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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HARROW, n.1, v. Also harra (Gen.Sc.). Cf. P.L.D. § 34. Ppl.adj. harrit (Bnff. 1927 E. S. Rae Hansel frae Hame 25). Sc. phrs. and combs.:

1. Phrs.: (1) in the harrows, in trouble or affliction; (2) to clear the harrows, to achieve one's object; to surmount one's difficulties (Kcd. 1956); (3) to coup the harrows (on), see Coup, v.1, III.; (4) to cut harrows, see Cut, v., II. 3; (5) to die in the harrows, to die in harness, in the midst of work (Cai., Abd., Per. 1956); (6) to have (get) one's leg ower the harrows, to get out of hand, become unmanageable (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (7) to hear how the harrows are going, to learn how matters are progressing; (8) to hing in like a coo in a harrow, to carry on with dogged perseverance (Ork. 1956); (9) to pass the harrow, see quot.; (10) to put under the harrows, to submit to an ordeal; (11) to rin aff or awa' wi the harrows, (a) to let oneself go in a dogmatic assertive way, to talk in an unrestrained or exaggerated fashion (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Kcd. c.1880 Montrose Standard (27 Sept. 1929); Clc. 1912, — awa' — ); (b) to carry off the prize, be successful (Ayr. 1825 Jam.); (12) to tak' aff the harrows, to go over the score; (13) to trail an easy harrow, to do no hard work (Abd.4 1933). Cf. Eng. dial. to trail a light harrow, to be a bachelor, have few cares or worries.(1) Ags. 1823 A. Balfour Foundling II. 278:
I wadna see my nibours, far less my friends, in the harrows, and stand wi' my hands in my poutches.
(2) Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 215:
O, for a cot, a wee bit grun', An' twa three lads, that trade in fun, To be my marrows. Then let the warld lose or win, I've clear'd the harrows.
(5) Sc. 1827 Scott Journal (1890) II. 94:
If I die in the harrows, as is very likely, I shall die with honour.
(6) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality viii.:
“She has her leg ower the harrows now,” said Cuddie, “stop her wha can.”
Sc. 1829 Scott Diary (1946) 28:
I hope the Duke of Wellington will keep the horned beast [Popery] well in hand, and not let her get her leg over the harrows.
(7) Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie 74:
We was curious too, ye ken, just to hear hoo the harrows were gaun.
(9) Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 194:
Passin' the Harrow . . . was a performance seldom practised, except by some person of a “deil-may-care” disposition. . . . Three harrows were placed, some distance apart, outside the open fodder door of an old barn, and at the hour of midnight a person went blindfold into the yard, and passed back foremost over each harrow in turn, thence through the barn window, and at the end of this journey he was supposed to fall into a sort of trance and hear and see unutterable things.
(10) Bwk. 1869 P. Landreth Fastern's E'en 16:
Peg speaks like a minister, and we'll be her elders, my lads, to put the tailor under the harrows.
(11) (a) Dmf. 1824 Carlyle in Early Life (Froude) I. 235:
In spite of his long-bow propensities (his running away with the harrows, as our father would call it) he is a man of no ordinary powers.
Sc. 1826 Scott Journal (1890) I. 247:
In Scotland we are pedantic and wrangle, or we run away with the harrows on some topic we chance to be discursive upon.
Dmb. 1846 W. Cross Disruption xviii.:
He ran awa' wi' the harrows aboot this Non-intrusion nonsense, and never speert my leave.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 79:
“Houts man, Archie,” says I, “ye're rinnin awa wi' the harrows noo. Ye're feared for the day ye never saw.”
(b) Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems II. 132:
'Twad be a guid joke, if a rough, kintry chiel' Soud rin aff wi' the harrows frae Hector M'Neil.
(12) Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays (1881) 15:
I like improvements, but this Caralean [crinoline], I maun confess, takes aff the harrows clean.

2. Combs.: (1) harrowbell, see Harrow-bill; †(2) harrow-plough, see quot.; †(3) harrow-slaying, the destruction of grass seeds by rain and sun when the ground has been too thoroughly harrowed.(2) Lth. 1825 Jam. s.v. Fotch-Pleuch:
The term [Fotch-Pleuch] is also used as denoting a plough used for killing weeds, as in the dressing of turnips; also called a Harrow-plough.
(3) Sc. 1724 Treatise on Fallowing 16:
These Grounds are very apt to be over-plowed, and are liable to a Misfortune, which the Country People call Harrow-slaying.
Sc. 1743 R. Maxwell Select Trans. 251:
The Mould . . . will be in danger of being washed from the Grain, if Rain comes before it strikes Root fully; which in that case will malt, then be scorched with the Sun, and killed; which is . . . called Harrow-slaying.

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"Harrow n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Feb 2024 <>



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