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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

POWNIE, n.1 Also powny; powney (Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf vii.; Gall. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 334; m.Sc. 1947 Scots Mag. (April) 12), pounie; pounny, pouny. [′pʌuni]

1. A pony (w.Sc. 1741 A. McDonald Galick Vocab. 77, powney), specif. a riding-horse; “also a general name for a horse” (w.Sc. 1880 Jam.). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1702 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 307:
To Jamie Gray for the brydle to the zetland pownie.
Ayr. 1726 Edb. Ev. Courant (22–26 Sept.):
Two Horses, the one a little white, round, well shaped Pounny.
Sc. 1745–6 S.C. Misc. (1841) 435:
Lady Nicolson has not recovered her own sadle horse, which was a blue pownie, and can be of little use for a camp.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 93:
The pounie was ne'er better whisked Wi' cudgel that hang frae his side.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Ep. to J. Lapraik vii.:
Or die a cadger pownie's death.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xlvii.:
If he had had a wee bit rinnin ring on the snaffle, she wad ha' rein'd as cannily as a cadger's pownie.
Slk. 1817 Hogg Tales (1874) 153:
I bought him for a pownie. but he's turned out a beast.
Ags. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxxiv.:
The gentlemen yokit their gigs, or saddled their pownies.
Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 16:
A pair of sturdy pownies, Orkney “garrons”, stand one on each side of us.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh R. Doo 112:
A crap o' hair like the mane o' a chestnut pownie.
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 20:
Ower the ice an' up the bankie, Ettlin' heels like pownies pranky .
m.Sc. 1947 Scots Mag. (April) 12:
Miss Jinty's gaun tae get a powny, an' A want tae bide here.
wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 28:
I hae nae horse.
Ye'll fin a pownie in the loan.
Ags. 1990s:
Pechin like a cadger's powney.
Sc. 1991 Forbes Macgregor in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 17:
Mair dowf on eird there isna ony
Nor wee MacLean the circus pownie,
Wha on the sawins o his flair
Maun dree his weird for evermair.
m.Sc. 1994 John Burns in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 24:
Jock held on ticht til the pownie's fuit as he hemmert the nails intil't an cut awa at the hoof until he gat it juist richt.
Lnk. 1997 Duncan Glen From Upland Man 10:
And muckle rockin-horse heich as the pownie in the field
if no sae fat and wi an itchier, scartin coat for a boy
in short troosers.

2. A joiner's trestle for supporting planks of wood for sawing or the like (Cai. 1903 E.D.D.; n.Sc., Fif., Uls. 1966). Cf. Horse, n., 5. (1) and Cuddy, n.1, 3. (1).

3. A jocular epithet for the Secretary to the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, prob. as being at his superior's beck and call.Sc. 1890 Scots Mag. (June) 80:
What is the origin of the terms “Dog” and “Pony” as applied to the Moderator's Secretary?

[Of. Sc. orig., O.Sc. powny, id., 1659. It has been suggested that the word represents *poulney, ad. O.Fr. poulenet, a foal, dim. of poulain, id., Late Lat. pullanus, Lat. pullus, a young animal, foal.]

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"Pownie n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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