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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HOLM, n. Also hulm (Jak.); homm (Sh. 1947 New Shetlander (June — July) 2). [hom] A small grassy island, in a loch or off the larger islands in the Orkneys and Shetlands, gen. uninhabited and used as pasturage for sheep; any small islet (I.Sc. 1825 Jam., I.Sc. 1957). Now found elsewhere only in place-names. Some place-names Holm however are pronounced [hɑm] and are to be referred to O.N. hmn, hfn, Norw. hamn, a haven, harbour (see H. Marwick Ork. Farm-Names (1952) 89). Sh. 1701 J. Brand Descr. Sh. 119:
Easily a Man in a Cradle goeth from the Noss to the Holm or Rock, by reason of its descent. . . . This Holm is much frequented by Fowls.
Ork. 1701 J. Brand Descr. Ork. 28:
The several Isles . . . are divided into such as are Inhabited, and so are more commonly called Isles; And such as are not Inhabited, which they call Holms, only useful for pasturage.
Sh. c.1733 P.S.A.S. XXVI. 197:
That none go into other men's holms or isles, under the pain of ten pounds for the first fault.
Sh. 1774 G. Low Tour (1879) 77:
Near the Minister's house is the loch in which was the Ting or ancient Court of Justice, in a small Holm.
Ork. 1868 D. Gorrie Orkneys 65:
One of those green islets, known by the fine old Norse name of holms, which add so much to the beauty of Orcadian seas.
Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 17. 43:
When a flock of Shetland sheep are removed from poor grazing on the scattald to rich grazing on a holm or green island . . . the texture of their wool coarsens and, in the case of the moorit, loses its colour, after an interval of only a few years.

Comb.: hommsoond, hulmsund, the strait dividing a holm from the mainland or from another (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1957).

[O.N. hólmr, an islet, an isolated meadow on the shore. Cf. Howm.]

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"Holm n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Apr 2024 <>



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