Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

DWAM, n. and v. Also dwaam, dwalm, dwaum, dwawm, †dwame. Also in Eng. dial. [dwɑ:m]

I. n.

1. A swoon, a faint; a slight feeling of faintness; a sudden attack of illness (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.). Gen.Sc. Sc. a.1724  Lady G. Baillie in
Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1750) IV. 337:
The day it was set, and the bridal to be, The wife took a dwam, and lay down to die.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality xxxix.:
He fell out o' ae dwam into another, and ne'er spake a word mair, unless it were something we cou'dna mak out.
Ork. 1912  Old-Lore Misc. V. ii. 69:
Bit he buist tae been i a kind o' dwam.
Bnff. 1924  Swatches 40:
Naething like a wee mou'fu' to cure a dwaam.
Per. 1753  A. Nicol Rural Muse 19:
While in a grouffing easy dwame He slept to rest.
Lth. 1925  C. P. Slater Marget Pow 155:
Every now and then she keeked out, hopin' the pig was only in a dwalm.
Kcb. 1885  A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe 124:
Wha kens but — but he has only ta'en a dwam, an' fa'en an stupified himsel'.
Uls. c.1920  J. Logan Ulster in X-Rays (2nd ed.) vi.:
One who has had a weak turn or has been temporarily ill is said to have had a “dwam”.

2. A stupor, a trance; a day-dream, reverie. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1825  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 65:
Breaks out . . . in the dwawm-like silence o' a glen [like] the sudden soun' o' a trumpet.
Arg. 1901  N. Munro Doom Castle xxxv.:
Few'll come to Mungo Byde's hostelry if his wife 's to be eternally in a deevilish dwaam, concocting Hielan' spells.
Gsw. 1936  F. Niven Old Soldier iii.:
Reid had fallen into a dwam . . . while he stared at the small red dome . . . as though it were a crystal.
Ayr. 1887  J. Service Dr Duguid 115:
She was in a dwaam of drink.
Tyr. 1903  S. R. Keightley The Pikemen x.:
I was jist in a dwam, but I'm no sayin' I wasna expectin' ye.

3. A nap, a doze, a short sleep (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Sh.10 1950). Also freq. form dwammer, id. (Sh.11 1950, obsol.). Sh. 1899  J. Spence Folk-Lore 239:
I waukens oot o' a dwaam an looks i' da door.

II. v. Often with awa(y).

1. To faint, to swoon (Bnff., Abd., Fif. 1950). Vbl.n. dwalmin'. Sh. 1919  T. Manson Humours Peat Comm. II. 170:
Noo, dunna ye sit doon an dwaam awey.
Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 162:
As he in dwalmin'-fit lay there.
Edb. 1828  D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xvi.:
We immediately proceeded, and lifted the poor lad, who had now dwalmed away.
Ayr. 1913  J. Service Memorables 57:
Nanny . . . maist dwaamed wi, dreid.
Wgt. 1912  A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 31:
The invalid nar dwalm't, he gat sae waik Thro' loss o' bluid, an noo cud hardly spaik.
Kcb. 1896  S. R. Crockett Grey Man xlvii.:
I fainted or dwamed away till the sharp knife pricked me into consciousness again.

Hence (1) dwamie, adj., sick(ly), faintish; dreamy (Abd.15, Fif. 1950; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., dwamy; Dwn. 1931 North. Whig (17 Dec.) 10, dwalmy; (2) dwaminess, n., sickness, faintness (Abd.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1941; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein); (3) dwaamish, adj. = (1) (Abd.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1941). (1) Abd. 1923  R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert ii.:
A grey dwaumie leuk spread doon fae his een oot-ower his cheeks.
Edb. 1872  J. Smith Jenny Blair's Maunderings (1881) ii.:
Then she gangs to her bed in a saft, dwamy condition, an' dreams a' the nicht o' the words that had kittled her lug sae finely.
Gsw. 1937  F. Niven Staff at Simson's 43:
I felt dwamy in that crush.
w.Dmf. 1917  J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 171:
It . . . starts wi' a kittlin' in the thrapple . . . an' ye got dwamy an' weak aboot the knees.
(2) Kcb. 1893  S. R. Crockett Stickit Minister 254:
She has been troubled wi' a kin o' dwaminess in her inside for near three weeks.
(3) Sh. 1892  G. Stewart Fireside Tales 263:
I began ta fin a dwaamish kind o' a wy aboot my ain heed.

2. To sicken, decline in health (Slg.3 1941; Lth. 1825 Jam.2, dwaum). Per. c.1879  J. Craig in Harp of Per. (ed. R. Ford 1893) 349:
I'm maistly like to dwaum an' sicken, Sae deep's my wail.
em.Sc. 1894  (a) “I. Maclaren” Bonnie Brier Bush 31:
He begood to dwam in the end of the year and soughed awa in the spring.

3. Fig. To grow faint, to fade. Vbl.n. dwauming, in phr. dwauming o' the light, dusk, nightfall. Abd. 1787  A. Shirrefs Jamie and Bess Act IV. Sc. ii.:
Sane after, she gae'd hame to sair the Knight, Ae evening, just 'bout dwauming o' the light.
Abd. a.1879  W. Forsyth Sel. from Writings (1882) 7:
The music dwam't awa ere lang.
Dmf. 1877  R. W. Thom Jock o' the Knowe 4:
When the breath o' the wun' has dwamed away.

4. With ower: to fall asleep. Also freq. form dwammer (Sh.11 1950, obsol.). Sh. 1949  J. Gray Lowrie 82:
I wis juist dwaamin ower whin shu gae me a gluff as shu reissled da bed ta da waa.

[O.Sc. has dwalm, dwawm, etc., n. and v., from c.1500. Orig. deriv. of the ablaut series dwel-, dwal-, dwol-, as in O.E. dwlian, to go astray, O.Teut. *dwaljan, O.E. dwolma, confusion. Cf. O.H.Ger. twalm, giddiness, O.Sax. dwalm, delusion.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Dwam n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 May 2019 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: