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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DIRDUM, n. Also dirdom, -am, -rim, dardum, durdam, durdum. [′dɪrdəm, ′dʌrdəm]

1. (1) A noise, uproar, an altercation; a fuss. Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1724 Ramsay T. T. Misc. 17:
Sick Hirdum, Dirdum, and sic Din.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel iv.:
But what wi' the dirdum an confusion . . . and the lowpin here and there of the skeigh brute of a horse.
Abd. 1929 in Bnffsh. Jnl. (29 Jan.) 2/3:
Gin dirdum starts, seen will ye see Nae karr we've tint.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 71:
Aa's become music
or's played upon: the clarsach o branches,
cat-gut o telephone wires, timpani o the sea,
the snare-drum o waves' rush, the bass-fiddle
o the fact'ry's dirdum. Ilka thing its ain leid
and pairt o the haill.
em.Sc. 1991 James Robertson in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 172:
An nou in bourgeois land we sneck our windaes
Ticht an close agin the stour an dirdum.
Fif. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 115:
Ye never for a meenit think o' the labour that it's gien me, or the durdums I've haen with the neebors.
Knr. 1832 L. Barclay Poems 130:
The lawyer's voice . . . Like ony miller's waterfa' . . . Pours a' the dirdoms o' the law.
Lth. 1813 G. Bruce Poems 166:
When oh! mair dirdum an' misluck, In his guid naig's fat rump it stuck.
wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan, App. 497:
Sic a dirdum about naething.
e.Dmf. 1731 in Gentleman's Mag. 123:
If any Hustrin, Custrin . . . shall bread any Urdam, Durdam. . . .
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 31:
'Twill be our threshing new machine, 'Bout whilk there's been sic dirdum lang.

(2) A quandary, problem, a 'fix' (Ags., Per. 1975). Rxb. 1875 N. Elliott N. Macpherson 135:
I ne'er was in sic a dirdum in a' ma life afore.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) II. 284:
"I wonder what an element is! Aha, there's the dirdum!" "I'm rather in a dirdum; but I think it is a great muckle beast without joints."

2. (1) A heavy stroke or blow, a violent push (Sc. 1825 Jam.2; Bnff.2 1940).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 38:
The loon took a haud o' 'im, bit he ga' 'im a dirdum fae 'im our o' the rod.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 148:
Than, wi' a dardum and a dirdum, Yirdlins he daddit him and birr'd him.

†(2) A heavy fall (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 38), a thud.Sc. 1823 Scots Mag. (April) 451:
Lost your balance, fell wi' a dirdum on the floor, disjointed your wrist, and went about for an owk or twa, like a lame sailor.

3. Blame; punishment; a scolding; retribution; “disagreeable consequences of any action or event” (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc.Sc. a.1693 M. Bruce Sermons (1709) 14:
It may be some of you get a clash of the Kirk's craft, that's a business I warrand you, a fair Dirdum of their Synagogue.
Sc. a.1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs (2nd ed.) II. 216:
But to the bridal I [jilted girl] sall gang . . . I care nae tho' they a' should cry, Hech, see, sirs, yonder comes the dirdam.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf x.:
I am glad they can keep up their hearts sae weel, poor silly things; but the dirdum fa's on me, to be sure, and no on them.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet Letter xi.:
So, I think, we had better lay the haill dirdum on that ill-deedie creature, Major Weir.
Abd. 1981 Christina Forbes Middleton The Dance in the Village 78:
Noo Jeck, ma man, the practical kin',
Wis pittin' on 'is beets,
Sayin' he'd gie the b...ers dirdum
For fleggin' a' the beasts!
Per. 1883 R. Cleland Inchbracken xxxiv.:
Ye hae mair sense nor raise a din whan it's yersel' wad get the dirdom o't.
Edb. 1823 M. and M. Corbett Petticoat Tales I. 280:
I gied her such a dirdum the last time I got her sitting in our laundry, as might hae served her for a twelvemonth.
Edb. 1926 A. Muir Blue Bonnet 222:
Not only himself that bore the brunt; Mrs Ruthven was getting the durdum of it too.
Rxb. 1825 Jam.2:
“I'll gie you dirdum”; a threatening used to children, when they are doing what is improper.

Phrs.: (1) to be in the dirdrims, to feel one's conscience troubling one, to be remorseful; (2) to dree the dirdum(s), to bear the punishment, to take the consequences (Fif.10 1940); (3) to get one's dirdums, idem.(1) Per. 1900 E.D.D.:
Oor John's in the dirdrims the day — he was the waur o' drink last night.
(2) Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick x.:
Bring hame the trüth aboot the Kirk to them wha had her fate in their han's, an' wha wad hae to dree the dirdum gin ony scaith cam til her.
Edb.2 1929:
If ye will dae wrang, ye maun dree the durdum.
Gall. c.1840 W. Train in Bards of Gall. (ed. M. Harper 1889) 195:
Waes me! they're sair to bide, luve, The dirdums ane maun dree.
Rxb. 1826 A. Scott Poems 52:
I've dree'd sic dirdum mony a weary day; When sorrow haet can we win out to kill.
(3) Abd. 1936 Thanksgivin' in Abd. Press and Jnl. (26 Oct.) 3/3:
We a' maun get oor dirdums fin trekin' up Life's brae (Wi' auld Dame Fortune at the wheel we hinna muckle say).

4. Bad temper, ill-humour (Per. 1808 Jam.; Lnk.11 1940; Dmf. 1922 W. A. Scott in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 23); “the state of a person who is speaking loud and quick with furious excitement and violent gestures” (Kcb.4 c.1900).Lnk. 1893 J. Crawford Sc. Verses 14:
Wi' droll wee dirdums tak' the gee, Tho' mither sings a cantie glee To calm yer tidd.
Rxb. 1805 A. Scott Poems 192:
There foot-men an' yeomen parading, To scour aff in dirdum were seen.

5. “Ridicule, sneering, scoffing; sometimes disgustful slanderings (Ayr. 1825 Jam.2).Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 149:
An', tho' nae dirdum I exchange, But wiss that skaith may shun them.

6. An achievement, a great deed, gen. used ironically (Abd.8 (Upp. Deeside) 1917; Kcd. 1923 Sc. N. and Q. (Aug.) 128; wm.Sc. [1835–37] Laird of Logan (1868), App. 577; Kcb.3 1929).Abd. c.1750 R. Forbes Ulysses' Answer in Sc. Poems (1785) 34:
A dirten dirdum ye brag o' Done on the Trojan Shore.
Abd. 1900 E.D.D.:
O ay, ye'll do (a) dirdum(s).
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood xvii.:
“Your turn to be scrubbed next, Bobbin,” she said. . . . “Weel, weel,” said Emmeline, watching. “Ye're daein' dirdums. Ye've fair been eident.”

[O.Sc. has dirdum, uproar, tumultuous noise, from a.1522, result of uproar or fuss, 1678. Of obscure origin: prob. onomat., cf. Dird.]

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"Dirdum n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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