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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SIMMER, n.1, v. Gen.Sc. form of Eng. summer. See P.L.D. § 60.1. [′sɪmər]

I. n. As in Eng. Also attrib., though the possess. case simmer's is also used where mod. Eng. now has summer (Sc. 1812 W. Angus Eng. Grammar 333).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 206:
Her Presence, like a Simmer's Morning Ray.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 192:
Thro' winter's cauld, or simmer's heat.
Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (1905) 166:
'Twas on a simmer's afternoon, A wee afore the sun gaed doun.
Lth. 1813 G. Bruce Poems 54:
Near yon thick glade, ae simmer's e'en.
Lnk. 1881 D. Thomson Musings 33:
Trees stript o' their simmer's bloom.
Abd. 1922 G. P. Dunbar Whiff o' Doric 61:
Ye dauchle in the gloamin' o' the dusky simmer's nicht.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 56:
an oor green haunds raxin oot yin til ither
till hairst caas doon the simmers bonnie cloak
tae lay a carpet on the forest flair
that the maist eident wabster couldna mak.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 92:
an' hear at the winnock the sclammer o birds
in the simmer o their life, or thole sair weather
and say nocht, yet fear nocht, in love ayont words.
Edb. 1991 J. K. Annand in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 20:
Gif I had ae short simmer o sang
Wi hauf the beauty o thon flouer
In the snaw o eild I'd hap my tongue
And haud my wheest for evermair.
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 18:
Bit fyles yer birss begins to rise
An rummlins fae yer thrapple birl
Wi fearsome gurr an feerious dirl
Like thunner rivin simmer skies.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web iv:
Spennin aa simmer, ilkie simmer, as my faimly did, in the clachan o Ballater, I wis brocht up wi the echoes o anither leid aroon me, ...
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 224:
Ye were jist no richt. White as the mune, and as tall, ye shot up like ragweed in simmer, ye'd a neb like a flat-iron and sparse heathery hair and mannerisms that made folk look twice tae see if ye were haein them on.

Combs.: 1. simmer blink, a momentary gleam of sunshine (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh., Per., 1970); 2. simmer cloks, the shimmering of sun-beams in the air on a fine summer day (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., Sh. 1970). See Clock, n.4, 2., and Clocks-summer; 3. Simmer-cowt(e), -cout(t), -caut, -colt, (1) = 2., the quivering motion of the air on a hot day, a heat-haze, gen. in pl. (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. (colts), Abd. (cowts) 1939). In dim. form -caulties (Ags. 1938). For the second element see Cowt, n.1, and Eng. dial. phr. “the summer colt rides” for the same phenomenon; (2) “the gnats which dance in clusters on a summer evening” (Lnk. 1825 Jam.); fig. a lively little chap (Ib.); 4. summer dale, ?; 5. simmer-dancing, = 2. and 3. (1); 6. simmer-dim, the twilight of a summer evening, specif. in Sh. where there is no darkness. See Dim, n.; 7. simmer-eild, of a sheep: “that has not been nursed during a particular summer” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). See Eild, adj.2; 8. Summer flaws, = 3. (1) (Ags. 1825 Jam.); ‡9. simmer grimma, id. (Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 16. 11). For grimma see Grimlins and note; 10. summer growth, a general name among fishermen for the various marine zooids, etc., which attach themselves to small stones, seashells, and the like (Sc. 1825 Jam.); 11. summer-haar, “a slight breeze from the east, which often rises after the sun has passed the meridian. It receives this name from the fishers of Newhaven, though not accompanied with any fog” (m.Lth. 1825 Jam.); 12. summer hill, hill pasture to which sheep are sent in the summer months, freq. in place-names; 13. simmer-lift, the summer sky (Sh. 1970); 14. summer lodge, a hut or bothy used by Sh. deep-sea fishermen during the fishing season; 15. simmer-lunts, = 3. (1), “moisture at sunrise” (Rnf. c.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) S.177). See Lunt, n.1, 2.; 16. simmermal, -mil(t), -mol (Jak.), the first day of summer, popularly considered to be 14th April (Sh. 1897 J. Jakobsen Dial. Sh. 42, Sh. 1970) [Norw. sumarmal, Faer. summarmáli, id., O.N. mál, measure, time]. Combs. simmarmal brim, -ree, -tön, See Brim, n.1, 2., Ree, Tune; ‡17. simmer meiths, = 3. (1) (Bnff., Abd. 1970). See Muith; †18. summer preaching, gen. in pl.: the series of religious services held in connection with the orig. annual summer celebration of Communion in the Presbyterian Church (Sc. 1904 E.D.D.). See Preach, Combs.; 19. Simmer-pyke, a small rick of hay put up by hand (Slk. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 287). See Pike, n., 7. and Hand, n., 9. (29); 20. summer rick, the medium-sized rick in which hay is built and kept in the field till it is ready to be finally stacked. Also in Eng. dial.; 21. summer-road, a grassy road used in summer only, specif. a grassy strip verging on a metalled road for the use of horses; 22. summer-scale, the scum or mould produced by acetous fermentation in beer turned sour in the heat of summer, called in Eng. mother, gen. in pl. (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Also used as a v., to form such a scum (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 195, 1825 Jam.; 23. simmer-side, summer, the summer season as opposed to winter (Sh., Dmf. 1970, the simmer-side o the year); 24. simmer-snawdrap, the summer snowflake, Leucojum aestivum, one of the varieties of amary is (Ork. 1970). Also in Eng. dial.; 25. summer-snipe, the common sandpiper, Tringa hypoleucos, so called because it appears in April and leaves again in September (Sc. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 196). Also in Eng. local usage; 26. summer-sob, a period of frequent slight rain-showers in early summer, esp. in May (Abd., Ags. 1808 Jam.); 27. summer-weed, bovine mastitis (Abd., Fif., Lnk., sm.Sc. 1970). See Weed; 28. simmer wun, dried off in the open air throughout the summer (Abd. 1970). See Win, v.2.3. (1) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 93:
Meith, meith was the day; The summer cauls [sic] were dancing brae frae brae.
Ayr. 1780 J. Howie Alarm into a Secure Generation 21:
As these atoms of the sun (which we commonly call summer colts) do in a sun shine day before or after ram in the heat of summer.
Sc. 1819 Scots Mag. (June) 526:
Licht was his heart as the summer cowt I' the sunshine after rain.
Ayr. 1832 Galt Stanley Buxton II. vii.:
Harry Franks was of old a laddie that saw evil spirits in summer couts.
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 29:
The simmer coutts were dancin' on the sward.
Ags. 1943 Scots Mag. (July) 321:
The blistering “simmer coutts,” as we used to call the earth-shimmer.
4. Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 165:
And ga'e her a little wee summer-dale wandie, To ding me sindle and saft.
5. Slk. 1874 Border Treasury (15 Aug.) 40:
“Simmer dancing,” when the heated air is seen making its way upwards to the higher region of the atmosphere, with a pretty midge-dance-like motion.
6. Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 25:
Hümin dere is still a splendir — Nicht is bit a simmer-dim.
Sh. 1934 W. Moffatt Shetland 45:
The “simmer dim” — those long, lingering summer nights when the sun merely sets to rise again at once.
Sh. 1988 Sunday Times (26 Jun):
This is the time of the 'simmer dim', when it never really gets dark, when you can still read The Sunday Times at midnight, and only a few brief hours of eerie twilight separate the long northern days.
Sh. 1994 Scotsman (24 Dec) 13:
The midnight sun, the "simmer dim", always makes Shetland summers glow in the memory like jewels. But the ferocious winters, with their sometimes 20-hour-a day darkness and occasionally dreadful risk, have also left their mark.
Sh. 1997 Ian Rankin Black & Blue (1999) 417:
Forres had told them this season was 'simmer dim' - a time of year without true darkness.
Sh. 1999 J. Laughton Johnston in Myra Sanderson Heritage Scotland Vol. 16 No. 2 20:
On the other hand, during the time of the simmer dim in mid-summer, the sun can be above the horizon for over 18 hours - three quarters of the day!
Sh. 2001 Sunday Mail (16 Sep) 11:
You can also talk knowledgeably about it as the Land of the Simmer Dim, as there is virtually no darkness around mid-summer.
Sh. 2003 Press and Journal (10 Jun) 8:
"We originally ordered 150 books, but have had to order another 50 because they are in such demand. The launch coincides with Shetland's 'simmer dim' when it doesn't get dark all night, so hopefully the Harry Potter fans will be able to read their books outside."
8. Ags. 1965 Dundee Courier (5 June):
“Summer flaws” is a name I've heard the country folk of Angus give to these shimmering exhalations that rise from the ground in hot weather.
12. Peb. 1829 Trans. Highl. Soc. I. 53:
After they are weaned, they are taken to what store masters and shepherds call the Summer Hill.
13. Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 57:
If the simmer-lift hauds clear.
15. Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Sh. 507:
Huts constructed of rude stones, without any cement, being made no larger than is sufficient to contain a six-oared boat's crew . . . named “summer lodges.”
15. Rnf. 1841 Whistle-Binkie (Ser. 3) 84:
He [the sun] sheuk his sides and sent a feckfu' yeild, And rais'd the simmer-lunts frae loch and linn.
16. Sh. 1932 J. Saxby Trad. Lore 178:
There were three “Rees”, Buggle Ree, Beltane Ree, and Simmer-mill Ree.
Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 16. 11:
The weather on Simmermal Day is said to be the forecast of the weather all summer.
18. wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 132:
Ae Sabbath morn at the summer preachings, mair than thretty years sin'.
20. Dmf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XXI. 444:
The farmer endeavours to have his sown grass made, and in summer ricks, by the end of July.
21. m.Lth. 1777 Caled. Mercury (3 Feb.):
The summer-road shall be kept in constant repair.
m.Lth. 1782 Caled. Mercury (22 June):
A summer or soft road is to be left on each side of the fourteen feet, of ten feet broad.
24. Slk. 1875 Border Treasury (22 May) 496:
There's the simmer snaw-drap already keeking through its green sheath.
26. Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 80:
Yon summer sob is out. This night looks well, look,'oman, round about.
27. Dmf. 1962 Stat. Acc.3 227:
When in calf, cows and heifers are very subject to mastitis in summer, the local name for this disease being “summer weed”.
28. Abd. 1952 Huntly Express (8 Feb.):
Many farmers and householders dug out the spruce and fir roots of felled trees, and when they were simmer wun, split them up [for fuel].

II. v. 1. To spend the summer (Sh., ne., em.Sc.(a), sm.Sc. 1970).Sc. 1895 A. M. Stoddart J. S. Blackie II. 154:
Dr and Mrs Kennedy, who were summering at Aberfeldy.
Abd. 1918 C. Murray Sough o' War 42:
To lat him simmer i' the toon, an learn to mizzer lan'.

2. tr. and intr., used fig. in phr. to simmer and winter, to go into a matter at length and in detail, to ponder long and carefully, to discuss (a topic) in all its aspects, to be long-winded or prolix in telling a story (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D, Bnff. 155; Abd., em.Sc.(a), Lnk., Kcb., Rxb. 1970); to make oneself thoroughly versed in or familiar with a subject.Sc. 1728 Six Saints (Fleming 1901) I. 41:
My Views and digested Thoughts, that I have summer'd and winter'd these many Years.
Wgt. 1803 R. Couper Tourifications I. 174:
Summering and wintering it, whether I am quite justifiable in allowing him to speak two minutes and an half of the remaining five.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xliv.:
We couldna think o' a better way to fling the gear in his gate, though we simmered it and wintered it e'er sae lang.
Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of the Lairds i.:
Weel, weel, sir, no to summer and winter on idioticals, or sic like matters o' fact.
Dmf. 1835 Carlyle Life in London (Froude 1884) I. 47:
Till we get the thing all summered and wintered talking together freely once more.
Rxb. a.1860 J. Younger Autobiog. (1881) 405:
To get ourselves properly summered and wintered into the saving knowledge requisite.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 30:
Simmerin, an' winterin' aboot haen to wait a meenit or twa for his denner.
Rxb. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws xv.:
Give us your plan, Agnes, and guidsake dinna summer and winter over it.
Abd. 1924 M. Argo Janet's Choice 25:
I'll simmer and winter this nae langer.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 20:
It'll serr naething now ti stert simmereen-an-wuntereen.

[O.Sc. symmer, summer, a.1500.]

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"Simmer n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 4 Mar 2024 <>



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