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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

DOWIE, adj. Also dow(e)y; dowi (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.). [′dʌui]

1. Also reduced form dow. Sad, melancholy, dreary, dismal; dull, dispirited; used both of persons and of places, weather, etc. Gen.Sc. Also used adv. Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1724–27 Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1733) I. 26:
Dear Jeany, think what dowy hours I thole by your disdain.
Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate xxiv.:
The auld Kirk of Saint Ringan's — it's a dowie bit, and far frae being canny.
Sc. 1979 Sydney Goodsir Smith in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 34:
Lang dwynit is the wearie mune
But day aye lingers i the aist.
Lang the dowie nicht, but sune
Reluctant dawn lift up her face
And bring my luve til me again.
- Aurora, sluggart bitch, mak haste!
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 3:
It's a dowie manse the day. . . . The minister . . . has slippit awa . . . an' this is the day o' his berial.
Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 109:
The rheum rain'd frae her dim e'en, An' dowie thus spak' she.
Abd. 1991 Douglas Kynoch in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 86:
Melpomene was mumpin
An her een were rubbit red.
She lookit unco dowie,
As gin somebody was deid.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web v:
Nae Inglis wird alane can convoy the multiplicity o thocht ahin thon ae wird dreich. Dreich is a cauld, mochy, jeelin, dowie wird
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 58:
In dowf season,
dowie, deid still,
abuin frozen braith,
I hear it:
the vieve cry nae daith-grupp thraws.
m.Sc. 1979 Tom Scott in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 87:
Let us hear again thon benwart glory
That burns throu time wi daethless love,
Steirin thocht o auld, heroic livin
In this dow, disjackit land.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 62:
Whan the rid lowe hits Loch Grannoch's mirror
atween the Fell an Craiglowrie Hill,
syne bid fareweel tae the dour winter,
tae dowie lift an the crannreuch's chill.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 15:
Coltherdscleugh and Cauldcleuchheid
Sae lang's ye mind thae words
Loupin oot at ye fae the hauf-inch Tweeddale map
Ye've sma cause tae be warsellin wi sair heid
Ower the demise o the guid Scots tongue:
No tae speak o' Meg's Shank or Catcleuch Shin,
Phenzhopehaugh, Tushielae, Faw Side
An for a richt dowie dollop o glaur
For gettin yer gruntles intae ...
Muckle Dod Fell.
Per. 1990 Betsy Whyte Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1991) 102:
Wee Tommy was much easier after a good sleep, and he asked his dad if he could come with us to Brechin in the van. So after goodbyes which left us all a bit dowie we were on our way.
Fif. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 114:
Tired and dowie he entered the hoose.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 106:
Gin love should dwine atween us twa, Some dowie day when we are auld.
Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 18:
Mourn ilka nymph and ilka swain, Ilk sunny hill and dowie glen.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Highland Harry (Cent. ed.) ii.:
When a' the lave gae to their bed, I wander dowie up the glen.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 46:
The saig, poor dowy beast! nae pleasure kens Aboon a gowan tap.
w.Dmf. 1910 J. L. Waugh Cracks wi' Robbie Doo iv.:
He was very “dowie” and quiet a' day.
Ant. 1900 T. Given Poems 141:
The woodbine blossom on the hedge Seem't dowey at his blinkin'.

Hence (1) dowie-luggit, dejected, miserable-looking (Ags.18 1947); (2) dowiely, sadly, mournfully, drearily; (3) dowieness, sadness, melancholy; †(4) dowisome, = 1.(2) Sc. 1820 A. Sutherland St Kathleen IV. 142:
He . . . made his chains clank sae dowiely, that I thocht they war' hingin' about mysel'.
Sc. 1910 L. M. Watt In Poet's Corner 103:
The cauld, grey street, whaur ne'er I see A face, that's lichtsome-like to me, But a' gae by sae dowielie.
Edb. 1801 H. Macneill Poet. Wks. II. 87:
Aft, aft to the kent gate she turned her black e'e; Then lying down dowylie, sighed by the willow tree.
w.Sc. 1929 R. Crawford Quiet Fields 37:
An' scabbled last leaves, few an' yella, Hung dowiely ower you an' me.
(3) ne.Sc. 1979 Alastair Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 63:
I wid want my dowieness, my bellwaverin moods
to be tint in your dreich coronachs.
Ags. 1887 A. D. Willock Rosetty Ends 61:
The reason o' Jamie Anderson's dowieness was sune kent a' owre the country side.
Edb. 1917 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's o' Solomon x. 48:
The blessin o' the Lord maks the puirest body bien, An' there's nae back-draw o' dowieness gangs alang wi't.
(4) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 156:
Heigh how is heavy some, An old Wife is dowisome.

2. Ailing, sickly, weak (Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10, Slg.3 1940); of plants: limp, drooping (Abd.27 1949).Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 223:
As for thae rockin' chairs, wi' bobbin' up an' doon bothams, I kenna fat's the eese o' them, oonless for dowie fouk.
Abd. 1868 G. Macdonald R. Falconer I. xx.:
She's been unco dowie a' the summer.
Abd. 1903 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 24:
He was a cripple from infancy, and was known in the district as a “peer, dowie breet.”
Fif. 1896 D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 150:
She detained him a minute to advise about Creamy, a dowie calf, who, she thought, would be better with a bed by the fire.
Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 174:
They [dockens] become dowie and pliable after being pulled.
Kcb. 1883 G. Murray Sarah Rae 54:
I'm getting dowie 'bout the heart, In troth I'm far frae weel.

3. Of ground: unfertile, in poor heart (Lnk.11 1940). Cf. Dowf, adj., 5 (2).Rxb. 1917 Kelso Chron. (17 Aug.) 2/6:
Some districts complain of there being a thinness in the ground. On cold and “dowie” land this may be the case, owing to the backward and cold spring, but where the land is light, clever and in good heart, crops may be considered good.

[From O.Sc. dolly, in sense 1. above from c.1470, with vocalisation of l. Dowy is found from c.1520. Further origin doubtful. Phs. from Mid.Eng. dol, dull, O.E. dol, foolish, and cogn. with dull. ]

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"Dowie adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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