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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FOUMART, n. Also fumart, fuimart, foulmart, f(o)umert, foomert, fumort, foumirt, fowmart(e), ¶foumaret; whumart (Ags. 1775 Arbroath T.C. Rec. MS. (25 April), whomert (Per. 1742 Atholl MSS.), erroneously by the reverse process of F, letter, 7.,W, letter, 7[′fu:mərt]

1. The pole-cat, Mustela putorius (Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Abd., Peb., Kcb., Dmf. 1953). This animal is now very rare and the word has come more frequently to be applied to the ferret, Mustela furo, or to the weasel, Mustela nivalis. Also attrib., as in foumart cat, a brindled cat (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein); foumart een'd, ferret-eyed (Dmf. 1875 P. Ponder Kirkcumdoon 20), foumart-faced, ferret-faced (Bnff. 1937 E. S. Rae Light in the Window 23), foumart skin, foumart trap (Sc. 1829 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 284). Adj. †foumartish, smelling like a pole-cat, fetid (Sc. 1831 Ib. III. 216).Per. 1738 Ochtertyre House Book (S.H.S.) 226:
Foulls killed by the foumirt . . 4.
Kcd. 1813 G. Robertson Agric. Kcd. 395:
The Polecat, or Fumart, is sometimes met with.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxxii.:
The Earl . . . cares nae mair for warld's gear than a noble hound for the quest of a foulmart.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Siege Rxb. (1874) xii.:
I heard a kind o' rubbing and thristing, as a fox or a foumart had been drawing himsel' through a hole aneath the ground.
Sc. 1834 Tait's Mag. (April) 216:
It is not generally known that Dumfries is the great mart where the hare, rabbit, and foumart skins of the middle and south of Scotland are disposed of.
Fif. 1881 Zoologist I. 166:
Falkland Woods, in Fife, seem to retain conditions favourable to the residence of the Polecat. . . . It is probably extinct long ago in East Fife. Locally termed “foumaret.”
Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Clay Biggin' 19:
I' his time John was a yauld ane . . . fierce as a foumart an' haird as airn.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xvii.:
I ken something o' the tods and foumarts o' Woodilee.

Combs.: (1) †foumart's spuing, — tears, the alga, Nostoc commune. Cf. fallen star, s.v. Fa, v., n.1, I. B. 9. (5); (2) fumart-whittrock, a weasel. See Whitrat1 Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 96:
The stars yestreen, shot westlin down the lift; And fell like fumert's spuing, on the bog.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 115:
Gowks' spittles, pizion adders, May dew, and fumarts' tears.
2s.Sc. 1937 Oor Mither Tongue (MacWhannell) 86: 
Be gleg as a fumart-whittrock, or dull as a snail.

2. The 1903 G. Sim Fauna of “Dee” 65:
By the country people it was known by the name of Ferret, Futteret, and Fumart.

3. Fig. of human beings: in a neutral sense, a sharp, active, gen. small person (Mry., Abd. 1953); more commonly in a bad sense, a mean, nasty, offensive individual (n.Sc. 1900 E.D.D.; ne.Sc. 1953). Occas. also of animals or things which are unpleasant or objectionable, “a stinker”. Phr. to dae the foumart, to be engaged in some shady practice, to participate in a "fiddle", "to cook the books", or the like (Rxb. 1975). Slk. 1824 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) xii.:
Thus the Snaw-fleck's father was called Tod-Lowrie, (the fox); and his only son was denominated the Foumart (pole-cat).
Abd. 1891 J. Ogg Glints 165:
The ill-gaitet foomert, to tell me as muckle.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 61:
A foumart o' a motor gyangin' fuddrin' to the toon.
Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 62:
An ull-faurt foumart o' a cat, as cankert as 'ersel.
ne.Sc. 1925 Scots Mag. (March) 469:
Ye widna hinner me to tak' a rale foumert o' a caul', an' I wis ordered to bide i' my bed.
Sc. 1931 J. Lorimer Red Sergeant 128:
For the old man's sake he must be scathless, the dirty foumart!

 [O.Sc. fulmart, lit., 1424, fig., a.1508, E.Mid.Eng. folmarde, O.E. *fūl mearð, “foul marten.”]

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



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