Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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TUME, adj., v., n. Also tuim, tum (Sc. 1788 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 559), tumm; teum (Ork.), tüm, tom, tøm (Sh.); tim(m) (m. and s.Sc.), taem, taim (Fif.); teem (n.Sc.); and anglicised form toom. [I., m. and s.Sc. tøm, tym, tɪm; Ags., Fif. + tem; n.Sc. tim. As v. also tim.]

I. adj. 1. Empty. lit. and fig. (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 109), unoccupied, vacant. Gen.Sc., also in n.Eng. dial. Also tume-like, id., adv. toomly, emptily; in 1828 quot. = with an empty saddle, riderless. Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 21:
A toom Purse makes a bleat merchant.
Cai. 1773 Weekly Mag. (28 Oct.) 146:
As teem my belly, an' as poor my purse.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Earnest Cry vii.:
Her mutchkin stowp as toom's a whissle.
Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf vii.:
There's a toom byre and a wide.
Lnk. 1827 J. Watt Poems 17:
Ye're vexed to see your press Sae toomly leuk.
ne.Sc. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads I. 247:
Every one on high horse sat But Willie's horse rade toomly.
s.Sc. c.1830 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club (1916) 65:
To rock a toom cradle is a crime of the highest nature, among superstitious women.
Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays 7:
The moon hersel Aft dips her toom horn i' the sea!
Abd. 1882 G. MacDonald Castle Warlock xii.:
My hert's jist toom-like, an' wants to be filt.
Ork. 1885 Peace's Almanac 127:
The corn-yards fu' and the kirk-yard teum.
Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong Robbie Rankine 49:
Though his pouch is toom o' gear.
Ayr. 1910:
Puir man, he has a tuim house, a tuim pouch and a tuim heid; he's aa tuim thegither.
Ags. 1924 A. Gray Any Man's Life 48:
Though your life be toom, ye can aye thank God for ae thing, — There's aye your wark.
ne.Sc. 1929 M. W. Simpson Day's End 26:
It's the lang, teem road in the hen'er-en'.
Gsw. 1931 H. S. Robertson Curdies 62:
Liberty! It sounds weel, but it's a' a tim can.
Ags. 1945 S. A. Duncan Chronicles Mary Ann 5:
Ye can bide wi' me til yer ain hoose's taim.

Combs.: (1) tume-brained, empty-headed, foolish (Sh. 1973); (2) tume-clung, empty, shrunken from lack of food. See Clung; ¶(3) tume-eared, of corn: without grain in the ear; (4) tume-hinging, id.; (5) tume-handit, empty-handed, bearing no gifts (I., ne., em., wm.Sc. 1973); (6) tume-heid, a foolish, empty-headed person (Sh. 1973). Hence tume-heidit, silly, foolish. Gen.Sc.; (7) tume house in phr. to mak a tume house o, to rid the house of, to eject, expel; (8) tume howk, an empty hulk, used fig. in quot.; (9) tume hull, id.; (10) tume saddle, used as adv. phr. of a horse: riderless; (11) tume-skinned, hungry, famished (Gall. 1825 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 480). Cf. (2); (12) tume spune, in phr. to put a tume spune in the mouth, of a preacher: to preach without edifying; (13) tume-tail, adv., of a horse and cart: †without a load, empty (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); of a plough: drawn along the surface of the ground without cutting a furrow (Lth. 1825 Jam.); (14) tuim-wamit, with an empty belly. (1) Ayr. 1789 Ballantine and Thom Poems 75:
Our toom-brain'd airy sparks.
(2) Dmf. 1863 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 73:
Wi' banes heich as aul' Causey's sow, An' toom-clung wame.
(3) Sc. 1926 H. McDiarmid Penny Wheep 70:
The dow'd sheaves o' their toom-ear'd corn.
(4) Sc. 1874 W. Allan Hamespun Lilts 321:
A puir crap toom-hingin' an' wan.
(5) m.Lth. 1714 J. Monro Letters (1722) 92:
As long as a poor Beggar is light of Pocket, and toom handed, as we use to say.
Abd. 1794 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 2) VI. 184:
They thought na then teem-han'ed faith Was piety.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 41:
Send him toom-handit but away.
Ayr. 1834 Galt Stories of Study III. 8:
It would na be canny to gang to him, poor lad, toom handit.
Abd. 1896 Gregor MSS.:
One never goes “teem-hanit” into a neighbour's house on New Year's Day.
(6) Dmf. 1875 P. Ponder Kirkcumdoon 10:
I wudna sit under sick a toom-head.
Dmf. 1894 R. Reid Poems 214:
The toomest-heided loon could tell.
Abd. 1913 D. Scott Hum. Sc. Stories 68:
He's jist a teem-heedit —.
(7) Ags. 1858 People's Journal (6 March) 2:
I'll soon see if I canna really mak' a toom hoose o' that born-and-bred leear.
(8) Ags. 1930 A. Kennedy Orra Boughs. xxxi.:
This ‘toom-howk' o' cauf love that we ca' friendship.
(9) Abd. 1958 Abd. Press & Jnl. (21 Jan.):
Not the fast growth of the “teem hull” or non-layer [of poultry].
(10) m.Lth. 1897 P. H. Hunter J. Armiger xvi.:
There's a reason for't whan his beast comes hame toom-saddle.
(12) Sc. 1724 P. Walker Life A. Peden 64:
He put a toom spoon in the people's mouth that could not feed nor nourish them.
m.Lth. 1895 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 171:
He's a puir weed, an' it's a toom spune he pits to oor mooth.
(13) Sc. 1825 Jam.:
The cart disna lose its errand, when it cums na hame tume-tail.
(14) Sc. 1969 Sc. Poetry No. 4. 43:
Ye'd gae tuim-wamit were it no that sumphs were taen in by yer joukry-pawkry.

2. (1) Of a person or his limbs, etc.: thin. lean, lank (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh., Abd., Kcd. . Slg. 1973). Also toom-like, id. Slk. 1804 Hogg Poems (1865) 275:
His legs that firm like pillars stood Are now grown toom an' unco sma'.
Sc. 1818 S. Ferrier Marriage xxvi.:
He was aye a tume boss-looking man.
m.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 521:
He's like laird Murdie's grews, unca tume about the pouch-lids.
Abd. 1902 Weekly Free Press (2 Aug.):
He's toom-like in his claes.
Mry. 1927 E. B. Levack Lossiemouth 15:
She's a lang, teem, yalla wife, an' she's swytin.
Abd. 1930:
If he's as teem in the heid as he is amo' the legs, he winna dee for this kirk.

(2) Empty of food, fasting, hungry (Sc. 1808 Jam.; I.Sc., ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1973). Abd. 1778 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 59:
Gin she was toom afore, she's toomer now.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie I. xiii.:
If they fin' out that I'm toom, they'll fish to famish me.
Sh. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 267:
Maybe ye maun toomer sleep the nicht, goodman!
Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Auld Clay Biggin' 4:
Til tak his bit bite upo', whilk Tibbie aye sent oot wi' him, tho' she aften gaed toom hersel'.
Sh. 1928 Shetland Times (14 July) 3:
I wis beginning ta feel kinda tume.

3. Hollow, echoing, applied to a cough, frost-hardened ground, etc. (ne., m.Sc. 1973).

4. Of the moon: in its dark phase, not visible. Phr. the meen's teem, there is no moon (Mry. c.1930; Kcd. 1973).

5. Empty-headed, foolish, witless, deficient in sense (Sh., ‡Abd. 1973). Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 71:
Before I turn sae toom and shallow, As a' your butter'd words to swallow.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
A toom chield, one who has no understanding; no a tume man, i.e. sensible man.

6. Of words, etc.: vain, empty-sounding, hollow, insubstantial (Sh. 1973); heartless. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 159:
With empty Brag, we have been vain Of toom Dominion on the plenteous Main.
Sc. 1786 G. Frazer Fall of Man 157:
The toom wind of a flattering empty sound.
Ayr. 1789 Burns Kirk's Alarm x.:
Jamy Goose, Jamy Goose, Ye ha'e made but toom roose.
Dmf. 1863 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 43:
To crush mysel' on toom disdain.

7. Of machinery: idling, not actually processing material (Per., Slg., Lth. 1973); of a locomotive: running light, without a train (Abd. 1965, a teem engine). Cf. 1. (13). Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 17:
A stane-nappin injin gaed-on leike a tuim mill.

II. v. 1. tr. (1) To empty (a vessel, etc.) by drinking, pouring or tipping out the contents, to evacuate (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. and Uls. dial. Per. 1714 R. Smith Poems 88:
Ye are more fit dry-stools to toom Than to write elegies.
Sc. 1719 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 126:
Lang may ye help to toom a Barrel.
Abd. 1749 Abd. Estate (S.C.) 96:
To John Hird all day drawghting out ground for the dung and teeming the carts.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 131:
Your auld forbears, ye say, Taught you to toom a fauld, an' drive a prey.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Jolly Beggars Recit. 8:
They toom'd their pocks, they pawn'd their duds.
Sh. 1846 Fraser's Mag. (Sept.) 336:
Wi' God's help, we gat hir toom'd before anither watter cam.
Ags. 1890 A. N. Simpson Muirside Memories 62:
After arranging for “tummin' the crues,” as he termed it, no more was seen of Pigger Barett until the following Monday.
Uls. 1953 Traynor 299:
To teem the potatoes. To strain water off potatoes after boiling.
Ags. 1961 Forfar Dispatch (6 July):
I taimed a' the desk drawers.
Bnff. 1970 Duftown News (31 Oct.) 2:
Teemin' their dustbins on the doorstep.

Deriv. and phr.: tumer, in iron-smelting: a workman who empties the wagons of ore into the furnace (Lnk. 1950); tume-the-stoup, a heavy drinker. Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 177:
Ise warr'n that tane's a toom-the-stoup.

(2) To pour (the contents) out of a vessel, to empty out. Gen.Sc. Gsw. 1711 Uls. Jnl. Archaeol. IV. 117:
Boill [the violets] in Spring water, and toom them into your marble mortar.
Abd. 1749 Abd. Estate (S.C.) 116:
2 men 2/3 day timming [sc. dung] and spreading.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxxvi.:
She was like to hae toomed it a' out into the slap-basin.
Per. 1835 R. Nicoll Poems 87:
The little lochs that toom Their gushin' burns to the distant sea.
Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 97:
Does he toom drink down their throats?
Sh. 1898 “Junda” Klingrahool 31:
My pallid sheeks, sae pinched an sallow Shaws fu my sowal I töm lek oil oot.
Gsw. 1902 J. J. Bell Wee MacGreegor xi.:
I'll jist tim them oot an' bash them wi' a stane.
Fif. 1939 Sc. Educ. Jnl. (27 Oct.) 1111:
Not so long ago a Scottish Provost at a social gathering proposed a vote of thanks to “the leddies for tuimin oot the tea.”
Ags. 1946 Forfar Dispatch (7 Feb.):
Ye wid hae thocht I'd taimed that cinnamon doon eez craig.

(3) To hollow out. Phr. tumed ingans, stuffed onions. Slk. 1893 R. Hall Schools 24:
During the winter months there used to be “sclys” almost everywhere, either “toomed” or “raised”.
Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Auld Clay Biggin' 7:
I hae made ye some “toomed onyins.”

(4) To discharge (a gun) (Abd., Ags., Slg. 1973). Abd. 1799 A. A. Cormack Education in 18th C. (1965) 66:
She would rather have a gun teemed in her than comply.
Bnff. 1847 A. Cumming Tales of North 38:
They widna min' teemin' a gun i' you.
Ags. a.1856 Bards Ags. (Reid 1897) 408:
I toomed my gun amang my foes.

2. intr. To empty, to be or become empty, to discharge (itself) (Sh., n.Sc. 1973). Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 58:
Wi' Beggars, Packmen, an' sic crew, Our door it never tooms.
m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 63:
His door never tooms wi' folk ca'in an' speerin' after him.
Mry. 1887 W. H. Tester Poems 38:
Whar sweepin' Garronne's volume teems Into the sea.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 36:
Alang the strath the hairst-fields toom And syne the stackyairds fill.
Sc. c.1925 R. Thomas Sandie McWhustler's Waddin' 139:
What was intill't cam toomin' oot.
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 2:
Fest as the reekin' girdle teems The toaster taks the load!

3. Of rain: to pour down, to fall in torrents (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; I., em.Sc., Ayr., Rxb. 1973), also of perspiration. Hence toomer, a very wet season. Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 74:
Furt da rain wis tümin.
Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 97:
The rain had begun to toom doon in torrents.
n.Sc. 1916 M. Maclean Roving Celt 33:
The hairst might be a toomer.
Ork. 1929 Old-Lore Misc. IX. ii. 79:
Da swate breuk oot an' fairly teumed aff o' 'im.
Edb. 1936 F. Niven Old Soldier xv.:
It's tooming with rain.

III. n. 1. A place where rubbish is emptied, a dump (Slg., Lth., Peb., Rxb. 1973). Also fig. Edb. 1845 J. H. A. Macdonald Life Jottings (1915) 80:
What in Scotland is called a “free toom”, into which garbage of all kinds were thrown.
Edb. 1865 Scotsman (21 June) 2:
He is made a mere receptacle for leavings — or what, in his own profession, is called a “toom”.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders xxv.:
Like rubble from a quarry toom (or dump as they call it in the sea-coal district).
Abd. c.1896 Tramway Specifications:
The substratum in any case requiring to be excavated must be carted away by the Contractor to the nearest toom available for him.

2. Comb. tume of rain, a heavy downpour of rain (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Cf. doontume s.v. Doon, adv.1, III. 37.

[O.Sc. tome, tume, empty, c.1420, tome, to empty, 1482, toomely, 1606, toome headed, 1629, North. Mid.Eng. tome, tume, O.N. tómr, empty. The v. uses are derived from the adj., and correspond to Eng. (now dial.) teem from O.N. tma, to empty.]

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



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