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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

OOBIT, n. Also oubet, -it, ubit, y(e)ubit; ¶owpet; wo(u)bat, -it; wobart (Ags. 1808 Jam.), wowbat; wubbit (Kcb. 1907 Gallovidian No. 33. 31), †vowbet. [′u:bɪt] A long, hairy caterpillar, esp. the larva of the tiger-moth, from its woolly appearance (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poet. IV. Gl., (w)oubit; Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1942 Zai), very freq. in comb. hairy oobit (Fif., Bwk., s.Sc. 1964); also applied to cats, cattle, etc. with shaggy or staring coats (Rnf. c.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) O. 9), and to an unkempt or uncouth sort of person; an ill-behaved youngster, an insignificant rascal (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Glossed in Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 693 as an adj. = dwarfish. Also attrib. feeble, decayed (Ags. 1808 Jam., woba(r)t). Comb. wobart-like, having a withered or faded look (Ib.).Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 39:
To Pope and Antichrist he'll sing The clatty owpet.
Bwk. 1809 Edb. Review XIV. 143:
Vowbet. This word is very common in Berwickshire where it is applied to the caterpillar. It does not however imply, that the insect is hairy. The hairy vowbet, or yeubit, as the word is there pronounced, is the name given by boys to the caterpillar of the tiger-moth.
Bwk. c.1850 Medical History V. 3. 280:
When a boy, ill of Hooping-Cough, his mother, for the cure of that disease, tied round his neck a number of “hairy oubets”, sewed up in a piece of cloth — and with evident success.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 38:
The reekit oubits o' the Press [in Coldingham parish].
Lth. 1861 J. Brown Horae Subsecivae 117:
Her legs set her long slim body about two inches and a half from the ground, making her very like a huge caterpillar or hairy oobit.
Slg. 1869 St. Andrews Gazette (23 Oct.):
This wicked warl's surely gaun gley'd, When haflin-grown oubits are dreamin O' wedlock.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 385:
Whun they gaed tae pu the berries they wur a' ower wi hairy oobits.
Kcb. 1907 Gallovidian No. 33. 31:
A queer wee bit body cam' to our toon-en'- A wubbit nae mair than the hicht o' a pourie.
Bwk. 1912 J. Burleigh Ednam 132:
“Hairy Oubets” is the local name of a caterpillar seen in the harvest field.

[O.Sc. wobat, fig., c.1500, Mid.Eng. wolbede, -bode, a caterpillar, the first element being wol, wool.]

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"Oobit n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Feb 2024 <>



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