Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.
MOUTH, n., v. Also mooth, mowth; mou, moo, mu, mow (Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 187; Kcd. 1819 J. Burness Plays 149; Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); and dims. mouthie, -y (Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 188); mooie (Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 83; Abd. 1875 G. Macdonald Malcolm xxiii.). [Sc. muθ; ne.Sc., em.Sc.(a) + mu:; s.Sc. + mʌu]
Sc. forms of Eng. mouth:m.Sc. 1979 Ian Bowman in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 40:
O mony hae pri'ed a kiss o ma mou
an ane that pri'ed me has cost me sair,
for he was the ane I was fain to lo'e;
but I sall see him nevermair.m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 14:
Efter, bledder taen oot an
Raised tae mooth,
It swelt gin till
They tethered it wae its thairm
An let it dry fur days.
Syne kicked across the yerd
Tae the boy, seik, scunnert, ... em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 26:
Carlin turned the backs of his legs to the fire again. 'Your language,' he said. 'Away and wash yer mooth oot wi soap.'Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 17:
Here Miss Auchinachie lies laich
Aside the chukkied pathie,
Her sangs still hotter in ma moo:
I. n. 1. Combs. and deriv.: (1) mou(th) bag, a horse's nose-bag. Gen.Sc.; also jocularly of human beings. Cf. (13); (2) mou-ban(n)(d), mow-, (i) a halter for a horse (Ayr. 1891 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 693). Cf. (7); (ii) an utterance, syllable, word, a mention, sc. something that constricts the mouth to enunciate; (iii) v. to utter, express, pronounce, mention (Mry.1 1925; Abd.4 1933; Bnff., Ayr. 1963); (3) mou-bit, -bite, mouthfuls of food, hence food in gen., diet, sustenance; “broken leavings of bread, etc.” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., -bite); (4) mow-bund, tongue-tied, unable to master the pronunciation of a word or phrase (Sh., Lth., Kcb., Rxb. 1963). See Bind, v.; (5) mouth-cloth, a face cloth, or face towel; (6) mouth cord, the length of rope which links the inner bit rings of a pair of horses to keep them together (Arg.1 1937; wm.Sc. 1963); †(7) mow-cue, a rope twisted round a horse's lower jaw to act as a curb, a twitch (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Cue is prob. the letter Q from the similarity in form to the loop so made; (8) mou'-faud, to utter, mention, as if from faud, Fauld, v.1, but the form is prob. a mistake for mou-band s.v. (2).
(9) mouthfou, mou-, moo-, -fu, -foo, -fa; moothu (Cai. 1903 E.D.D.), a mouthful, lit. and fig. Gen.Sc. Phr. to tak a moufu o, to enunciate (one's words) in a slow, deliberate or emphatic manner (I., n. and m.Sc. 1963); (10) mow-frauchty, agreeable to the taste, delicious, tasty (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.). See Fraucht, I. 5.; (11) mou-hause, the opening of a trap-door or an enclosed stairway leading to it. See Hause, n.; (12) mouth music, = port-a-beul s.v. Port n. 2 Combs. 1.; (13) mou(th)-poke, a horse's nosebag (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.(exc. I. and ne.)Sc.; fig. = one's store of food. Cf. (1); (14) mow sweet, palatable, tasty; (15) moothu, see (9); (16) weather mouth, a mouth-like cloud formation (see quot.) (Ork. 1963).(1) Fif. 1868 St. Andrews Gazette (18 Jan.):
David Elder, carter, Kirkcaldy, [charged] with having resetted the same, and also with having stolen a horse mouth-bag.Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood iv.:
It's a mou'bag that you wad need. A body canna hear themsel's speak in their ain hoose.Bnff. 1954 Banffshire Jnl. (7 Sept.):
We packit fat a pawky freen o' mine ca's a “mou'-bag” for our cuppie o' tay later on.(2) (ii) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 228:
Nae ae moo-bann aboot fat a've tellt ye.Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 171:
An' they cud but get mou'ban wi' 'er, an' hear Jean pit oot 'er breath upon 'im.(iii) Sc. 1706 Sc. Antiquary XII. 99:
My awn hamelie fasson of Moubanden what I wad say.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 43:
Keep her in tune the best gate that ye can, But never mou-band till her onie man.Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 295:
And mony an ill far'd tale, too, That I to mowband wad blush.Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck vii.:
I hae the maist o't [a prayer] i' my head, but then I canna mouband it.Ags. 1886 Brechin Advertiser (31 Aug.) 3:
Dyspepsia, broonkitis, an' ither new fanglet diseases I can neither spell nor mouband.Fif. 1896 G. Setoun R. Urquhart iii.:
I wonder how their fathers an' mothers mou'banded them when they were bairns.Abd. 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert vi.:
She hardly made a myowte fin the thing wis first mou'-ban't.Sc. 1934 Sc. N. & Q. (July) 109:
In the sheep stealer's hoose, Dinna mou-ban th' widdie.(3) Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 213:
Sair dung wi' dule, and fley'd for coming debt, They gar their mou' bits wi' their incomes mett.(4) Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 215:
The grieve said he was mow-bund ti his maister's new name Sir William.(5) Sc. 1734 J. Spotiswood Hope's Practicks 540:
The best Water-cloth or Mouth-cloth.(8)Per. 1881 R. Ford Readings 43:
I began to feel sorry I had mou' fauded the word.(9) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxvii.:
“But, oh! bide to eat a mouthfu',” entreated the affectionate housekeeper.Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lxx.:
We'll gang doon to Luckie Cumstie's, and hae a moufu' o' denner.ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 58:
Ilka nicht I'se gether them, And gie them . . . A mou'fu' o' a prayer.Ags. 1896 Arbroath Guide (25 Jan.) 3:
Margret ran to oor neibor's hoose for a mou'fu' o' something to bring me to my senses again.Abd. 1913 D. Scott Hum. Sc. Stories 92:
Eccentricities . . . sic a moofa o' a wird.Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall in Neil R. MacCallum Lallans 51 15:
"Ye mean yon roun yalla thing up there?" speired Kirsty atween moufus o dockens.(10) Abd. 1882 W. Forsyth Writings 25:
An' aye haud square wi' lip an' leggin', Wauchts o' gweed mou frauchty drink.(11) Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 41:
My mither . . . Bang'd her bobbin down on the wheel stock; Up the mou-hause she flew in anger.(12)Abd. 1980 David Toulmin Travels Without a Donkey 10:
They had waited and wearied so long in the cold they could no longer bear the inactivity, so they broke into stamping around in circles which, by the time the minister arrived had evolved into a mad hooching reel, accompanied by the Highland mouth music of the old Gaels and a grog of whisky.wm.Sc. 1989 Anna Blair The Goose Girl of Eriska 13:
Their singing was not the mouth-music croon-songs that she sang herself. It had words, real words.Rs. 1996 Alec John Williamson in Timothy Neat The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-Fishers in the Highlands of Scotland 171:
It's real dance music - it's what the Travellers call the Devil's music! It went on and on - mouth music - with no words but every now and then in among the sounds you'd hear a word or phrase ... (13) Edb. c.1864 Recent Sc. Poets (Murdoch 1883) 271:
It carries the turnips when feedin' the kye, An' answers his mare as a mooth-pock forbye.Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 259:
An' we fairly seemed to revel When the moothpock's rinnin' owre.Lnk. 1928 H. Lauder Roamin' in the Gloamin' 147:
A frowsy “moo-poke”.Abd. 1958 Huntly Express (31 Oct.) 7:
An empty “moo'-pyock” which every now and again the weary nag would hoist into the air.(14) Abd. 1817 J. Christie Instructions 32:
Some whisky got when we did meet, Twas guide for health and ay mow-sweet.(16) Cai. 1891 Trans. Bch. Field Club II. 56:
Long tails of cloud, wider overhead, and apparently nearing towards the horizon on each side — the effect of distance — perspective — appear, and what Border shepherds call a “Noah's Ark”, and Caithness fishermen a “weather mouth”, is formed.
2. Phrs.: (1) doon o' mouth, in low spirits, “down in the mouth” (Ork., em. Sc.(a), Ayr., Gall., Uls. 1963). Cf. Doon, adv.1, III. 25; (2) in the mou o, on the lips of, the talk of; (3) in the mou' o' the pock, at the outset, barely started (ne., em.Sc.(a), Ayr. 1963). See Poke; (4) like mou by the post, silent, without speaking to one's companions (Bnff.2 1920); (5) puir mouth, a whining, begging aspect, in phrs. to mak a —, to pull the — on (Edb.), to put on a —, to whine and complain of one's poverty, to go to people with an exaggerated tale of poverty or need. Gen.Sc. Hence puir mu' maker, one who does so; (6) the full o' one's mou, a satisfying meal, food, sustenance; (7) to ask or speir if one has a mou(th), to invite one to eat or drink. Gen.Sc.; (8) to fin one's mouth, to convey one's food to one's mouth (I. and ne.Sc., Ayr., Kcb. 1963); (9) to get roun the mou wi' an English dishclout, to become affectedly anglicised in speech (ne. and em.Sc.(a) 1963); (10) to haud in the mouth o', to feed, to fatten (Sh. 1963); (11) to lat doun a mou, to pout, to hang the lip; (12) to lay doon a mouth upon, of an animal: to graze, to crop (Sh. 1963); (13) to mak (a) mou(s), to make a mouth-movement or grimace, of disapproval, reluctance, affectation, etc., or in dumb show. Gen.Sc.; (14) to put a mouth on, to taste, begin to eat or drink; (15) to pit out o mouth, to dismiss as a topic of conversation (Sh. 1963); (16) wi moo(th) and een (baith), in a gaping staring manner, of a short-sighted person or of someone fascinated by some sight. (Abd. 1963).(1) Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 11:
Aften fash't an' trauchl't, Aiblins doon o' mooth.(2) Cai. 1909 D. Houston 'E Silkie Man (1935) 14:
If we dinna finish 'ir [harvesting] 'iss week, we'll be e' mooth e' pairish.(3) Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters III. 209:
I'm sure I wish Annie . . . very weel, but it's only in the mou' o' the pock wi' her yet, an' it's time enough to roose the fair day when e'en comes.Fif. 1962:
At the mooth o the poke — at the beginning of a new enterprise, life, etc. as of newly-weds, etc.(5) Ayr. 1822 Galt in Blackwood's Mag. (Sept.) 307:
I'm sure ye may weel spare twa three pounds . . . It's no right o' you to be aye making a puir mouth.s.Sc. 1839 Wilson's Tales of the Borders V. 19:
I dinna want to be plagued wi' folk makin puir mouths.Ags. 1848 Feast Liter. Crumbs (1891) 34:
Your beggar man's nae puir mu' maker, Nae whingin', cringin', wheeplin' whaper.Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 141:
William Craig . . . from being in a very wee way and making aye a poor mooth, got suddenly very gash and bien.Lnk. 1923 G. Rae Lowland Hills 48:
It isna them wha mak the puirest mooth, That are the honest puir.Mry. 1931 J. Geddie Characters 63:
He made a very poor mouth to everybody, saying he hadn't enough to eat.Edb. 1949 F. Urquhart The Ferret i. vii.:
“Charity!” Bert shouted. “Aye puttin' on a poor mouth”(6) Abd. 1887 J. Cowe Jeems Sim 36:
We'll be nane the waur o' the full o wur moo's.Wgt. 1963:
His friend to Branney, “What'll ye have?” “Och, I'll just have the full o' me mouth of whisky.”(7) Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
He niver as much as axed me if A had a mouth on me.Abd. 1909 R. J. MacLennan Yon Toon 22:
Here's me yatterin' away aboot my piano an' never asking ye if ye've a mooth.Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick v.:
There 'e sat an' suppit an' suppit an' better na suppit, an' niver as muckle's said tae the littlins “hae ye a mou?”(8) Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 13:
Noo boys, fa tae and lasses, see if ye can fin' yer mooths, if no the boys 'll maybe help ye.(10) Sh. 1900 Shetland News (24 Nov.):
A'm haudin' i' da cock's mooth ta see an' fatt'n him fil afor Yöl ta send doon ta da boy.(11) Abd. 1949 W. R. Melvin Poems 61:
She'll lat doon a mou' the nicht Fin I stot hame half-cockie.(12) Sh. 1900 Shetland News (17 Feb.):
Der been nae gale wi' dis doonlae, an' dat wye der no a bare knowe 'at a annamil can lay doon a mooth apon.(13) Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 235:
Allan forsooth had better skill Than mak his mow, or tak it ill.Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 29:
She caresna a doit for me, that's plain that's flat; She madena mony mu's to tell me that.Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 96:
Still the glass she eyes, An' makin mou's the while.Sc. 1924 Sc. Recitations (Harley) 127:
Weel ken ye freen's I like a dram o' Hielan' mountain dew, I mak' nae mou's, I winna sham, it aften mak's me fu'.Ags. 1927:
“I'll mak' nae mows aboot it”, I'll do it at once.Abd.30 1962:
There's nae eese roarin at her. She's steen deaf. Jist mak mous an' she'll read yer lips.(14) Gsw. 1934 D. Allan Hunger March iii. ii:
She set it [teapot] down again. “I couldn't put a mouth on it.”(16) Ayr. 1896 H. Johnston Dr Congalton i.:
Being short-sighted, he was said to observe things with “mouth and een.”Abd. 1963:
There was Jeems stannin fair astonisht an glowerin wi his mou an his een baith.
3. A mouthful, a morsel. Phr. a mooth o' maet, a small meal (Sh. 1963).Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 128:
It's gude mows that fill the wame.Sh. 1899 Shetland News (30 Sept.):
Shu's able ta clair wis a mooth o' maet, an' dat's a mercy in a hairst day.Sh. 1948 New Shetlander (Oct.–Nov.) 21:
An I wat sometimes dat daddit sindrie wi toil an shiggerie, at shu hardly hes time ta mak hersel a mooth o' maet.
4. (1) A threshold or entrance to an enclosed place or tract of country. Combs. entry-mouth, where an entry opens on a street (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Edb. 1963); isle-mouth, the entrance to a tidal island (Kcb.10 1963). Phr. at the mou o the market, lit. and fig., near one's source of supply (Ags. 1963).Ags. 1819 A. Balfour Campbell I. ii.:
My maternal uncle, who lived, (as it is termed with us) in “the mou' of the Highlands”.Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 62:
On the tither side o' the moo' o' the Glen.Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 101:
A bargain was struck in the very “mou' o' the market”.Slk. 1892 W. M. Adamson Betty Blether 67:
Tae hae juiged frae the time they took tae come frae the close mooth tae the tap o' the stair, they had as muckle as they could cairry.
(2) of a peat-stack: the end from which one begins to draw away the peats for fuel (Abd. 1963).Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xvii.:
He comes roon by the stack mou' like a man gyaun to redd fire.Abd.4 1929:
We're at the mou o the stack: we are just about to finish the building of the peat-stack.
5. The beginning or opening of a period of time, an event, etc. (ne.Sc., Ags., Kcb. 1963).Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters I. 103:
It was an ill time just now, sae gleg upo' the mou' o' har'st.Abd. 1880 G. Webster Crim. Officer 86:
“Fat are ye needin' to be trailin' awa to the market for the day, man?” says she till 'im ae day i' the mou o' the simmer.Ags. 1895 Caledonia I. 320:
Div ye no ken there's gowd i' th' mou' o' th' mornin'?Arg. 1896 N. Munro Lost Pibroch 46:
In the cold hour before the mouth of day the woman was in the piper's room at the gate of Inneraora.Abd.2 1945:
Mou o' winter, a cold, stormy spell of weather occurring in autumn.Abd. 1962 Buchan Observer (27 March) 3:
At the moo o' a mairrage there's biddins tae sattle.Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 166:
Now they all came jing-bang, in the mou o' hairst, and there was a great clamour for repairs at the last minute.
6. A trap-door opening. Cf. 1. (11).Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 40:
Jenny made wonderfu' light o' Johnny, Syne in her glaiks crap up the mou.
7. The open top of a shoe (Ork., ne.Sc., Kcb. 1963).Abd. 1920 R. H. Calder Gleanings II. 14:
Widin' ower the mou's o the sheen.
8. The open top of a fishing boat.Rs. 1795 Stat Acc.1 XV. 627:
The fishing boats used here are of a small size; their keel being only 26 or 27 feet in length; the mouth from 30 to 32 feet long, and 10 feet wide.
9. The opening of a pillow-case, in comb. mou-strings, the tapes that tie up this (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.).
†10. A notch or broken piece in the cutting edge of a blade.Ags. 1711 in A. J. Warden Burgh Laws Dundee (1872) 569–70:
He that shall take the “sissars” to be ground and doth not clean them shall pay 2d; he that shall make a “mowth” or break any part of the edge of the “sisars” shall pay 2d.
11. The blade of a shovel or spade (I., ne., em.Sc.(a), Ayr., Kcb. 1963); the working end of a pick (Kcb.1 1931); the bowl of a spoon (Sh. 1898 Shetland News (29 Feb.)). Obs. in Eng. Hence braid-moued (ne.Sc. 1963), round mooed, etc.Sc. 1849 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 619:
The pick-loosened earth is removed . . . with the narrow spade . . . having a mouth 6 inches wide.Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminiscences 108:
The measurement of the sandy peat was “t'ree spade mooths”.Ags. 1934 G. M. Martin Dundee Worthies 21:
Geordie Mill wi' his roond moo'ed spade Is wishin' aye for mair fouk deid.
12. The muzzle, the foremost part of the beam of an old Ork. plough to which the trace-rope was attached (Ork. 1866 Edm. Gl., Ork. 1929 Marw.), sometimes notched to facilitate the fastening of the rope (Ork. 1825 Jam.). Comb. mou pin, the pin which passed through the front of the beam and held the drawing rope (Edm.). See also Mull, n.2, 3.
13. In dim., short for mouth-organ (Abd., Ags. 1963), also mouthie.Abd. 1959 People's Jnl. (15 Aug.):
Ah thocht Ah'd tint the airt o' wheeplin' lang syne, bit na, that an' the aul' moothie passes mony an 'oor for me.Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 42:
The lads f'ae the Mairt
wi sharn on their feet
birl aboot the howff sawins,
(Tam on the moothie
Peem on the spoons), ... Gsw. 1990 Alan Spence The Magic Flute (1991) 11:
'I know a couple of tunes on my da's moothie,' said Eddie. 'The Sash and that.' Gsw. 1994 Herald (2 Sep) 16:
Gallacher also complained about the sheer noise of the splendid Frank O'Hagan band which I had at a recent book-signing and with whom I committed my especial art of moothie-playing the other week. Dmf. 1997 Nell Thomson Spit the First Sook 5:
My brother and I played the mouthie with some style - not just an ordinary sook and blaw - and to this music we would all dance. m.Sc. 1998 Ian Cameron The Jimmy Shand Story 11:
Apart from the moothie and the box, other music could often be heard in the Shand home by way of their most prized possession, a phonograph. Gsw. 1998 Herald (16 Jun) 4:
As the Auld Alliance warmed up, Davie, a fish merchant from Aberdeen, just happened to turn up with his banjo, Martin from Bordeaux via Perth had his guitar and Jean-Marie, the drop dead elegant Franco-Scot, produced his moothie. In the delightful setting of the lobby of the chateau, the French and Scots had a wee ceilidh. Sc. 2001 Scotsman (6 Dec) 12:
Not that Scotland is becoming a banana republic, but a close aide of Jack the Hat did say to us the other day: "Did you know Wendy is one of the few people in parliament who can eat a banana sideways and play Danny Boy on the moothie at the same time?"
14. Address, utterance, speech, a statement. Phrs. to gie somebody the mou, to address, speak to someone, to start a conversation with; to gie it mouth, absol., to declaim, to hold forth, to “spout” (Kcb.10 1963).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 39:
“Well, how behav'd ye, did ye gee'r the mou”, Says aunty till him, “wi' monie a scraip an' bow?”Lnk. 1948 J. G. Johnston Come fish with me 115:
A man cam' oot wi' a mooth an' a mainner I didna like, but a' keepit a quate sough.
15. A garrulous boastful person, a braggart, one who talks “big” (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. A moo o' a leear, a voluble untruthful person, a romancer.Mry. 1927 E. B. Levack Lossiemouth 40:
A'body kens 'at yer Aunt Mary is juist the moo' o' a leear.Abd. 1962:
He's jist a mouth o speech, that.
II. v. 1. To tell, to utter, to mention (Sh., m.Sc. 1963); to tell confidentially. Reduplic. form in ppl.adj., vbl.n. moo-mawing, hinting, mooting (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.).Slk. 1818 Hogg Wool-Gatherer 130:
Some o' them . . . yethered him and yerkit him till he couldna mou' another curse.Per. 1878 R. Ford Hame-Spun Lays 105:
'Tis mou'd he met wi' Maggie's mither.Bnff. 1881 W. Philip K. MacIntosh's Scholars xv.:
But ye're sae stiff to believe onything o the kin' I never mou'd it till noo.Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 223:
It wasna lang till I heard a queer story, though I never moothed it to a leevin'.Kcb. 1891 R. Kerr Maggie o' the Moss 8:
And such a tale . . . As never mortal mou'd before me.e.Lth. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 3:
Tam Coom, the vulcan up in Garfuird noo, Wad in a deid dwam drap an he but heard The wee-est cheep o't mou'd!Gsw. 1935 McArthur & Long No Mean City iii.:
She “mouthed” the news to every friend who was certain to pass it on.
2. To grimace, to express dissatisfaction (Bnff. 1963). Also later in Eng.Edb. 1795 The Complaint 6:
We had na better scorn or mou, Lest we sud want.
3. To crave food, to feel hungry (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.).[The reduced form mow is found in O.Sc. a.1470. The forms under I. 2. (4), (11) and (13) and II. 2. may however be variants of mow, a grimace. See Mows, note.]
Mouth n., v.
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