Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Symbols Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.

KAME, n., v. Also kaim(e), keam, kaimb, caim(b), cam(b)e; kem(b); keem (Ork.); and in sense I. 2., kamb (Sh.), cam (Cai.), and pl. forms ka(i)m(e)s, used as sing. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. comb. See P.L.D. § 29. [Sc. kem, kɛm; Sh. + kɑmb, Ork. k(j)im]

I. n. 1. = vbl.n. a combing (ne. and wm.Sc. 1959).Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 8:
An' scarce hed time t' dicht her face, nor gie her heid a kaim.

Hence †kamester, a wool-comber. Cf. Combster.Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 47:
Kamesters are aye crishy.

2. A long, narrow, steep-sided mound or ridge, a hill-ridge (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 121, kame; Sh., Lnk. 1959), specif., as a geological term, one of sand or gravel formed by glacial deposit; the crest of a hill or ridge. Freq. in place-names as Kame of Hoy (Ork.), Kaimhill (Abd., Ayr.), Kaim of Mathers (Ags.), The Kaim(e)s (m.Lth., Bwk., Dmf.). Also fig.Ags. 1795 Session Papers, Arbuthnott v. Scott (11 March) 216:
Upon these pillars he makes a kame, composed of trees, laid across the pillars, and stones above.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Poems 6:
The napkin loos'd, wi' ease he saw The bonniest keams o' new-fan snaw.
m.Lth. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 I. 569:
The word Kaim has a well-known meaning attached to it, viz. that of a ridge somewhat zig-zag in the form of a cock's comb.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 304:
High hung the hills, wi' their star-topped kaimbs.
Bwk. 1865 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club V. 227:
On the south side of the kaim at Wark is a moss (the usual accompaniment of these ridges).
Dmf. 1878 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 82:
Its outlines at a distance were so soft and round that it was mistaken for an ordinary kames or collection of gravel.
Sc. 1893 Trans. Edb. Naturalists' Club 77:
A Kame marks the line of drainage from a glacier.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae ' Tween Clyde and Tweed 6:
Hills, burns, an' flo'ers, withoot that awfu' pairtin' In daith's dark kame.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 4:
At the kaim o the hicht, A turnt roond for another keek ahint.
Peb. 1946 Peebleshire News (29 March):
Kame, or Kaim, is the old Scotch word for a comb, and was applied to these long, narrow ridges of sand or gravel that are comb-like in shape. . . . The gravel must have accumulated in a crevasse or channel in the ice, as retaining walls of ice have to be postulated to account for the symmetrical outline of the ridge as seen in cross section from the road or river side. When the ice walls melted, the loose material adjusted itself to the required angle of repose, hence the graceful concentric shape. Such structures are now known as eskers.

3. A small peninsula, in the form of a narrow, low isthmus, leading from a cliff to the shore (Cai. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl., ca(i)m, Cai. 1959).

4. Combs.: (1) cocks and kames, bursting buds of primroses. See Cock n.1; (2) kaim-cleaners, tufts of horse-hair inserted in the wooden beams of old houses and used for cleaning combs (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 289); (3) kame-sowff, v., to play a tune by means of a paper and comb (Bnff. 1959). See Sowff. For combs. hair-kaimer, hecklin-, redding-, rippling-, thripling-kame, see under first element.(1) Lnk. 1875 T. Stewart Doric Rhyme 43:
There were early violets rare, Precious primroses were there, An' “cocks an' kames” we ca'd the burstin' buds.
(3) Bnff. 1933 M. Symon Deveron Days 26:
An' Sownock fae the bothy door Kame-sowfed a martial lilt.

5. Phrs.: (1) to bring (get) an ill kaim for (to) one's head, to bring mischief upon oneself (Fif. 1959); (2) to claw someone's kaim, to administer a drubbing, to “haul over the coals” (Lth. 1959); (3) to dab at someone's kaim, to nag; (4) to set up a kaim, to act in a proud or arrogant manner. Now obs. in Eng.(1) Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 39:
I have gotten an ill kame for my ain head.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xv.:
I wush ye mayna ha' brocht an ill kaim to your heid the nicht, Jims.
(2) Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller xii.:
I'll claw your kaim some day, when you're no expeckin't.
Lnl. 1864 J. C. Shairp Kilmahoe 36:
Let the pirate show his beak this side the island peak, How his Yankee kaim we will claw!
(3) Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxxix.:
My certes, ye never quat dabbin' at his kame.
(4) Bnff. 1882 W. M. Philip K. MacIntosh's Scholars iv.:
Fu laigh and humble they are i' the presence o' a lord, and sic a kaim they set up amon' common fowk!

II. v. 1. To rake loose hay or straw from a stack, to trim a hay- or corn-stack with a rake (‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; I.Sc., Mry., Per., Fif., Dmf., Rxb. 1959), gen. with doun (Abd. 1959); to rake stones from (a field). sm.Sc. 1988 W. A. D. and D. Riach A Galloway Glossary :
combin, kaimin The dressing down of haystacks with a rake.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 17:
The Mowatts' tattie an barley parks lay aroon, smeeth's a maiden's breists, weel-plooed an dreeled, an caimbed clean o iviry steen.

2. To scold, drub, give a “dressing down” (ne.Sc. 1941). Also with doun (Abd.31 1959). Vbl.n. kaimin', a scolding (Bnff. 1959). See also Haffet.Bnff. 1929 Banffshire Jnl. (1 Oct.):
She'd gien 'im a gey kaimin gin' he hid.
Lnk.11 1942:
Ma mither said if I wasna in by eicht o' clock she wid kaim me.

3. Of a horse: to rear (Ork. 1929 Marw.; Ork., Cai. 1959), with doun, to rear and strike down with the forefeet (Slk. 1825 Jam.); of a child: to climb or clamber up (Cai. 1938). Hence fig., to be eager for something.n.Sc. 1928 J. Wilson Hamespun 10:
Upo' my knee they'll eager kame To cuddle in my bosie.
Ork.1 1941:
Charlie's keemin' for a penny.

4. Phrs.: (1) to kaim against the hair, to oppose, to ruffle, irritate (Bnff., Fif. 1959); (2) to kaim a gray head, to live to old age, gen. used neg. = to die young (Ork., Cai. 1959); (3) to kaim somebody's hair (head, croon, pash, powe, wig) for (til) him, etc., = 2. (ne.Sc., Fif., Lth., wm.Sc., Wgt., Slk. 1959); (4) to kaim somebody's head backwards, to annoy, tease; (5) to kaim wi' the hair, to speak in a soothing ingratiating manner to, to speak to please, humour; (6) to want one's head kaimed and then curled, to be too inquisitive (Cai.3 1928).(1) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 95:
Yon lass maun not be dung, but dauted sair; It winna do to keam against the hair.
Sc. 1825 Aberdeen Censor 143–4:
The Crawfords, an' the Grahames, an' the Mars, an' the Lovats, were aye trying to comb them against the hair, an' mony a weary kemping had they wi' them.
(2) Ork. 1914 Old-Lore Misc. VII. i. 35:
Hid was ower weel seen hid wad never kame a grey head, for it was as witty as a' auld body. Ay, hid was truly a faey bairn.
(3) Gsw. 1807 J. Chirrey Misc. Poetry 83:
Or, though ye be the deil, depend I'll kaim your pash.
Dmf. 1813 A. Cunningham Songs 8:
Her new goodman with hazle rung, Began to kame her wanton powe.
Abd. 1874 N. Maclean Nth. Univ. 165:
Gin I hid him I wid camb his head for him.
Sc. 1891 N. Dickson Kirk Beadle 80:
I thocht your wife would hae kaimed your hair to ye.
ne.Sc. 1921 Swatches o' Hamespun 18:
She can fair caim his heid.
(4) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 286:
Some Body will comb your Head backward yet.
(5) Fif. 1879 W. D. Latto Song Sermons 46:
Instead of kaiming her canny wi' the hair . . . John scratched her most delicate susceptibilities.

5. Comb. with vbl.n.: †kaming-stock, in wool-carding: a frame in which one of the cards was fixed, while the operator held the other.Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 174:
A pig, a pot, and a kirn there-ben, A kame but [and] a kaming-stock.

6. To disperse or waft (a puff of smoke) away with a wave of the hand. s.Sc. 1937 Border Mag. (March) 48:
Lauchin' Roddy, yin-up Roddy, Cambs smeek wi' luify waufs.

[O.Sc. kame, comb. a.1400, kaming-stock, 1522, kamester, a.1641. For sense I. 2., cf. O.N. kambr, a crest or ridge of hills, from which the [kɑmb] forms are derived.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Kame n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Sep 2022 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: