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

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First published 1937 (DOST Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Cummer, Cumber, n.1 Also: cumbir, -byr(e; cummir, -yr, -yir, -eyr, cwmmer, commer; cumer, -ir, -yr; cummar, -are, cumar, cummor. [e.m.E. cumber, comber, ME. kumbre, komber (rare), f. cumber Cummer v. Common in Sc. use earlier than in Eng., and usually in the forms without the b.]

1. Trouble, distress or hardship; a state of difficulty or anxiety.In very common use from c 1535 to 1600.(a) c1420 Wynt. v. 3718.
Perchans it may be medycyne The cumbyre that thow art fallyn in
Ib. 3805. Ib. 5145.
All swylk cumbyre he forsuke
c1590 J. Stewart 47/142.
The langsum labor … Quhilk he susteined, The cumber, clamor, and contineuall cair
1596 Dalr. II. 297/9.
The peple throuch quhais cumber and cost the bordiris war keipit
(b) a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 12.
The cairfull cummer and curst calimite Inwolwis all stait, condicioun, and degree
1531 Bell. Boece II. 312.
Othir privat personis micht have solicitude or gret cummer in espying sic thingis
1535 Stewart 7682.
To tak on me sic cummer and sic cuir For to defend the rycht
1539 Crim. Trials I. 221.
My inemeis and unfrendis … hes callit me before your l. to put me to cummyr and troubill
1549 Misc. Spald. C. IV. 52.
We think the entering of the said capitane sall relefe you of part of cummyir and pyne
1559 Misc. Wodrow Soc. I. 266.
Gif I had done utherwyse, it had not failȝied cummyr
c 1577 Waus Corr. I. 169.
Gif I cum in cumir throw vant of the samin
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. cx. 56.
Giff commownis to the weir not wend Nobillis may not beir all the cwmer
c1610 Melville Mem. 109.
The Quen … desyred by all meanis possible till eshew commer or any occasion of expensis
(c) 1533 Boece 15.
How Hengist … devisit subtell castis to hald Britouns in cummare and haue thame distroyit

2. Trouble or disturbance caused by the actions of others.(b) 1535 Stewart 39931.
All the laif … [that] To Scotland dalie that tyme maid grit cummer
1544 Elgin Rec. I. 81.
For stanching of the greit trubill and cumyr dale [= daily] maid to the provest … be Sir James Kar
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 625.
Inglismen had thame at invie, And purposit to mak thame cummer
1566 Reg. Privy C. I. 479.
Quhilkis pretendand rycht to the said complenaris teyndis, makis sic cummer and diversitie that thai can haif na teynding
1571 Lanark B. Rec. 63.
Na persone … that beis fund makand other impediment or moves ple or cumer
1596 Dalr. II. 64/24.
Erle Douglas … for al the trubl, skaith and cummir, that … he had done … pitifullie cryes mercie
1605 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 233.
Upone consideratioune of the grit troubill and cummir committed be Williame Adame … the said Williame to be put in irnis
1606 Melrose R. Rec. I. 8.
To releife his cationer … anent the cumer fallen out betuix tham and Walter Eleis
(c) 1552 Hamilton Cat. 270.
Delivir us fra all dangears … of seditioun and battil, of pleyis and cummar
a1578 Pitsc. I. 6/26.
Schaw him … Quhat troubill, quhat cummar, and quhat dissentioun fell in the cuntrie

b. With possessive pronoun denoting the causer of the trouble.(a) a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 479.
Happyn thow to be hangit in Northumbir, Than all thy kyn ar wele quyte of thy cumbir
1535 Stewart 46443.
Sensyne Scotland wes ay quite of thair cumber
1643 Baillie II. 96.
I have gotten a supersedere from their present summonds and hopes to be made free of their cumber
(b) 1558 Prot. Bk. A. Gaw 45.
Quhovsone the said Thomas … ves fre of thair cumir, he cam befoir me
(1569) Bann. Memor. .
Lat thea childer want the heidis, which sall … make yow quite of thair cummer
1582 Reg. Morton I. 134.
Mak me quite of this sillie auld mans cummer
1604 Lett. & State P. Jas. VI 61.
Put me to sum solid stand, that I may be quit of thair cummer
c1650 Spalding II. 365.
Scho wes compellit to give 400 merkis to be quyte of thair cvmmer
(c) 1576 Oppress. Orkney 71.
He was glayde to aggrie with him, and be quyt of his cummar

3. An instance of trouble or disturbance.Chiefly in the plural, common c 1545–1600.(b) 1545 Crosraguel Chart. I. 100.
Thair is mony cummeris now and veray gret trublis now in ȝour absens
1547 Reg. Privy C. I. 82.
Becaus the saidis houssis may engenner cummeyris in the cuntre
1555 Conv. Burghs I. 6.
Be occasioun of weir, pest, and vtheris cummeris quhilkis hes occurrit laitlie
1571 Fergusson Tracts 77.
The end of a cummer salbe the beginning of ane vther
a1578 Pitsc. I. 305/14.
This cummer draiff ower quhill the king was xij ȝeiris of aige
1592 Crim. Trials I. 325.
There falles out sike cummeris tuichin that land, that we ar able to lose the hail ware first
1609 Gardyne Garden 58.
Now am I quit, and from your cummers clair
(c) 1553 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 177.
Efter … thay se ony cummaris of slauchteris, tulyeis, or apperance thairof
The place quhair the cumar or tulye is
1555 Ib. 221.
Francis said the office of baillery wes but ane cummar and bot of small proffitt
1563 Misc. Maitl. C. III. 320.
Sche also deponis that sche for awoyding of pley & cummaris send to George Lewyngstown [etc.]
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 129.
Quhairvpone followit appeirance of great cummaris
1616 Crim. Trials III. 404.
In respect of dyuerse trubbilis and cummoris he come vnto
1625 Garden Kings 60.
This … had to doe With ciuill cummars and commotiounes most

4. Encumbrance, hindrance. 1547 Stirling B. Rec. I. 50.
The rouim is nocht convenient … that nother hors men, futmen, nor leid men may gudlie pas by but cummir
1573 Peebles B. Rec. 355.
That thair be ane fre passage to the wautsche to walk nychtlie within the wallis without ony cummer, stope, or impediment

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"Cummer n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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