from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A nutritious article of food, much used in Scotland, made from the husk of the oat by a process not unlike that by which common starch is made; -- called flummery in England.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A nutritious article of food made from the farina remaining among the husks of oats, much used in Scotland and formerly in Northumberland.
  • A kind of paste employed by weavers for stiffening their yarn in working.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • But you might lie round among grandmother's feet for days, and, except for a stray cuff in passing if she actually walked into you -- a cuff given in the purest spirit of love and good-will, and merely as a warning of the worse thing that might happen to you if you made her spill the dinner "sowens" -- you might spend your days in reading anything from the _Arabian Nights_ in Uncle Eben's old tattered edition to the mighty _Josephus_, all complete with plans and plates -- over which on

    The Dew of Their Youth

  • Hieland sowens by Mr. Duncan MacDonought, the last minister, who began the morning duly, Sunday and Saturday, with a mutchkin of usquebaugh.

    The Heart of Mid-Lothian

  • They have commonly pottage for dinner, composed of cale or cole, leeks, barley or big, and butter; and this is reinforced with bread and cheese, made of skimmed-milk — At night they sup on sowens or flummery of oat-meal — In a scarcity of oats, they use the meal of barley and pease, which is both nourishing and palatable.

    The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

  • ‘Gae hame, and be d — (that I should say sae), and put on the sowens for supper.’


  • In the Highlands of Scotland, among those who observed Christmas, a characteristic dish was new sowens (the husks and siftings of oatmeal), given to the family early on Christmas Day in their beds.

    Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan

  • Hallowe'en customs in, 197-8; sowens eaten in, 285;

    Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan

  • The _haggis_, a kind of pudding, made of the offals or interior of a sheep, and boiled in the integument of its stomach; this dish, both in odour and flavour, is usually excessively offensive to the stranger; the singed sheep's head, water-souchie, Scotch soup, (an _olla podrida_ of meats and vegetables,) chicken-broth and sowens.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 14, No. 380, July 11, 1829

  • Just before breaking up, the crowd of young people partook of sowens, oatmeal porridge cakes with butter, and strunt, a liquor, as they hoped for good luck throughout the year.

    The Book of Hallowe'en

  • If you had no teeth and no digestion, you were allowed a pint and a half of sowens porridge instead; and thus helped your portion of exhausted cavalry mount or your bit of tough mule-meat down.

    The Dop Doctor

  • He can read ony language back or forrit, up or doon, as easy as suppin 'sowens.

    The Lilac Sunbonnet


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  • (n) (English dialect and Scots) 1. a type of porridge made from oatmeal screenings.

    2. a paste formerly used by weavers to stiffen yarn.

    January 7, 2009