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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.

(Scarmische,) Skarmisch, Skirmis, Skirmis(c)h, v. Also: scarmis; -mysch; skyrmise; scirmishe, scrimische, scrimmish. [ME and e.m.E. skyrmysshe(n (1385), scarmysshe (c1420), scarmush (c1470), skyrmysh (a1513), skrymysshe (1523), skryssmys (1554), scaramosh (1562), OF eskirmir (1080 in Larousse), MF escarmucher (c1350 in Larousse), OHG skirm-, scirman, Gmc. *skirmjan to defend.]

1. intr. To engage in irregular, light or desultory fighting; to skirmish. Also fig. b. To skirmish upon (a place), to carry out a sudden raid or attack on.(a) 1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 74.
And skarmischand with him [sc. Huntly], thaj send word to … Murray to come with the Louthiane men
a1578 Pitsc. II 162 h. of ch.
Hou the congregatioun … skarmisched with Leith
(b) 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 213.
Our suddartis, seing the enemie, foulishlie wold gae vpon thame and skyrmise
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 170.
He continwallie skirmischit with thame
a1578 Pitsc. I 397/1.
[They] skirmischit witht the Scottis the space of ane moneth
c1610 Melville Mem. 25.
Wher themperour send doun some harguletis on horsbak to skirmysch
1650 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 614.
Thai skirmisched about thrie houres
(c) 1650 Milne-Home MSS 101.
Iff we can itt is thoughtt we will feaght or att leist scrimmish this nightt
fig. c1590 Fowler I 293/65.
How that with thame I skirmisht not, nor with theme wold anes mell
b. 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 124.
The hagbuttaris also skirmishing vpoun the croftis the space of ane hore and more

2. To take part in a mock battle. 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 91.
Ther was … a foulishe vanitie devysed in the castell. The one pairt of the captanes shuldieoris touke vpoun thaim to scirmishe [Bann. Trans. 98, scarmis] in maner of ane assault to the castle; the vther pairt … tuike the defence … of the castle. The skyrmeis [Bann. Trans. 98, scarmis] begouth about 8 horis at nycht. … About the end of the scirmiscing [Bann. Trans. 99, scarmusching] the castle began to discharge cannones … and so shortlie the counterfout assaultaris touke the flicht

3. tr. To engage (an enemy) in a skirmish; to harass with skirmishing. 1559 Cal. Sc. P. I 285.
[We lie nightly in our arms, most part on horseback,] … to scrimische them
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 47.
The Inglismen skarmisched thame oft
a1578 Pitsc. II 109/3.
They … fell to the Inglischemen and skirmischit thame so haitlie that they caussit thame reteir

4. It wes … skirmissit, skirmishing took place. 1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 218.
Thaj remanit … abyding the erle of Mortonis furthcuming quha wes than in Dalkeith with my lord regentis men of weare. And at his furth cuming, it wes crwellie skirmissit betuix the saids pairties

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"Scarmische v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Dec 2022 <>



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