Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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RAM, n.1 Also Sc. form raam. Dim. rammy. Sc. usages:

1. Combs.: (1) ram-brose, brose made from meal mixed with mutton broth; (2) ram-head, a basket-hilted sword from the fancied resemblance to the head of a horned ram. Cf. Eng. sheep's-head sword; (3) ram-horn, adj., made from the horn of a ram, specif. applied to a horn spoon; n., a spoon so made (Kcb. 1967); (4) ram-race, †-rais (Jam.), (i) a short burst of speed to gain impetus such as a ram uses in charging, or a jumper before a leap (Cld., Dmf., Slk. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., 1942 Zai; Sh., Lnk., Slk. 1967); (ii) a headlong rush, a heedless, impetuous progression, as of a charging ram (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh., Lnk., Slk. 1967), lit. and fig. Also attrib. = impetuous, headlong; (iii) a term used by schoolboys (see quot.); (5) ram-reel, a reel danced by men only (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Kcd., Per. 1967), now freq. associated with Freemasonry functions; (6) ram-skulled, fig., thick in the skull, stupid, dense. (1) Bnff. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 106:
Ouse-John . . . cramm'd his guts first wi' ram-brose.
(2) Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 63:
I'm through your guts, ere ye ken whare you are . . . My trusty ram-head never fail'd me yet.
(3) Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. v. ii.:
To leave his Ram-horn Spoons, and kitted Whey, For gentler Tea, that smells like new won Hay.
Edb. 1812 P. Forbes Poems 37:
Syne clankit up his ram-horn spoon An' stecht his muckle wame.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. intro. 5:
Ill-tongued tinklers, with . . . their hampers, and their ram-horns.
(4) (i) Slk. 1817 Hogg Shepherd's Wedding (1874) 152:
They took a short race of about twelve or fourteen paces, which they denominated the ramrace, and then rose from the footing-place with such a bound as if they had been going to mount and fly into the air.
Rxb. 1868 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 16:
He took a ram-race and smashed open the door.
(ii) Lnk. 1796 R. Lochore Foppish Taylor 14:
His claise a' rags — he ran poor chiel, A ram race to the very de'il!
Edb. 1812 W. Glass Caled. Parnassus 42:
Our bluid syne in a boilin' heat, Wi' ram-race we'll ha'e at them.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie xcvii.:
He was a wild ramplor lad, and would ne'er hae run sic ram races had he felt a right true and faithful affection as I did.
Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff vi.:
He consulted his paper again, and started off with a ram-race.
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (27 Jan.):
Hit's hard ta say what da boys may tak' i' der heads, an' ye a' ken what a ram race sowl Willie is.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 17:
Thay sang that chorus fer owre quick. Thay made a perfeet raam-race o'd.
(iii) w.Sc. 1880 Jam.:
In the West of Scotland, the ram-race (called also the sheep-race) is still practised by school-boys, in the following manner: one catches his neighbour by the neck of the jacket and breech of the trousers, and rushes him forward as fast as he can run. It is sometimes given as a punishment.
(5) Abd. 1813 D. Anderson Poems 122:
The chairs they coup, they hurl an' loup, A ram-reel now they're wantin'.
Abd. 1833 Tait's Mag. (May) 191:
They have commenced a ram reel, and the remaining ladies have fled in terror.
Abd. 1874 N. MacLean Life Nth. Univ. 231:
I am sorry I cannot supply you with partners, but will be delighted if you will give me a specimen of your ram-reels as you are in the habit of dancing them in the “Lobby” of a Saturday evening.
Abd. 1947 People's Jnl. (13 Dec.):
50 young men stride into the hall. They form into two long lines and to the skirl of the pipes begin to dance. The historic Ram Reel is in progress! Only dance of its kind in Scotland, and, as its name implies, an all-male affair. . . . Participants are operative Masons, and all wear their badge of office, an apron.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xvii.:
'Ere wis a curn young flipes dancin awa at a kin' o' a Ram Reel, in a nyookie a' be them leens.
(6) Peb. 1793 R. Brown Carlop Green (1817) 120:
Soon she crack't the curn o' brains, Within his ram-skulled pash.

2. A headstrong, impetuous, blundering person. Edb. 1912 P. Forbes Poems 40:
Tam, the ram, had cause to rue The threshing o' that day.

3. In dim. rammy, a spoon made from a ram's horn. See n. 1. (3). s.Sc. 1809 T. Donaldson Poems 183:
He handl'd his Rammy so terribly quick.

[O.Sc. ramehorne, a.1568, ram rays, a headlong rush, 1513; a short preparatory run, 1695. ]

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"Ram n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Jan 2022 <>



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