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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PAVIE, n., v. Also pav(e)y, paavie, pa(a)vee. pauvie, -ee; peyvee, peevee, pivvie; pawvis (Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 693), pauvice; pavise; pa-vease (Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (11 Dec.) 13). [′pevi; ‡pɑ′vi, esp. as v.]

I. n. 1. A caper, a fantastic movement of the body; a flamboyant or affected gesture, a stylish or grandiose flourish of the limbs, a stately or strutting carriage (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 164, pauvee).Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Fortunate Shep. MS. 106:
Well drest an' clean, an' stately step with a', With a pavie he comes into the Ha'.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
“He came in with a great pavie,” i.e. He entered the apartment with a great many airs. It is used to describe the manners of a fribble.
Sc. 1828 Scott F.M. Perth xxiv.:
[A hanged man] dancing a pavise in mid-air to the music of his own shackles.
Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl. 82:
A kind of fantastic gesture, waving with the hand, etc.; when speaking, using such gestures is called the “paavie”.

2. A trick, prank, practical joke; “a heedless action, a trifle” (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) P. 15). Phr. to play (one) a (pretty) pavie, to play a trick (on someone), lead (one) a merry dance (Sc. 1801 J. Leyden Complaynt Scot. Gl., 1805 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) XII. 276).Sc. 1698 J. Kirkwood Plea before Kirk 34:
Beware . . . she play you not such a Pavy, as two Jilts did about a Month ago in that same house.

3. A fuss, bustle, commotion, a great to-do about nothing, “a ceremonious fluster” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 381: Ags. 1921 T.S.D.C. 20, pauvie, pivvie; Ags., Fif., Bwk. 1965); a great state of excitement. either from pleasurable anticipation (‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), or rage (Sc. 1808 Jam.: Per. 1958).Rxb. 1806 J. Hogg Poems 94:
Lasses fine . . . Come far and near in high pavee.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl.381:
Some people are always in a peyvee, throng seemingly to the last degree, yet doing little.
Ags. 1861 Arbroath Guide (26 Jan.):
Some o'my neebors canna oonderstand how a schulemaister sud get into sik a pavee.
Wgt. 1881 Good Words 406:
What she would have termed a “peyvee” — a useless, unnecessary bustle which meant effectually to prevent any settled conversation.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 17:
What a work folk make about nothing! You might just as well get into a pavee when you were takin' the boat to Burntisland.

4. A frivolous, giddy person, one who loves display, a “show-off”, one who puts on airs; “an idle trifling child” (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) P. 11, pavise).Kcb. 1899 Crockett Kit Kennedy xii.:
The remarkable and shamelessly gaudy bonnet worn by Mistress Allardyce, the grocer's young wife (“a fair peevee wi' pride an' gumflooers”).

II. v. 1. intr. (1) To caper, frisk, move in a quick light way, to cavort, “waltz around”.Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 38:
For if paveein I might scud, 'Mang Jemmie's sprush.
Uls. 1804 J. Orr Poems (1936) 156:
What clusters pauvice roun'the stalls Whare pedlars streek their conscience, O!
Ags. 1868 G. Webster Strathbrachan III. i.:
To see them pavee about like great uncultivated nowt.
Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore 165:
Is a' the exercise ye tak' Paveein' on an otter's back?

(2) to adopt an exaggeratedly courtly bearing, to strut, parade oneself, “show off” (Kcb. 1900; Abd.4 1929). Ppl.adj. paveein, ostentatious, pretentious, “stuck-up”.s.Sc. 1837 Wilson's Tales of the Borders IV. 10:
There's an unco paveein, an' scrapin, an' booin aboot thae sort o' places.
Ork. 1887 Jam.:
In Orkney the pseudo-rich are called “pavean bodies”.
Kcb. 1901 R. D. Trotter Gall. Gossip 325:
They thocht they wur great lairds, wi' goold mines at their backs, an' pavee't aboot the country on blood horses.

(3) to trifle away one's time at work, “play around” (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) P. 11, pavise; Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (11 Dec.), pa-veaze).

(4) gen. of a man: to flirt, dally with or pay attention to a girl (Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 693, pawvis).

(5) to talk in a guarded manner, to prevaricate, equivocate, hedge, “sidestep” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.).

2. tr. To wave about, flourish ostentatiously.s.Sc. 1838 Wilson's Tales of the Borders IV. 90:
Sae ye mauna be paveein't aboot but keep it carefully hidden under yer jacket.

[O.Sc. has pavie, 1598, a caper, an acrobatic trick. Orig. unknown, the suggested derivation from Fr. pas vif, a lively step, being quite improbable. It is uncertain whether the word was accented on the first or second syllable originally.]

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"Pavie n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2022 <>



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