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

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Ferme, a. Also: ferm, feirme. [ME. ferm, ferme (Chaucer), OF. ferme. Cf. Firm a.]

1. Settled, fixed, constant; not subject to weakening or alteration. a1400 Leg. S. i. 211.
Quha to him ferme treutht gafe
Ib. x. 506.
He … vith thame of Rome & Perse ay Had fereme pece al his lyf-day
1386 Rotuli Sc. II. 85/2.
It is accordit … That ferme trewes, abstinance of were, and special assurance sal be bytwix thaym
c 1390 Reg. Morton I. App. xl.
Quhar that he … was vndir the ferme pece … of owr Kyng Robert
c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 1845.
To fluris wele thare tale And gare thaime haf more ferme credence
c1420 Wynt. ix. 2677.
Thare may na band be maid sa ferm, Than thai can mak thare will thare term
1456 Hay I. 300/26.
A kingis word, quhilk suld be ferme but variaunce
c1460 Wisd. Sol. 430.
I saw … na thinge profytable, na ferme and stabill, remayne wnder the hewyne
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 59/10.
Forthink thi syn with ferme purpose to mak confessioun
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxiv. 3.
This fals warld … Quhair no thing ferme is nor degest
1513 Doug. viii. i. 47.
Heir is thy sikker duellyng place … Ane sovir ferm habitatioun for ay
1549 Compl. 82/22.
The Inglismen gifis ferme credit to diuerse prophane propheseis of Merlyne
a1568 Scott vi. 9.
Ferme luve … Of riche nor pure to speik suld spair
a1570-86 Arbuthnot Maitl. F. xxix. 113.
With pacience richt ferme I wald ourcum
a1570-86 Maitland Ib. ci. 60.
We sould … of our synnis ws repent With ferme purpose to syn na mair

2. Fully observed or adhered to; unaltered, unmodified. In the legal phr. ferme and stable. 1385 Red. Bk. Grandtully I. 139*.
To halde ferme and stabyl al thyngis thar determynyt, ordaynyt and dune
1402 Dundee Chart. No. 22.
The saidez parties … heicht … til haue ferme & stable for euere mare qwhat we … determynt
c1420 Wynt. v. 1637.
Quhat that he Dyde wyth thame for thare dignyte Ferme and stabyll it wes lefft
1475 Misc. Spald. C. IV. 10.
That I sall hald ferme and stable all that my said procuratour doys in the said mater
1515 Fife Sheriff Ct. 19.
Andrew Wardlau … cautionare for hir that scho sall hald ferme & stable quhat he dois in hir name
1516 Thanes of Cawdor 127.
To be ferme and stable kepit but fraude or gyle
1578 Conv. Burghs I. 53.
Quhat the said Henry sall do herein, we bynd and obleis us … to hald ferme and staibill be thir presentis

3. Strong, secure; safe. 1375 Barb. ix. 755.
The King for-out mair delaying Send hym to be in ferm keping
1456 Hay I. 175/13.
Sen he … closis him and kepis him in ferme prisoun
1513 Doug. ii. v. 60.
O Troiane hope, maist ferm defens in fyght, Quhat has thé tareit?
1527 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 118.
That the mony … be put in ferme keping, … and nocht to be exponit in vthir vssis

4. Of persons: Steadfast, unwavering. a1400 Leg. S. xviii. 398.
His thocht wes vnmowit ay, Sa ferme wes he in Cristis fay
c1450-2 Howlat 128.
That was the turtour trewest, Ferme, faithfull and fast
1456 Hay I. 204/27.
Sa that he be othir wayis ferme in the treuth
Ib. II. 57/24.
For default of forse that suld be his pillare of worschip till hald him ferme
c1460 Thewis Gud Women 109.
[A woman should] Be ferme of hed, fut and hand
a1500 Bk. Chess 708.
A juge of law he suld be … , Richt ferme & werray constant in his mynd
c1568 Lauder Minor P. iii. 127.
All ye, … that hes Gods wourd profest, … Stand ferme and stable

5. Solid, compact. 1456 Hay I. 12/27.
Rycht as the see is foundit apon the ferme erde, depe and sad
Ib. II. 113/25.
The ferme hevynnis fra the regioun of the mone upwart
a1500 Colk. Sow iii. 25.
Frome thair ferm first rutit grund dewydit, Thay may nocht … flureis as afoir
1533 Boece iii. iii. 94.
Cesare … departing fra the porte with prosper cours arrivit at ferme land
fig. 1531 Bell. Boece II, 106.
Ane new precheoure … that sal first … geif thaim milk, and efter, geif thame mair ferme fude
1533 Boece i. ii. 36.
Hyber … plesingly devisit that with his awne pepill thai suld … growe in ane ferme nacioun

b. Ferme land, the mainland. c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1550.
All thir gret ilis … War, than, equall with the ferme land
a1578 Pitsc. I. 257/23.
Throw all the realme of Scottland … , allis weill in his illis as in the ferme land

6. Fixed, immovable; holding fast. c1450-2 Howlat 355.
The memberis of the samyn foull … , Ferme formyt on fold
1456 Hay II. 48/26.
As the sadill, with the grathe that langis to it, haldis him ferme
1513 Doug. v. xiv. 92.
Thai … Kest down thar bewchit ankyrris, ferm of grip, Into the raid
Ib. x. xii. 19.
Lyke to a ferm rowk, … Sytuat aganys the rageand wyndis blast

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"Ferme adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 May 2024 <>



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