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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Kem, Keme, v. Also: kemm, kemb(e. [ME. kem (14th c.), cemme, kembe(n (a 1225), also keme (14th c.), e.m.E. keame (1557), keem (1618), OE. cemban. Cf. Kame v. and Came v.]

1. tr. To comb (hair, the head, a person or animal). Also, to comb (a persons flesh, as a torture). Also absol.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xx. 187.
He … gert thame keme his tendir flesch with irne camys
Ib. xlvi. 34.
Scho vald … Vesch thare fet & keme thar hare
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xxxviii. 296.
Scho … listly als kemmyt thare hare
1456 Hay II. 64/24.
Na quhen he seis a womman kemmand hir hede … in the mornyng
1513 Doug. vii. viii. 30.
The deir also full ofttyme kem [R. keme] wald sche
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 275.
Weil couth I … kemm [M. keme] his cowit noddill
absol. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1007.
Kem sindle, kem sair, they are evil eased kemmis ilk day
(c) 1456 Hay II. 120/32. Ib. 144/3.
Syne eftir thou sulde kembe thy hed

2. To dress (wool, flax, etc.) with carding-combs before spinning. Also absol. c1420 Wynt. II. 271.
The wemen … Scho gert thraly be wyrkand, And mast in wolle to keme [v. rr. kem] and spyn
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 993.
I will have other tow in your rock, nor sit and keme linget

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"Kem v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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