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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

GROFF, adj., n. Also gro(a)f, grouff, gruff, †grofe; †graff (see P.L.D. § 54). [Sc. grɔf, but Abd., Rxb. grʌuf]

I. adj. 1. Coarse in grain or texture,  (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928), grof; Inv. 1900 E.D.D.; Cai.3 1931, gruff; Sh., Rs., Inv., Mry. 1955); esp. of salt (Bnf 1980s); thick, clumsy; of sheep: coarse-woolled; of rain: heavy, in large drops; of a sieve: large-meshed (Sh. 1955).Ags. 1699 in A. J. Warden Burgh Laws Dundee (1872) 353:
Lykeways that no bisket butred or unbutred of flour, grofe, or smooth, be baked to any burger without the Baxter Craft.
Abd. 1708 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VII. 93:
For weaveing nynteine ells of groff dornick, to my wife . . . £2. 0. 0.
Sh. 1711 R. Sibbald Ork. and Zet. (1845) 12:
The groff Manufactures they make in this Country.
Crm. 1743 in H. Miller Scenes and Leg. (1850) 378:
And now the broken clouds fall down In groff rain from on high.
Slk. 1827 Hogg Tales (1874) 322:
Gie me the good green hills, the gruff wedders, and bob-tail'd ewes.
Mry. 1852 A. Christie Mountain Strains 106:
Some were pushin', ithers drawin', Wi' great groff ropes o' thrawn wans.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 69:
He carries a stick as groff's yir airm.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 40:
There was one groff siv, one sma' siv.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
Grof . . . coarse in texture, as a stocking.
Bnff.6 1920:
That sugar is some groff for me; hiv ye ony sma'er?
Crm. 1933 D. A. Mackenzie Stroopie Well 4:
My grannie's cakes are grof and sweet, She'll aye bake ane for her wee mannie.
Rs. 1949 Gsw. Herald (7 Feb.):
She might thrash him with a “grof” rope.

Hence gruffie, adj., rough, coarse.Bnff. 1853 Banffshire Jnl. (3 May):
Geordie wi' the crookit gamon, Bowie wame, and gruffie paw.

Combs.: (1) grofe bere, see quot.; (2) groff-meal, coarse-grained meal (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Sh., Mry. 1955); ‡(3) groff print, large type (Cai.3 1930); †(4) groff-write, id.; large text handwriting (Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 74). Also attrib.(1) Bnff. c.1860 Bnff. Herald (12 March 1949):
“Grofe bere,” coarser than barley, but having four rows of grain on the stalk instead of barley's two.
(3) Mry. 1887 A. G. Wilken Peter Laing 19:
I can read “groff” print to this day, but I canna manage sma' print noo withoot my glaisses.
Cai. 1929 John o' Groat Jnl. (March):
A want a very sma' Bible wi groff print.
(4) Bnff. 1933 M. Symon Deveron Days 15:
Nae word o' groff-write trackies on the “Four best ways to fooge.”

2. Rough, gross; (1) of the features or skin: coarse (Sh., Rs., Inv., Bnff., Abd., 1955). Also of the general appearance: surly, unprepossessing (Abd.16 1925); (2) of the voice: harsh (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Sh., Mry., Abd. 1955); (3) in phr. a groff guess, a rough guess, a “pretty good idea” (Lth. 1825 Jam., grouff; Bnff.12 1890; Sh. 1955); (4) vulgar, coarse (Rxb. 1825 Jam., grouff, 1923 Watson W.-B.), applied to language (Lnk. 1825 Jam., graff); obscene, smutty (Sc. 1808 Jam., groff; Rnf. 1825 Jam., graff). Hence groufy, adj., rough in manners (Ayr.4 1928).(1) Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 64:
Some said my Looks were groff and sowr, Fretfu', drumbly, dull and dowr.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Groff . . . is often applied to those who are much pitted with the small pox.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 57:
The ane seemed awfu' sib to death, Her pockard face was groff as sin.
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 37:
'At whummles sixerns at da haaf Wi groff an faerce-laek haand.
Abd.1 1932:
An unco groaf stock o' a carle, nae ony takin' ava'.
(3) Mry. 1828 “J. Ruddiman” Tales 65:
I had a groff guess o' wha was the occasion o' a' this.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 57:
Your subject is maybe just a kennan ower learned for da likes o' me; yet I hae a kind a guid groff guess whaur ye ir.
Cai. 1887 B. Watten Stratharran 83:
I've a groff guess what it is to brak' the law o' the lan'.

II. n. “A short, thick, well-dressed man” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 243, gruff). Cf. Gruffus.

[O.Sc. has grof(f), grofe, grouff, etc., in sense 1. above, from 1551, in sense 2. (4) from 1681; Mid.Du. grof, rough, rude, Mod.Du. grof, coarse, rough (of bread, salt, hands, features, voice, language), Eng. gruff. The frequency of the word in Rs. and Inv. suggests associative influence from Gael. garbh, with similar meanings, thick, rough, stormy, gruff, coarse.]

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



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