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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.

HOWM, n. Also ho(u)wm(e), houm(e); holm(e) (Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality viii.), ho'm, hoam (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 28), hoom (Abd. 1950 Banffshire Jnl. (11 July)), †hoome; hewm (Abd. 1817 J. Christie Instructions 26). [hʌum; ho:m, esp. in 2. (2).]

1. A stretch of low-lying, level ground, usually grassland, on the banks of a river or stream, liable to be inundated in time of flood, a water meadow, a Haugh (m. and s.Sc. 1957). Comb. howe-howm, id. Also in n.Eng. dial. and in gen.Eng. place-names. Also attrib. (Dmf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VIII. 309).Cai. 1700 J. E. Donaldson Cai. in 18th Cent. (1938) 126:
The horse did war 2 riges in the small hoomes the said day.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 41:
That we wha solid are and grave, Nae Peace on our ain Howms can have.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 34:
At last an' lang, whan night began to gloem, And eery like to sit on hill an' howm.
s.Sc. 1778 A. Wight Husbandry II. 421:
On the banks of Liddel, there are a great many fine holms, or haughs of dry kindly soil.
Dmf. 1810 R. H. Cromek Remains 112:
I' the howe-howms o' Nith my love lives an' a'. . . . The howe-howms of Nith is a romantic vale, of near ten miles diameter, at the bottom of which stands Dumfries.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. iii.:
The blunker that's biggit the bonnie house down in the howm.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1874) 187:
At length after it was day-light I got some spearings o' her at the holm-head.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 62:
Through green howm and scroggie dingle, Where the crimpled breckans grow.
Dmf. 1869 Trans. Highl. Soc. 272:
Alluvial soil abounds along the margins of the rivers and streams. It is called holm land, and varies greatly in respect of depth and richness.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 18:
October's wat an' windy days Were whusslin' owre the howms an' braes.
Ags. 1915 V. Jacob More Songs 20:
Gin I should fa', Lord, by my chance, And they howms o' France Haud me for guid an' a'.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood iv.:
And Mirehope's but wersh land, sir, and not to be named wi' the Clyde howms.

Hence (1) ho(l)min(g) (-ground, -land), id.; (2) holmlet, a small river-meadow.(1) Sc. 1743 R. Maxwell Select Trans. 9:
Another third is Homing or Haugh Ground, stretched along the Side of a River.
Ayr. 1792 Boswell Letters (Tinker 1924) II. 487:
It [river] has run off about 11½ falls of good land from the holmin; and if the stones are not removed or a great expence of tucking made on this side, much more will go off by next winter.
Kcb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIII. 47:
The holming land, from the depth as well as from the moistness of the soil, is greatly preferable.
(2) Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 309:
Ilk lown grassy holmlet and snell heathy brae.

2. ¶(1) A bank of earth, a mound; (2) a hollow, a Den (Abd. 1902 E.D.D.), “a smooth-sided hollow, usually dry, often a miniature winding valley, of the sort left here and there by the ice-age” (Abd. (Deeside) W. M. Alexander Place-Names Abd. (S.C.) l.), now only in place-names. For change of meaning between (1) and (2) cf. note to Dyke.(1) Sc. 1845 J. Grant Romance of War xxvi.:
Plant some o' the broon heather frae the bonnie Pentlands . . . on the heavy howme that covers me.

[O.Sc. holm, = 1., from a.1230, Mid.Eng. holm(e), id., O.N. holmr, a small island, a meadow on the shore. See also Holm. In L.Ger. dials. holm means a hill, or a mound.]

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"Howm n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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