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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

CAIR, Care, Kair, Kar, v. and n. [ke:r]

1. v. Now obs. in Eng. (N.E.D.).

(1) To stir back and fore (Abd.2, Ags.2 1938).n.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
This word is much used. Children are said to cair any kind of food which they take with a spoon, when they toss it to and fro in the dish.

‡(2) “To rake from the bottom of any dish, so as to obtain the thickest” (n.Sc., Cld., Rxb. 1825 Jam.2, cair, care; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.); “to rake up, to search for” (w.Rxb., e.Slk. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry, Gloss., care). Known to Abd.2 1938.n.Sc., Cld., Rxb. 1825 Jam.2:
If ye dinna cair, ye'll get nae thick.

Phr.: cair the kail, “to extract the thickest part of broth, hotch-potch, etc., with the spoon” (Upper Cld. 1825 Jam.2).

(3) “To separate the broken pieces of straw from oats, barley, etc., by throwing the mixture over the hands, and retaining the straw in the hands” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 92–93, kair; Bnff.2 1938; Abd.6 1913, cair); “to take the broken straws and grass out of corn after threshing. Such straws are the kairins (Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 76). See also Keer, v.2Bnff.4 1926:
The pens [broken pieces of straw] were cair'd from corn chaff, etc., by hand.

(4) To mix (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1938); “to mingle heterogeneous things together” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), kar). With amon', “to handle much” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 93). Cf. Caird, v.3Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 93:
He kairt the clover an' girs-seed through ither.

2. n.

(1) “The act of bringing a spoon through a basin or plate, with the intention of extracting the thickest part of the food contained in it” (Upper Cld. 1825 Jam.2; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obs.).

(2) fig. Rummaging; rough handling.Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 92:
He keeps an unco kair amon' that bits o' paipers o' his.
Abd.(D) 1788 J. Skinner Christmass Bawing xxi. in Caled. Mag. 502:
Saw Pate had caught a camshuch care, At this unsonsy wark.

[Norw. kara, to rake, scrape (Torp).]

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"Cair v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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