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DUB, n.


A dub originally was any stagnant pool of water. In later use it means a puddle – often a dirty one. The origin is obscure, but the Oxford English Dictionary suggests it might have a Danish root, possibly dyb (meaning deep).

An early example in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) comes from Stevenson’s Kidnapped (1886):


“Here he must tramp in the dubs and sleep in the heather like a beggar man”.


In Charles Murray’s Hamewith of 1909, the meaning is extended to mean wet:


“Saft soughin win’s dry the dubby howe [hollow]”.



John Brewster, in New Makars (1991), gives us this poetic gem:


“Dubs glaizie wi nectar, Pocked in drouned waps [wasps]”.



Later, in 2021, Edward Chisnall draws another wonderful picture (Yer Ain, the Young Yins and the Auld Yin):


“James Watt says ‘Aye’; Black, Lister, James Clark Maxwell, they said ‘Aye’ and aw; Hume, the Hunter Brithers, Lord Kelvin, and mair; Than thare is unpollutit starlicht reflectit in a spiral; In ae muddy dub… They aw said ‘Aye’ thegither…”



These dubs, from the Press and Journal (November 2021), are clearly less picturesque though:


“Here in the village, though, we’re a’ for onything that can wheech ye awa tae an exotic location that’s nae dark an caul and far the wind blaws sharny dubs aff the fields and up yer neb”.



The last word goes to Sean Murphy, writing in the Daily Record in August 2022:


“Dubs, a wonderful wee word that refers to puddles (the kind you like to jump in with your wellies on)”.


This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel. Visit DSL Online at