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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).

HAMELY, adj. Also haimly; hemly (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.); hyim(m)ly (Rxb.). Sc. forms of Eng. homely.

1. As in Eng.: familiar, plain, unaffected. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1712 J. Arbuthnot John Bull (Colville 1920) iv.:
The little I have is free, and I can call it my own; hame's hame, be it never so hamely.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Ep. to Davie i.:
I set me down, to pass the time, And spin a verse or twa o' rhyme, In hamely, westlin jingle.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality viii.:
The ministers are a hamelier kind of folk, and I can follow their doctrine better.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 9:
Aa yow yins that's ooreet . . . an yirns ti sid-doon in ov a hyimmly bit away threh aa the strowe an the catter-battereen — ee sood gang an stop at Ancrum!

Hence (1) hameliness, familiarity, intimacy, fellow-feeling (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Now obs. in Eng.; (2) hamely-spoken, plain-spoken, speaking without affectation or in a familiar (i.e. Scots) tongue; (3) phrs.: (a) to make homely with, to make free with, to help oneself to without restraint (Sh. 1956); (b) to tak sae hamely apo' someone, to be familiar or at ease with someone.(1) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 370:
O'er mickle Hameliness spills Courtesy.
(2) Sc. 1814 C. I. Johnstone Saxon & Gael I. 34:
She is sae plain put on, and sae hamely-spoken, — I kent every word she said.
(3) (a) Sc. 1706 J. Webster Sermon 19:
Zeuxes painting a Boy carrying Grapes, one observing the Birds picking at the Grapes, call'd out, this Boy is not well drawn, else the Birds had been afraid of him, and not made so homely with the Grapes.
(b) Sh. 1897 Shetland News (3 July):
Noo, bairns, 'at I sall tak sae hamely apo' you, saet you in, an' Loard grant His blissin.

2. Kind, courteous, friendly (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1826 Blackwood's Mag. (Oct.) 594:
A man that's hamely's aye welcome.
Abd. 1867 G. Macdonald Disciple 20:
Whom gentler, homelier feelings stir.
em.Sc. 1896 I. Maclaren Kate Carnegie 43:
There's nae bluid like the auld bluid, an' the Carnegies cud aye afford to be hamely.
Abd. 1924 M. Angus Tinker's Road 19:
Wi' Patrick be hamely, Wi' Patrick be kind.

[O.Sc. hamely, etc., adj., from a.1400, familiar, outspoken, friendly, simple, plain, unadorned. Also used adv. in same senses from 1375.]

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"Hamely adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Jun 2022 <>



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