Definitions For Cowan

Etymology 1

First attested in 1598. {{rfe, en}}

Alternative forms

kowan 17th century, cowen 18th century


(RP, UK) {{enPR, kōʹən}}, /ˈkəʊən/ (audio stream unavailable) {{hyphenation, en, co, wan}}


COWAN (plural cowans or cowanis, pl2qual=obsolete) A worker in unmortared stone; a stonemason who has not served an apprenticeship. (freemasonry) A person who attempts to pass himself off as a freemason without having experienced the rituals or going through the degrees. (slang) A sneak; an inquisitive or pry, prying person. (in attributive use) uninitiated, Uninitiated, outside, “profane”.


{{rel-top, Supporting references for , cowan (etymology 1)}} “” listed on page 1,111 of volume II (C) of w:oxford english dictionary, a new english dictionary on historical principles [first edition, 1893]  Cowan ² ({{enPRchar, kōᵘ·ăn}}). Also 7 kowan, 8 cowen. [Derivation unknown.] [¶] 1. Sc. One who builds dry stone walls (i.e. without mortar); a dry-stone-diker; applied derogatorily to one who does the work of a mason, but has not been regularly apprenticed or bred to the trade. [¶] 1598 Stat. & Ord. Maister Maissounis in D. M. Lyon Hist. Lodge Edinb. (1873) 10 That na maister or follow of craft ressaue ony cowanis to wirk in his societie or companye, nor send nane of his servands to wirk wt cowanis, under the pane of twentie punds. 1794 Statist. Acc. Scot. X. 267 (Jam.) A boat carpenter, joiner, cowan (or builder of stone without mortar), gets 1s. at the minimum, and good maintenance. 1806 Forsyth Beauties Scotl. IV. 3 The men who are employed in building walls for inclosing fields are called..cowans, to distinguish them from the regular masons. 1873 Mackelvie Ann. U. P. Church 511 He was by trade ‘a cowan’, that is an occupation combining the callings of a mason and house carpenter in one. [¶] 2. Hence, One uninitiated in the secrets of Freemasonry; one who is not a Mason. [¶] 1707 [Mother Kilwinning Lodge, Ayrshire, defines the Cowan as a Mason ‘without the word’]. c 1742 in Hone Every-day Bk. II. 525 They..are to guard the Lodge, with a drawn Sword, from all Cowens and Eves-droppers. 1767 Collect. Masonic Songs xli. 69 The Cowan may strive, nay plot and contrive To find out our great mystery. 1881 Text Bk. Freemasonry 2. 55 Armed with a drawn sword, to keep off all Cowans and intruders to Masonry. [¶] 3. slang. ‘A sneak, an inquisitive or prying person’ (Slang Dict.). [¶] 4. attrib. Uninitiated, outside, ‘profane’. [¶] 1855 Strang Glasgow (1856) 416 This tavern — shut off from the observation and the ken of the ‘cowan’ world. “” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary [second edition, 1989] {{rel-bottom}}

Etymology 2

First attested in 1722; perhaps from the {{etyl, gd, en}} cobhan, , coffer”, “box”, “ark.




COWAN (plural COWANs) (Scottish, obsolete, rare) A fishing-boat.


” listed on page 1,111 of volume II (C) of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles [first edition, 1893]  † Cowan ¹. Sc. Obs. rare — ¹. [? a. Gaelic cobhan coffer, box, ark.] A fishing-boat. [¶] 1722 Wodrow Hist. Church Sc. II. 535 The Earl..resolved to man out..thirty large cowans or fisher-boats. “” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary [second edition, 1989]

Is Cowan a Scrabble Word?

Words With Friends NO
Scrabble US NO
Scrabble UK YES
English International (SOWPODS) YES
Scrabble Global YES
Enable1 Dictionary NO

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