Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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CHIMLEY, Chimlie, Chimlay, Chim(b)la, Chimle, Chumley, Chumla, Chimbley, n. Sc. forms of St.Eng. chimney, known to Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.2 (chimbley), Ags.2, Fif.10, Slg.3 (chimbla) 1940. Most of the above forms are also found in Eng. dial. (see E.D.D.). The Eng. form is illustrated only in special Sc. usages. [′tʃɪml, ′tʃɪml, ′tʃɪmlɑ, ′tʃʌm-, ′tʃɪmb-]

1. A grate, hearth, fireplace. Known to Abd.9 1940. Obs. in Eng. in this sense, last quot. in N.E.D. 1709, but still found in Eng. (Cor.) dial. (see E.D.D.). Sc. 1896 A. Cheviot Proverbs 211:
It's best to sit next the chumley when the lum reeks.
Ork. 1915 J. T. S. Leask in Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc. VIII. i. 39:
Dey haed a grand hoose, wi' apstairs intil id, boy! an' limed waas, seustul noo, an' chimlas, no wi' backs an' lums sam is ither hooses i the toon.
Mearns 1796 J. Burness Thrummy Cap in Plays, Poems, etc. (1819) ll. 261–264:
These spirits seem'd to kick a ba' . . . Atween the chimla an' the door.
Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays and Lyrics 235:
Stood you upon some mystic altar, . . . Or by the cheek o' some auld chimlay, When deein aizles shaw'd things dimly?
Hdg. 1885 “S. Mucklebackit” Rural Rhymes and Sketches 197:
Half a score of substantial black-birk chairs, and a beautiful black-leaded, shining Carron hob-grate in the “chimley.”
Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween vii.:
Some [nuts] start awa, wi' saucy pride, An' jump out owre the chimlie Fu' high that night.

2. The fire. Given for Gall. in E.D.D. (1898), but as rare, chiefly poetical. Sc. 1893 R. L. Stevenson Catriona xxiv.:
I was nearly perished, for the chimney was gone out and the frost keen.

3. The mantelpiece (Abd.9 1940). Obs. in Eng., last quot. in N.E.D. 1668. Ags. 1889 J. M. Barrie W. in Thrums xiv.:
There was a very bonny-painted cloth alang the chimley — what they call a mantelpiece border, I warrant.

4. Combs.: (1) chimley-brace, chimla-, chumley-, (a) “the mantle-piece” (Sc. 1808 Jam., chimley-brace; Cai.7 1940, obsol.; Mry.1 1925, chumley-brace; Ayr. 1940 (per Kcb.10)); †(b) “the beam which supports the cat-and-clay chimneys in cottages” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); (c) “the screen that conducts the smoke from a fire on the hearth upwards through the roof” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.); (2) chimla cheek, chimley-, chumla —, “the stone pillars at the side of the fire” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2, chimley-cheeks); “the fireside; the side of the grate; an insertion to lessen the size of the grate” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D., chimla-cheek); known to Abd.9, Fif.10 1940; (3) chimla-heid, chumla-, (a) chimney-top (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10, Slg.3, Kcb.10 1940); (b) mantelpiece (Abd.9, Ags.17, Fif.10 1940); (4) chimle-lug, the fireside (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10 1940); (5) chimley-neuck, chimney-nuik, chumley neuk, “the chimney corner” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2, chimley-neuck; Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10 1940); (6) chimley rib, one of the bars of a grate (Abd.9, Fif.10 1940); (7) chimla rink, the fireside (Fif.10 1940). (1) (a) Rxb. 1862 in Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1868) 40/2:
Pit them on the chimlabrace for an ornament.
(2) Mearns 1900 W. Macgillivray Glengoyne I. viii.:
On each side of the comfortable peat fire was a big stone of some height. These stones were “the chumla cheeks.”
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 108:
Then hirsel yer chair by the chimla cheek, An' lunt yer pipe-reek up the lum.
(3) (a) Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. of Sc. Life and Char. 49:
His blasts, that hae blighted baith muirland an' mead, May roar themsel's wud i' oor auld chumla-heid.
(b) Ags. 1892 F. F. Angus Susie xviii.:
A' thae braw kick-shaws on your chimla-heid, specially thae twa wi' the crystal pendles like they have on the gas brackets i' the Toun Hall o' Farfar.
(4) Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 202:
My mother was noddin' an' sleepin' at the chimle-lug.
(5) Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xi.:
Mysie, what are ye sitting shaking and greeting in the chimney-nuik for?
Cai. 1930 Caithness Forum in John o' Groat Jnl. (25 April):
A' he will hev til dae is til touch a button in 'e chumley neuk an' she'll be diced up til a t.y.
(6) Ags. 1820 A. Balfour Contemplation, etc. 264:
The chimley ribs red o'er wi' rust.
(7) Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake, etc. 55:
. . . what d'ye think Was the heid o' their crack roun' the auld chimla rink?

[O.Sc. has chimnay, etc., a fire-place, grate, chimney, from 1456, chimla(y), chimley, from 1540, chimblaay, 1662 (D.O.S.T.). The meaning of chimney in Eng. became restricted by the 19th cent., except in dial., to the passage by which smoke escapes from a fire.]

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"Chimley n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 May 2021 <>



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