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Hawkie is defined in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) as general Scots:


“A cow with a white face; also a general term for any cow or a pet name for a favourite one”.



An early example in DSL comes from 1728 in Ramsay’s Poems:


“Twa herds between them coft [bought] a Cow: Driving her hame, the needfu Hacky”.


Still in the land of poetry, in Poems (published in 1773), Fergusson writes:


“Niest the gudewife her hireling damsels bids, Glowr thro the byre, and see the hawkies bound”.



Later, in the nineteenth century, Scott (in Old Mortality, 1816) noted:


“The troopers of Tullietudlem took the red cow and auld Hackie”.


This hawkie fared no better in Burns’ Address to the Deil (1785):


“By witching skill; An’ dawtit [much loved], twal-pint Hawkie’s gane As yell’s [dry] the Bill [bull]."



Around the same time, he painted a less spooky picture in The Cotter’s Saturday Night (1785-6):


“But now the supper crowns their simple board, The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia’s food; The sowp their only hawkie does afford, That, ’yont the hallan [screen/partition] snugly chows her cood”.


Speaking of Burns, an article in the Carrick Gazette (January 2019) about the saving of Burns’ cottage in Alloway recorded that:


“Visitors can see where Burns and his family lived, side by side with their farm animals, and where Burns got his earliest schooling. The walls of the cottage have been daubed with fragments of his verse and a selection of Scots words, such as hawkie and crambo-jingle [doggerel verse]”.


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