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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LUIF, n. Also luiff, luf(e), luff; leuf (Sh. 1896 J. Hunter Da Last Foy 7), lüf, löff (Sh.); loof(e), ¶lauf (Ags. 1929 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 398); luve (Sc. 1827 G. R. Kinloch Ballads 148), leuve (ne.Sc. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 298), luive (Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 124), liv(v) (Ork. 1883 Sc. Antiquary VII. 177, 1903 G. Marwick Old Roman Plough (1936) 9), loove; leaf (Uls. 1953 Traynor); leef (Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 39), lief (Ib. 121), leif (Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 61) and reduced form lee (Abd. 1839 A. Walker Deil o' Baldarroch 13, 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood xiv., Abd. 1940). Pl. luives, looves, luves; luifs, löffs. [I., m. and s.Sc. løf, lyf, lɪf, lɪv; em.Sc.(a) lef; n.Sc. lɪv, ‡li(f); Wgt., Uls. lif]

1. The palm, the hand outspread and upturned (Sc. 1755 Johnson Dict., luff, 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc.Lnk. 1714 H. Davidson Lanark (1910) 163:
To be burnt on the cheek with a hot iron with the town's mark, being the letter L for Lanark, on the right hand on the luiff thereof.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 7:
How sair wad it harden the braw lad an' bonny lass's saft loofs, were they obliged to labour for their ain meat an' claiths?
Ayr. 1787 Burns Ded. to G. Hamilton 62:
Learn three-mile pray'rs, an' half-mile graces, Wi' weel-spread looves, an' lang, wry faces.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxx.:
Then comes the Devil, and brushes my lips with his black wing, and lays his broad black loof on my mouth.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Wool-Gatherer (1874) 77:
Whoever finds her . . . shall have a reward o' twenty guineas in his loof.
wm.Sc. 1832 Whistle-Binkie 38:
Yet, heart to heart, and loof to loof, A bargain we shall mak it.
Ags. 1848 Feast Lit. Crumbs (1891) 45:
To screen my looves frae monie a thwack.
Gall. 1879 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 47:
There was an old woman in Mochrum, who was reputed to be a witch, and boys, now men, in passing her kept the thumb of one hand close clenched in the loof with the fingers hiding it, to protect them from the influence of her evil e'e.
Sc. 1887 Jam.:
“He gied me his lufe on't,” he gave me his hand by way of pledge; implying that they had struck hands over the business.
Cai. 1891 D. Stephen Gleanings 60:
Ye could haud its four feet on yer leef.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona iii.:
Gie's your loof, hinny, and let me spae your weird to ye.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 193:
His chin upon his waukit luives, his elbucks on the Book.
Dmf. 1920 J. L. Waugh Heroes 83:
Mackay . . . was nicknamed Luiffy because he had no hair either on his face or on his head. “Bare, like your luif” (that is, the palm of the hand), is a common South-Country simile.
Sh. 1948 New Shetlander (March–April) 13:
Oh sea, du hadds wis i' de lüif Lek grain o' mustard seed.
Bnff. 1954 Banffshire Jnl. (29 June):
Come awa' in, lasses — for I kent ye wis comin' — the liv' o' my han's been yokie a' day.

Hence (1) lüiff-foo, loof(f )u, liv-fu, a handful (Cai. 1902 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc; (2) luif(f )y, adj., made by the open hand; n., as a nickname, see 1920 quot. above.(1) Ayr. 1895 H. Ochiltree Redburn xi.:
Ye'll neither be up nor doon o' a' ye've got aince ye get a loofu' water ower ye.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (25 June):
He clappid a lüiff-foo o' show'd lempits apo' da nugg o da taft.
e.Lth. 1905 J. Lumsden Croonings 145:
Loofu's o' siller, and gowpens o' gowd.
Abd.15 1950:
Haud up yer hannie an' I'se gie ye a livfu' o' piz.
(2) s.Sc. 1937 Border Mag. (March) 48:
Lauchin' Roddy, yin-up Roddy, Cambs smeek wi' luify waufs.

2. The paw, foot or hoof of an animal (Wgt. 1961).Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 230:
A wae be to you for a 'orse . . . setting your muckle iron lufe on my bairn's wee fittie.
Ayr. 1792 Burns Willie Wastle iv.:
Auld baudrans by the ingle sits, An' wi' her loof her face a-washin'.

3. An attached flap of paper or label for wrapping and addressing a newspaper to be sent through the post.Sc. 1711 Edb. Evening Post (23–25 Jan.):
Those who hath occasion to send the Evening-Post, &c. to the Country, may have it Printed with a clean Loof to write upon, on fine Paper, for very little more than ordinary.

4. Phrs. and Combs.: ‡(1) aff (ane's or the) luif, off hand, without premeditation or preparation, extempore (Sc. 1808 Jam.; em.Sc. 1961); forthwith, out of hand; †(2) loof-bane, the centre of the palm (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 320); (3) loof-bare, empty-handed; †(4) loof-bread, the extent of the palm, a hand's-breadth; ¶(5) loof-lair, knowledge inculcated by cuffs and strokes; ¶(6) loof-licker, a licker of hands, an obsequious servant, in quot. of a dog; (7) the outside o' the luif, an expression of defiance or derision (Wgt. 1961). Cf. the back o my hand s.v. Back, v. (11); †(8) to clap loofs together, to shake hands in friendship; ‡(9) to crack lufes, id. (Cai. 1961); (10) to creesh (grease) the luif, to give one a gratuity, bribe or tip, to recompense, requite (Ags., m.Lth., Wgt. 1961). See also Creesh, v.1, 1.; (11) to get one's lug in one's lufe, to be severely scolded or censured. See Lug, n., 8. (10); (12) to houl' one's loof, to offer one's hand to be clasped by another's in token of a bargain or agreement. Gen. in imper. = shake hands!; (13) to kiss one's loof, in phr. as easy as kiss my (your, etc.) luif, of something trivial and effortless: as easy as winking; ‡(14) to scud luifs, = (9) (Uls. 1961); (15) to tak one's luif aff anither's lug, to slap one's face, box one's ears (Per.4 1961).(1) Sc. 1719 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 20:
How snackly cou'd he gi'e a Fool Reproof, E'en wi' a canty Tale he'd tell aff loof?
Ayr. 1786 Burns 2nd Ep. to J. Lapraik vii.:
But I shall scribble down some blether Just clean aff-loof.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 349:
He skelps the truth directly aff his loof.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. v.:
I wonder to hear ye make sae mickle about a rumlegarie, light-headed helleck of a lad like that . . . raving till he's hoarse, clean off-loof nonsense of his ain.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 142:
An' hers [heart], jermumlt by his off-loof patter, Gaes topsy-turvy, ne'er a whit its better.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin iii.:
My faither yokit to the carritches, an' scrieved them aff loof withoot ance makin' a stammer.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 53:
I canna' tell aff-loof what's gane wrang wi' folk ava.
(3) Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 207:
For lovers, the Laird voo'd, wha courted loof-bare, A chance o' discomfiture ran, aye.
(4) Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 5:
[She] had read the Unconverted's Call, An' learnt hail loof-breads o' St Paul.
(5) Sc. 1888 J. Strathesk Hawkie 122:
Sic a proficient did he himself grow in loof lair, that, like a' well trained bairns he tried his hands on the haffits of his auld mither in turn.
(6) wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 78:
If the past services of your late humble and affectionate loof-licker ever had any merit in your eyes.
(7) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
A black cast to a' their ill-faur'd faces, and the outside o' the loof to them at the last day!
Sc. 1888 C. Mackay Dict. Lowl. Sc. 145:
“If ye'll no join the Free Kirk”, said a wealthy widow to her cousin (to whom she had often conveyed the hint that he might expect a handsome legacy at her death), “ye'll hae the outside o' my loof, and never see the inside o't again”.
(8) Sc. 1816 Scott F. Nigel ix.:
It was a blithe sport to see how some of the carles grinned as they clapped loofs together.
(9) Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1884) II. 63:
He's got that penny for deil haet, ye might cracket lufe's on't, and been as well.
Ags. 1820 A. Balfour Contemplation 278:
They crackit looves, an' measured mou's.
(10) Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 24:
Wi' well crish'd Loofs I hae been canty.
Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 90:
He'll tak the hint, and criesh her loof Wi' what will buy her fairin.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 54:
I creeshed weel kimmer's loof wi' howdying fee.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost iv.:
The predecessors of Mr M'Lucre got their loofs creeshed with something that might be called a grassum, or rather, a gratis gift.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 74:
Ye may trow That they creesh the black loof o' Nell Graham o' the Howe.
Wgt. 1885 G. Fraser Poems 42:
The king was weel pleased An' the Pipers' loofs greased.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xvi.:
I'll tell ye what Tod-Lowrie's daein wi' this Bill o' his — he's juist creishin your loof.
(12) Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
Houl' yer loof, i.e. hold out your hand: an expression used in bargaining at markets.
(13) Fif. 1894 J. Menzies Our Town 58:
There's no a lassie in Oor Toon . . . that cudna outwit ye seven days in the week as easy as kiss her loof.
Kcd. 1929 Mearns Standard (4 Jan.):
As easy dune as kiss my loof.
(14) Uls. 1844 R. Huddleston Poems 67:
The bleatin' lambs are gaun in flocks — They're scuddin' loofs an' buyin'.

[O.Sc. lufe, palm, from c.1470, Mid.Eng. lofe, O.N. lófi, the hollow of the hand.]

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"Luif n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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