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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SOSS, n.1, v.1, int. Also soce (Mry. 1887 W. Tester Poems 108). [sɔs, sos]

I. n. 1. A heterogeneous mixture of food, usu. badly cooked, or drink, a wet, soggy or unpalatable mess of food (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 431; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 175; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 267; Sh., n.Sc., Per. 1971), a mash for animals (Cai. 1946). Also in Eng. dial. Deriv. and comb.: sossie, bread and milk, sops (Ayr. 1928); soss-poke, the stomach (Fif. 1825 Jam.).Per. 1749 Atholl MSS.:
George and his fellow travler undertook to make me a pock pudding, but such a soss never was seen.
Rxb. 1807 J. Ruickbie Wayside Cottager 186:
Where ye will get a whisky soss To moistify your middle.
Lnk. 1816 G. Muir Minstrelsy 5:
Collectin' a' his hounds for morning's soss.
Edb. 1825 R. Chambers Traditions II. 292:
There was provided more solid fare than these simple refreshments — such as a chop-steak stew. This entertainment, termed a “soss”, was always laid out on the bunker-seat in the closet.
Sc. 1842 J. Aiton Clerical Econ. 92:
Tea sosses ought not to be endured in the manse kitchen.
Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 225:
On thy doup thou sat and suppit The gusty soss.
Fif. 1894 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin viii.:
I'se coont a hunder the back'art gait an' syne drink up the soss [medicine].
Bnff. 1837 E. S. Rae Light in Window 42:
Gie lairds and leddies menu trash, Sirloins and soss o' stew.

2. In gen., a wet state, sopping condition, a dirty wet mess, a slop (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 175; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., n.Sc., Per., Fif. 1971). Also in Eng. dial. Deriv. sosserie, a wet dirty mess.Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce I. vi.:
When I trailed her hame some sosserie o' treacle.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (9 Oct.):
Can doo tell me, Mansie, what doo made o' dy breeks, 'at doo cuist aff in a weet soss da rainy night last ook?
Bnff. 1922 Banffshire Jnl. (12 Dec.) 2:
The corks wid flee, an' mak' an awfu' soss in the basket.
Kcd. 1933 L. G. Gibbon Cloud Howe 129:
He tumbled half-way into the tub, the bottom was full of some sticky soss.
Ags. 1990s:
Fitta soss!: What a mess!
Dundee 1996 Matthew Fitt Pure Radge 7:
oot ther in the soss
oot ther in the stoor
the ba skyters yin wey
is blootert the ither
a man is cowped
ne.Sc. 2004 Press and Journal 28 Jun 12:
Noo, a "sheemich" ye nivver aften hear o nooadays. A sheemich is a craitur that cwid be describ't as the runt o the litter an it can mean a toozl't soss, as in "his hair's jist a sheemich for it hisna seen a reddin-kaim for a month".
ne.Sc. 2004 Press and Journal 15 Nov 12:
The soss at Garlogie wisna caast bi travellers - gweed or bad.
The soss wis aa aboot mair an mair mountains o reid tape smorin oot aa thocht o commonsense.

3. A state of dirt and disorder, a muddle, chaos, confusion (Abd. 1880 Jam.; Sh., n. and em.Sc.(a) 1971). ¶Deriv. soster, a muddle.Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 175:
She keeps hir hoose in a sod soss.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 123:
That roarin nowt's makin' a pure soss o't.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (27 Aug.):
Ye shürely a' mind what a soss we wir in last year.
Abd. 1913 D. Scott Hum. Sc. Stories 72:
He made the awfast soss o' his Sawbith claes.
Abd. 1925 Banffshire Jnl. (21 April):
He was makkin a sod soss o's English.
Abd. 1930 N. Shepherd Weatherhouse Prol. i.:
She asked the occupant of the cottage to let her see the little room again. ‘It's a gey sost r,' said she. ‘The cat's just kittled in't.'
Abd. 1941 Bon-Accord (27 Nov.) 6:
I didna miss ony o' the holes in yer socks, I'm thinkin? Sic a soss as they war in.

4. A slattern, a slut, a slovenly dirty woman (Ags., Per. 1971). Obs. in Eng. since 17th-c. except in combs.Abd. 1901 Abd. Wkly. Free Press (4 May):
A bonny soss o' a wife Nancy Taylor 'ud mak'!

5. The act of nursing over-tenderly, fussing (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 175).

II. v. 1. To eat incongruous, sloppy or messy food, to eat in an uncouth, slovenly manner (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Also in Eng. dial.Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 154:
A sour looking sumf who will eat like a horse and soss like a sow.
Sc. 1812 Popular Opinions 48:
At breakfast-time they soss'd on eggs and ham.
Sc. 1825 R. Chambers Illust. Waverley 197:
Then the wife, . . . Brings out a black tea-pot and masks a drap tea; And they sit, and they soss, and they haud a cabal.

2. tr. To mix in a messy, incongruous way, esp. liquids (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh., Ags. 1971). Pa.p. sost. Also fig. Also in Eng. dial. Vbl.n. sossing, an incongruous liquid mixture.Abd. 1810 W. Edwards Poems 50:
Tar, sugar, tea, together sost [in a shipwreck].
Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. xxxii.:
A wheen cork-headed, barmy-brained gowks wi' their sossings and their soopings.
Abd. 1981 Christina Forbes Middleton The Dance in the Village 27:
I'm pentit, poodert, sossed an' sic
Och, whit an afu wark
The Producer chiel objectit tae
The colour o' ma sark.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 62:
An he closed his paper that cannie, the creases on't cud hae bin stemm-ironed, nae lirkit an scooshled an sossed, the wye some fowk stap tee the faulds o their daily news.

3. To make wet and dirty, to make a mess of (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., ne.Sc.. Ags. 1971). Obs. in Eng. since 16th-c. Also fig. with up, to spoil, to ruin.Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song 223:
He'd seen that kind of thing done before and it fair sossed up a pretty man.

4. intr. To make a mess, to work in a dirty disorderly way or in dirty conditions (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 175; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; n. and em.Sc.(a) 1971). Also in Eng. dial. Ppl.adj. sossin, unskilful, lazy and dirty (Gregor).Bnff. 1918 J. Mitchell Bydand 29:
Nae tchauve wi' caur or calvin' kye, nae sossin' on wi' swine.
Abd. 1918 C. Murray Sough o' War 20:
Sae we maun soss awa' amo' the kye.
Abd. 1940 C. Gavin Hostile Shore ii.:
Ye could rise to the byre simmer and winter, and trail in the milk-house, and soss wi' calves.

5. tr. and absol. To nurse over-tenderly, to act over-protectively, to fuss, pester, be troublesome (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 175, Bnff. 1970).Abd. 1913 D. Scott Hum. Sc. Stories 85:
He simply couldn't be soss't with a wife, and be boss't about.
Bnff. 1939 J. M. Caie Hills and Sea 4:
Fowk say I'm feel kin' tae soss an' tae gutter, Rearin' a bairnie that's nae o' my bleed.

6. To “carry on”, esp. in an amorous way (Abd. 1970). Also tr. with up.Kcd. 1933 L. G. Gibbon Cloud Howe 63, 171:
Ag had seen them cuddling and sossing in the grass. . . . To soss up the Manse quean. . .. A randy old brute like that Meiklebogs man sossing about with a quean half his age.
Abd. 1944 C. Gavin Mt. of Light iii. ii.:
Some o' this lads was sossin at the pictures.

7. To take one's ease, to rest, to do nothing, to lie or remain idle (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 175; Abd. 1971); to loll.m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 257:
The seeven-month wean, that did naething but lie and soss and rug at its mother's breest.
Abd. 1941 C. Gavin Black Milestone xv.:
I couldna' think o' you in yon eerie cave and me lying sossin' in ma bed.

8. Of a pot: to cook slowly, to stew, simmer, poss. an extended use of 2.Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1873) 4:
Twa pots soss'd in the chimney nook, Forby ane hott'rin' in the crook.

III. int. A call to dogs to their food. Also in Eng. dial.Sc. 1834 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1864) IV. 204:
The whupper-in or the huntsman gies the signal — or cries, Soss! Soss! Soss! and then with one accord the canine crunch their cracklin.

[Orig. uncertain. N.E.D. connects with Mid.Eng. sos, dog's food, and Eng. dial. soss, a call to food to dogs and pigs, poss. imit. of an animal eating. But there may have been some formal and semantic influence from Fr. sauce, sauce. v., 7. may poss. be a different word, to be associated with Soss, v.2]

Soss n.1, v.1, interj.

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"Soss n.1, v.1, interj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Apr 2024 <>



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