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OOSE n. woolen fluff; fluff from cotton, etc.


Oose has been recorded in Scottish sources since the early nineteenth century, though is probably earlier, since variants of the related adjective oosie "fluffy, furry" are found in early eighteenth-century sources. In Lindsay's The Interest of Scotland (1733) we find the following example:


"Their Yarn is fully as fine as ours, but when tried by a magnifying Glass, theirs appears rough and ouzie, and of a bad Colour".


Oose is derived from the plural form of the word "oo", the Scots equivalent of English "wool". Being "all one wool" is a Scots phrase expressing equality, as in P. Smith's Voyage o' Life (1911):


"skipper and men were a' ae 'oo. They didna need tae bend and boo".


Oose appears in W. D. Cocker's Poems (1932), where its more usual location is identified:


"The flair has no' been soopit, Ablow the bed there's oose".


John Jamieson's dictionary (1825) records that oose was used in Perthshire for a plug of cotton or silk used as a stopper for an inkpot. But the modern usage is found in many recent publications including Janice Galloway's The Trick is to Keep Breathing (1989):


"Strings of oose shelter in corners, waving ghost arms. It's time I got this place clean".


This week's Scots word was written by Dr Maggie Scott for Dictionaries of the Scots Language. This week's word is spoken by Dauvit Horsbrough, an academic from Aberdeenshire, now living in Angus.


First published 21st August 2007.