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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

GOWK, v.2, n.2 Also gouk. [gʌuk]

I. v. To gaze, to stare idly or foolishly (Ags. 1808 Jam., gouk; Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Bnff.4 1927; Ags., Per. 1955). Also in Cum. dial. Cf. Gawk, v., 2.Abd. 1835 Abd. Shaver (Jan.) 128:
Canna ye mak a better use o' your een than goukin' after the Ellon dandy?
Sc.(E) 1868 D. M. Ogilvy Willie Wabster 9:
And Wabster ay ahint him gouket.
Mearns 1932 “L. G. Gibbon” Sunset Song 24:
You couldn't so much as change your sark without some ill-fashioned brute gowking in at you.
Per. 1933 W. Soutar Seeds in the Wind 37:
Lang, lang, I gowkit thru the trees Nor livin thing saw I.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 15:
I tramp athort fields for a look,
gowk on hirsty soil, hear the hungert craw
hoast owre a dwaiblie stook.

II. n. A vacant stare (Bnff.12 c.1860); a look.m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 18:
Sometimes ye hae a wee keek furst.
An somethin catches yer eye, ken,
A guid fecht or a wean gettin battered,
An ye want tae hae a better gowk.

[O.Sc. has gowk, gouk, to stare, from c.1470. Of uncertain origin, but cf. Gowk, n.1, v.1, and note, and Gawk, v., 2.]

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"Gowk v.2, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Oct 2022 <>



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