Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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CHAUMER, Chamer, Chamm(b)er, Chawmer, Chalmer, Chaulmer, n. and v. Sc. forms of Eng. chamber and used in all its senses. These forms are now obs. in St.Eng., though found in Eng. dial. None of the following meanings is to be found in mod. St.Eng. and the Eng. form is illustrated only in usages peculiar to Sc. [′tʃɑ:mər Sc., but m. and s.Sc. + ′tʃ:mər]

I. n.

1. The parlour, best room or spare room in a house, often an upper room. Also = Eng. chambers, private office (see first quot.). Sc. 1825 in J. G. Lockhart Life of Scott (1837) VI. ii.:
“He was never bred in a writer's chaumer,” quoth Peveril [nickname of Sir Walter].
Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 19:
Sheu heard de aesin' flags an' couples rumblan' doon on de cham'er fleurs abeun her heid.
Abd. 1863 G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod III. xxiv.:
“Come awa', Maister Sutherlan'; come ben to yer ain chaumer,” said she, leading the way to the room she called the study.
Ags. 1820 A. Balfour Contemplation, etc. 260:
Twa winnocks in the chaumer placed, Shewed Wattie had baith wealth an' taste.
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc. 78:
I've foun' ye buskit like a queen, In painted chamers sittin'.

2. (1) A bedroom in gen. Poet. or arch. in this sense now in St.Eng. and obsol., except in poetry, in Sc. Sc. 1859 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. v.:
A Scotch preacher was accommodated at night in the manse in a very diminutive closet. . . . “Is this the bed-room?” he said. “Deed ay, sir, this is the prophet's chammer.” “It maun be for the minor prophets, then.”
Bnff. 1882 W. M. Philip K. Macintosh's Scholars xi.:
I'll jist tak' a leuk into the chawmers and see that a' 's richt wi' the young fowk.
Ags. 1927 L. Spence Weirds and Vanities 2:
As a bairn was I bedded In a chalmer o' green.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 72:
Now speed you to some madam's chaumer.
Rxb. 1913 W. A. P. Johnman in Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 49:
Ee'r [sic] daylight peeps within my chaumer Is heard thy vile unearhly clamour.

(2) The men's sleeping place on a farm, often an outhouse or room above the stable. Known to Bnff.2 and our Abd. correspondents (1939). Ork. c.1912 J. Omond Orkney 80 Years Ago 8:
Most old farm houses were built on the same general plan — . . . and in front of the dwelling house and separated from it by a narrow close, a few feet wide, another row of houses, generally a calves' byre, the chaumer or extra sleeping chamber, and one or two sheds.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays and Leg. of the North (1908) 17:
So Johnny he crap hame agen, In spite o' love's desire, An' hang his dreepin' duds to dry Aroon' the chaumer fire.
Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb iii.:
He . . . went clanking across the causeway and up the trap stair to the “cham'er” over the stable.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 132:
This chaumer, or chammer, was a kind of detached room of the farm-houses of yore: here slept all the young men belonging to the family.

3. “A one-roomed cottage” (Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. Ork. Par. (1922) 150, chaumer); “one-roomed house or extra room” (Cai.3 1931). Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc. I. viii. 307:
Even old women living in “chaulmers,” or cots, were the owners of eight or ten sheep each.

4. Combs.: †(1) chaumer chiel, a valet de chambre; (2) chamer en', that end of the house where the spare room was situated; †(3) chamber-maill (see quot.); (4) chamber of dais, see Deas. (1) s.Sc. 1835–1840 J. M. Wilson Tales of the Borders (1857) V. 365:
She presented the white towel with its enclosure to the “chaumer chiel” of Robert Bruce.
(2) Sc. 1935 I. Bennet Fishermen, etc. iii.:
The ben was the kitchen and living-room and the “but en',” or “chamer en',” was where the tar, fishing-gear and oil were stored.
(3) Sc. c.1700 H. G. Graham Soc. Life Scot. 18th Cent. (1899) II. xi.:
What added to the wretched discomfort of the teachers was the want of any dwelling house . . . although there was often assigned an annual allowance for a lodging known as “chamber-maill,” equal to about ten shillings (¥7 Scots).

II. v. To closet, shut up. Found only as pa.p. or ppl.adj. Arch. in Eng. (N.E.D.). Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 43:
As he is chamber'd up he hears a grain, As of a bodie making heavy main.
Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xviii.:
They war chaumer't there, ye see, wi' the lawyers an' so on.
Knr. 1886 “H. Haliburton” Horace in Homespun 78:
Ithers again for weeks are chammber'd Glowerin' wi' hawks' een on a damberd.

[O.Sc. chambre, 1375, chawmbyr, c.1420, chawmer, 1424, chalmer, c.1450, chaumer, 1456, chamer, 1461, chammer, 1573, a chamber, (private) room, bedroom; also chalmer che(i)ld, a young chamber servant, valet, -mail(l), the rent of a chamber or room (D.O.S.T.). The l has been introduced in the later forms on the mistaken supposition that the long [ɑ] sound indicated the loss of an original l.]

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"Chaumer n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2021 <>



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