Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BUM, Bumm, Bump, v.1, n.2 [bʌm(p)]

I. v. Obs. except dial. in St.Eng. (N.E.D.).

1. To make a humming or buzzing noise, used: (1) of insects; (2) of birds; (3) of crowds of human beings; (4) of spinningtops and of objects hurtling through the air. Gen.Sc. (1) Abd. [1768]  J. Beattie Address ix. in A. Ross Helenore (1778) 7:
Where through the birks the burny rows, And the bee bums, and the ox lows.
Ayr. [1836]  J. Ramsay Woodnotes (1848) 160:
The flies that round his bardship bum, His wond'rous merits daily hum.
(2) Sc. 1821  Scott Kenilworth x.:
You shall hear the bittern bump.
(3) Sc. 1722  W. Hamilton Wallace 253:
For English Men bum there as thick as Bees.
Sc. 1908  W. Findlay in Glasgow Ballad Club III. 181–182:
Wi' the blithe babel crowd bummin' roun't just like bees.
(4) Mry. 1935 2 :
The stanes cam bummin' past ma heid.
Gsw. 1937  (per Kcb.1):
Ma peerie's bummin'.

2. To make a droning sound, used of musical instruments, esp. the bagpipes, also of a person singing or reading in a droning or indistinct manner. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1721  Ramsay Poems 292:
Syne his Bread-winner [fiddle] out he'd bang, And fa' to Bumming.
Abd.(D) 1909  C. Murray Hamewith 29:
What unction in his varied tones, As aff the line he screeds us, Syne bites the fork, an' bums the note, Ere to the tune he leads us!
Arg. 1901  N. Munro Doom Castle xxxvii.:
“Ye can be bummin' awa' wi' your chanter,” he said as he stood listening in the kitchen.
Dmf. [1777]  J. Mayne Siller Gun (1808) 79:
Louder the big bass-fiddle bumms.

3. To cry, weep (Mry.2 1935; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 19; Bnff.2, Abd.22 1937). Slg.3 gives it as obsol. for Edb. Gsw. 1937  (per Kcb.1):
What are ye bummin' aboot?

4. “To bounce or brag” (Dmf. 1825 W. A. Scott in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 19). Known to Bnff.2, Lnk.3, Kcb.9 1937. Bnff. 1926  G.B.C. in Bnffsh. Jnl. (27 July) 8:
Says the Moon to the Sun, “Ye fairly can bum.”
s.Sc. 1835–1840  J. M. Wilson Tales of the Borders (1857) II. 164:
Jenny Cuthbertson may bum, her gettin at the rate o' sevenpence ha'penny a-week for caunles alane.

Hence bummin, ppl.adj., very good, worth boasting about (Bnff.2 1937). Also used adverbially as an intensive. Ags. 1934  G. M. Martin Dundee Worthies 154:
“Bummin Ingins 1d a pund, or twa pund for three hapence,” was a regular supplier of large (“Bummin”) onions.
Ags. 1936 1 :
That was a bummin guid show.

5. To go on vigorously, to prosper (Abd.22, Ags.1 1937). Cf. fig. use of Eng. hum. Mry. 1935 2 :
Ay, a' thing's bummin noo.
Bnff. 1937 2 :
The men hid been scutterin' awa' for mair than an 'oor, bit fin the gaffer appear't he gar't the wark bum.

Vbl.nouns from all these verbs are in common use.

6. Combs.: (1) bum-bummin(g), “a continuous humming sound” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.; Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10 1937); (2) bum-clock, “a humming beetle, that flies in the summer evenings” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff., Abd. 1930 (per Bnff.12); Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 101; Kcb.9 1937); the cockchafer, Melolontha vulgaris; †(3) bum-flee, a bluebottle; (4) bum-pipe, a popular name for the dandelion; “prob. because its long tubular flower-stalks are made into bum-pipes by children” (Sc. 1887 Jam.6; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 19), cf. Bumming Pipes; (5) bum-speal, “a ‘speal' [thin strip] of wood, notched on both sides, with a string at the end for whirling round in the air” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.), a bull-roarer. Cf. Bummer, n.1, 2 (1) (a). (1) ne.Sc. 1883–1886  D. Grant Chron. of Keckleton (1888) 134:
I heard only the bum-bummin' o' the gudeman's voice an' Bella's.
(2) Per. 1935  W. Soutar Poems in Scots 43:
The bumclock whurrs amang the fleurs O' licht.
Ayr. 1786  Burns The Twa Dogs ll. 233–234:
The bum-clock humm'd wi' lazy drone, The kye stood rowtan i' the loan.
(3) Lnk. 1805  G. McIndoe Poems and Songs 60:
[They] dream'd o' bum-flees, Bag-pipes, wasp-bikes, and hives o' bees.

II. n.

1. The humming or droning sound made by: (1) insects, tops, etc. (Sc. 1808 Jam.); (2) musical instruments, voices. Gen.Sc. (1) Ags. 1912  J. A. Duthie Rhymes and Reminisc. 18:
Ne'er a bum comes frae the bees.
(2) Ags. 1896  J. M. Barrie Sentimental Tommy xxiv.:
How is't you never rage at me now, ma'am? I'm sure it keepit you lightsome, and I likit to hear the bum o't.
Rxb. 1847  J. Halliday Rustic Bard 169:
His drone its last deep bum hath bray'd, For Davie's dead.

2. “One who reads indistinctly; one who sings, or plays without taste and skill” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 19; Bnff.2 1937).   Ib.:
He's a mere bum o' a fiddler, that.

3. A note (of music) (Bnff.2, Ags.1 1937). Ags.(D) 1894  J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) iv.:
As for singin', I canna sing a single bum.

[O.Sc. bum, c.1590 (D.O.S.T.), Mid.Eng. bummin, bumbin (14th cent.), to hum (Stratmann). Onomat. in origin. Cf. Eng. boom, Ger. bummen, Du. bommen.]

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"Bum v.1, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jan 2018 <>



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