Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SLIM, adj., v., n. Also slime, slem-. Sc. forms and usages:

I. adj. 1. As in Eng. Comb. slim-jim, a type of cheap sweet-meat bought by children, consisting of long strips of coconut or licorice (wm.Sc. 1970). Gsw. 1880 J. J. Bell I remember (1932) 186:
Slim-jim (a coconut confection in long strips).
Gsw. 1931 H. S. Robertson Curdies 85:
Two long “shoogly” strips of “slim-jim”.

2. Of clothes, shoes, etc.: flimsy, thin, unsubstantial, not strongly made (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh., Bnff., Ags. 1970). Adv. slimly. Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1873) 13:
Slimly happed head an' feet.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 123:
To weer slim trash o' silk.
Abd. 1867 A. Allardyce Goodwife 13:
You sae slimly shod.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 39:
His claes were the slimmest that ever ye saw.

3. Wily, cunning, sly, crafty, specious (Abd., Kcb. 1970). Also in Eng. dial. Abd. 1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 143:
She was never ca'd chancy, but canny an' slim.
Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 205:
I'd sooner trow a lad that hadds the plough, Than sick slim sparks that i' your face can smile.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
A slim fellow, a man of a very indifferent character.

II. v. 1. Freq. with ower: to treat (work, etc.) with insufficient care and attention, to scamp (a job), to neglect (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D., slime; Cai., Mry., Bnff., Kcb., Rxb. 1970). Also in Eng. dial. Hence slim-o'er, slimman-our, n., a careless negligent way of working, a botched job (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 167); a hurried patch-up (Ags. 1970). Deriv. slimer, slemmer, n., a person who scamps his work unless supervised, a scrim-shanker (Cai. 1904 E.D.D., ‡Cai. 1970), a lazy, inactive person, an idle lounger (Arg. 1936 L. McInnes S. Kintyre 12, slemmer). Kcb. 1838 R. Kerr Maggie o' Moss (1891) 84:
We will never try to slim Red-land or lea.
Sc. 1847 J. W. Carlyle Letters (1883) I. 393:
Postie had also helped to beat the carpets, considering that Eaves was rather slimming them.
Kcd. 1880 W. B. Fraser Laurencekirk 349:
It was deemed necessary to slim a job [in tailoring].
Arg. 1931:
He nuvver did a han's turn for years, a useless slemmer that leeved aa his life aff his suster.

2. With awa(y): to waste, fritter away (time) (Cai. 1970, slime). Ayr. 1812 A. Thom Amusements 35:
Bids them mind their meat and wark, And not to slim their time away.

III. n. A careless worker, one who botches or scamps his work (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 167).

[The pejorative senses of the adj. are already found in the orig. (Mid.) Du. slim, bad, dishonest, crafty.]

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"Slim adj., v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Aug 2021 <>



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