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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MAW, n.2 Also mawe, maa, mar (Kcb. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 209); myave (Abd.). [mɑ:, Abd. + mjɑ:v]

1. A mew, seagull (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Rxb. 1942 Zai), esp. the common gull, Larus canus. Gen.Sc.; also, less commonly, the black-headed gull, Larus ridibundus (Sc. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 209; Sh., Cai., Lth., Slk. 1962) and the herring gull, Larus argentatus (Cai. 1887 Harvie-Brown & Buckley Fauna Cai. 232, Cai. 1903 E.D.D.; Sh., Cai., Fif., Lth. 1962).Sh. 1701 J. Brand Descr. Zetland (1883) 240:
The taking of Fowls of divers kind, as Maws, Herons, &c.
Sc. 1827 W. Motherwell Minstrelsy 353:
The thing of my love's face that's white, Is that of dove or maw.
Rnf. 1853 J. Fraser Poet. Chimes 21:
Yon lonely maw, that, ever and anon, Dives into the parting bosom of the bonnie Forth.
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (16 Aapril):
Da bairn toucght da maa's penn wis faaen frae a angel's wing.
Sh. 1931 Sh. Almanac Companion 189:
Shu gae a aafil screecgh, an' loupit i' da air laek a maa.
Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 263:
I have made no attempt to let the sounds of the East Neuk's rich old dialects into these pages. They would not be understood, even by the young Fifers of today, who call a gull a gull, and not a 'clow' or a 'coorie' or a 'cuttie' or a 'maw'.
Gsw. 1991 James Alex McCash in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 15:
Ae reistless maw, ae neck-chain's clink,
ae beist's hiccough,
Rising hindquarters-first to bate
the neck-chain's thraw,
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 148:
That's a bonny question to put to a chiel. Come back in thirty years and ask me again. Likely I'll still be here, taking home peats, sharing this ground wi maas and puddocks.
Fif. 1992 Fife Advertiser 8 May :
Common and herring gulls were called cutsies in Cellardyke, cutties in Pittenweem, and maws in St Monans.
Fif. 1998 Tom Hubbard Isolde's Luve-Daith 3:
Oor luve wis a wildrife walterin o the tide
Forrit an back, fae its deeps richt up ti the lift,
That the maws made oor maisic, mair unco nor even their ain.

2. Combs.: (1) blue maa, (i) the common gull, Larus canus (Sh. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 207, Sh. 1962). Cf. (6); (ii) the herring gull, Larus argentatus (Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 394, Cai. 1962); (2) herring maa, the lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus (Sh. 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 312; Sh., Cai. 1962); (3) huidie maa, see Huidie; (4) loch maa, the common gull, Larus canus (Sh. 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 306; Cai., Wgt. 1962); (5) maa-craig, a rock frequented by gulls. See Craig, n.1; (6) peerie maa, the common gull, Larus canus (Sh. 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 306, Sh. 1962); (7) pickmaa, peck-, pikki-, the black-headed gull, Larus ridibundus (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), pikki-; Dmf. 1953, pick-; Sh. 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 303; Sh., Cai., Ayr., s.Sc. 1962). See Pick; (8) sea maw, = 1. (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. Freq. in the proverb keep your ain fish guts for yer ain sea maws, charity begins at home (Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 47; Cai. 1916 J. Mowat Proverbs 8; ne.Sc. 1962); (9) tang(ie) maw, tanyie- (Edm.), tainne-, tannje- (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)), a small species of gull, esp. the common gull, Larus canus (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1951 Sh. Folk Bk. II. 33; Sh., Cai. 1962). Jak. gives also as = the lesser black-backed gull and the kittiwake, but this is doubtful. See Tang; (10) white maw, the herring gull, Larus argentatus (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 309; I.Sc., Cai. 1962).(1) (i) Sh. 1896 Trans. Edb. Naturalists' Club 158:
The Shetlanders will tell you of a “white maa” (herring gull), a “blue maa” (common gull), a “saithe gull” (lesser black-back), or a “baagie” (greater black-back).
(5) Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 133:
The gull that kept us company has gone to roost in the distant maa-craig.
(8) w.Sc. 1703 M. Martin Descr. W. Islands 73:
About the bigness of a Sea-maw of the middle size.
Sc. 1773 Boswell Hebrides (13 Oct.):
The seamaws or gulls are very numerous.
Dmf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 I. 32:
The sea gulls, commonly called in this parish, sea maws, occasionally come from the Solway Frith.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxx.:
Thae women at Aberfoil are like the scarts and sea-maws at the Cumries, there's aye foul weather follows their skirling.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Ayrshire Legatees x.:
He said it behoved us to gi'e our ain fish guts to our ain sea-maws, and that he designed to fee Thomas Birlpenny's hostler for our coachman, being a lad of the parish.
Fif. 1894 D. S. Meldrum Margrédel v.:
Much was said by the matrons about what was due to one's own sea-maws.
Dmf. 1920 D. J. Bell-Irving Tally-Ho 34:
The Hoddam holms were white wi' “sea mars”.
Abd. 1925 A. Murison Rosehearty Rhymes 118:
Fae mony a deuk an' wild seamaw My daiddy shot langsyne.
(10) Ork. 1929 E. Linklater White Maa's Saga 75:
A white-maa is a herring-gull, the fierce, yellow-beaked thief that steals eggs and chickens wherever it may.
Sh. 1932 J. Saxby Trad. Lore 182:
White-maas (herring-gulls) watch over fishermen and foretell to them.

[O.Sc. maw, id., from c.1450; O.N. máv-, oblique stem of már, mew.]

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"Maw n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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