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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.

POU, v., n. Also poo, pu, pow. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. pull. [pu:; s.Sc. pʌu (see P.L.D. § 101); and from orig. dissyllabic forms pʌl. See note to Full.]

I. v.

Sc. forms of Eng. pull.wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 8:
Orgon bows doon to him in everything
Lowps lik' a puppet when Tartuffe pu's the string
Slg. 1994 Janet Paisley in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 32:
Ah don't mind the polis really. Ah don't mind o thum ever bein oan the spoat whin some pair sod's goat a knife it his throat. Bit jist lit a tail licht flick aff an thur there, savin the nation, puen ye ower.

Sc. usages:

1. As in Eng. Sc. phrs.: (1) to pu by the sleeve, to use pressure and coercion on another, to importune, specif. “to use means for recalling the attentions of a lover, who seems to have slackened in his ardour” (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (2) to pu the backie, to relax, become free and easy (Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). See Backie, n.2(1) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xl.:
Jeannie Deans is no the lass to pu' him by the sleeve, or put him in mind of what he wishes to forget.

2. To pluck (fruit, flowers, etc.) from the plants or trees on which they grow, to gather or collect produce of any kind (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 69). Gen.Sc. Obs. in Eng. exc. dial. since 17th c.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 224:
Gae pou the Gowan in its Prime, Before it wither and decay.
Sth. 1739 C. D. Bentinck Dornoch (1926) 446:
A Dornoch shoemaker was charged with “pulling dills after divine worship”.
Sc. 1765 Sir Hugh in Child Ballads No. 155 B. iii.:
Scho powd an apple reid and white.
Ayr. 1792 Burns Ye banks and Braes ii.:
Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose, Fu' sweet upon its thorny tree.
Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. xi.:
Finding the cow-boy busied in pulling pears.
Rxb. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 341:
He pu's the bells o' heather red.
e.Lth. 1885 J. Lumsden Rural Rhymes 17:
Where erst we sped life's early day, An' pu'd the mellow hip and haw.
Fif. 1896 D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 230:
I promised Miss Sim the berries by eleven, and there's still three pints to pu', I reckon.
Dmf. 1913 A. Anderson Later Poems 31:
I pu'd a daisy at my feet.
Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie In Two Tongues v.:
For you I picked and poo'd and trimmed This hantle o, floo'rs frae my gairden.

Phrs.: (1) to pou a stick to brak one's ain back, to do with the best intentions something which has unfortunate repercussions on oneself, to be treated badly by a person one has helped (Abd. 1910–66); (2) to pou stalks, — stocks, to pluck stalks of corn or cabbage plants for use in divination (see quots.). Cf. Castock.(2) Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween ii., vi., and Notes:
To burn their nits, an' pou their stocks . . . The lasses staw frae 'mang them a' To pou their stalks o' corn. Notes: — The first ceremony of Halloween, is, pulling each a Stock, or plant of kail. They must go out, hand in hand, with eyes shut, and pull the first they meet with: its being big or little, straight or crooked, is prophetic of the size and shape of the grand object of all their Spells — the husband or wife. If any yird, or earth, stick to the root, that is tocher, or fortune; and the taste of the custoc, that is, the heart of the stem, is indicative of the natural temper and disposition. Lastly, the stems, or to give them their ordinary appellation, the runts, are placed somewhere above the head of the door; and the christian names of the people whom chance brings into the house, are, according to the priority of placing the runts, the names in question. . . . They go to the barn-yard, and pull each, at three several times, a stalk of Oats. If the third stalk wants the top-pickle, that is, the grain at the top of the stalk, the party in question will want the Maidenhead.

3. (1) To pluck or draw out (feathers, hair, etc.). Obs. or dial. in Eng.Gall. 1832 J. Denniston Craignilder 76:
Pu' death plumes frae the raven's wing.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 21:
Frae his back they poo'd the plumes awa'.

Comb. pull-ling, purlaing (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 204), the moss-crop, Eriophorum vaginatum (see 1795 quot.).Bwk. 1794 A. Lowe Agric. Bwk. 51:
The mosses produce purlaing, which comes early in the spring.
Peb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 I. 133:
There is a moss plant with a white cottony head growing in mosses, which is the first spring food of the sheep. . . . It is commonly called pull ling. The sheep take what is above the ground tenderly in their mouths, and without biting it draw up a long white stalk.

(2) To strip (a bird) of feathers, pluck a fowl (ne.Sc., Fif., sm.Sc. 1966). Now rare or dial. in Eng. Ppl.adj. pu'ed, plucked, stripped of feathers; also .fig. of human beings: thin in the hair, bald, in phr. pued aboot the haffets.Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. vii.:
If I had the hen, she's to pu', and to draw, and to dress.
Fif. 1878 S. Tytler Scotch Firs I. vii.:
He's getting pu'ed about the haffits and booly in the back.

4. To draw or extract (a tooth) (Sc. 1811 Edb. Annual Reg. lxxiii.). Gen.Sc. Phr. like pulling teeth, extremely difficult, encountering resistance, e.g. in trying to get money, a response, etc., from a reluctant person.wm.Sc. 1966:
Getting any information out of him is like pulling teeth.

5. Of a vent, chimney or the like: to have a strong draught, to draw (ne.Sc., Per., Ayr., sm.Sc. 1966).Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 134:
Ye'll meebe think that ony mason . . . can mak' a fire draw or a lum pu'.

6. In phr. to pou a stack, in rick-making: to smooth the sides of a haystack or rick by plucking or combing off straggling stalks. Also in Eng. dial. Cf. Pouk, v.1, 1. (2).Dmf. 1817 W. Caesar Poems 74:
Farmer John . . . Sharps a hook, whiles bin's a sheafie, An' a sta'k will sometimes pu'.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 96:
The wright, the smith, an' tailor Wull, Gie ilk a han' the stacks to pull.

II. n. The sucker of the spout-fish or razor-fish, genus Solenidae (Bte. 1910 Zoologist (Ser. 4) XIV. 71, pull).

[O.Sc. pow, to pull, a.1500.]

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"Pou v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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