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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

JOW, n.1, v.1, adv. Also jowe. [dʒʌu]

I. n. 1. A single stroke or pull of a bell; the sound made by a bell when it is being rung or tolled (ne.Sc., Ags., Slg., m.Lth. 1959).Sc. 1740 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) II. 143:
And every jow that the dead bell gied, It cry'd, Wo to Barbara Allan.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxiv.:
That's another jow of the bell to bid me be ready.
Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie ix.:
On Sunday, when the kirk bell's jow Set ilka haly heart alowe, To the auld kirk ye wont to row.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Stickit Minister 166:
A thirty ton bell in oor braw too'er, and ilka jow o't, soondin' across the water.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 118:
An' a starn shot doun on the kirk bedeen, An' the bell gae a merry jowe.
Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 27:
I've heard the bell sae aften, I ken weel its weary jow.
Sc. 1935 W. D. Cocker Further Poems 48:
The road to the kirk-yaird's lang, an' geyan eerie, But the jow o' the bell 'll wauken him nae mair.

2. Of water or waves: surge, swell, billowing (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 287; Lnk. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1890; Kcd., Ags. 1959). Also fig. Cf. Jaw, n., 1. Lnk. 1820 Scots Mag. (May) 423:
Wi' swash an' swow, the angry jow, Cam lashan' doun the braes.
Lnk. 1951 G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot vi.:
Some folk can jouk the jow o loss. Nae man can jouk the jow o' jidgement.
em.Sc. 1988 James Robertson Chapman 52 70:
An sae they sat, luikin out on the swaws, an ahint them the twa brigs, an the muckle black ile-tankers that soomed back an forrit i the jow o the sea, ...

3. A jog or push (Abd. 1825 Jam.). Also found in Eng. dial.

4. A swing (Fif. c.1875; Fif., m.Lth. 1959).Fif. 1884 S. Tytler St Mungo's City I. vi.:
“But, my lamb, you're getting ower big for a jow,” her mother remonstrated gently.

II. v. 1. tr. and intr. To ring or toll a bell (Kcd., m.Lth. 1959); to swing a bell so that the clapper strikes only one side (see 1808 quot.); to ring, toll, knell (Kcd. 1959); also transf. of a voice; also used fig.Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 97:
Wanwordy, crazy, dinsome thing, As e'er was fram'd to jow or ring.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Holy Fair xxvi.:
Now Clinkumbell, wi' rattlan tow, Begins to jow an' croon.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
In a steeple or belfry, which has become crazy through age, it is said, that they dare not ring the bells, lest they should bring down the steeple; they can only jow them; i.e. they dare not give them the full swing. Sometimes a bell is said to be jowed, when it receives only half the motion, so that the tongue is made to strike only on one side.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 33:
But aye, when this wae tale I tell, My heart jows like a deid-man's bell.
Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Sketches 210:
They heard the wraith-bell jow that nicht.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 59:
Like wee jowin' Johnnie, the beadle.
Bnff. 1939 J. M. Caie Hills and Sea 63:
The jowin' bell is near the ringin'-in.
ne.Sc. 1979 Alastair Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 63:
I am fou on the age-auld voice o yours
that jows fae your mony gabs
like green bells ruggit backwards and syne smoored.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 29:
Midnicht and the clock's knap
jows the slaw 'oor;
ilka note's a stane's drap
intil the smoor.

Comb. and Phr.: (1) jow-bell, a bell that can be tolled, in contrast to one that strikes for the time only; (2) to jow in, to toll quickly to indicate that the ringing is about to end. Comb. jowin-in bell, the curfew.(1) Sc. 1735 Occasional Tinclarian in a Letter to Sir John de Graham 26:
The Jow-Bell of St Giles, and the Sheep-Head-Bell of Duddingstoun, would have rung Ichabod.
(2) Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xiv.:
I think, I'll e'en awa' hame, for yon's the curfew, as they ca' their jowing-in bell.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xi.:
There is the council-bell clinking in earnest: and if I am not there before it jows in, Baillie Laurie will be trying some of his manoeuvres.

2. tr. and intr. To move from side to side or forward with a rocking motion (Sc. 1808 Jam.), to swing, to jostle, to bestir, jog, budge. disturb. Also fig.Sc. 1824 R. Chambers Poet. Remains (1835) 12:
Where he jows the day lang on some wab o' his ain.
Ags. 1868 D. M. Ogilvy Willie Wabster 19:
The shalt . . . Syne nichering jowed the airt o' hame.
Fif. 1886 S. Tytler St Mungo's City I. vi.:
Willie Finlay's an impident little sorry to let you jow him.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 249:
Few neebors wad say, “Geordie Tamson, ye're there”; But jow'd me about, or held them awa'.
Mry. 1929 J. Ross Earnside 9:
Fint a bit o't ever jowed her, Aye she was “as richt's the mail.”

Comb. and Phr.: (1) jow-boat, a swing boat at a fair (Fif.17 1950); (2) to jow one's ginger, — one's jundie (Ags. 1959), to bestir oneself, to put oneself about. Cf. Ginger, Jundie and Jee.(2) Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden (1922) xi.:
Pretendin' that she'd never jowed her ginger.
Bnff. 1918 J. Mitchell Bydand 18:
Bit never jowt my ginger for't nor dackelt ower my wark.

3. “To spill from a vessel by making its liquid contents move from side to side” (Upp.Lnk. 1825 Jam.; m.Lth., Lnk. 1959). Cf. Jaup, v.1, n.

4. Of a boat: to rock, toss (Ags. 1959); of the sea or a river: to surge, roll. Also used fig.Kcb. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 60:
Red jowes the Nith atween banking an brae.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxvi.:
When his coble is jowing awa' in the Firth.
Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Inglismill 29:
Whan Fortune, wi' her eident wheel aye rowin', Gars a'thing canny tae oor han' come jowin'.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 95:
Each hes his day, the waters jap and jow, An' sae the tide o' fortune brings me here.
Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie Poems 59:
The stieve ship lay jowin' in the tide.

III. adv. Of a bell: with the sound of ringing, ding-dong.Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1898) xii.:
Jow went the bell.

[O.Sc. jow, a stroke or toll of a bell, 1515, to toll, ring, 1530, Mid.Eng. joll, cholle, to strike, bump one's head, etc., appar. from jolle, cholle, a head. See Jowl.]

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"Jow n.1, v.1, adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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