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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

COUP, COWP, Coupe, Coap, n.1 [For phonetics, see Coup,v.1]

1. A fall, tumble; an overturning, upset. Also used fig. Gen.Sc., except I.Sc.Sc. 1718 Ramsay Chr. Kirk iii. xxii. in Poems (1721):
And there was little Hopes, But there had been some ill done Deed, They gat sic thrawart Cowps.
Abd.(D) 1916 G. Abel Wylins fae my Wallet 99:
He ventered on a dafty's spec, An' fairly gat a coup.
Gsw. 1879 A. G. Murdoch Rhymes and Lyrics 94:
Misfortune gie my heels a cowp If I touch mair the whisky stowp.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail I. v.:
Dear me, Mr Walkinshaw, but ye hae gotten an unco cowp. I hope nae banes are broken?
Uls. c.1920 J. Logan Ulster in the X-rays (2nd ed.) vi.:
“What happened ye, son?” said a mother to a little boy of seven, as he approached her with a wound on his face. “Ma,” said he, “I got a cowp aff the creepy,” meaning that “he had fallen off a low stool.”

2. A place for emptying rubbish, a dump (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 20; Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10, Slg.3, Arg.1, Lnk.11, Kcb.1 1940). Also fig.Sc. 1938 St Andrews Cit. (12 Feb.) 10/5:
Mr C. —, architect, stated that he would require a coup for material within the next month or two . . . and he indicated a site which he has in view for the purpose.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 40:
Somebody whyles will aye
Howk up a roosted argy-bargy
Frae in aneth a buss
An yark it aff tae the cowp.
m.Sc. 1944 William Montgomerie in Moira Burgess and Hamish Whyte Streets of Stone (1985) 129:
David heard the rumour, and went down in the evening to the River Clyde, past the place where the gambling school met on the coup near the fever hospital.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 23:
The mirror was one of the things he liked and held onto. When she died some years later and he cleared the house, he put most of what remained to the cowp. The candlesticks, however, he brought back with him and set on either side of the mirror.
wm.Sc. 1988 Robin Jenkins Just Duffy 67:
..., she felt more scared looking at that face than she had done among the rats at the coup.
Rnf. 1935 L. Kerr Woman of Glenshiels 88:
In the distance rose the large cowp of a coal pit.

3. “The act, right, or liberty of emptying a cartload” (Sc. 1887 Jam.6).

4. A sudden break in a stratum of coal.Slg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 329:
The coal in this district is full of irregularities, stiled by the workmen coups, and hitches, and dykes. . . . These coups and hitches . . . are found where the strata above and below the coal suddenly approach, or retreat from each other, by this means couping the coal out of its regular bed.

5. A draught of liquor.Sc. 1874 A. Hislop Sc. Anecdotes 9:
Drink ae coup o' the lammer-wine An' the tear is nae mair in your e'e.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man III. 39:
The thankless maltster, that neither gi'es coup, nievefu', nor lippine.

6. A company, band of people; sometimes used contemptuously.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 293:
And bann'd wi' Birr the corky Cowp, That to the Papists [sic] Country scowp.
Fif. 1825 Jam.2:
I never saw sic a filthy ill-manner'd coup.
Peb. 1793 Peggy's Myll (ed. R. D. C. Brown 1832) xxxiv.:
But first they set out wi' a cowp. . . . A wee bit on, they . . . Sklent sleely duin to the burn syd.
Kcb. 1895 S. R. Crockett Men of the Moss-Hags xxix.:
I ever counted Jock the best bairn in all the coupe.

7. Phrases: (1) a clean coup-up, used when all the liquor in a vessel has been drunk (Ags.17 1941); cf. clean caup-out s.v. Cap, n.; †(2) coup an' creel, wholly, entirely; (3) free coup (cowp, coap), (a) a place where rubbish may be dumped free of charge (Sc. 1887 Jam.6, coup); also fig.; known to Cai.7, Abd.9, Ags. and Fif. correspondents, Slg.3, Lnk.11 and Kcb. correspondents 1940; (b) “liberty to coup or deposit rubbish free of charge”(Ib.); (4) the haill coup, “the whole of anything, the entire quantity without diminution” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); known to Fif.10, Lnk.11 1940.(1) Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (29 Dec.) 2/7:
The same thing goes round the core — all bashfully refusing at first, but ultimately swallowing, until Airchie, seeing his bottle getting near the lees, whispers to an old cronie — “Gor, it's gaunna be a clean coup-up.”
(2) Dmb. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 9:
When we were coup an' creel in poortith's net.
(3) (a) Sc. 1887 Jam.6:
To advertise a free-coup at such a place is the usual method of notifying that rubbish is urgently required at that place for levelling purposes.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 66:
The beach ootby at the Saut Pan, whaur there's a free coup for rubbitch.
Ags.17 1940:
Doctor to a patient: “You've been makkin' a free-cowp o' that stammack o' yours.”
Arg.1 1929:
Drive that tae the Free Coap.
Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (26 Aug.) 2/6:
I observe they make a free coup of that part — building up an artificial bank — actually pressing the stream back on the island.

[O.Sc. has cowp, coup, an upset, overturning, 1535 (D.O.S.T.); for further etym. see note to Coup, v.1]

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"Coup n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 May 2024 <>



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