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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HOE, n. Also ho (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Ork. 1929 Marw.), hoa. An I.Sc. name for the piked dog-fish, Squalus acanthias (Ork. 1929 Marw.; I.Sc. 1957). Cf. Blaho, blind-hoe s.v. Blin, adj., 4. (17), Koly-ho. Also fig. as a nickname for a native of Birsay in Orkney (Ork. 1931 J. T. Leask Peculiar People 280).Sh. a.1711 R. Sibbald Ork. & Zet. (1845) 52:
Seaths, Sea-dogs (here called Hoes) and Podlocks (here Piltocks) which three last are very beneficial, by reason of the oyl, which they make of their Livers.
Ork. 1806 P. Neill Tour 2:
We saw many boats engaged in the fishery of dogs or hoes.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 178:
Dere wis kippocks o' haddocks an' weel-speeted hoes.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 74:
Ken you, da haethins ir juist as bad as da hoes fur gluffin da herrin.

Combs.: 1. hobran(d), -brin, -brun, hoeborn, (a) a species of large shark, esp. the blue shark, Carcharinus glaucus (Sh. 1825 Jam., 1914 Angus Gl., ‡Sh. 1957). Also the basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); (b) fig. a big ugly fellow, a miserable animal (Jak.). Comb. hobrand-slunk, hoeborn slunge, a tall, bony fellow (Ib.). See Slung; 2. hodry, a very large kind of dog-fish (Ork. 1929 Marw.; ‡Sh. 1957). [Norw. drøi, big, bulky]; 3. ho(e)-egg, the spawn of the dog-fish (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1957); 4. Hoe-fish, the piked dog-fish Squalus acanthias (Ork. 1808 Jam.); 5. hokel, -killin (Sh.), -kettle (Ork.), a species of large dog-fish (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw.). Hence dim. hoketling, a young dog-fish (Ork. 1929 Marw.); 6. hoe-midder, -moder, -mother, one of the Lamnidae, the basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus (Ork. 1805 G. Barry Hist. Ork. 296, 1866 Edm. Gl., ¶-mother; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), -midder, 1914 Angus Gl., -moder, 1932 J. Saxby Trad. Lore 201, ‡Sh. 1957); 7. homer, id. (Ork. a.1795 G. Low Fauna Orcad. (1813) 174; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh. 1957); 8. ho-mooth'd, adj., having a protruding upper jaw, like that of a dog-fish or shark (Jak., Sh. 1957); 9. hoskerri, hoasker, a species of shark (Jak.); 10. ho(e)-tusk, hotask, -tosk (Jak.), a species of small shark, the smooth hound, Mustelus mustelus (Sh. 1809 A. Edmonston Zetland II. 304, 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1957).1. (a) Sh. 1809 A. Edmonston Zetland II. 303:
Hobrin, Blue Shark — This I conceive to be the shark most commonly met with on the coast of Zetland.
(b) Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 242:
I rowed tree year in a yole fir twenty-five shillins o' a fee whin muckle hoeborn slunges, a lock o' years younger den mysel', wir gettin' der thirty-five in a saxherrin'.
Sh. 1897 J. Jakobsen Dial. 51:
A muckle hōbran, a great ugly hōbran, is in some places in Shetland . . . applied to a big repulsive looking person.
3. Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 179:
Dere wis langies o' turbot 'at hang i' da reest, An' hoe eggs resemblin' a truncher o' beest.
9. Sh. 1733 T. Gifford Hist. Descr. Zetland (1886) 24:
Vast numbers of hoas, a kind of smaller shark; . . . also a big sort of them called hoaskers, with skins like shagreen.

[Norw. haa, O.N. hár, dog-fish, shark. For the combs. cf. Norw. haabrand, haakall, haakjerring, O.N. hákarl, hákerling (the corresp. fem.), Norw. haamerr, haaskjæring, O.N. háskerðingr, Norw. haataska, all names of various species of dog-fish or small shark. The Ork. form hoketling, lit. “hoe-kitten” (see Kitlin), is due partly to the influence of Norw. havkatt, sea-cat, dog-fish, and to the fact that in West Norse and some mod. Norw. dials. -ll- is sounded -dl-, cf. Faer. hákelling [′hɒ:tʃædlɪŋg]; the second element in ho-midder arises from a misinterpretation of -merr, lit. “mare”, in haamerr.]

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"Hoe n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2023 <>



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