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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
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S(c)ham(e, n. Also: s(c)haym(e, schaem, schamme, schaheme; scheyme, sheam(e; schome, schoym. [ME and e.m.E. shame (Orm), scome (Layamon), schome (a1250), scam, scamme, schame (all Cursor M.), OE sce(a)mu, sc(e)omu. Cf. ON skǫmm.]

I. 1. The feeling of self-reproach or disgust arising from a person's consciousness of his failure, or that of his family, community, etc., to achieve an acceptable standard of behaviour, honour, decency, etc.(1) 1375 Barb. xiii 279.
Bot thai … That schame lettyt to ta the flycht
a1400 Leg. S. i 535.
Sic schent and schame at hart had he
Ib. xviii 495.
Schame & dout lattis me To tel mare of myn syne to thé
a1500 Henr. Fab. 660.
In dreid and schame our dayis we indure
c1490 Irland Asl. MS 21/32.
And the mair that a persoun confessis him of that syn with schame & devocioun
1513 Doug. x vii 89.
Than schame and dolour, mydlit baith ourane, Baldis the pepill Arcad eueryane
1528 Lynd. Dreme 282.
Sum wemen … Ouerset with schame thay did thame neuer schryue Off secreit synnis done in quietie
1549 Compl. 7/2.
Dredour ande schame beand repulsit fra my melancolius cogitations
1567 G. Ball. 13.
Saif vs from schame and from dispair … And Deuillis doctrine
(2) a1500 Bk. Chess 614.
In sic a schame scho stud Scho wald erar [etc.]

b. Consciousness of this feeling; (a) sense of shame. 1490 Irland Mir. I 78/5.
Als lang as the man and woman perseuerit in innocence of thare nakitnes and membris thai had na schame

2. Shame viewed as a virtue or an aid to virtue; apprehension of immoral consequences acting as a brake on behaviour; a sense of propriety. c1400 Troy-bk. ii 2743.
Menelay … All schame and nobilnes put away And one Andromatha but delay Ruschit
1456 Hay II 65/34.
Lautee, veritee, justice, humilitee [etc.], … drede, schame, with othir syk like vertues
a1500 Henr. Fab. 52 (Makc.).
A man … Quhilk leiffis ay carnal foul delyt, That schayme can nocht derenȝe & arrest
Id. Garmont 11.
Hir sark … Of chestetie … With schame and dreid togidder mixt The same [sc. her body] suld be perfyt
a1500 Bk. Chess 607.
Quhar in a woman schame is tynt ȝe se, Als tyte is tynt hir werraye chastite
1513 Doug. iv Prol. 96.
Honeste, prowes, dreid, schame and luk ar gane Quhar thai [supra lust of wyne … warkis veneryane] habound
Ib. xii ii 31.
The fervent fyre of schame rysys on hie, Kyndland mar large the red culloryt bewte
Ib. iv ii 5. 1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 798.
Humyll thay war, simpyll and full of schame
a1538 Abell 119b.
Wemen thare schenis with ontrowable honeste & wemenlie scham
15.. Clar. iv 601.
Scho changit hew, as scho that ay Abandonit beine with [all] schame and dreid
1558-66 Knox II 415.
That schame haistit mariage betwix [etc.]
c1590 J. Stewart 49/46.
Hir cumlie corps … For seimlie schame reed sprinklit

b. Modesty, unpretentiousness. 1673 Fam. Innes 246.
Diligence passes all sheame and ane man diligent in his calling shall not be ascheamed to stand beffor kings

3. Disgrace, ignominy, loss of esteem or reputation.Freq. coupled with lak (see Lak n. 5 and 5 b (2) for examples), and scathe. See also Scath(e n. 1 g (2).Also proverb., see also Pas v. 18 b (3) for examples of schame is past (the) sched of (one's) hair.(1) 1375 Barb. iii 566.
With-thi thar-to folow na blame, Dishonour, wikytnes na schame
a1400 Leg. S. i 502.
Bot Petir … sad that schame inucht had he, ‘At of his craft has no mar mawcht’
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 348, etc. c1420 Wynt. viii 6571.
In fycht is mensk and schame [C. schoym] in flycht
14.. Acts I 6/2.
Sayand … that the deffendour hes done hym sic schame to the valur of xx merkis wyth the scath that he hes tane the party deffendour … sal not put his weddis for the price of the schame of the folowar bot allanerly [etc.]
1456 Hay I 143/16. a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1075.
Than war I woundir vnwis To purchese proffit for pris Quhare schame ay euer lyis All my leuing
Ib. 1042. a1500 Rauf C. 898. 1490 Irland Mir. II 54/3. c1490 Porteous Noblenes 178/7 (A).
To lif in schame
a1500 Seven S. 915.
He slewe his fader to chewe the schame
Ib. 1016.
On a pillar [to] … thole schame for thair trespas
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 311. 1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 79.
Better … to de with honour than leif with perpetuall schame
1560 Rolland Seven S. 7533.
The mater ryndes haill To hir awin schame
1570 Sat. P. xix 91, etc. 1590–1 Crim. Trials I ii 234.
To keip me frome syn and wardlie schame
c1650 Spalding II 4.
(b) 1375 Barb. vii 632 (C).
Tharfor till Ingland turnit he With mair schaym [E. schame] than he com of toune
c1420 Wynt. v 3853.
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI (1825) 156.
Thay could geve na suddan assault, and tharefore war compellit to reteir with shayme
Ib. 237.
That … we conqueis unto our selfis perpetuall shayme and ignominie
(c) c1420 Ratis R. 13.
At thow sal punyst be In this lyf here with mekle scham
Ib. 945.
Scho wyll forȝet quhat is scham And fra thin-furth worth mar hardy
c1460 Consail Vys Man 78.
Ȝit have thai scham in euery place
1542 Lynd. Bk. Arms 6.
To the gryt scham and dishonour of tham
1567 G. Ball. 91. a1578 Pitsc. I 18/11.
We brocht to pouertie scham and vthir miserie
1600-1610 Melvill 33.
That … thretning against the Castel … that … it sould spew out the captan with scham
(d) c1520-c1535 Nisbet III 317/33.
For feare of repreiff, schamme, ande pwnyschment
(e) c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 106/21.
And quhai in felde receaves schaem And tynis thair his knychtlie naem
(f) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 2420.
Quhill tyme that Pirrus suld come home That he thocht suld revenge his schome
c1420 Wynt. viii 6559 (C) (see (a) above).(2) ?a1400 Reg. Morton I xl.
For the qwhilk doyng I soume the schame and the skath of the fornemmit J. and his men apon thé R. iiiic li of sterlingis
?1438 Alex. ii 1846.
Great schame and skaith this dois to vs
Ib. 1475.
1556 Stirling B. Rec. I 68.
Quhilk may redound to his schaheme and skayth
1560 Rolland Seven S. 9572.
For ȝe haue saift this day fra schame and skaith Ȝour awin honour
1605-6 Welsh Forty-eight Serm. 356.
Ye should not lie against your neighbours to bring them to shame or skaith
1646 Baillie II 354.
Our shame and skaith wes not so great these six hundred years as this last year
1694 Dundee B. Laws 452.
The gryt los, sheame, and skeath that the craft doth lyie under
(3) 1560 Rolland Seven S. 869.
That he suld vnder the pane of schame … befoir the king to stand
1584 Sempill Sat. P. xlv 830.
Vnder pane of schame
proverb. a1570-86 Maitl. F. 159/13.
Comunlie still syn makis loud schame
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 105.
Auld sine new sheame

b. An instance of disgrace or ignominy.1492 Myll Spect. 285/25 (see Lak n.1 5 (1)). 1513 Doug. xi xvi 31.
Ne salt thou not that schame suffir
1639 in Spalding I 222.

c. Schamis deid, a shameful death. Only in Seven S. a1500 Seven S. 282.
That he suld de ane schamis deid
Ib. 1734.
That gart him get … Mekle magra and schamis deid
Ib. 1612.

4. What is morally disgraceful; baseness in conduct. To do schame, to do something base or wicked. —(1) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 1263 (D).
Of worschipe that proceded nocht Bot of tratoury throw him wrocht And of fals wordis with schame
c1490 Porteous Noblenes 177/28 (A).
Thai persewe this lady worthines richt swerlye and with gret schame … That … revis the gudis … of pure commonis
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2658.
Than Kyttoke thare … Without regarde other to syn or schame, Gaiff Lowre leif at layser to loupe on
1560 Rolland Seven S. 2092.
Quhat eirdlie schame, dispite and displesour Done be ȝour sone, and to my dishonour
1567 G. Ball. 13.
Saif vs from schame and from dispair
a1578 Pitsc. II 112/2.(2) c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 38/6.
Be layth alway to do amis or schame

5. (It) is (war, etc.) (gret) schame, a cause of shame or disgrace; (it) is (was, etc.) shameful or reprehensible. a1487 Gud Wyf & D. 131.
Schaym is, to day be quhit and rede, And vallowit on the morn as lede
a1500 Rauf C. 87, 488. c1475 Wall. viii 46.
Or ellis war schaym in story to racord
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 206/19. 1534–5 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 148.
Quhilk is schayme and it be nocht punyst
1540 Lynd. Sat. Proclam. 71.
That war grit schame Gif [etc.]
c1550 Id. Meldrum 290.
It wer greit schame Without battell ȝe suld pas hame
1560 Rolland Seven S. 8152.
It will be schame to me and to vs all
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 481 (T).
To sie it wes schame

6. transf. The external genital organs of a man or woman. a1538 Abell 67b.
The naip on the ȝerd hidis hir schame bot quhen sche is on hicht than it is seyn
1602 Colville Paraenese 102.
Him that vncouerit and irridit his fathers scham
1642 Bk. Pasquils 117.
He saw and leuiche, thou hid thy fathers shame

II. In various special phrases.

7. To have schame, to be ashamed, to feel ashamed. Const. to do something, or clause object, also of (a thing).Also, once, to have a schame (to do something).(1) a1400 Leg. S. ii 624.
Is nocht this he, that all the men Werrayt in Jerusalem, That euir callit one Cristis name, And now to prech it has na scham
Ib. xxvii 1014. Ib. xxviii 373.
The tyrand than, to se the flude That fra the maydine ran of blude, Had schame
Ib. xxxii 281. c1490 Irland Asl. MS 28/25.
He for schame & gret pryde that he has to be ourcummyn
(2) a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi 105.
Haffand scham that men suld meyne Scho sa auld with barne suld bene
(3) a1400 Leg. S. v 364.
To that entent that thu Of thi mystreutht haf scham now
1490 Irland Mir. I 117/14.
Than thai … in a part had hunt and schame of thare pertinacite
Id. Asl. MS 24/9.
Be schame that the synnar has of the syn
(4) a1500 Bk. Chess 1976.
And has a schame to thig

8. To think (grete) schame, to feel shame, to be ashamed. Without const., or const. of, for or infin.(1) 1492 Myll Spect. 295/1.
Than this man thocht gret schame and callit to him ane preist
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 290.
Thair feit, claggit in clay, He wesche … Peter thocht schame & said schortlie: ‘Nay’
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 201/26. 15.. Wyf Awcht. 104. c1552 Lynd. Mon. 983.
Than gan thay boith for to thynk schame, And to be naikit thocht defame
1584 Sempill Sat. P. xlv 264.
This duble drunckerd thought no schame … Persuading him to sell his land
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 746 (T).
Fy! fuill, thinkis thow no schame?
(2) a1500 Seven S. 1535.
Hir lord thairof he thocht gret schame And said [etc.]
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 181 (G).
That thaj sall thynk na lak nor schaym thairoff
1692 Presb. Eloq. (1694) 58.
I think shame of the board-head, and the first mess, and the royal king's dining-hall
(3) c1475 Wall. x 517.
And for hys wrang reyff othir he sall think schame Or de tharfor
(4) a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 159.
For his powerte the kingis thocht na schame Till knell on kne, and him adorne as king
1513 Doug. ix xiii 20.
Think ȝhe na lak and schame into ȝour mynd To do sa gret owtrage to strang Enee, In hys absens thus catyfly to fle?
1529 Lynd. Complaynt 223.
To mak seruyce he wald thynk schame
1533 Gau 104/6.
The blynd … pastors … quhilk alsua thinkkis nay scheyme to cal thayme selff vicars of Christ
1535 Stewart 13875.
I think schame to reveild [etc.]
1540 Lynd. Sat. 255. c1552 Id. Mon. 5386.
I thynk thay sulde thynk mekle schame, Off Christ for to tak thare surname, Syne, [etc.]
a1568 Bann. MS 261b/28. 1570 Sempill Sat. P. xii 113.
Think ȝe not schame to heir ȝour lordschipis lakit
a1578 Pitsc. I 175/28.
He thocht schame to haue his handis bund with sic ane tow of hempt
1599 in Melvill 459.
War nocht they [sc. bishops] wald think scham to be merschallit with sic as Piter speakes of ther, viz. murderers [etc.]

9. To do (a person) schame, to inflict injury or dishonour; to subject to reproach or obloquy. Also, to do (a person) schame and scathe. Cf. 3 above. Also const. to (the person) and absol. a1400 Leg. S. i 208.
A man … That Symon Magus had to name, And be his crafte did fele men schame
?1438 Alex. ii 132.
Gif ony man hes done … Thé or thyne outher shame or skaith I sall gar mend it
Ib. 6658.
Ȝe … Defoulis the barronis and dois thame schame
c1420 Ratis R. 1565.
May nothir auld na ȝonge it blame, Bot gyf thai do thaim-selwyn scham
14.. Acts I 6/2 (see 3 (1) above). 14.. Quon. Attach. c. 48.
Doand him in that feloune reff scham & scath
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 274 (see Lak n.1 5 b (1)). c1475 Wall. vii 282.
For in his lyff he did neuir woman schayme
?a1500 Dewoit Exerc. 12.
For the pane and schame that the Jowis did to ȝow
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 482.
Lat nevir this synfull sot Do schame fra hame unto your nacioun
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 110/39.
Or dethe or schame war done to thi persoun
1531 Bell. Boece II 207.
At last, be lang franing of his wife, he schew quhat schame the king had done to him
1535 Stewart 58022.
To do him self so mekill schame and lak
1568 Waus Corr. 57.
Ye did schame to my brother in the mene tyme
absol. 1570 Sat. P. xvi 43.
Gif he gar Athol do sic schame, As to consent to bring hir hame

b. To genner … schame (to an innocent person).1438–9 Rec. Earld. Orkney 71 (see Gener v. 2 (b)).

c. To mak (a thing) schame, to bring disgrace upon, sully. c1420 Ratis R. 264.
That hand was kepit innocent Fra al wnlefull ewil thinge Mycht mak it scham or defowling

10. To put, or bring, to schame, to bring into disgrace. c1475 Wall. x 1004.
The Roman [supra buikis] at than was in Scotland He gart be brocht to scham quhar thai thaim fand
1670 Alford Rec. 163.
Mr. Andrew Abercrombie is exhorted to … put to sheam those that are apt to speak evil of him

b. To schout (a person)4 to schame,5 to insult, reproach or belittle publicly. a1568 Scott ii 122.
This still for bargan Sym abyddis And schowttit Will to schame

11. For schame, from a sense of shame, because one feels shame. For schame of, because one is ashamed of.(1) c1420 Wynt. vii Prol. 25.
Than suld I worth red for schame
c1450-2 Howlat 817 (A).
The dene rurale worthit reid Stawe for schame of the steid
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1077.
The sege that schrenkis for na schame, the schent might hym schend
a1500 Henr. Fab. 2281.
Ane lord, and he be leill, That schrinkis for schame
c1475 Wall. vi 201.
War nocht for schayme he had socht to the ground
c1500 Fyve Bestes 225.
Quhy syng ȝe nocht for schame?
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 39/13.
Leif creuelte, and saif ȝour man for schame
1513 Doug. i Prol. 252.
I hald my tung for schame, bytand my lyp
Ib. iv Prol. 18.
Ȝour sport for schame ȝe dar not specify
Ib. viii iii 60.
Pallas … abasyt worth for schame
1562-3 Winȝet I 33/16.
Albeit thir twa ȝoure kempis dar not for schame ansuer in this mater
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 194/30.
For schame, quod scho, for schame go hyd ȝow
(2) c1450-2 Howlat 60 (A).
I … droupe as a dovle, Nocht for schame of my schape in pert till appeire

b. Fy for schame, see Fy interj. (3).

12. In schame of, in order to, or in such a way as to, put (another person) to shame. 1419 Wemyss Chart. 45.
Oure lord governyoure accusit the said Schir Jon … that wrangwysly he had ressavyt … a thusand markys, in grete schath and schame of the said guvernyour
1596 Dalr. I 101/24.
To put a gluue vpon the poynte of ane speir in exprobatione and schame of him quha crakit his creddence

13. To (one's) schame, so as to bring (a person) to dishonour, discredit or disgrace. a1568 Scott xxix 20.
Thair hairtis ar sett … Ȝow to dissaif … To ȝour schame and reprufe
a1570-86 J. Maitland Maitl. F. 285/6.
The suythe sall schaw it selffe out to thair schame
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 276. a1578 Pitsc. I 18/2.
To our gret rebuik and schame
Ib. 107/24.
To no les schame and mervell of his adwersaris then great laude … of this our natiue countrie
a1586 Maitland Geneal. Setoun 9.
In aventur that it be spokin monie yeirs efter thair deceis … to thair sklander and schame
1640 Aberd. Council Lett. II 230.
[They] tuick away sex great jeystes … and maid fyre wood therof to our scheyme

14. In ejaculatory formulae expressing imprecation, disapproval, etc., as a. Schame betide (fall, happin) a person, const. indirect object, b. Schame (for) to say, se, c. Schame … on (a person).a. c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 110.
Schame him betide!
1533 Gau 15/12.
Wordis of ir … as scheyme happine thé, lowne
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1206.
Schame fall them (quoth the webster hes maist of the web)
1679 Welsh Alarm to Impenitent 5.
To say … foul fall you, or shame fall you
b. 1513 Doug. iii vi 27.
Schame for to say the Harpye Celeno Spays onto ws a feirful takyn of wo
Ib. xi vi 102.
Quhou … The kyng of Myce … Ha, schame to say, fowlely befell … The first nycht in hys palyce lost hys lyf
1513 Doug. x viii 143.
Quhou that the fyfty ȝong men, schame to se, War fowlly murthuryt on the first nycht
c. a1568 Wedderburn Bann. MS 288b/110.
Schame pouerty or ane vyle suddane end On thame that maculattis pudicitie
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 359 (T).
Botht schame and sorrow on hir snowt that sufferis thé to sowk

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



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