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a. foolish, stupid n. a fool, an idiot


Sandie/y or Sawney was an English nickname for a Scotsman, now obsolete, and playing much the same linguistic role that " Jock" does now. Variations included Sanders and Sannock. The name is a Lowland Scots diminutive of the favourite Scottish first name Alexander (also Alasdair in Scottish Gaelic form, anglicised into Alistair) from the last two syllables. The English commonly abbreviate the first two syllables into "Alec". In the days after the accession of James VI to the English throne, under the title of James I, to the time of George III, and the Bute administration, when Scotsmen were exceedingly unpopular, and when Dr. Samuel Johnson - the great Scotophobe, and son of a Scottish bookseller at Lichfield - thought it prudent to disguise his origin, and overdid his prudence by maligning his father's countrymen, it was customary to designate a Scotsman a "Sawney". This vulgar epithet, however, was dying out fast by the 1880s, and was obsolete by the 20th century.

Sawney was a common figure of fun in English cartoons, and one particularly racist example was called Sawney in the bog house by James Gillray, showing a stereotypical Scotsman using a communal toilet by sticking one of his legs down each of the pans. It has also been suggested that the Galloway cannibal Sawney Bean may have been a fabrication to emphasise the alleged savagery of the Scots.

Sometimes also used in the term "Sawney Ha'peth" = Scots halfpennyworth = fool

At the time of the political union of Scotland and England in 1707 the Pound Scots was worth 1/12 of the Pound Sterling, thus a Scots halfpennyworth implies worthlessness.

The word "sawney" survives in the current Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary (OSPD), which validates the word in Scrabble tournament play, and is defined as "a foolish person".

Usage examples of "sawney".

In the county-seat war, which had raged about the time Albert had left for Glenfleld, Dave Sawney had come to be a man of importance.

Perritaut, gave his name as David Sawney, cawntracter, and after talking a little about the county-seat question, he broached the question of marriage with Mathilde Perritaut.

David Sawney was delighted with the news that Albert Charlton and Smith Westcott had quarreled.

He was not a little mortified to see the grinning face of Dave Sawney in the crowd about the gate, and to save appearances, he called back at Albert, who was returning toward the house, that he would settle this affair with him yet.

It was much like the time Sawney had bucked him off and he had been knocked nearly senseless after his head scraped a nearby tree on the way down.

With a little oatmeal for food, and a little sulphur for friction, allaying cutaneous irritation with the one hand, and holding his Calvinistical creed in the other, Sawney ran away to his flinty hills, sung his psalm out of tune his own way, and listened to his sermon of two hours long, amid the rough and imposing melancholy of the tallest thistles.

England strove very hard at one period to compel the Scotch to pay a double Church, but Sawney took his pen and ink, and finding what a sum it amounted to became furious and drew his sword.

And without going so far back as historic times, under the reign of Elizabeth, when Shakespeare was dreaming out his Shy-lock, a Scotch bandit, Sawney Bean, was executed for the crime of cannibalism.

Well, it seemed a silly explanation, but he talked as if he had been weaned by an automatic machine, and I was sawney enough to listen to him.

But now it was hard for me to envision ancestor Sawney Mobey selecting just the proper fork for his feral feasts.

King of his own little kingdom, was old Sawney, him and his wife, and their children and grandchildren, and some of those grandchildren were also their children.