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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Scum, v. Also: skum, skwm. [ME and e.m.E. skume(n (1398), scom (c1420). Cf. OHG scûmen, MLG, MDu. schûmen, also OF escumer.] To skim, in various senses.

1. tr. Of a bird: To skim; to fly above (a surface), keeping as close to it as possible without touching it. 1513 Doug. iv v 149.
Lyke till a fowle that … Fleys by the watyr, skummand the fludis law
1513 Doug. xii viii 73.
The swallow … Apon hir weyngis scummand [Ruddim. skimmand] euery syde Thir heich hallys

2. intr., with locative compl.: To fly, or sail, swiftly, with apparent absence of effort. 1513 Doug. xiii ii 120.
Lyke as quhen that the gredy gled on hycht Scummand vp in the ayr oft turnys hys flycht
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 46/64.
Whill she [sc. Phoenix] vsde to scum the skyes about
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 46/82.
Sum Rare stranger foule, which oft had vsde to scum Through diuers lands
1590 Crim. Trials I ii 211.
[With Satan] he wes skumand owre all the see without land, in ane boit

3. tr. To scum (milk or other liquid) (clene), to skim milk; to remove cream, floating matter, etc., from the surface of milk by skimming it with some utensil (see Scummar n. 1). Also, to scum … off.Also, with the churn as object. 15.. Wyf Awcht. 35.
Scho kyrnd the kyrne & skwmd it clene
1696 Donaldson Husbandry 89.
Cheese made when the milk is new and not skum'd
1701 Brand Orkney & Shetl. 130.
The oyl by force of the fire … is drawn from the liver, which so being separated, and sweeming above, they take or scum it off, and puts in vessels for the use

4. Of a golfer: To skim the ground with the head of his golf club when hitting the ball. 1687 Bk. Old Edinb. C. XXVII 133.
You most aim directly to hit the ball it selfe and not aim to scum the ground

5. To consider (a proposal) quickly and superficially. 1582 Declar. Causis 26.
Qvhan all vther schyftis that micht mak … money had bene scummit & socht [etc.]

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"Scum v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Mar 2023 <>



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