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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

COUP, COWP, v.2 and n.2 Also found in n.Eng. dial. (E.D.D.). [kʌup]

I. v.

1. tr. (1) To barter, exchange (Sc. 1808 Jam.; 1855 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 722, cowp; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Known to Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents, Fif.10 1940.Sc. 1701–31 R. Wodrow Analecta (Maitland Club 1843) IV. 296:
Kirkes and Ministers are couped like horses, and bargains are made to please men and partys, in thir matters, most shamefully.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxvii.:
They [the troopers] . . . rade through the country couping and selling a' that they gat, like sae mony west-country drovers.
Bwk. c.1830 W. A. Foster in Minstrelsy of the Merse (ed. Crockett 1893) 152:
And weel I lo'e the bonnie lad That couppit hearts wi' me.

Comb.: coup-rig, a rig under the run-rig system of agriculture which is cultivated by a succession of tenants in rotation. Lth. 1829 G. Robertson Recollections 261:
It has one particular appellation, namely, coup-rig, which is sufficiently probative of the fact.

2. tr. “To expose to sale” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; 1923 Watson W.-B.).

3. tr. and intr. To traffic, deal; to buy and sell, esp. in connection with horses; “used . . . only of an inferior kind of trade” (Abd. 1825 Jam.2). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1940.Bnff. 1879 M. Grant in Bnffsh. Jnl. (16 Sept.) 3:
He canna' coup wi' Ballindalloch.
Abd.(D) 1875 W. Alexander Life among my Ain Folk iv.:
He was far from certain that “couping” cattle was to be strictly so [as honest industry] defined. “He'll coup till he coup owre the tail i' the gutter some day.”
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 35:
But when it comes to coupin' horse I'm juist like a' that e'er were born, I fling my heels and tak my course.

Phr.: couping yill, a drink of ale to cement a bargain. e.Lth. 1883 J. Martine Reminiscences 70:
Well frequented on market-days by dealers, farmers and others to drink the "couping yill," "mags," &c.

II. n.

1. A barter, deal (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1940).Lnl. 1910 J. White Eppie Gray 13:
Whiles had a cowp tae eke a leevin', An' didna stick at doonricht theevin'.

2. “A good bargain; any thing purchased below its just value” (Gl. Survey Mry. (per Jam.2)); “a benefit, advantage” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 31). Cf. Cawper. Known to Abd.9 1940.Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 31:
He hizna a great cowp o't.
Abd. 1874 W. Scott Dowie Nicht 74:
Meggie was rewarded for her discovery with a horn of Jinse's best ale, which, to use her own words, 'wis nae coup in a cauld, frosty Yeel mornin.'

3. “Applied to a person's character; as, ‘He's nae great cowp' (He is of a worthless character)” (Ib.).

[O.Sc. has cowp, coup(e), to buy; to buy and sell; to trade in, 1540; to give or hand over by sale, 1597; vbl.n. cowping, couping, buying and selling; dealing or trading, 1542; also cowp, cowpe, an act or course of trading; a bargain, 1576, also used attrib. (D.O.S.T.). From O.N. kaup, a bargain, kaupa, to buy, to make a bargain (Zoëga), Norw. kaup, trade (Torp), cogn. with O.E. cēap, price, cēapian, to buy, bargain, buy and sell (Sweet), and Eng. cheap.]

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"Coup v.2, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2022 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/coup_v2_n2>

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