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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BUMMOCK, BUMMACK, n. Also boumack. Sometimes used in pl.

1. (1) “A brewing of a large quantity of malt, as two bolls perhaps, appropriated for the purpose of being drunk at once at a merry meeting” (Cai. 1808 Jam., bummack).

(2) The liquor itself so brewed.Ork. 1821 Scott Pirate (1822) xxxvi.:
The mickle bicker of Scapa . . . was always offered to the Bishop of Orkney brimful of the best bummock that ever was brewed.

2. “An entertainment anciently given at Christmas by tenants to their landlords” (Ork. 1808 Jam.).Ork. 1760 S. Hibbert Description (1822) 323: 
Each tenant feasted his laird at least once a year, in the Christmas holidays; these feasts are called Boumacks by the country people. A late landlord . . . looking on these boumacks as what the tenant was obliged to give his master, converted the boumacks of every house on his estate to 4 settins of malt . . . as a fixed and constant rent.
Ork. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 393–394, Note:
These entertainments, called bummacks, strengthened . . . the bonds of mutual confidence. . . . The Christmas bummacks are almost universally discontinued.

[Marw. says that it is prob. the same word as bummo (s.v. Bummie, n.2), the name of the receptacle being applied first by metonymy to its contents and thence to the whole feast. The word appears first in 1693 in Wallace's Acc. of Ork. 30.]

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"Bummock n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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