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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

STIME, n., v. Also stym(e); stem(e) (Sc. 1887 Jam.). [stəim]

I. n. 1. (1) Found orig. in phr. not to see a stime, to be unable to see or discern the least thing, from bad sight or visibility (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 441; Per., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Uls. 1953 Traynor; I., n.Sc., Per., Kcb. 1971).Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 71:
[He] drank sae firm till ne'er a Styme He cou'd keek on a Bead.
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 202:
When it turned duskish, he saw not a stime.
Ayr. 1785 Burns To J. Goldie ix.:
I scarce could wink or see a styme.
e.Lth. 1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 29:
At sic an elritch time O' night, whan we see ne'er a styme.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Wool-Gatherer (1874) 70:
A' the hills were wrappit i' the clouds o' rime an' we coudna see a stime.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 175:
His een, bein' in the mirligoes, Ae single styme afore his nose They couldna see for glaiks.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 117:
Deil'e styme the cheeld could see.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie 116:
Not a stime, they are all as blind as bats.
Sh. 1932 J. M. E. Saxby Trad. Lore 135:
They set up such a stoor folk could not see a styme.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xxi.:
A saana a stime masel, bit Daavitie's clare eenies seen made oot a lowe i' that airt.
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 128:
You couldn't see a stime in the place for the reek.
Uls. 1993:
Couldnae see a stime. ( = it was very dark)

(2) a faint trace of anything seen, a vestige, the least visible appearance (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh., Ork., n.Sc. 1971).Ags. 1819 A. Balfour Campbell I. xviii.:
There winna be a styme o' them seen again atweesh this and twal hours at e'en.
Abd. 1842 Blackwood's Mag. (March) 305:
Deil pick out my eyne if we've seen a stime of it again.
Mry. 1863 J. Brown Round Table Club 335:
I canna see a stime o' ye.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 9:
Nae a leevin' stime o' Dod.

(3) by extension: the least little bit of anything, a particle, fraction, jot, atom (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh., Bnff., Abd., Ags. 1971).m.Lth. 1786 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) xxiii.:
To cut their fur, and tak their share O' their nane rig. But ony mair? The fient ae stime!
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems II. 134:
But, O' lackanee! had he kent but a styme O' the blirt that was brewin' for him.
Per. 1818 J. Sinclair Simple Lays 20:
When winter nights are choak't wi' rime, An' fouk can scarcely breath a stime.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sketches 110:
At hame his wife, wi' looks demure, Beside a wee styme fire sat huddled.
Abd. 1893 G. MacDonald Heather and Snow iii.:
I dinna unerstan ye ae styme.
Ayr. 1896 H. Johnston Dr Congalton xxi.:
He would not interfere in the matter “buff nor styme.”
Kcd. 1911 Scotsman (29 Dec.):
The mistress would instruct the maid to put a styme (or stymie, if an infinitesimal quantity only) of so-and-so into the dish.
Sc. 1935 W. Soutar Poems in Scots 30:
O' wha wi' onie styme o' sang.

2. A glimmer or glimpse of light (Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 467: Sc. 1825 Jam.; I. and n.Sc., Slg. 1971); a glance of the eye. Now chiefly liter.Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II 150:
Ne'er a blyth styme wad he blink, Until his wame was fou.
Sc. 1825 Young Beichan in Child Ballads No. 53 E. Add.:
Night or day it was all one to him for no ae styme of light ever got in.
Ags. 1888 Barrie Auld Licht Idylls vii.:
Even with three wicks it gave but a stime of light.
Abd. 1932 R. L. Cassie Scots Sangs 27:
But is't a sinfu' thing tae blink Ae fleein styme ayon Earth's brink?
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' Ling 60:
Wi never a styme o' the sun or the müne.

3. “A disease of the eye” (Mry. 1811 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 467). Phs. a different word,? a corrupt form of Styan, a stye.

II. v. 1. To look through half-shut eyes, to peer, peep, to attempt to see distinctly (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1931).Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 11 1:
Noo Kitty, see gin shu can styme Fu' muckle milk he's left in'd.
Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 66:
I lookit an' stimed inta da black dark.
Sh. 1919 T. Manson Peat Comm. 199:
Da wan at wears specs an is alwis stimin an rutin into books.
Sh. 1952 J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 65:
Stymin troo dis sleuch o dirt Just maks my aald een sair .

Derivs.: (1) stymel, -alt, one who does not see quickly what another is trying to show him, a short-sighted, unperceptive. or obtuse-witted person (Cld. 1825 Jam.: Rxb. 1923 Watson, stymalt, ‡Rxb. 1971): (2) stymie, n., a person with short or slow vision (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.).

2. To blind momentarily Vbl.n. styming.Dmf. 1836 J. Mayne Siller Gun 89:
Where, frae the priming, Their cheeks and whiskers got a scowder, Their een, a styming!

[O.Sc. styme, = I. 1. (1), c.1475, to blink, see indistinctly, 1603, stymie, a short-sighted blinking person, 1616, North. Mid.Eng., to see a stime, of obscure orig. N.E.D. suggests some connection with Skime but historical evidence is lacking. ]

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"Stime n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 May 2022 <>



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