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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STOUR, n., v., adv. Also stoure, stoor, stower, -r(e) (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Dim. stourie. [′stu(ə)r]

I. n. 1. Strife, conflict, a struggle, contest, battle (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bnff., Kcd., Lnk., Wgt. 1971). Now chiefly liter. Obs. in Eng.Sc. c.1710 Jacobite Minstr. (1829) 41:
The yaud she 'scaped away Frae 'mang the deadly stoure.
Sc. 1724 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1843) III. 116:
I am content I have so masterly a writer, some way to stand betwixt me and the stour so to say.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 122:
But for to rally in such a stour, He had no time, might, or power.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 278:
Parliamenters bicker i' the stower.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxvii.:
“You mean the battle some years since?” “Then ye saw a bonny stour,” said Cuddie.
ne.Sc. 1823 G. Greig Folk-Song (1914) xlii.:
In sooth, my lord, ye are too fond To mix in battle stour.
Slk. 1831 Hogg Poems (1874) 432:
When seas did row an' winds did blaw An' battle's deadly stour was blent.
Knr. 1895 H. Haliburton Dunbar 48:
Christ stands victorious in the deadly stour.
Kcd. 1900 W. Macgillivray Glengoyne II. iii.:
Ean o' the Irishmen was killed i' the Stour.
Sc. 1991 R. Crombie Saunders in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 28:
He fain wad front the field
An caa them til the stour:
"Let him assay the shield
Wad haud my luve a hure!"

2. The strain and stress of a struggle, a wrestling with adverse conditions or hardship (Sc. 1808 Jam.), esp. in phr. to bide or stand the stour, to face adversity. Obs. in Eng.Ayr. 1780 Burns Mary Morison i.:
How blithely wad I bide the stoure, A weary slave frae sun to sun; Could I the rich reward secure.
Kcb. 1797 R. Buchanan Poems 286:
The stours thou hast for freedom stuid.
Gsw. 1807 J. Chirrey Misc. Poetry 135:
The combat was baith lang an' doure; An' weel our heroes stood the stoure.
Kcd. 1822 G. Menzies Poems (1854) 148:
Wha stood the stour o' mony a fecht.
Slk. 1835 Hogg Tales (1874) 704:
We hae stood some hard stoures thegither afore now, general.
Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 148:
It's something to escape the stoor The fecht wi' fortune raises.

3. Commotion, hubbub, to-do, pother, fuss, turmoil, disturbance (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Ayr. 1915–23 Wilson). Gen.Sc. and Eng. dial. Phrs. to kick up or raise a stour, to make a disturbance, partly to be associated with 5., kick up a row (Uls. 1953 Traynor; Gen.Sc.), to put a person in a stour, to put one into a state of excitement, to put one out of temper (Traynor); to stand one's stour, to put up with someone's hostility or reproof.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 89, 95:
For forty groats I wad na stand your stowr, Gin they this gate, but tak anither tour . . . Yon hobbleshaw is like some stour to raise.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Ordination iii.:
This day the kirk kicks up a stour.
Sc. 1793 Tam Thrum Look before ye Loup 27:
Whenever they want to raise a stour among the common folk, out comes the swinish multitude again.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 121:
The deil he heard the stoure o' tongues.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xxxi.:
What's a' this stoor about?
Slk. 1827 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) vii.:
I'll kick up sic a stoure about his lugs as shall blind the juridical een of him.
Abd. 1844 W. Thom Rhymes 45:
She . . . braves the deaf'nin' din an' stour, Whare cracklin' rafters fa'.
Rxb. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 4:
But just in middle of the stour, Into the cottage sweepit A stranger.
Gsw. 1879 A. G. Murdoch Rhymes 82:
Up Tibbie gat, wi' her min' in a stoor.
Wgt. 1885 G. Fraser Poems 228:
Great an' sma', When rickets raise a hatefu' stour, Rush intae law.
Bnff. 1887 W. M. Philip Covedale 40:
At an Election there's aye an unco stour.
Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Lady Jean's Son iv.:
A' France no less than a' Scotland is in a stour about the trial.
Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 12:
What's a' the stourie noo?
Lnk. 1932 Border Mag. (Feb.) 22:
It's an unco woorld this for stoor an' steer.
Fif. 1964 R. Bonnar Stewartie 2. ix.:
An' do the men no' kick up the stoor? Oh — well, there's plenty o' rows.
m.Sc. 1982 Douglas MacLagan in Hamish Brown Poems of the Scottish Hills 158:
The flytin' there was loud and rough;
The Duke cam' o'er
Wi' gillies four,
To mak' a stour,
An' drive Balfour,
Frae 'yont the Hielan' hills, man.
Uls. 1987 Sam Hanna Bell Across the Narrow Sea 108:
'Mr Echlin's raising a stoor about a mill-wright. Have ye found one yet?'

Hence adjs. (1) stourfu, stirring, exciting, noisy. Adv. sto[u]rfully, excitably, in a pother; (2) stourie, stoorie, -y, active, bustling, restless, esp. of a young child (Sc. 1887 Jam.; Ags., Fif., wm.Sc. 1971), also in redupl. form stoorie-woorie. Used as a n., a restless frolicsome child. Cf. steerin s.v. Steer.(1) Rxb. 1862 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1868) 40:
If she [an angry wife] carries on storfully, as she's amaist shure to do.
Dmf. 1878 R. W. Thom Jock o' Knowe 48:
The stourfu' strain O' bagpipe blawer or fiddler or fifer.
(2) Gsw. 1844 Songs of Nursery 1:
Wearied is the mither, that has a stoorie wean.
Clc. 1860 J. Crawford Doric Lays 57:
And mony a shift she's ta'en to mak' Her sonsie stouries braw.
Gsw. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Doric Lyre 95:
'Tween stoorie-woorie wife an' weans, Wow! but I'm corner'd fairly.
Dmf. 1898 J. Paton Castlebraes 282:
Syne as a stoorie laddie I began tae speel the Auld Castle Wa's.
Gsw. 1948:
She's gaun tae hae trouble wi' that stourie wean o' hers.

4. A storm, a tempest, wild weather; a blizzard, storm of snow, also fig.; in Sh., a strong breeze (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; I.Sc. 1971). Hence stoory, stoorie, wild, stormy (Arg. 1917 A. W. Blue Quay Head Tryst 200).Edb. 1811 H. Macneill Bygane Times 49:
To screen themsels frae tempest's stour.
Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 278:
The other horse grows obstinate wi' the sharp stour in his face.
Rxb. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. I. 198:
But sic a stour I never saw, Wi' maddened elemental strife.
Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 218:
Look, ere midnight 's past, For a stour frae the nor-wast.
Ork. 1913 Old-Lore Misc. VI. iii. 146:
He was kept a prisoner in the “ale hurry” until the stoor abated.
Sh. 1931 Shetland Almanac 192:
A bhnk o' blue sky skoitin troo da stoor.
Arg. 1992:
It's right stoorie-lookin.
Edb. 1993:
It wis gey stoorie oot last night.

5. Dust in motion, flying, swirling dust (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 693; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc., but less common in ne.Sc., where Stew is the usu. word; dust in gen., a layer of dust; any fine powdery substance, esp. produced by grinding or friction. Also fig., like Eng. dust, as in phrs. to blaw, cast, throw stour in one's een, to hoodwink, deceive (Cai. 1971), to knock the stour out one, to beat, “to dust one's jacket” (Uls. 1953 Traynor). Comb. stour-box, a box on a carding-machine for collecting the fine fibres or fluff from the flax. Phr. like stour, like a whirl of dust, with a rush, in a flurry, flying along at full speed (Uls. 1953 Traynor; n., m. and s.Sc. 1971).Sc. 1770 Hailes Ancient Sc. Poems 318:
Sir George Mackenzie observes, Pleadings before the supreme courts of Scotland, p. 17. “Sometimes our fiery temper has made us, for haste, express several words into one: as stour, for dust in motion.” This observation, now become an axiom with us, affords a striking example of national prejudices: for the English dust, respects motion as well as rest, and the Scottish stour, rest as well as motion.
Ayr. 1775 Burns O Tibbie i.:
Yestreen I met you on the moor, Ye spak na, but gaed by like stoure.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 25:
They [lambs] fleggin, toss The moudy-hillan to the air in stoor.
Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 41:
My books like useless lumber ly, Thick cover'd owre wi' stour, man.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize I. xv.:
My grandfather being eager to throw stour in his eyes.
Fif. 1842 Children in Mines Report (2) 497:
I left the factory work, as the stour made me hoarse.
Uls. 1844 R. Huddleston Poems 66:
Their petticoats weel kilt ahin, Nor dub or stoure mismay 'em.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 196:
A' white as ony miller Wi' stowre that day.
Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 176:
The Muse flew to the door like stour.
Ags. 1883 J. Kennedy Poems (1920) 149:
Ye needna blaw stoure in my een.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 132:
Some fouk'll get the stoor taen oot o' their jackets.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxxviii.:
I saw our men drive like stour across the yard.
Sh. 1898 J. Burgess Tang iii.:
Dey wir raised a stoor o wirds 'at wis anoff ta blinnd a body.
Ags. 1901 Dundee Advertiser (21 March):
Proceeding to clean out the stour-box. The stour-box was underneath the machine.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xxix.:
Ninian Campbell entered, still the stour of travel on his clothes.
Cai. 1916 J. Mowat Proverbs 5:
“Mairch stoor 's goold dust” — a dry seedtime brings a good harvest.
Gsw. 1924 J. H. Bone Crystal Set 10:
Whit a stour — the brace is cover't.
Lnk. 1928 W. C. Fraser Yelpin' Stane 172:
Nae suner rae they up an' gotten lair, but they're off like stour.
Edb. 1969:
Ye couldna see him for stour when the polis arrived — i.e. he fled like a shot.
m.Sc. 1979 Ian Bowman in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 40:
He doutna glower at me, but he bent
to scrieve wi his finger in the stour;
then his spreit cam oot to me, an I kent
he was blate at ma shame, for aa his power.
Sc. 1991 Forbes Macgregor in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 17:
The Lord's taen up twal stane o stour
To mak a man within the oor
Edb. 1991 J. K. Annand in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 20:
Aneath a hap o snaw it derns
Deep in a dwam for maist the year
To burst throu in a bleeze o starns
Syne skail its flourish on the stour.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 215:
Ye love this place as much as I do myself. It's in your blood, the very stoor o the place thumps in your veins and birls in your brain.
Dundee 1996 Matthew Fitt Pure Radge 7:
oot ther in the soss
oot ther in the stoor
the ba skyters yin wey
is blootert the ither
a man is cowped
em.Sc. 1997 Ian Rankin Black & Blue (1999) 69:
'You should have seen the stoor that came off when we brought them out.'
Lnk. 1998 Duncan Glen Selected New Poems 13:
And William
Dunbar sclimmin, haund owre haund,
up Castle Rock. And James VI ridin north,
no to be seen for stour?
Sc. 2000 Herald (13 Mar) 15:
A slight shadowing on the wall above one radiator prompts skoosh with spray bleach cleaner followed by creation of astonishingly obvious circles of cleanliness - and correspondingly blatant clinging stoor.

Adj. stourie, -(e)y, stoorie, -y, stow'ry, dusty, full of choking whirling dust, covered with dust (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth. Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein), Gen.Sc. Also used subst. for a low fellow (Edb. 1956). Combs. (1) stourie fit, orig. a dust-stained traveller, one who arrives in a strange place after a journey on foot, a stranger. Cf. dusty foot s.v. Dusty, 1. Hence specif. in Falkland and Peebles: a resident who is not a native of the town, an incomer (Fif., Peb. 1971); (2) stoury lungs, pneumoconiosis, silicosis (Edb. 1961 Pulse (24 June) 2; Fif., w.Lth. 1971); (3) stour soukin, vacuum cleaning. Sc. 1877 W. Taylor Poems 147:
Sweatin he the cart doth ca' Or stow'ry biggeth up the wa'.
Ayr. 1792 Burns Weary Pund o' Tow ii.:
Ay she took the tither souk To drouk the stourie tow.
Fif. c.1805 M. Conolly Life of W. Tennant (1861) 24:
Because thy back had on A stourey week-day coat, man.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 133:
But never think to dit my shameless een, Wi' stoury hopes o' richly giltit fame.
Ags. 1883 J. Kennedy Poems 14:
Far frae the stoury noisy toun.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 69:
Then were stoury trousers dusted, Worn and fashionless renewed.
Lnk. 1923 G. Rae Lowland Hills 65:
They're welcome to the stoorie road, wha seek the stoorie airt.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 84:
His stoury bauchles told a tale O' weary miles.
Dmf. 1965 Dmf. Standard (21 July) 3:
Bales which were left stooked in the field are showing a bit mould, and foddering will be a “stoorie” job on many farms this winter.
Sc. 1991 T. S. Law in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 31:
alang the stoorie pad
the lane sodger lad.
Sc. 1992 Herald (5 Sep) 12:
Yet about a quarter (up to 50,000) of the one-time population were engaged in that stoorie industry. It affected every aspect of city life. Jute made Dundee a divided place of rich and poor.
(1) Peb. 1952 Scotland's Mag. (July) 26:
In Peebles Mr Dodds is what is known as a “stoorey-fitt,” an apt description for strangers.
Fif. 1962 Scots Mag. (June) 212:
It used to be said that “stoury feet,” or incomers, had to live for three generations before being accepted as Falkland folk.
(3)Dundee 2000 Ellie McDonald Pathfinder 4:
This is yer Muse talkin.
Ye're on yer final warnin.
Nae mair sclatchin i the kitchen,
nae mair hingin out the washin,
nae mair stour soukin.
This is yer Muse talkin
fae the wyste paper basket.

6. (1) A fine spray of water, a diffusion of liquid in fine drops, a cloud of spume (Sh. 1971).Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 179:
The siller stoor That bowses frae the linn.

(2) A pouring out of liquid, a steady outflow or stream, a gush (Sc. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1971). Dim. stourie. Also fig. The adj. stourie, long and slender, gaunt (Bnf. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 184) may belong here. Cf. a lang drink s.v. Drink, n., 3.Abd. 1921 Abd. Book-Lover 141:
The hail day lang it keepit on ae doonricht steady stour.
Bnff. 1927 E. S. Rae Hansel fae Hame 50:
Syne barefit he wydes 'neath the stoor o' the linn.
Abd. 1932 R. L. Cassie Scots Sangs 46:
His licht skytes a stoor o' life an' gledness faurever it sheens.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xxiv.:
'E caal stoorie dyaan rinnin doon 'e sma o' 'is back.
Mry. 1970:
A stoorie o' tea — a drop of tea.

II. v. 1. intr. To run swiftly, to rush, bustle or speed onwards, “making the dust and water rise and fly about” (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; I., n. and m.Sc. 1971). Hence stourer, a busy bustling person (Cai. 1971). Imper. stoor, avast!, get away (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). With advs. to stour about, to rush hither and thither in a bustling, restless manner (Sc. 1825 Jam.); to stour aff, to make off quickly, to decamp (Cld. 1825 Jam.).Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 186:
The law forbade the great to wrang the poor, Or it wad make the best o' them to stour.
Slg. 1788 R. Galloway Poems 22:
Then took a chaise, and in they stowr'd To Glasgow.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems II. 82:
A' the tykes about the town Were stourin at his tail.
Rxb. 1820 Scots Mag. (June) 533:
It gar'd the divots stour off the house riggins.
Per. 1835 J. Monteath Dunblane Trad. (1887) 113:
They stour'd to the kirk an' the market fu' bra'.
Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 92:
We held awa fur da nort soond an' dey cam' stoorin efter wis.
Edb. 1940:
He gaed stoorin' alang on his bike.
Abd. 1958 Huntly Express (15 Aug.):
Aye the lads cam' stoorin' in an' Jeems wis hauden gaun.

2. intr., of dust, spray, or the like: to swirl, to be blown through the air, to rise in a cloud (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; I.Sc., Rxb. 1971). Also in n.Eng. dial. Ppl.adj. stoorin, dusty.Lnk. 1872 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 87:
In speaking of the dryness of the soil on a road, a farmer said, “It stoors in an oor.”
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 7:
The stoorin' heather track aneath my feet.

3. tr. and absol. To besprinkle or spray with dust or the like, to cover with some powdery substance, to blow dust into, to raise dust. Vbl.n. stourin, stewrn [phs. with formal influence from Stew], a slight sprinkling or small quantity of anything in a powdery state (Cld. 1825 Jam. a stourin o' meal; Bnf. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 182), also used as a v., with double vbl.n. form stewrnin. with sim. meanings (Gregor). Agent n. stourer, a sack or the like dragged about the ground to raise the dust as a children's amusement (Cai. 1971).Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 65:
A stow o' cheese, made nice Wi' a stowring o' the spice.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 70:
Dingin' raws o' hooses doon, an' stoorin' a' oor e'en.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 21:
He ertit on his rowtin' pack, Wi' roar an' sweer an' stoorin' whack.
Abd. 1971 Buchan Observer (1 June) 2:
The kye were wading to their bellies in grass but still he stoured it [fertiliser] on.

4. tr. To pour out (a liquid) with some force from a vessel (Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 469; Bnf. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 183; Sh., ne.Sc. 1971); also stour up (Sc. 1825 Jam.), out, doon (Gregor); absol. to make water (Abd. 1971); intr. of liquid: to gush out, to come forth in a strong stream (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; ne.Sc. 1971). Also fig.Sh. 1815 Sh. Advertiser (6 Jan. 1862):
D' blude stoort frae dee mooth an noaze.
Bnff. 1844 T. Anderson Poems 44:
Whilst thou keeps stourin' Frae out beneath the auld grey craig.
Ags. a.1879 Bards Ags. (Reid 1897) 328:
Half the tea went stourin' by.
Mry. 1897 J. MacKinnon Braefoot Sk. 97:
The watter's stoorin' oot o' yer pooches.
Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 57:
The glimmerin' beams o' the settin' sin stoured throwe the wumplin' lingles o' widdert honeysuckle.
Bnff. 1939 J. M. Caie Hills and Sea 75:
He'll stoor oot figures till your heid furls Roun'.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xx.:
The watter mith be the weers o' stoorin oot ower 'e riggin o' the briggie.

III. adv. In a gush (Bnf. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 183; ne.Sc. 1971).

[O.Sc. stour, battle, conflict, 1375, dust, 1456, spray, to rise in a cloud, 1513, to rush, a.1568, Mid.Eng. st(o)ur, O. Fr. estour, tumult, conflict, cogn. with Eng. storm. N.E.D. suggests that some of the forms and meanings, esp. I. 3. and 5., may be by-forms (stoure, stoore in 16th c. Eng.) of Eng. stir, but this hardly accords with Sc. phonology.]

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"Stour n., v., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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