The Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) gives a range of definitions for doo, the first being “the Scots form of English dove” followed by the more familiar:
“applied to any species of pigeon, but more especially to the rock pigeon”.
Doos are sometimes unflatteringly referred to as ‘rats wi’ wings’, but only one example in the DSL refers to the creatures in such a derogatory way and is from the Herald of October 1999 describing an inner-city childhood:
“For a Clydebank waif … contact with the natural world among the sandstone canyons in the 1950s was restricted to scabby doos, scruffy cats, three-legged dugs …".
Doos have long pedigree in DSL, with one of the earliest lyrical examples coming from 1789 in David Davidson’s Seasons:
“Auld farmyear stories come athwart their minds, Of bum-bee bykes [hives], pet pyats [magpies] doos and keaws [jackdaws]”.
This is closely followed by a citation from Burns’ Battle of Sherramuir (1790):
“They fled like frighted dows, man!”.
In an article from the Scottish Farmer (January 2022) Andrew Moir writes about sporting activities versus shooting for the pot:
“Like most farmers, I have a licence to possess a shotgun for the purpose of vermin control and the occasional clay shoot. I’m not a brilliant shot and ‘clay doos’ do not make great soup, so the added incentive of protecting my investment and the possibility of having something nice to eat fairly improves my aim”.
Doo can also be used as a term of endearment, but that’s for a different article.
This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel. Visit DSL Online at https://dsl.ac.uk.