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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.

MOU, n., v. Also moue; moo; mow(e). [Sc. mu:, s.Sc. mʌu]

I. n. 1. A large pile or heap of grain, hay, straw or similar dry materials, esp. a pile of unthreshed grain stored in a barn (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 115; Uls. 1929). Gen. (exc. I.)Sc. Also in Eng. dial. Freq. in combs. barley-, corn-, hay-mow; mow-burn, v., of unthreshed grain; to generate heat through being stored in a damp condition, vbl.n. mow-burning; n., the heat so generated (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) M. 69).Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 81:
But Laurie he took out his Nap Upon a Mow of Pease.
Abd. 1768 Aberdeen Jnl. (10 Oct.):
Gaitskell made his escape, and got upon a hay mow in the neighbourhood.
Ayr. 1788 Burns Ploughman iv.:
Commend me to the barn-yard, And the corn-mou, man.
m.Lth. 1793 G. Robertson Agric. m.Lth. 63:
In building the stacks, some draw a large bag, stuffed with straw, up the centre, which leaves a kind of funnel for the vapour to escape, and thus prevents heating, or mow-burning.
Sc. 1809 Farmer's Mag. (Aug.) 287:
This grain [barley] is more difficult to manage than either wheat or oats, being softer in the straw, easier mou burnt, and altogether unfit for stacking, unless in a very dry state.
Slk. 1810 Hogg Forest Minstrel (1874) 276:
An' blyther been wi' bonnie Bess Ayont the mow amang the hay.
Knr. 1813 J. Bruce The Farmer 5:
Up wi' the dawn I've held the pleugh, Or sawn the field, or thrash'd the mow.
Slg. 1847–9 Trans. Highl. Soc. 220:
The small farmer, in particular, generally throws the straw into large mows, or heaps, on low damp floors, where it becomes musty.
Kcb. 1898 Crockett Standard Bearer xxxix.:
From the haymow in the barn, where he had been making a pretence of work.

2. The recess or division in a barn where unthreshed grain is heaped (Per. 1963). Also barn-moo, id. Also in Eng. dial.Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 91:
They were engaged in carrying his corn from the stack in the barn-yard to the mow in the barn.
Sc. 1912 Scotsman (19 Jan.):
The recess in the barn — the barn moo-where the sheaves of the grain stacks, transferred from the stackyard, are built up preparatory to being thrashed with the flail.

3. A large vertical section of a hay or corn stack of the house-shaped type (Bnff., Ags., Kcb. 1963); a Gang or layer of sheaves (Per. 1963).

4. A pile or stack of peats, esp. under cover (Dmf. 1825 Jam.); the site of a peat-stack (w.Sc. 1880 Jam.). Also in comb. peat-mow (Id.).Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 15:
Down came the bed with a great mou of peats.
Dmf. 1781 Dmf. Weekly Jnl. (9 Jan.):
The Magistrates and Council prohibit and discharge all persons . . . from keeping mows of peats, or other kind of firing, near any fire place.
s.Sc. 1857 Wilson's Tales of the Borders X. 67:
Wham ye kissed sae snug last nicht ayont the peat-mou.

II. v. To pile up unthreshed grain or hay in a barn.Sc. 1827 G. R. Kinloch Ancient Sc. Ballads 148:
And ye maun moue it in yon mouse-hole.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 65:
Its no weel mow'd! Its no weel mow'd! — Then its ne'er be mow'd by me again.
s.Sc. 1950 W. M. Petrie Folk Tales 17:
By the word “mowed” the people of that district meant the way the sheaves were built up in the barn.

[O.Sc. mow, a stack or pile of grain, 1375, Mid.Eng. mowe, O.E. mūȝa, O.N. múgr, a swath.]

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"Mou n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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