Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SOOM, v.1, n.1 Also soum (Sc. 1719 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 135; Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 91; Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads I. 53), sum (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl.), sume (Sc. 18th-c. N.E.D.), sowm (Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads I. 143); swoom (Ayr. 1786 Burns Earnest Cry v.; Slk. 1817 Hogg Tales (1874) 149; Fif. 1864 St. Andrews Gazette (20 Feb.)), swom- (Fif. 1895 G. Setoun Sunshine and Haar 44). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. swim (Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 129; Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 223; Sc. 1825 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Mry. 1925; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen. (exc.I.)Sc., not common in ne.Sc. where the usual form is now Sweem. [sum]

I. v. A. Forms: inf. and pr.t.: as above: pa.t.: soomed (Sc. 1878 D.S.C.S. 208; Lnk. 1893 T. Stewart Miners 133); pa.p.: soomed (Dmf. 1830 Curliana 64; Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms vi. 6), soumed (Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 193).

B. Sc. usages: 1. To test (seeds) by floating them on water. Bnff. 1889 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 61:
Careful farmers soumed their seed, i.e. threw it loose into water and rejected what floated.

2. Deriv. soomer, in pl. See quot. Rxb. 1955 Scotsman (1 Feb.) 6:
The “soomers” (the floating “paips” rubbed flat for racing in flowing water “doon the guitters” or “alang the strand”).

3. tr. To cause to spin at speed. Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 185:
Sooming my peerie on the Dysters' Loan.

II. n. An extremely wet state, a torrent, flood, esp. in phr. in a soom, soaking, streaming, pouring (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Bnff., Abd., Ags. 1971). Also in Eng. dial. Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 23:
O'er her nose the sweat in sooms, In pours began to tumble.
Kcd. a.1826 J. Burness Garron Ha' 7:
He was in a soom o' sweat.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 2:
The thunner ruml't roon the hills, The howes were in a soom.

[For other Sc. forms see Sweem, and cf. Sool, Soop and P.L.D. § 76.]

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"Soom v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Jun 2021 <>



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