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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TAMMIE, prop.n. Also tammy, tami(e), tammi-; and, after Eng., tommie-, -y, tomi(e). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. Tommy. See also Tam, prop.n., and P.L.D. § 54. [′tɑme]

1. The puffin, Fratercula arctica. See also Combs. below.Sh. 1774 G. Low Tour (1879) 98:
The whole rock alive with Tomies.
Ork. 1806 P. Neill Tour 197:
This bird is very common in the Orkney seas: it is there frequently named the Tommy.

2. A large marble (Fif. 1972).

3. A Tam o' Shanter bonnet (see Tam, prop.n., 4. (10)). Gen.Sc.Ayr. 1904 D. Caldwell Kipper Fair 5:
Large blue tammies with red toories.
Ags. 1921 A. S. Neill Carroty Broon xix.:
Did ye hae a green tammy and a blue dress?
wm.Sc. 1989 Anna Blair The Goose Girl of Eriska 102:
He was a popular figure, tall and spindly with flowing black hair under a tammy, a pair of merry brown eyes and always with a red scarf at his throat.
Sc. 1999 Scotsman (17 Nov) 34:
He was quietly attired in a tartan tammie, ankle-length kilt, string vest and basketball boots, le tout ensemble being topped off by a Lion Rampant flag worn carelessly off the shoulder.
Sc. 2001 Herald (9 Jun) 8:
Then squint for a closer look at those traversing this dusty terrain: no stetsons pulled down low, no cheroots dangling from thin, twisted lips, but in fact Celtic and Rangers tartan kilts and a sprinkling of "see you Jimmy" tammies.
Sc. 2001 Business a.m. (20 Nov):
Outdoor activities, business tourism and city breaks are in; sitting in Dunoon with a stick of rock or Pitlochry with a tartan tammie are out.

4. A loaf of coarse (brown) bread. Also in more general sense, food, rations, provisons, cf. Eng. soldiers' slang and dial. tommy, id. See Tam, prop.n., 3. Comb. tammie round, a small round loaf (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 271).Edb. 1807 A. H. Dunlop Anent Old Edinburgh (1890) 83:
The pay was 6d. a day and a coarse roll, called a ‘tammie'.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xviii.:
Their usual rations of beef, and tammies.
Edb. 1878 J. Smith Peggy Pinkerton 24:
Stealin' a broon tammy an' a quarter o' saut butter.
Ags. 1880 A. M. Soutar Hearth Rhymes 63:
It micht be as well For me tae buy the ‘tammy' I need for mysel'.
Hdg. 1883 J. Martine Reminisc. 141:
The loaves known by the name of “tammies” are not now known.
Lnk. 1893 J. Crawford Verses 39:
As for wark — he could beg it, his tammy was sure.
Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 125:
Aw'm like the cats, Aw aye sing ma finest efter Aw've ta'en ma tammy.

Combs. (i) tammy-book, a shop account-book recording the goods supplied on credit, gen. on the truck system (Sc. 1899 Mont.-Fleming; wm.Sc. 1936 C. W. Thomson School Humour 346); (ii) tammie-shop, a shop which supplies goods on credit, esp. in lieu of wages, = colloq. Eng. tommy shop.(i) Slk. 1892 W. M. Adamson Betty Blether 64:
That eased the back o' oor tammy book a bittie.
Ayr. 1966 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 526:
The company's provision store supplied the essentials for life and . . . what the housewife did not pay against her “tammy-book”, the man spent in the beer store, so that by the next week his wage packet was returned almost intact to the Company's coffers.
(ii) Ags. 1873 Kirriemuir Obs. (7 March) 1:
A brave tammy shop, wi' big blazers o' windows in it to look oot at.
Ags. 1882 Brechin Advert. (26 Dec.) 3:
A' 'at wis ower payin' the tammie shop wis spent on drink.

5. Combs.: (1) dirten Tammie, the skua, Stercorarius catarrhactes (Abd. 1948). Cf. Dirten Allen; (2) Tammie-a'thing, a general shop(keeper), selling miscellaneous small-wares (Fif., Lth., s.Sc. 1972). Cf. John, 7.; (3) tammy book, see 4. above; (4) Tammie cheekie, -checkie, the puffin (Abd. 1847 Zoologist V. 1909; Abd., Kcd. 1903 G. Sim Fauna of “Dee” 194; Abd., Ags. 1960). See (12), (15); (5) Tammy Cossar, a large safety pin, e.g. as used in a shawl (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). See Willie; (6) Tammie-fud, a nickname for a native of Freswick (Cai. 1972); (7) Tammie Harper, a kind of crab, given by Jam. as Cancer araneus, the sand-crab, which runs sideways on the tips of its claws, somewhat resembling the fingering of a harper (m.Lth. 1808 Jam.). It is uncertain whether this is the same as the Harper Crab, q.v.; (8) Tammie Herle, the heron, Ardea cinerea (Per. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 145). See Herle; (9) Tammie Lammas, a stupid person (Slg. 1921 T.S.D.C.). Cf. Tammas, 1.; (10) Tammy-louper, a plaything made from the sea-weed tangle (see quot.) (Cai. 1972); (11) Tammy-nid-nod, the chrysalis of the butterfly, from the jerking motion of its head (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Lnk., Rxb. 1972). Cf. (13) (ii); (12) Tammie nod(d)ie, -y, (i) the puffin, Fratercula arctica (Ork. 1805 G. Barry Hist. Ork. 305; Bwk. 1832 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club (1885) 19). Also in Nhb. dial. See (14); (ii) a species of moth (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb. 1972); (iii) a child's name for sleep, the sandman, Willie-winkie (Ork. 1972). Cf. “The Land of Nod”; (13) Tammie-noddie-heid, (i) a tadpole (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (ii) the chrysalis of the common butterfly (Rxb. 1912 Border Mag. (Oct.) 231). Cf. (11); (iii) the crane-fly (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb. 1972); (14) Tammie noddle, a sleepy-headed person (Bwk., Rxb. 1972); (15) Tammie Nor(r)i(e), -y, ¶Tam-o'-Nor(r)ie, (i) the puffin, Fratercula arctica (Ork., e.Lth. 1825 Jam.; Bwk. 1911 A. H. Evans Fauna Tweed 236; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. in all coastal districts; (ii) the razorbill, Alca torda (Kcd. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.); hence (iii) a stupid slow-witted doltish person; (iv) the barnacle, Lepadides, from its similarity in shape to the puffin's beak (Sh. 1932 J. M. E. Saxby Trad. Lore 203); (v) the sea-shell, fool's cap, Capulus ungaricus (Ork. 1954 Ork. Miscellany II. 56); (vi) in form Tam o' Norrie, associated with Norrie's Law, north of Leven in Fife, a children's game (see quot.) (Fif. 1972); ‡(16) tammie puddin, the abomasum of a ruminant Wgt. 1967). Cf. Tam, prop.n., 1.; (17) tammie (Tam o') reekie, a kind of smoke gun made from a hollowed-out cabbage stem filled with tow or other combustibles, and ignited so that the smoke could be blown through keyholes to annoy the occupants within (Edb. 1910 Scotsman (6 Sept.); Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork., Knr., em.Sc.(b), Rxb. 1972); a tin filled with smouldering tow and used by children as a hand-warmer on a cold day (Watson); (18) tammie-round, see 4. above; (19) tammy-spinnle, see Tamar-spinnle; (20) tommy-tei, the blue tit, Parus caeruleus (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (21) tammie-tit, id.; a prim, affected, “twittering” sort of person; †(22) tammy-toddy, a spindle for twisting horse-hair for fishing-lines. Cf. (19); (23) tammy-yaa, the eel, Anguilla vulgaris (Cai. 1887 Harvie-Brown and Buckley Fauna Cai. 293). See Yaa; (24) trimmling Tammy, a fruit jelly (e., wm.Sc., Dmf. 1972). Cf. Tam, prop.n., 4. (21) (ii).(2) Edb. 1891 R. F. Hardy Tibby's Tryst iv.:
They had seen piles of so many different sorts of goods . . . including dried fish, teas, tobaccos, and logs of mahogany! “Fac' if it was in Braidburn, I'd ca' it a Tammie-a-thing!”
(4) Ags. 1833 J. S. Sands Poet. Effusions 74:
The Tammy Cheekie fled wi' fear.
(10) Cai. 1905 E.D.D. VI. 184/1:
Tammy-louper . . .  A bit of tangle 3 or 4 inches long is split at each end for ¾ of its length, the splits being at right angles to one another. It is then opened out, twisted over and laid down. After a little it jumps up and resumes its original form.
(12) (iii) Sh. 1964 Nordern Lichts 34:
Du's waandered far da day, gyaan til, an comin fae, Noo Tammy Noddie's comin ower da broo.
(15) (i) Sh. 1701 J. Brand Descr. Zetland (1883) 180:
Each kind or sort do Nestle by themselves; as the Scarfs by themselves, so the Cetywaicks, Tominories, Mawes &c.
e.Lth. 1730 Earl of Haddington Select Poems (1824) 210:
Yere seamaws and tamie nories.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary vii.:
The skreigh of a Tammie Norie.
Sh. 1834 Old-Lore Misc. X. iii. 128:
I did not wish for either lomwies, tamie-nories, brongies or laarquhidins.
e.Lth. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 II. 319:
Inchkeith is a favourite residence of the Tommy-norrie.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man xxxv.:
Solan geese and the fowl called ‘the Foolish Cock of the Rock,' together with half-a-dozen ‘Tammy Nories.'
Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 327:
Wild deuks or tammynorries an' ither seeklike fools.
Sh. 1975 Andrina Deyell My Shetland 20:
We had shaldurs, sea craws, tysties, scarfs and baakies, but not the tammy norie.
Ags. 1990:
Tammy Norie: n. puffin.
Sh. 1992 Bird Watching (Jan) 57:
The Puffin, called the `tammie norrie' in Shetland, is renowned for its colourful beak and black and white plumage.
Ork. 1992 Orcadian (16 Apr) 57:
From Flotta it was back to the mainland and Scapa, where a Search and Rescue helicopter from Bristow helicopters in Sumburgh flew in with a life size Tammy Norrie and a cheque for 400 quid.
Ork. 1997 Herald (19 Feb) 19:
A recent question required contestants to give the Orkney names for various seabirds. The answers came in rapidly such as a puffin is a tammy norrie.
Sc. 2002 Scotsman (7 Dec) 13:
Some seem to be giving the animals personal names, like Tammie-norie (puffin) and Jennie-hunder-legs (centipede).
(iii) Sc. 1870 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 190:
Tammie Norie o' the Bass Canna kiss a bonny lass. This is said jocularly, when a young man refuses to salute a rustic coquette. The puffin, which builds in great numbers on the Bass Rock is a very shy bird, with a long deep bill, giving him an air of stupidity, and from these two things together the saying probably has arisen. It is also customary to call a stupid-looking man a Tammie Norie.
e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 258:
A fine kippage ye'd mak', I sure ye, war ye to lose it noo. O ye Tammy-norry!
(vi) Fif. 1931 J. Wilkie Bygone Fife 169:
Tammie Norrie's memory is embalmed in one of these [games]: “I'll tell ye a story Aboot Tam o' Norrie If ye dinna speak in the middle o' t — Will ye no?” If the assurance is given by speech the story can never be told: — “The spell is broken, ye hae spoken Ye'll never hear the story o' lang Tam o' Norrie!” So the “lassies o' Leven” in a more primitive age used to play. They are described (in The People's Journal 23 May 1908) as sitting on the bank of Scoonie Burn with their faces “fixed on the dowff grey haar that hid the elfin hill o' Norrie's Law; for it's weel kent that a wee wee goblin sits at the fit o't an' guards the siller-hoard that was whummlet into the deep lair o' the Warrior-Chieftain, Tam o' Norrie, slain in weir.” One steps forward in front of the row, and making a speaking trumpet of her hand, points back over her shoulder at the darkening hill with the thumb of her other. She repeats the promise with its condition, nodding her head as she emphasizes the words. Those who are versed in the game content themselves with shaking their heads in answer, while the speaker tries to goad them into utterance, and at last wears out the patience of one. The defaulter is promptly counted out, and the rest chant triumphantly at her the last two lines.
(17) Edb. 1881 J. Smith Habbie and Madge 54:
Blawin' a tammy-reekie through the door o' his private room.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 122:
Tammy-reekies stuffed wi' thrums.
Ork. 1909 Old-Lore Misc. II. iii. 130:
Tam-o'-reekies, i.e. stocks of kailbows hollowed out and filled with bog-hay and a “live coal.”
Bwk. 1911 Border Mag. (Dec.) 270:
A “tammy reekie” required a kale stock, some tarred twine, and a little sulphur.
(21) Sc. 1924 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 407:
Ye mim-mou'd tammie-tits! Ye anti-Scot nyiff-nyaffs!
(22) Sh. 1898 Shetland News (July 2):
A later form of spindle is a short stick nicked at the top, which is stuck into a potatoe or round piece of peat. The ends of the horse hair are tied to the top of the stick, which is then twirled till the hairs are sufficiently twisted. The hairs are then doubled and twirled in the opposite direction. The implement is now called a 'tammy-toddy.'
(24) Sc. 1952 Bulletin (15 Aug.) 4:
The “trimmling Tammy” jellies that are made with hot water are of an entirely different mould, as it were.

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"Tammie prop. n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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