guis(e), giss, †guiss, †goos. Pl. geese. See also Geese. I., m. and s.Sc. forms and usages of Eng. goose. [gøs, gys, gɪs]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., also fig. = a fool, a simpleton. Dims. geusie, gus(e)y.Slk. 1985 Walter Elliot Clash-ma-clavers 32:
This year he wad thole nae excuse
For he maun hae a Christmas guis.

A. Phrs. and gen. Combs. [where guse is the second element in bird-names, see under first element]: (1) a guse's grass (gerse), as much land as would form pasturage for a goose; †(2) goose-butt, a small piece of arable land, orig. that on which the geese were allowed to feed. Cf. Butt, n.1; (3) guse-dub (dib), a goose-pond, freq. in place-names (Per., Fif., Dmf. 1955); specif. †applied to an unsavoury quarter in Glasgow, and to a part near the Meadows in Edinburgh; (4) goose hawk, the hen harrier, Circus cyaneus (Ork. 1932; Per. 1955). Cf. Eng. goshawk; (5) goose-neb, a Cruisie (Cai. 1907 J. Horne County of Cai. 123). See Geese; (6) goose-nest, a recess in the interior wall of a house “for the comfort and convenience of the geese while sitting on their eggs” (‡Ork. 1887 Jam.), “common in old houses” (Ork.5 1955); †(7) goose-pen, a goose-quill (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 119); †(8) goose race, a competition among horsemen for a goose, the bird being suspended by the legs over the course and the neck well greased. The riders in passing it at full gallop attempted to pull off the head, the first person to succeed getting the goose as prize. This sport was known in Der. dial. as goose-riding. The practice died out at the end of the 18th c.; †(9) guse-thrapple, the windpipe of a goose; (10) goose-tongue, a species of fish; (11) hunt the goose, a children's game (see quot.).(1) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xii.:
Grant a plough-gate . . . to be less than the nineteenth part . . . of a guse's grass, what the better will the . . . defender be, seeing he hasna a divot-cast of land in Scotland?
Sc. 1912 Rymour Club Misc. II. 197:
Said of an upstart — He's no' worth a guse's gerse.
(2) Abd. 1796 Session Papers, Powis v. Fraserfield (29 March 1805) 226:
The Goose-butts of Kettock's mills are laboured and in crop till within six or eight yards of the margin of the river.
(3) Edb. 1721 P. Ork. A.S. XI. 41:
To 20 Roan trees from Rot Mclelland in the Goos Dubb . . £1. 16. 0.
Peb. 1793 R. Brown Carlop Green (1817) 128:
And braid-nosed Geordy, brother calf, Distillers frae Guise-dibs.
Wgt. 1803 R. Couper Tourifications II. 137:
I found myself possessed, I did not even know whether legally or not, of an admirably convenient goose-dub.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel ii.:
“The Thames! . . . we have at Edinburgh the Water-of-Leith and the Nor-loch!” “And the Pow-Burn, and the Quarry-holes, and the Gusedub!”
Gsw. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1863) I. 216:
Was ye ever in the Guse-dubs o' Glasgow? Safe us a'! what clarty closses, narrowin awa'. . . into green middens o' baith liquid and solid matter.
Rxb. 1867 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club V. 310:
An open space encumbered with middens, pig-styes, heaps of firewood, goose-dubs, and holes full of black glaur.
(8) Slg. 1706 Slg. Burgh Rec. (1889) 108:
The council appointis intimation to be made . . . that their is ane goose race to be ryden for by the maltmen of this burgh upon the Saturnday imediatlie befor Whitsunday next.
Edb. 1755 Edb. Ev. Courant (24 June):
After which will be for cart horses, a goose race, and a cat in the barrel.
(9) Sc. 1859 C. S. Graham Mystifications (1869) 91–92:
Sometimes he contrived to make us a whistle of what he called a guse-thrapple.
(10) Ags. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XI. 256:
Goose-tongue, anchor-fish, scaup, and clip-fish, which stick to rocky bottoms.
(11) Ags. 1825 Jam. s.v. call-the-guse:
The game . . . played by young people, in some parts of Angus, in which one of the company, having something that excites ridicule unknowingly pinned behind, is pursued by all the rest, who still cry out, Hunt the goose.

B. Combs. in plant-names: (1) goose-corn, a species of brome-grass, Bromus secalinus (Sc. 1808 Jam.); (2) guse-grass, (a) the brome grass, Bromus (Lnk. 1831 W. Patrick Plants 77; Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 217; Bnff. 1880 J.F.S. Gordon Chrons. Keith 285; Fif. 1886 B. & H. 213; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork., Ayr., Rxb. 1955). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (b) cleavers, Galium aparine (Lnk. 1831 W. Patrick Plants 93); (c) silverweed, Potentilla anserina (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 71). Common in Eng. dial.; (3) guse-liquorice, the bitter vetch, Orobus tuberosus (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) G. 87); (4) goose-pear, a kind of pear (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); (5) geusie pushon, a name given in Ork. to the foxglove.(1) Sc. 1724 W. Macintosh Fallowing 17:
The greatest Care taken cannot destroy all the Seeds and Trumpary . . . especially . . . Grass-Seeds, such as Goose-Corn.
(2) (a) Ayr. 1863–5 Trans. Highl. and Agric. Soc. 318:
The brome-grasses are better known popularly, in the west country at least, as “goose-grass.”
(5) Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 79:
The foxglove . . . was regarded as a deadly poison for geese, hence it was very widely known by the name of “geusie pushon.”

2. As in Eng., a tailor's smoothing-iron, so called from the shape of the handle, which resembles a goose's neck.Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1898) xvi.:
You have na cloured his harnpan with the guse?
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxviii.:
They hae saved as muckle as 'll buy them a guse, lawbrod, shears.
Dmf. 1903 J. L. Waugh Thornhill 27:
It used to be a great day when “Whup-the-cat” and his apprentice, carrying “guse” and board, came to a house. ¶Phr.: to get through the goose ee, to go through a ceremony of initiation as a journeyman tailor.
wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 81:
A treat at the expense of the parties contracting [a tailor and his apprentices], which they denominate the bindin bouse, . . . “Ye hae gotten through the goose-ee this night, and from this day aye keep hawks' een in your head.”

3. A name given to a large curling-stone, from the resemblance in shape.Lnk. 1805 G. McIndoe Poems 57:
Tak' ye the goose a gouff 'e cheek.

4. “The long gut, or rectum” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Per. 1811 Letters J. Ramsay (S.H.S.) 278:
On coming in he asked his wife for the goose, but was told it was the goose pudding in the cow.

5. “An arrangement for drawing on steep roads, the hutch wheels being run on a carrier bearing throughout its length on the rails” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 33; Edb.6 1944).

Combs.: (1) goose brae, a cuddie-brae (see Cuddy, n.1, 4.) (Ib.); (2) goose-lamp, “a large oil lamp with a long neck used about shafts and pitheads, where draught is too strong for a small one” (Fif. 1944).

6. A practice chanter for the bagpipes, with a small bag attached, resembling a goose in flight and as such caricatured in Glen's Bagpipe Tutor a.1860.Sc. 1952 Gsw. Herald (8 Oct.):
The goose is a little sheepskin bag with a mouthpiece and a fitting for the chanter, and all we have to do is to keep it full of breath and squeeze it under our oxter.

II. v. To iron, to press with a guse “a word now nearly obsolete” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Combs.: goosing blanket, an ironing blanket (Mry. 1708 E. Dunbar Social Life (1865) 211); gusing iron, a smoothing iron (s.Sc. 1825 Jam., -irne, 1829 G. Robertson Recoll. 93; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., -erne; Per. 1955).Per. 1766 A. Nicol Poems 55:
Brush up your beard, goose out each lirk.
Sc. 1812 Popular Opinions 88:
They goose my sarks, and cravats for my neck.
Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. xx.:
She wad need . . . to rin ower her face wi' a gusing iron, just to take the wrunkles out o't.
Sc. 1859 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 189:
One would carry her muslin caps wet with starch . . . “to make them ready to be goosed.”

[O.Sc. has guse, guis(e), etc., in senses 1., 2. (from 1617), and 4. (c.1470), above; also gusdub, from 1563, guis(s)ing iron, from 1643.]

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"Guse n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Jun 2024 <>



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