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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HOAST, n., v. Also hos(s)t; †hoist, †ho(u)ste; haust (Uls.); howst (Gall.). Cf. Whost, Whust, id. [host]

I. n. 1. A cough (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, ho(u)ste; w.Sc. 1741 A. McDonald Galick Vocab. 27, host); a hem, a cough made to attract attention or to stop someone. Gen.Sc.Ayr. 1786 Burns Sc. Drink xix.:
Now colic-grips, an' barkin hoast, May kill us a'.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 334:
For being just as dry's a post, She burrs like ane that has the host.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary vi.:
Marching in terribly droukit, an mony a sair hoast was amang them.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Ann. Parish ii.:
But I gave them a sign by a loud host.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 120:
. . . ilk frettin host That had prevail'd.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxiii.:
“That needs consideration”, quo' James, giving a bit hoast.
Fif. 1895 S. Tytler Kincaid's Widow iii.:
It has saved him from a regular hoast in the middle of his sermon.
Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 93:
Many people were subsequently afflicted with a “measley hoast.”
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iii.:
That hard hoast . . . an' a' yon cowkin an' reetchin.
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 71:
Wracked with a hach and a hoast that put him off his work with pneumonia.

2. Fig. Used with neg. in phrs. to indicate something which is worth little consideration or affords no difficulty or resistance, e.g. in a host, without or but a host, without a moment's hesitation, straightway (Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems Gl.; Abd., Kcb. 1957).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 133:
Accordingly the lads are weal'd an' sent, Their taeken shown, which butt a host was kent.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
It did na cost him a host, he made no hesitation about it.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 246:
Through beef and bane, and wud and stane, Without a howst they whunner.
Sc. 1857 Wilson's Tales of the Borders VII. 136:
The case is no guid in law. It wadna stan a hoast in the Court o' Session.
Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 194:
Nae Runner on this great East Coast, man, For onything is worth a hoast, man, Whan he is bye.
Abd. 1922 Weekly Press (28 Jan.) 3:
I wis never in fauvour o't, an' it wunna cost me a hoast t' speak up against it.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 95:
Dis burra faels it dey big up da sides o' da rod wi' noo canna staand a host.

II. v. 1. intr. To cough; to hem in order to attract attention or to cover confusion. Gen.Sc. Also fig. Ppl.adj., vbl.n. hoastin.Wgt. 1713 Session Rec. Kirkinner MS. (2 April):
He the declarant stood still and hosted.
Mry. 1716 in A. & H. Tayler 1715 (1936) 285:
Your daughter is hosting hard, and will not live long.
Sc. 1753 Scots Mag. (July) 342:
Allan Breck came behind him, and hoasted, . . . desired him to come to him.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To J. Smith xiii.:
See, crazy, joyless Eild . . . Comes hostan, hirplan owre the field.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 18:
Whan howstin made me unco' sair, Whan my poor breast wad rack and rair.
Edb. 1839 W. McDowall Poems 220:
Nae hostin now an' dowf excuse.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 18:
The gowlin' storm, . . . Cam' hoastin' doun Kate Hyslop's lum.
Sh. 1886 G. Temple Britta 36:
I can hear da coos chumping up da girss, an' da sheep hostin' on da bank.
Dmb. 1894 D. MacLeod Past Worthies 82:
The Hoasting Club was a club of shop-keepers, who kept a sharp look-out for “high twelve” . . . terrible coughs . . . being the signal for their assembling in their favourite houff.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 36:
Shaif efter shaif gaed throwe the mull an' gart her hoast an' birr.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood ii.:
An hour syne she gaed to her reward — just slipped awa' in a fit o' hoastin'.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 69:
Words arena horses, nor auld men
hirplin, hoastin, tuim o virr.
m.Sc. 1991 William Neill in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 50:
Yon dollybird wi the velvet single-en an the hoor's een
puffin et yon lang fag an straikin her lover-boy's pow,
cannae be smokin the same brand as oor Wullie thare,
hoastin his lichts oot thonner in the Royal Infirmary.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 48:
Aa roon her, fowk snochered and pyochered an hoastit inno their snifter-dichters.

Comb.: hostin girse, Iceland moss, Cetraria islandica, infused as a remedy for a cough (Sh.11 1950).Sh. 1931 J. Nicolson Tales 102:
“Hostin girse” was a species of lichen. It was treated in a manner similar to the “gulsa girse,” and looked upon as being an infallible remedy for severe coughs and troubles of the chest.

2. tr. Gen. with out or up, to cough up, lit. and fig., to get something “off one's chest” (Ork., Ags., m.Lth., Kcb. 1957), used sarcastically in imper.“to a child who is crying, and who from anger brings on a fit of coughing” (Sc. 1808 Jam.).Edb. 1721 A. Pennecuik Helicon 24:
Then drousy Drunkard coughing on his Cod, Hoasts up the Phlegm of his last Ev'ning's Load.
Ayr. ?1786 Burns To Willie Chalmers' Sweetheart v.:
May claw his lug, and straik his beard, And hoast up some palaver.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 126:
Let drivilin' drouths hoast out its praise.
Rxb. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. II. 203:
He [Jack Frost] bocket his snaws, and he hosted his hail.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 81:
But jist to hear her fulish talk, I couldna weel contain, Sae hoastit oot my chockin' mirth.

Phr.: to hoast oot the craig, to clear the throat.Sh. 1898 Shetland News (10 Dec.):
He kind o' hostid oot his craig.

[O.Sc. host, coughing, a cough, from c.1470, v. from c.1500; O.N. hósta, to cough, hósti, a cough.]

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"Hoast n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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