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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BROO, Breu, Broe, Brue, Brü, n.1 Also ‡brae (m.Sc. 1975). Cf. Bree, n.1 [bru: Sc.; brø: I.Sc., m.Sc., s.Sc., but see P.L.D. § 35]

1. Soup, gravy, the liquid in which any kind of food has been boiled. Known to Fif.1, Lnk.3 1936.Sc. 1722 Ramsay Three Bonnets 28: 
Beef, and Broe, and Gryce, and Geese.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Sc. Proverbs 5:
Fry stanes wi' butter, and the broe will be gude.
Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs 111:
Ill flesh ne'er made gude broo.
Sh.(D) 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 15:
“‘Dey maun drink da brü, 'at canna better dü,' as dey say in a auld said wird, an' he's a true ane,” said Girzzie.
Ork.(D) 1904 Dennison Orcad. Sk. 13:
De wife he ca'd a coolter neb poured a sap o' soor keel breu doon on his heed an' shuthers.
Ags.(D) 1922 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden xiv.:
Oot cam' Bettie skirlin' that the deevil had come doon her chumley, an' was makin' chicken broo o' her cock canary.
Ayr. publ. 1803 Burns We're a' noddin (Cent. ed.) vi.:
Cats like milk, And dogs like broo; Lads like lasses weel, And lasses lads too. In phr.: i' the broo, in trouble; cf. Eng. slang in the soup.
Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Poems 38:
My pot boils sky-blue, there's nae ane i' the broo.

Comb. brae-souker, a nickname for a native of Renton in Dumbartonshire (Dmb. 1969), said to be so-called because in the 1880's the Renton football team was reputed to have been outstandingly successful on a diet of "chicken-brae", a name given to an alcoholic concoction supplied by a local publican and supporter. See jeely-eater s.v. Jeelie 2. (3).

2. (See first quot.)Inv. 1813 E. Grant Memoirs Highland Lady (ed. Lady Strachey 1928) xi.:
Beef broo — the fat skimmings of the broth pot.
wm.Sc. [1835–1837] Laird of Logan (1868) App. 488; Kcb.3 1929:
Ye sall get brue out o' the lee side o' the pat, a proverbial phrase for a promised favour, alluding to the skimming of the fat brue from the calm side of the pot.

3. Liquid or moisture of any kind, esp. snaw-broo, snow-; “half [or wholly] -melted snow” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn., snow-). Known to Ags.1, Lnk.3 1936.Fif. c.1895 (per Fif.1):
Aye, the water'll no' fish the day; there's ower muckle snaw-broo comin' doon.
Hdg. 1896 J. Lumsden Battle of Dunbar, etc. 12:
Wi' snawy thows, and jumly broo Of melted ice, and slush, and rain.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Brigs o' Ayr (Cent. ed.) l. 160:
A' ye douce folk I've borne aboon the broo.

In phrs.: (1) aboon-broe, “above water. It is said of those who can hardly keep themselves from sinking in the horrific pool of misery, that they can barely keep themselves aboon-broe” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 1); (2) broo o' maut, whisky (Bnff.2, Abd.19 1936).

[O.Sc. bro, brue, broo, broth, liquid, n.Mid.Eng. bro (D.O.S.T.); prob. from O.Fr. breu, soup (Godefroy), It. brodo, id., prob. of Gmc. origin.]

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"Broo n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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