Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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TOME, n., v.1 Also to(a)m, tomb(e) (Sh.); tawm (Cld. 1825 Jam.); toum, toom (Rxb. 1825 Jam.), tume (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 319); towm (Cai. 1972). [to:m, Rxb. + †tum; Cai. tʌum]

I. n. †1. A rope or cord (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.).

2. Specif.: (1) a cord of twisted horse-hair used as a fishing-line (wm.Sc. 1808 Jam.); the short cord to which the hook is attached in floating-lines or the Snuid joining the hook to the hemp in a handline (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; ‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; I.Sc., Cai., Ags. 1972). Also in n. Eng dial. Sh. a.1725  T. Gifford Hist. Descr. (1879) 76:
All lines and tomes made of horse-hair.
Slk. 1818  Hogg B. of Bodsbeck viii.:
He cleekit a hantle o' geds and perches wi' his toum out o' the loch.
Sh. 1822  S. Hibbert Description 512:
He tuik da skuin and sneed da tombe.
Fif. 1841  C. Gray Lays 203:
With hazel fishing-rod in han' Out-spreading far the horse-hair toam.
Sh. 1846  Fraser's Mag. (Sept.) 334:
The hooks are attached to a piece of line, about four feet long, called a toam, and these are made fast to the tows.
Ork. 1911  J. Omond 80 Years Ago 8:
Tethers were made of horse hair and also tomes or lines for fishing sillocks with.
Sh. 1953  C. G. D. Sandison Sixareen 20:
At four fathom intervals along the line there were one fathom “tomes” with a single large ling hook at the end of each, and so a “fleet” of lines for a six-man boat would have about 1200 hooks.

(2) any horse-hair band or cord, as on a spinning-wheel (I.Sc. 1972). Sh. 1969  Scots Mag. (Nov.) 122:
To get the wheel ready for spinning may appear simple, but understanding and skill are required to put on the band of “toam” which connects the “pirm” to the “whorls.”

(3) Combs. and deriv.: (i) tomboy, a small plate of wood nailed to the gunwale of a fishing boat over which the fishing-line is hauled and so acting as a shield for the wood of the gunwale itself (Ork. 1929 Marw.) [the second element being appar. a transferred usage of Norw. dial. bøye, bøygjel, a cleft stick on which a fishing-line is wound]; (ii) tömekins, tömi-,, a three-strand rope-twister (Sh. 1905 E.D.D.; Sh. 1972); (iii) tomeline, a fishing-line, a tome (Sh. 1972); (iv) tome spinner, a spindle used for twisting hair lines, freq. consisting of a stick fixed in a lump of peat as a tension-weight. (ii) Sh. 1899  Shetland News (10 June):
A'll hae ta get der tedders laid apo' da tömekins.
(iii) Sc. 1701  Shetland News (11 Nov. 1958) 4:
800 ground Lines and Tomb Lines.
Sh. 1762  W. Sandison Merchant's. Day-Book (1934) 34:
50 Great Lines 15 Tomelines and 1 thousand Ling hooks.
(iv) Sh. 1877  G. Stewart Fireside Tales 39:
A sail needle, a tomespinner made of peat.

3. (1) A long thread of any ropy glutinous substance such as half-melted rosin or sealing wax (Cld. 1825 Jam.). Hence toums [ < toumous], adj., ropy, glutinous (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); (2) gossamer (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).

II. v. 1. tr. To draw out any (viscous) substance into a line, thread or filament (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Hence toamin spindle, a spindle on which fishing lines were spun (Sh. 1962). Rxb. 1923  Watson W.-B.:
Tomin' the taffie.

2. To be drawn out into a line, to issue in long threads like any glutinous substance. Cld. 1825 ,
It cam towmin' out. . . . To hing tawmin' down, to hang in the manner of saliva from the lips.

[O.Sc. toume, = I. 2. (1), 1670, O.N. taumr, rein, string, cord, Norw. dial. taum, id., fishing-line.]

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"Tome n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Dec 2018 <>



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