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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LOWN, adj., adv., n., v. Also lowne; lowan, -en, -in; loun(e); lound, lownd. [lʌun]

I. adj. 1. (1) Of weather: windless, calm, still (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 323; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., 1942 Zai; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Fif., Lth., w. and sm.Sc., Slk. 1961), mild, balmy. Comb. lown-warm, calm and mild.Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals xxxvi.:
The night was lown and peaceful.
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 118:
Skraighin till ye may hear him, on a lown day, at every farm-house in the parish.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 5:
Like lown simmer gloamin' she faded awa.
Abd. 1893 G. Macdonald Songs 64:
It's a lown and a starry nicht, Janet.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxv.:
The wind came in curious extremes — now in lown-warm puffs and gusts, and then again in sharp cold bensles.
e.Lth. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 3:
Nae wund! I only seek a lown hairst, a fair field an' nae favour.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood x.:
Newbiggin will be a caller bit in this lown weather.
Lnk. 1951 G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot 178:
Far ower lown for this time o' the 'ear.

(2) Of the wind: hushed, lowered, calm (Lth., sm.Sc. 1961). Hence n., lownness.Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 129:
Lownd is the wind, the sky is flowin' bright.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 34:
The dew fell saft, the wind was lowne.
Ags. 1815 G. Beattie Poems (1882) 167:
The lazy mist crap in the hows; The wind was lown, creation still.
Slk. 1817 Hogg Tales (1874) 150:
The sun was shinin' bright, the wind was lowne.
Lnk. 1865 J. Hamilton Poems 81:
The mune was down, the win's were lown, But a' the lift wi' stars was bricht.
Lnk. 1951 G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot 6:
There's peace in the lownness of the wind.

(3) Of a place: shielded from the wind, lee, sheltered, snug, cosy (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; em.Sc. 1961); also in fig. contexts. Adv. lownly. Phr. to hae a lown side to, to be kindly disposed towards, to have a soft side for (Ags. 1961).Sc. 1708 M. Bruce Lectures 12:
See ye not the well-affected people seeking the lee and lowen-side of the house?
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 3:
And drave them frae the lowner Bield, To crop contented frozen Fare.
Gsw. 1752 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1911) 356:
To raise a wall in the front of eight foot high which will make a good lown harbour.
Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 56:
His todlan wee anes . . . Nurs't lownly up aneath his care.
Bwk. 1801 “Bwk. Sandie” Poems 74:
Nae corbie craws or rav'nous kaes, Or wylie tods about the braes, Right loun'ly lurkin'.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Wool-Gatherer (1874) 69:
Down comes there a great majestic eagle some gate frae about the e'e-bree o' the heavens, an' cleeks ye away up to the lowne bieldy side o' a sunny hill.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1898) xxviii.:
To spend the evening of our days by the lound dykeside of domestic comfort.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin ii.:
It colleckit in immense wrades whaurever it faund a lowan corner to settle doon in.
Dmf. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 37:
The shepherd . . . wears the flock where the lown-hill keps the drift.
Lnk. 1893 T. Stewart Among the Miners 57:
Robin was one of those old men we cannot help having a “lown side tae.” Always cheery.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days xix.:
In that old Scottish garden, sheltered lownly in the neuk of the burgh walls.
Abd. 1920 C. Murray Country Places 38:
O whiles we would tak' the toll-road An' lauch at the Norlan' win', An whiles we would try the lown roads.
s.Sc. 1933 Border Mag. (April) 60:
The glint o' the sun on the lown haughs o' Liddesdale seemed to have put a spell on me.

Phr. to keep a lowan sail, fig. to behave in a quiet sober manner, to pursue a discreet or prudent course, to act with restraint. Appar. only in Latto and prob. a mistaken use arising from the nautical phr. under low sail, with the top-sails reefed.Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxviii., xxxi.:
When my faither an' me were at hame, he had to keep a lowan sail . . . Phelim perceived hoo the land lay, hooever, an' so keepit a lowin sail.

2. Of places, circumstances, etc.: peaceful, tranquil, undisturbed, placid (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Lth., Rxb. 1961). Hence lownness, tranquillity, peace.Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of Lairds xxxi.:
My lot and station, though lanerly, was lown — I had nae law fashin' me.
Sc. 1864 J. C. Shairp Kilmahoe 171:
And then they wan a rest, The lownest and the best, I' Traquair kirkyard when a' was dune.
Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah liv. 11:
Sair tryst wi' wrang, i' the drift ay dang, an' nae lownness ava'!
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 114:
The thocht of this is to me as bawm and spices in the lown gloaming of my life after the facht and heat of the day.
Sc. 1896 Stevenson W. of Hermiston viii.:
Ye're a' safe still, sittin' quait and crackin' wi' Kirstie in your lown chalmer.
Lth. 1928 S. A. Robertson With Double Tongue 33:
He kens the lownest nook in life that lets the world gae by him.
m.Sc. 1979 Ian Bowman in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 40:
He spak straucht oot (an I heard him say't)
"Let him cast the first stane that has nae sin!"
The stishie was lown, for the word that he spak
gar'd them nesh wi their shame, an ane by ane
frae the auldmost doonward they turn't their back
an left me there wi the Maister alane.
ne.Sc. 1980 Lilianne Grant Rich Echo of Many Voices 2:
I lay on your lown haugh Seven decades of my story; ...
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 66:
The shochles wad likely tingle on the rone
but no a tift blaws, sae caller, sae lown,
the warl's noo, wi ice alunt
alow unclooded sun

3. Of sounds: quiet, hushed, not noisy; of persons: subdued, restrained, undemonstrative (Lth., Kcb. 1961). Adv. lownly, softly, in a quiet, subdued manner. Phr. to keep something lown, to keep something dark, to be discreetly silent about something (Dmf. 1825 Jam.).Sc. 1726 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) III. 262:
I hear Mr Simson is much more cautious and loun then he was.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 98:
An' sae, my lad, my councel's ye be low'n, An' tak a drink o' sick as ye hae brown.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxiii.:
They that could stop the wean's skirling would stop hers if she did not keep a' the lounder.
Slk. 1827 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) ix.:
She speaks to naebody but hersell. But — lownly be it spoken — I think whiles there's ane speaks till her again that my een canna see.
Lnk. a.1832 W. Watt Poems (1860) 368:
There was whiles na lown sough in the house.
Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers 5:
I . . . often heard him argue in a lown way some knotty points of Christian doctrine.
e.Lth. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 26:
Syne she spak', Lownly an' eerie like, an' wi' fixt een.
Edb. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xi. 12:
But the man o' guid understaun'in aye keeps a lown tongue within his chafts.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 114:
But whaur's the peace to whilk men plod? I hear a sough no' like the lown, Saft sang o' God.
s.Sc. 1925 H. M'Diarmid Sangschaw 38:
But the auld ferm hoose is lown And wae as a corpse.
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' Ling 34:
Cairts rummle past, . . . Syne, a' deid-lown again.

4. Of persons: lukewarm in sympathies, lacking enthusiasm or fervour. Comb. lown-warm, id. Cf. 1. (1).Sc. 1728 P. Walker Six Saints (1901) I. 103:
When he came to the witty, lown-warm air of Edinburgh, he forgot to fulfil his promise.

5. Lowly, humble, unassuming. Comb. lown-hertit, id.; hence lown-hairtitness.Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie 10:
The last whiles are first; there's an Eye up aboon . . . Light the lown hearts o' Dumpie and Duncan her son.
Sc.(E) 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ ii. x. 69:
What is hantit till be gien tae the lown-hertit sal be taen awa' frae the pridefu'.
Edb. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xxix. 23:
Cannie lown-hairtitness 'll tak the gree amang the lave.

6. Holy, blessed. Nonce.Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah xlvii. 4:
Our Redder's the Lord o' hosts himsel; his name it's fu' lown intil Israel.

II. adv. 1. Quietly, gently, moderately, esp. of wind. Also fig. of persons, in phr. to blaw mair lown, to “pipe down”, adopt a less aggressive attitude.Rnf. 1810 R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 48:
E'en the storm, pleased with the sound, Fa's lown.
Slk. 1813 Hogg Poems (1874) 14:
The nycht-winde lowner blew.
Rxb. 1833 A. Hall Sc. Borderer (1874) 21:
Gif him, and sic as him, had na robbit others o' their braid lands, he wud hae blawn mare lown.
Abd. 1857 G. Macdonald Songs (1893) 17:
Lowne blew the win', the stars cam oot.
Fif. 1882 S. Tytler Sc. Marriages I. viii.:
I wuss it may blaw lown ower Peggy's grave.
Sc. 1927 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 160:
The Lynn, fa'en lowner, hauds its braith.

2. Calmly, peacefully.Rnf. 1836 R. Allan Evening Hours 39:
Lassie, quo' he, their travail's sair, While we sit lown an' calm.
Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah 2:
Quo some, he die'd lown, at a gude auld age.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 15:
Loun lies it on a Sabbath morn.
s.Sc. 1925 H. M'Diarmid Sangschaw 17:
So sall Earth's howlin' mobs Drap, lown, ahint the sang.
m.Sc. 1998 Bruce Leeming in Neil R. MacCallum Lallans 51 22:
I' the mirknin paurk
hielant beasts staun lown:
gaffs frae the chynge.

3. In a sheltered position, snugly, cosily. Phr. to lie lown, to lie low, to skulk, keep out of trouble.Sc. 1715 Ramsay Poems (1848) I. 248:
I still support my precedens Abune them all, for sword and sens, Thocht I haif layn richt now lown.
Edb. 1795 Edb. Mag. (March) 222:
Lown 'mang trees and braes it reekit.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxix.:
When it's to keep the peace o' the country, they can lie as lound as their neighbours.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 144:
As lown I lie, an' muse aneath The auld beech tree.
s.Sc. 1898 E. Hamilton Mawkin iv.:
We three lay loun in our hiding-places very well content.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 57:
O queer stravaigin' tinkler men, Ye ken the things we dinna ken; . . . Hoo to lie lown oot-bye at nicht.

4. Softly, quietly; in a low voice (Kcb. 1961).Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 54:
I rede ye speak lowne lest kimmer should hear ye.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 242:
Lown be it spoken, an' little be it said. Weel micht the corpse be heavy, an' the coffin deep!
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxxi.:
If I speak loun, keep your lang lugs out of ear-shot.
Ayr. 1885 J. Meikle Yachting Yarns 6:
Noo, Davie, jist try an' speak a wee lowner.
Dmb. 1894 D. MacLeod Past Worthies 200:
He wad . . . speak oot loud, then come doon loun and laigh.
em.Sc. 1909 J. Black Melodies 24:
It whispers lown o' mother's love — tender, thochtfu', leal.

III. n. 1. Calm, unclouded weather (Sc. 1825 Jam.).Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 52:
In the gowden lown o' autumn days.
wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 74:
Owre the caller lown o' gloaming.

2. A peaceful, sheltered spot, the sheltered side of a hill, etc., the lee of anything (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Per., m.Lth., Dmb., Lnk. 1961). Also fig.Sc. 1775 Weekly Mag. (26 Jan.) 208:
The sheep come trotting frae the hill, Down a' the lownds, and past the bog.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost i.:
She has been, as she told us herself, “beeking in the lown o' the conquest which the gudeman had, wi sic an ettling o' pains and industry, gathered for his family.”
wm.Sc. 1835 Gsw. Jnl. Gen. Literature (19 Dec.):
Doon i' the glen by the lown o' the trees, Lies a wee theekit bield, like a bike for the bees.
Lnk. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 39:
Whiles in its lown they wad sleep their last sleep.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sketches 60:
Oor bit hoosie that stood i' the lown o' the shaw.
Lth. 1920 A. Dodds Songs 25:
In the lown o' the dyke we'd gether Tae wait till the shoo'er was past.
Per.4 1950:
The sheep keep fae the lowin in the storms.
Dmf. 1979 Ron Butlin in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 35:
(an I wad thon warld oor lowen wis
- the universe an oorsels as yin.)

3. Tranquillity, peace, calm (Sc. 1825 Jam.); silence, quietness.Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize III. viii.:
The lown of that time was as a pet day in winter.
Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms cxv. 17:
The dead can gie nae Hallelujahs; nor nane wha gang down till the lown.
Sc.(E) 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. vii.:
He wha wad fain be owre sicker i' the oor o' lown.

IV. v. 1. intr. Of the wind, stormy weather, etc.: to moderate, become calm, die down (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Kcb. 1961). Also fig. Pa.p. lowent (Dmf. 1920), lown(e)d (Lnk. 1961).Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 65:
Blow the Wind ne'er so fast, it will lown at the last.
Dmf. 1894 R. Reid Poems 59:
The win' was lownin' doon.
Fif. 1900 S. Tytler Logan's Loyalty xi.:
It was gradually “lowning”.
Lnk. 1910 C. Fraser Glengonnar 16:
They keepit them burnin' in hopes o' the wind lownin'.

2. Of a noise, clamour, etc.: to die away, become hushed and quiet.Ayr. 1834 Galt Liter. Life III. 68:
After the sough had lowned.
Dmf. 1920 J. L. Waugh Heroes 69:
When the stoor was settlin', an' the maesic lowned.

3. tr. To give shelter against the wind, provide a screen for; to soothe, calm, lit. and fig.Sc. 1732 Mons Alexander in Struani Reditum 4:
The Ranoch Heroe lown'd my Care, Return'd and gave me kind Relief.
Sc. 1859 Royal Caled. Curling Club Annual 243:
Or gin an ill side-wind should blaw wi' care and danger fraucht, May mony a kindly broom be held to lown him up the straucht.
Dmf. 1875 A. Anderson Two Angels 68:
As rain lowns the wind.

4. tr. To lower (one's voice). Cf. I. 3.Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
“Lown yer crack”, speak lower.

[O.Sc. lown, to shelter, 1375, to become calm, c.1400, lowne, sheltered, c.1450, lone, quietly, gently, 1535; O.N. logn, calm weather, lygn, calm, windless, Norw. dial. logn, calm, still. In the forms lound, lownd the -d may be excrescent or represent the pa.p. of the v.]

Lown adj., adv., n., v.

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