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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SCREEVE, v., n. Also scri(e)ve, screive, skreeve; scraive. [skriv, Ayr. skrev]

I. v. 1. tr. To graze (the skin), peel or tear off (a surface or covering), scratch, abrade, scrape (Ags. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; em.Sc. (a), Lnk., sm.Sc. 1969). Agent n. screever, fig., a miser, skinflint (Lnk. 1969).Gsw. 1865 J. Young Homely Pictures 12:
The vail, ne'er closely drawn, Has, by Auld Time's unsparin' haun, Been screiv't aside.
Gall. 1904 Crockett Raiderland 112:
To gillravage athort the kintra screevin' the verra soles off our boots!
Dmf. 1917 J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 18:
I imagined his tousled hair screeved the whitewash on my study ceiling.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 19:
A've skreeved ma knuckles climmin that deike.
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' Ling 9:
The finks an' peewits screeve the cluds.
Ags. 1955 Forfar Dispatch (26 May):
That pairt o wir expeedition cost me a nylon and a scraived cuit.
Ags. 1960 Abd. Press & Jnl. (26 Jan.):
A nurse saw a huge swelling on the side of the child's head. Young said she had “screeved” it against the side of the cot.

2. tr. and intr. To make a scraping motion or sound, to draw (an object) over the surface of another with a screeching noise (Ags. 1969), esp. of a bow over fiddle-strings, to play (a tune) on a fiddle (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); to sharpen (slate-pencil) (Ags. 1969). By extension screever, a pancake fried on a girdle, prob. from the crackling sound it makes (Peb., Lnk., Ayr. 1969), applied also to a triangular segment of a girdle-scone (Ags. 1969).Slg. 1841 R. M. Stupart Harp of Strila 63:
Their rattlin' feet, the time aye keep, Unto the fiddle screivin'.
wm.Sc. 1842 Whistle-Binkie 92:
She took her cairds, an' cairdin' skin. An' rave awa' wi' scrivin' din.
Bnff. 1866 Banffshire Jnl. (27 March) 3:
May care leave thee hale in ilka part, To scrieve thy fiddle.
Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier 91:
After he had scrieved his chair away from the table.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 35:
And when he scrieved “Auld Robin” ye forgot what he was like.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 4:
A chairkin road-injin, skreevin an skrauchin leike a skartin skeelie on a skuil sklate.
Uls. 1929 M. Mulcaghey Ballymulcaghey 25:
Tam was screevin' at the oul' fiddle.
Arg.20 1955:
I overheard someone ask a girl why she hadn't brought her bicycle with her and she replied “It's screevin terrible”.

3. To scrub (a table, floor, etc.) (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

4. To make a small rut with a plough (Ork. 1929 Marw.).

II. n. 1. A large scratch (Ags. 1808 Jam.; Kcd., Ags., Per., sm.Sc., Rxb. 1969); an abrasion of the skin (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); a rent or tear in a garment (Uls. 1929); a skid-mark on a road (Ayr. 1969).Rxb. 1961 W. Landles Penny Numbers 20:
A spielin' callant riskin' screeve and cloure Rypit the reid cheeked aipples whaur they hung.

2. A scraping or grating sound (Ags., Ayr. 1969); the sound made by tearing cloth (Uls. 1929). Dim. screevie, slate-pencil (Fif., em. Sc. (b), Kcb., Dmf. 1960).Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
A hard a scrieve on the wire fence.

[Orig. doubtful. Poss. an alteration of Screed, with which most of the meanings coincide, phs. from a by-form *screethe or by conflation with Scrieve, v.2, q.v.]

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"Screeve v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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