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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).

TAGHAIRM, n. A form of divination said to have been practised of old in the Highlands (see quots. and Armstrong's Gaelic Dict. s.v.). Gael. [′tɑgərəm]Hebr. 1776 T. Pennant Tour 1772 I. 360:
A wild species of magic was practised in the district of Trotterness. In this country is a vast cataract, whose waters falling from a high rock, jet so far as to form a dry hollow beneath. One of these imposters was sowed up in the hide of an ox, and to add terror to the ceremony, was placed in this concavity: the trembling enquirer was brought to the place, where the shade and the roaring of the waters, encreased the dread of the occasion. The question was put, and the person in the hide delivers his answer, and so ends this species of divination styled Taghairm.
Sc. 1810 Scott Lady of Lake iv. iv.:
The Taghairm call'd: by which, afar, Our sires foresaw the events of war.
Sc. 1953 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 223:
Taghairm was, indeed, a magical means of compelling spiritual presences to grant desirable and valuable boons to the sorcerer who invoked them.

[Gael. taghairm, id., Ir. toghairm, a summons, invocation.]

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"Taghairm n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2022 <>



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