Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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TOTUM, n.1 Also tottum, -em, totim, toutom.

1. Reduced Sc. forms of Eng. teetotum, the four-sided top spun in games of chance, esp. put-and-take (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 82, toutom; Abd. 1956 J. Murray Rural Rhymes 9; I., n.Sc., Lnk., sm.Sc. 1972), the game itself (Sc. 1825 Jam.); any wooden top used as a plaything (Cai., Abd. 1972). Ayr. 1790  A. Tait Poems 237:
The whole fraternity's gaun mad To yoke the totum.
Dmf. 1826  A. Cunningham Paul Jones I. vi.:
The shepherd-bairns play at the totum on his braw brade gravestane.
Mry. 1830  Elgin Liter. Mag. 226:
We dedicated an hour or two to a game at the “Totum,” playing either for pins or buttons as the case might be.
n.Sc. 1840  D. Sage Memorabilia (1889) 122:
He made a “totum” for me of a bone button-mould, which from its size, colour and rapid revolutions, I thought the most wonderful toy I had ever possessed.
Ayr. 1873  A. Aitken Poems 40:
He was aye fond o' wood-making — first he made totums.
Ags. 1890  A. N. Simpson Muirside Memories 78:
When the Laird's father and himsel' played at the tottum for crack-nets.
s.Sc. 1907  Border Mag. (March 1935) 48:
When he saw the totum spinnin?
Sh. 1931  Manson's Sh. Almanac 194:
Whirlin' roond leck a totum.
Abd. 1955  W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xxi.:
Daavitie an' me hid sutten doon tae hae a bit furl at 'e tottum.

2. Transf. a fir-cone (Lnk. 1972).

[O.Sc. totum, the fall of the top which allowed the player to scoop the pool, 1500, the top itself, 1638, Lat. totum, the whole lot. This was usu. indicated by the letter T inscribed on the appropriate face and hence the Eng. form T- or tee totum.]

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"Totum n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jan 2019 <>



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