Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PALMER, n., v. Also pam(m)er, pawmer, paumer. Sc. forms and usages. [′pɑ:mər, ′p:m-]

I. n. 1. A shabbily-dressed person, one who goes about looking like a tramp (Sc. 1808 Jam., pawmer).

2. The great shag or cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo (Ork. 1891 Harvie-Brown and Buckley Fauna Ork. 157); also palmer-scarf, id. (Cai. 1887 Id. Fauna Cai. 179), the guillemot, Uria aalge (‡Cai. 1965).

3. Awkward, clumsy walking (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 122).

4. Anything large or outstanding of its kind, a “whopper”, ? one that “bears the palm (of victory)”. Ork. 1929 Marw.:
A descriptive term for something specially big or fine: e.g. “palmer of a duck”. I have heard it applied once to a big binding-stone in a building.

II. v. 1. To walk about in a leisurely, aimless manner, to saunter, “drift around” (Sc. 1808 Jam.), ppl.adj. pawmerin, -an, aimless, vagrant, idle (Sc. 1880 Jam.); also fig. as in 1827 quot. Also in n.Eng. dial. Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxix.:
Ony auld palmering body that was coming down the edge of Kinblythemont.
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce I. i.:
The Clam-shell land, signifying the Palmer's land, as Mr. Gideon Haliburton, a stickit Seceder minister, tells me frae the Pilgrim's palmerin to the Holy Land lang syne. But what am I palmerin here aboot?
Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Inglismill 60:
Whaur was he? Paumerin' at his ain hoose-end.
Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 48:
In case we be in sic a plisky, I'll awa' tae the Kirktoon, an' some fouks wull be pamerin' aboot likely.

2. To move or walk clumsily and noisily, to stamp around, blunder about (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 122; ne.Sc. 1965). Hence pawmerer, n., a clumsy, heavy-footed person (Gregor); ppl.adj. pawmerin', awkward, bungling (Ib.); vbl.n. pawmeran, heavy-footedness, the act of moving clumsily and noisily (Ib.) Cf. Pamberade. Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 208:
Up an' paumerin aboot the toon' o' the seelence o' the nicht.
Sc. 1897 Stevenson W. of Hermiston i.:
“Ye daft auld wife!” returned his lordship. “A bonny figure I would be, palmering about in bauchles!”
Abd. 1923 Banffshire Jnl. (8 May) 10:
Our dialect positively teems with direct expressions of the most cutting description . . . “Ye pammerin trypel.”.
Abd. 1925 R. L. Cassie Gangrel Muse 18:
On the steens their [horses'] huivs fyles paumer.
ne.Sc. 1956 Mearns Leader (24 Feb.):
At lang last “The Staiger” pammer't intae Molie's kitchie.

[Extended usages of Eng. palmer, a pilgrim, who carried a palm branch back from the Holy Land.]

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"Palmer n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2021 <>



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