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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FOWER, num.adj. and n. Gen.Sc. form of Eng. four. Also fowr(e); fuwr (Gall. 1931–3 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 253). Also in combs., as in Eng., fower-fa(u)l(d), fower-fittet, fowerpence, etc. [Sc. ′fʌu(ə)r, Gall. fuwr]

Sc. forms:Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 48:
yirdit fowre years back, but he bides wi me yet ...
Dundee 1989 W. N. Herbert in Joy Hendry Chapman 55-6 95:
Fowre year ma feres caad me
ti thi boats wi a hui-hoi-huistir ...
Abd. 1991 David Ogston in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 117:
So aff we set in the hearse,
The fower o's: the driver
An Cameron in the front,
An the twa o's in the back.
Lnk. 1997 Duncan Glen From Upland Man 4:
And soon juist fowre polished hooves
on the mantelpiece.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 60:
I didna pye a bloody sky-high fare
Wi some fower-fittit carnivore tae share
Ma journey frae Steenhaven tae Dundee
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 67:
' ... And he did, John, he did. Fower thoosan pund,' he finished hoarsely, pouring himself a fresh brandy, 'for a lump o rock, a flock o geese and a rickle o stanes that ye wouldna keep pigs in. ... '

Sc. phr. and combs., mostly (orig.) attrib.: †1. fower-baste, drawn by four animals, of a plough (Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 108); 2. fower-darg, of a piece of land, capable of being ploughed in four days (Dmf. 1950 per Fif.17); 3. four-ewe, see quot.; †4.  †four-fitten, sea-taboo term for a mouse (Sh. 1814 Irvine MSS.). Cf. Fittin, n.2, and note s.v.; 5. four foot, a four-footed girdle; †6. fower-hours, -(h)oors, foorouse, a (light) meal taken (at four o'clock) in the afternoon, the nature and time of the meal differing at different times and places (e.Lth. 1912 Scotsman (26 Jan.); Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ayr.4, Kcb.3 1929). Now mostly hist.; “the term is now vulgarly appropriated to tea, although the hour is changed. Formerly it denoted some stronger beverage” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); “a substantial meal, cheese and butcher-meat being added to the usual accompaniments of tea” (wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 501); “a hearty repast partaken of by farm workers at lowseen-teime” (Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 11). Cf. E'enshanks. [f(ʌu)ər′u:rz]; 7. four-neukit, -nuickit, -nooked, four-cornered, square or rectangular. Gen.Sc.; †8. four-part, a quarter-peck, a Forpet, q.v.; †9. fower quarters, the body, the person. Cf. the four parts into which the body of a traitor was divided; also fig. the presence, the personal influence or authority; ‡10. four ways, a crossroads (Abd.27 1953); 11. (up)o(n) one's fowers, on all fours (Cai., ne.Sc., m.Lth., Arg., Kcb. 1953).3. Sc. 1840 Library Useful Knowledge, Brit. Husb. III. Rep. 78:
Nos. 1, 7, 4 of Strathnaver and Morvich were called four-ewe and ewe-hog herdings.
5. Ags. 1738 Valuation in MS. per Fif.1:
In the kitchen — a drapping pan and a fourfoot.
6. Sc. 1705 Papers Rev. John Anderson 73:
I gave Matthew Lindsay a fourteen-pence and his four hour's drink.
Sc. 1726 W. Starrat Pastoral (Broadsheet):
Syne, on my four Hours Luncheon chew'd my cud.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xxiv.:
Seeing Dumple, and giving him welcome home with part of their four-hours scones.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie xii.:
A mutchkin of strong yill and a cooky . . . will . . . serve me for four-hours and supper.
Sc. 1829 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 215:
Breakfast, noony, denner, four-hours, and sooper, a' in ane.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxvi.:
A chack o' four-oors consistin' o' mashlie-bannocks an' sweet-milk cheese, wi' a dish o' tea to synd them ower wi'.
Abd. 1868 G. Macdonald R. Falconer xvi.:
[They] syne come hame to their fower-hoors whan the schule's ower i' the efternune.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xliv.:
The Archangel Gawbriel . . . is waitin' to tak' his fower-'oors wi' him.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood i.:
The three ministers took their leave . . . he of Kirk Aller to take his “four-hours” with Chasehope at Lucky Weir's in the clachan.
7. Fif. 1807 J. Grierson St Andrews 117:
The steeple, from its form, has obtained the name of the square steeple, or, in the dialect of the place, the four-nooked steeple.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man III. xi.:
Dinna quit this great four-nooked fauld till I come back again.
Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. xiv.:
A substantial, four-nooked, sclated house of three stories.
Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Poute 8:
Yer too “Four-nuickit” i' the maik — and too much lyke a Brick.
9. Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 16:
Till his four quarters are bedeckit Wi' gude Braid Claith.
Sc. 1822 Scott Pirate viii.:
If it had not been for his four quarters, it's but little you would have said to ony body, sae lang as life lasted.
Sc. 1896 Stevenson W. of Hermiston iii.:
Na, there's no room for splairgers under the fower quarters of John Calvin.
10. Knr. 1891 “H. Haliburton” Ochil Idylls 72:
Peasants flock in from the fields to the four-ways.
11. Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 63:
Like puss ye loup upo' yer fours.
Sh. 1901 T. P. Ollason Mareel 80:
Laand! says da skipper, scramblin' up da cabin stairs upon his fowers.

[O.Sc. has fourhouris, = 5., 1600, four-nukit, c.1515, fourfuttit (girdill), 1586.]

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"Fower num. adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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