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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

SPAVE, v. Also spaive, speave. [spe:v]

1. tr. To spay, neuter a female animal (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl., spaive; Kcb. 1971). Hence spaver, a spayer, one who gelds cattle (Ib.). Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1776 Kames Gentleman Farmer 179:
A spaved quey is most profitable both for labour and for the butcher.
Arg. 1794 J. Robson Agric. Arg. 43:
Spaving of the ewe lambs should be generally introduced.
Kcb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 85:
When cut, or spaved, they then with us obtain the name of heifers.
Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Sketches 297:
A man, whose occupation was that of a spaver.

2. intr. of an animal: to undergo spaying or sterilization.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 432:
A young cow with calf, that is to say, an apen quey, will not speave.

3. Fig. To rob, steal from.Edb. 1783 MS. per Edb.3:
O wae be to the filthy limmers, Are thus in use to spave their trimmers.

[Alteration of Eng. spay, id. For v cf. Cruive, Reeve, n.1, Ruive, Spaiver.]

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"Spave v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Dec 2022 <>



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