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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).

Noumer, Num(m)er, Nom(m)er, n. Also: noumere, -yr, nowmer(e, -ir, -yr(e, nouwmyr; numere, num(m)eir, -ir, -yr, nwmer, -yr; nomer(e, -ir, -yr, -are; newmer. [Late north ME. noumer (c 1400), nowmer (c 1440), otherwise appar. only Sc., varr. of Nombre n.]

1. The exact sum or aggregate (of a collection of persons or things, or const. possess. pron.).(a) 1457–8 Acta Conc. II. xiv.
The nowmer of [lords of session] that sal sit sall be ix
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 165/12.
It war to lang to tell the nowmere … of thire iles
Ib. 189/15.
The quhilk novmer of kingis cummis to vjxx
1490 Irland Mir. II. 20/8.
Distingand & numerand the artiklis of the faith eftir the nowmer of the apostlis thai ar xii artiklis contenit in it
Ib. I. 66/15. 1513 Doug. i. iv. 61.
Quhil he to grond had brocht sevin hartis grete And with his schippis thar nowmyr equale maid
1531 Bell. Boece I. 53. 1585 Reg. Privy C. III. 751.
The meill of the chalmer to be according to the nowmer of the beddis thairin
1586 Crim. Trials I. ii. 148.
Ordaning thame to supplie the nowmer of the absentis [persons]
1587 Acts III. 443/2.(b) 1513 Doug. xi. vii. 77 (Sm.).
Of thar schippis the nummeir [C. numbir] and maner Lat thame command
1549 Compl. 15/4.
He sau neuyr the litil nummir of them that fechtis nor the grite nummir of them that fleis for dreddour
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2760.
One gret arme … Quhose nummer bene so vntrowabyll
1599 Murray Lyon Hist. Lodge Edinb. 39. 1616 Conv. Burghs III. 32.
The said Thomas Watt hes his full numer of prenteisses (to wit thrie)
1627 Rep. Parishes 21.
The numere of communicantis ane hundrethe or thairby
(c) 1479 Acta Conc. I. 38/1.
To prefe the nomer and avale of the said gudis
1535 Hannay College of Justice 129.
The nomer of the lordis of sessioun wes sum thing waik and divers of thame wes absent
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2584.
Ib. 6224.

b. The title of the biblical book of Numbers. — 1551 Hamilton Cat. 69.
The buke of Nowmeris

2. The particular sum or aggregate of the things or persons specified. c1475 Wall. xi. 376.
xix thai war, and Craufurd, with gud will, The twentyd man, the nowmer to fullfill
1548–9 Corr. M. Lorraine 288.
We … beleyffit … tyll hawe haid … twa thwsand Scoittis men. Bot … we fand ws faire by that nwmyr
1551 Hamilton Cat. 29.
Trewly we suld keip thame thre maner of wayis. First hailelie in perfite nowmer
1554 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 778.
Ma novmer is put thairto nor wes thir ten yeris bygane
1579 Acts III. 179/2. 1586 Crim. Trials I. ii. 148.
His tryell stayis becaus that thair laikis ȝit sum personis of ane perfyte nowmer
1622-6 Bisset I. 15/32.
Gif any gettis, the nowmer ar bot few

3. Accompanied by specification of the number in the phrases (abone and to, also till) the nowmer of (so many).(1) 1489 Acts II. 220/2.
The nomer of vj persounis at the fewast
a1500 Bk. Chess 682.
He … gart of his men To ly hir by the novmer nyne or ten
1543–4 Chart. Coupar A. II. 194.
Thai sail haue sufficient … stabling … to … harbur the nowmer of tuelf or sextene hors
1545 Corr. M. Lorraine 135.
1583 Ayr & Gall. Coll. VI. 227.
Gif the said Robert gettis the nummer of four lastis [of herring]
(2) 1527 Acta Conc. MS. XXXVIII. 64.
At nane … abon the nowmir of viii or ix persons … be permittit to sit on the lang bynk
(3) 1471 Acta Aud. 20/2.
The … gadering of … liegis to the novmer of lx
1496 Treas. Acc. I. 295.
Grathing … with irne grath to the nowmir of xvj
1509 Reg. Privy S. I. 285/1.
To mak subtenentis … to quhat nowmer thai ples
1521 Fife Sheriff Ct. 278.
To the nowmer of lxxx of personis bodine in feire of weire
1555 Prot. Bk. T. Dalrymple 14.
Certane fwylȝe … to the quantite & nowmer of x or xij hors laidis
1562 Peebles B. Rec. I. 281. 1567 Reg. Privy C. I. 517.
His haill kippage … to the nowmer of sex men and ane boy
1622-6 Bisset I. 91/19.(b) 1549 Compl. 93/10.
He gart hang … to the nummer of sexten scoir of the maist nobillis of the cuntre
1555 Corr. M. Lorraine 399.
Being to the nummir only of twa hundreth men
1558 Rentale Dunkeld. 355. 1562 Inverness Rec. I. 95.
1566 Dunferm. B. Rec. I. 219.
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 311.
a1578 Pitsc. I. 118/19.
The north pairt of Scotland … to the numer with the King of all peopill threttie thowsand men
(c) 1481–2 Misc. Spald. C. II. 324.
Wyth the assent … of owre conuent of Donde tyll the nomyr of forteyn freris
1516 Reg. Privy S. I. 441/2.
Thar ar in this realme to the nomer of ane levin abbayis of monkis
1525 St. A. Formulare I. 270.
a1578 Pitsc. II. 301/6.

b. In or to (ane) gude (sufficient, certain) noumer, to a full (adequate, certain) aggregate or total, in full number, fully. 1533 Bell. Livy I. 96/30.
At this tyme war fundin in gude nowmer within the wallis of Rome lxxxm men
1542 Tytler Hist. III. 8.
With all the gentilmen and servyngmen … to ane gud nowmer
1544 Reg. Privy S. III. 133/1.
With maisteris … and marinaris in ilk schip to sufficient noumer to fure the sammyn
1559–60 St. A. Kirk S. 13.
Multipliing of them [prayers] to certane numer and all ceremonies useit in papistrie

4. The full tale or count of a body of persons or things. 1513 Doug. vi. xi. 6.
Hail the nowmyr of hys geneologye
1569–70 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 367.
Ane buik contening the haill numer of personis of thair delatioun
1622-6 Bisset I. 141/1.
The day of the executioun … suld nocht be compted in the numer of the dais prescryved be the law
Ib. II. 105/21.
Heir followes the … numer of all the monasteries … ministeries … nunries and cells withtin the kingdome

b. A particular body or class of persons. c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5310.
The letter tyme sall schortnit be For plesour of the chosin nummer
Ib. 6296.
All the childryng of the chosin noumer
1582 Reg. Privy C. III. 525.
Scho fand the foirsaid nowmer of personis accowterit in maner foirsaid, all mussallit
1604 Craig i. 13.
Of that vnthankfull numer [sc. parasites] liue anew

c. In contexts denoting inclusion in, or selection from, a particular company, body or class of persons or things.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 31.
Dauid … Four & twenty prestis made … & of this nowmir sexten were Of the kyne of Eleazare
Ib. xxxviii. 415.
Of the fare nowmir for to be Of haly men & reste in le
1456 Hay I. 179/25.
Wenand that under his sauf condyt he may lede him as ane of his said nowmer
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxiii. 27.
I … Vnworthy … in thair nummer to be tald
1513 Doug. i. v. 107.
Quham … Amang the nowmyr of goddis ressaue thou sall
1531 Bell. Boece I. lxiii. a1538 Abell 51 a.
Sum puttis him nocht in nowmir of papis
1549 Compl. 61/8.
viij sortis of vyndis, of the quhilk numir ther is iiij callit vyndis cardinal
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5142.
Tyll all thame of the faithfull nummer
1562-3 Winȝet I. 5/29. Ib. 56/35, 62/21.
Ignorantis and wikit persones … of the quhilk nummer we confesse the maist part of vs … to haue bene
a1578 Pitsc. I. 243/32.
Thair posteritie micht sie eftir quhat nummer thai haue beine and how thay vsit thame sellffis to the Kingis graice … pleasour
1603 Philotus cxxxii.
Thou's be nane of my nummer
1622-6 Bisset I. 201/11.
The lordis appoyntis uthir foure of there numer to succeid … quhill the course cum about the [haill] numer
(2) 1561 St. A. Kirk S. 2.
The eldaris and diaconis salbe chosyn and elecced furth of the numer [given] in wryt
1582 Reg. Privy C. III. 500.
Justices and commissioners … electit of the nowmer of the senatoures of his college of justice

5. A (large, small, etc.) company or aggregate of persons or things. a. Without the indefin. article.(1) 1456 Hay I. 53/17.
With the quhilk he sawdit grete nowmer of men of armys
1484 Peebles B. Rec. I. 192.
With sufficiant nowmer of nychtbouris to the vaill of xxxvj or may
1492 Myll Spect. 280/26. 1531 Bell. Boece I. 229.
Men with licht harnes … schot incredibill nowmer of stanis
Ib. 479.
Bot mair nowmer war slane of his contrapart
Id. Livy I. 108/1.
The ordoure of senatouris for thare few nowmer suld be the les estemyt
1533 Boece viii. xij. 277 b.
Mare copios nowmer of Saxons than afore
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5684.
With small nummer of monkis and freris … That [etc.]
1558 Q. Kennedy Tractive 133.
Or the supporte of ony noumer of privat men
1588 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 23.
Beand oure fre burgh royall and large nummer of inhabitantis
(2) 1449 Acts II. 36/1.
That … officiaris … ryde bot with competent & esy nowmer
1479 Acta Aud. 74/2.
He mycht haue had sufficient novmer and enew within the sammyn boundis
1530 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 131.
Gif it suld hapyn the Lord Forbes or his friendis to cum to the said tovn … in ony greit nummyr
1531 Bell. Boece I. xlii.
Thir last fowlis ar not frequent bot in few noumer
Ib. 83.
He wes irkit of so surfet noumer
1533 Montgomery Mem. I. 120. 1542–3 Reg. Privy S. III. 15/2.
Assisis … to sufficient newmer
1558 Treas. Acc. X. 375.
That thai with thair hors, cartis, sleddis and crelis in sic noumer
1564 Crim. Trials I. i. 448.
That this few noumer can never suffir the law … nor the few noumer can nocht ordand
1573 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 761.

b. With the indefin. article.(1) 1522 Fife Sheriff Ct. 268.
Ane sufficient nowmer of ane assise
1531 Bell. Boece I. 152. 1533 Boece ix. x. 311 b.
Sanct Colm … rewlit na litill nowmer of abbayis and cellis
Ib. ii. xii. 83. 1535 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 70.
Ane greitt nummer meill sellares
1540–1 Elgin Rec. I. 58.
1549 Compl. 6/19.
Ib. 56/35.
1550–1 Corr. M. Lorraine 344.
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3113.
Ane new armye … With elephantis ane hyddous nommer
1565 Reg. Privy C. I. 339. 1568 Anderson Collect. Mary IV. ii. 65.
Sua movit the hartis of a gude nowmer of thame
1568 Lyndesay Pref. 400.
Ane huge nowmer of volumis and bukis
a1578 Pitsc. II. 310/1.
1580 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 175.
Maister Clement Littill … hes left ane sufficient nummer of guid and godlie buikis to the ministrie
1587 Acts III. 449/2.
A verie greit nowmer of messingeris
1599 Crim. Trials II. 99.
Haifing onlie outit ane few nowiner thairof
1602 15th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. ix. 40.
Na small nowmer of personis
1612 Jurid. Rev. X. 466.
1613 Conv. Burghs II. 403.
Ane competent nummer of measurs
(2) 1498–9 Acta Conc. II. 305.
Our soverane lordis ald ennemyis of Ingland in ane gret nowmer
1531 Bell. Boece I. 206.
Becaus he wes bot ane few nowmer
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3145.
Semiramis had sic one nummeir [that, etc.]
1573 Inv. Wardrobe 191.
My lord had knoppis of beddis of his awin of auld and hes a gret nowmir presentlie
a1585 Maitland Maitl. Q. xxi. 54.
We wilbe our few ane nummer Gif commounis to the weir not wend

c. In plur. 1555 Glenartney Doc.
The deir … ar slane in great nowmeris in all this pairtis
1592 Douglas Corr. 36.
Grit numeris of honest … men ar in poynt of present wrak
1603 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 249.
Gryt numeris of his maiestie's liegis

d. With ane and ane certane: A (more or less large) number of persons or things, not precisely reckoned. c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 2521.
To cheis … Ane certane nummer of ȝoung men
1531–40 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xx.
That thair be ane certane nomer of aduocatis and procuratouris … that salbe callit [etc.]
1580 Hay in Cath. Tr. 34/10.
I am constranead … to propone ane certaine nommer of qwestiones … vnto thame
1583 Wemyss Corr. 100.
Ane nvmer of horsemen
1591 St. A. B. Ct. 18 Sept.
Wpon ane numer off complaintis
1602 Coll. Rebus Alban. 45.
1607 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 293.
The insolencies of a numer of deboschit and disorderit persones
1629 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 305.
Besyd a numer of other inconveniences

e. A (large) company, a host. c1475 Wall. vii. 1104.
He chargyt thaim, with nowmeris mony ane Rycht weill beseyn, in Scotland for to ryd
Ib. x. 279.
Rewellyt speris all in a nowmyr round

6. (In) company (of or with others). c1420 Wynt. viii. 6708.
That thai mycht In nowmyre [W. nomere] of thai xxx feicht
c1475 Wall. ix. 874.
Off this dispyt amendys I think to haiff, Or de thar for in nowmyr with the laiff

7. In noumer (also const. of the persons or things), in sum, in the aggregate.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xv. 27.
Dyscipilis … That in nomir war lxx & twa
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1674 (Bann.).
All creatouris he maid for the behuiffe Off man … In nowmer, wecht and dew proportioun
c1475 Wall. x. 701.
1529 Sutherland Chart. 87.
The forsaydis reuersiounis quhilkis ar in novmyr foure
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 32.
His worthy workis, in nowmer mo than fyue
1533 Boece i. v. 42.
Equale in nowmer to thare folkis slane afore
a1578 Pitsc. II. 84/16.
1584 Coll. Aberd. & B. 629.
[To pay to] his dochteris beand thre in nvmer … money to the adwansment and support of thair maregis
(2) c1515 Asl. MS. I. 155/2, 3.
Europia is les in novmer of peple and Affrica is baith les in place and nowmere of pepill
1533 Boece vi. xv. 218.
This abbay was augmentit baith in nowmer of devote persouns and rentis

b. In contexts denoting uncountability or number lessness. a1400 Leg. S. xxviii. 485.
Of feyndis that na nowmir was In a weschale stekit of gles
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 164/3.
Blak fowlis without novmere
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xiv. 2.
Nobillis owt of nummer

c. Multitude, numerousness. a1500 Colk. Sow ii. 170.
In nummer thay [fools] rys and multeply
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. 8/4.
Thocht thai [sins] war infinit of novmere
1513 Doug. ii. vii. 109.
By multitude and nowmyr apon ws set All ȝeid to wraik

8. An arithmetical number; a sum or total of abstract numerical units; a numerical place in a list; a numerical symbol, a ‘figure’. a1400 Leg. S. xii. 3.
The apostil Sancte Mathy that in nowmyr the laste ves
Ib. 308, 311.
Bot sa to be in nowmyre ode It wes nocht til thai dwelte with God. For-thy he wald thai vare twelfe ewyn & nocht to be in nowmyre lewyne
c1420 Wynt. iv. 1142.
Thai that the cornykill wrate In til nowmyr set the date
Ib. 2344.
C, that lettyre capytalle Is set in nowmerys … For ane hundyre
Ib. 2529. c1520-c1535 Nisbet I. 17. 1532 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I. 105.
Ressavit be wecht and nowmer be the said Schir James Vm lxxxx skailye
a1538 Abell 1 b.
In the table alphabeit in the heid lyne is the nummir of lewys
1538–9 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 232.
Be the law … of the realme all inquestis … suld be chosin in od novmer
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2888.
For aucht stagis one myle thow tak And thairefter thy nummer mak. So be this compt [etc.]
1560 Edinb. Old Acc. II. 93.
The nomere of the calk bocht by me, vxx xiiij stane gottin fre [etc.]
1564–5 Reg. Privy S. V. i. 545/2.
The samyn be at lenth writtin and insert thairin and nocht be nummer and figuris
1576 Orkney Oppress. 63.
The comownis payit thair dewities … be ane nummer and calculatioun callit merkis
1592 Acts III. 569/2.
With the nowmer of the leiffis of the buik
1622-6 Bisset II. 182/13.
His … maiestie succeding … in the numer nynt quhilk nynt figoure of numer includis and comprehendis all the rest of the figouris without sipheris

9. ‘Applied to one of the terms of a musical proportion’, proportionate measure or rhythm in music. a1500 Henr. Orph. 238 (Ch. & M.).
This mery musik … Complete and full wyth nowmeris od & even
c1550-c1580 Art of Music 94.
Faburdoun is ane melodius kynd of harmony quhilk dois … brek sympill noittis in figuris colorat be numeris trinar and bynar
Ib. 5 b.

10. Grammatical number. 1531 Vaus (1531) Bb ii.
Infnitiuo modo, on endyt or determyt mode to nowmyr or persone
1531 Id. in Grant Burgh Schools 54.
[The eight characteristics of a pronoun:] qualite, gener, nouwmyr, figure, kynde, persone, cais and declinatione
16.. Rudiments 1 b.

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"Noumer n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Sep 2022 <>



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