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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

GLAMOUR, n., v. Also glammer, -ar, glamer, -or, glaum(m)er, †glaumour, ¶glaimer (Sc.(E) 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' the Ling 46). [′glɑ(:)mər]

I. n. 1. Magic, enchantment, witchcraft; a spell, esp. one affecting the sight, as in phr. to cast (the) — ower someone('s een). Glamour, although now adopted by Eng., was orig. Sc. and popularised in liter. use by Scott.Peb. 1715 A. Pennecuik Descr. Twd. 396:
Albeit the webster have the glamer, There are even richer men nor he, That keep me in their chiefest chamber.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I., Gl.:
When Devils, Wizards, or Juglers deceive the Sight, they are said to cast Glamour o'er the Eyes of the Spectator.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 63:
Sure Major Weir, or some sic warlock wight, Has flung beguilin' glamer o'er your sight.
Ayr. 1789 Burns Grose's Peregrinations iv.:
Ye gipsy-gang that deal in glamour, And you, deep-read in hell's black grammar, Warlocks and witches.
Dmf. 1805 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 700:
Love's glammar twinkles frae their een And vivify's each comely feature.
Sc. 1830 Scott Demonology iii.:
This species of witchcraft is well known in Scotland as the glamour, or deceptio visus, and was supposed to be a special attribute of the race of Gipsies.
Fif. 1876 A. Laing Lindores Abbey 384:
There were those in this neighbourhood, long after the beginning of the present century, who believed that a slip of rowan tree carried on their person dispelled glamour, and rendered nugatory all the powers of sorcery and witchcraft.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 169:
The “twal owsen” team at Mill of Carden, had got some glamour cast over them.
Lnk. 1902 A. Wardrop Hamely Sk. 59:
I . . . gied mysel' a shake, an' rubbed the glaummer oot my een.

Hence glamorous, adj., magic, supernatural.Gall. 1902 Gallovidian IV. 63:
There cam' an awfu' splash, Accompanied by a glam'rous flash.

Obs. comb. and attrib. uses: (1) glamour bead, glamer- [prob. due to confusion with Lammer, amber], an amber bead (Lth. 1808 Jam., glamer-): “it was believed . . . that witches generally wore amber beads, because of their magical power, and for purposes of fascination” (Ib.); (2) glamour-bed-strae, a species of the plant bedstraw, Galium boreale (Rnf. 1837 Crawford MSS. XI. 56); (3) gla(u)mour gift, the power of enchantment; (4) glamour might, idem.(1) Mry. 1835 Lintie o' Moray (Rampini 1887) 64:
Their een, like glamour beads o' dew, Will set the cauldest heart a-dirlin'.
(3) Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 21:
May be some wily lass has had the airt, Wi' spells, an' charms, to win our Robin's heart; An' hauds him, wi' her Glaumour gift, sae fell.
Sc. 1896 “L. Keith” Indian Uncle iv.:
She is crabbit . . . but the glamour gift to weave spells is hers too.
(4) Sc. 1805 Scott Last Minstrel iii. ix.:
It had much of glamour might, Could make a ladye seem a knight.

2. Suave talk, patter, polite nothings.Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost vii.:
“I'm glad to see you in London”, [said he] and a hantle o' ither courtly glammer that's no worth a repetition.

II. v. 1. To bewitch, enchant; to dazzle, blind. Arch.Sc. 1724 Ramsay Ever Green (1875) I. 220:
All this and mair maun cum to pass, To cleir your glamourit Sicht.
Hdg. a.1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 143:
When I wad hae spoken, She glamoured my mou'.
Sc. 1826 Aberdeen Censor 232:
I canna thole that black woodie! it glamours my auld een.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 178:
He chuckles and he leers, His een glist wi' glee, or glammerit wi' tears.
Dmf. 1874 R. Reid Moorland Rhymes 19:
The glamour't lass — the minny's dule — The aftercome — I min't it a'.
Bnff. 1887 W. M. Philip Covedale xx.:
It's verra strange how men, even till they are dottled wi' age, will be glamoured wi' women.
Sc. 1917 D. G. Mitchell Clachan Kirk 172:
The dochter o' Herodias danced afore the company, an' glamor'd Herod.

2. To deceive, bamboozle.Bwk. 1878 Whistle-Binkie II. 244:
The fish upon the table spread in ashets bright and clean, The larger spread aboon the fry to glamour anxious een.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums xvi.:
The bardy scoot was never born that could glamour me twice.
Kcd. 1900 W. Macgillivray Glengoyne II. iii.:
He wis cliver at glamorin' fouk wi' his tongue.
Abd. 1909 J. T. Jeannie Jaffray v.:
Sae muckle are ye glamour't wi' yer ministers an' professors workin' for the king, as big yer ain prison.

[Corruption of grammar (cf. Burns quot.): for change in sense, cf. obs. Eng. gramarye, grammar, learning in gen., with its later (now arch.) sense of occult learning, magic, O.Fr. gramaire, book of magic, and Fr. grimoire (for gramoire), book written in mysterious characters used by sorcerers, the sense of mystery and suspicion attached to learning by the uneducated being responsible for this development in meaning.]

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"Glamour n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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