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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).

LEAM, n., v.1 Also leem, leme, leim. [lim]

I. n. 1. A gleam, ray or flash of light, a bright glow (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Bnff., Abd., Ags., Kcb. 1960). Also fig. Now mostly poet. Also in n.Eng. dial.Dmf. 1808 R. Cromek Remains 239:
A leem o' light was dancing owre them, mair bonnie than moonshine.
Slk. 1813 Hogg Queen's Wake (1874) 32:
When the ingle lowed wi' an eiry leme.
Bwk. 1862 J. G. Smith Old Churchyard 78:
Her e'en were the leme o' the bricht risin' day.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 56:
The glowin' leme o' soul resolve.
Rnf. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 39:
Like the leme o' the lichtnin', the glance o' her ee' Sent stounds o' delight through ilk fibre o' me.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man i.:
Soon all the courtyard was aglow with the red, unsteady leme which the skies gave back.
Abd. 1924 Scots Mag. (June) 171:
It's the Back o' Hairst upon Ythanside, And the leme o' the rowan's deid.
Sc. 1930 Glasgow Herald (4 Feb.) 8:
Following a dream, A visionary leme.

2. The slightest vestige of a thing, used of wind in quot.Bwk. 1958:
No a leam o wind — not a breath of wind.

II. v. To gleam, shine, glitter, flash, blaze (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, 1825 Jam.). Poet.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 58:
Now by this time the sun begins to leam, And litt the hill-heads wi' his morning beam.
Sc. a.1803 Proud Lady Margaret in Child Ballads No. 47 A. vii.:
“O wherein leems the gold?” she said, “Or wherein leems the twine?”
Crm. 1829 H. Miller Poems 80:
An' brightly leims the gouden sky, That skirts the mountain blue.
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes xxxii.:
It's a mercy to think 'at there's no lemin' and lowin' future in store for hit, puir mappy!
Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 188:
Bobs for the lugs, an' finger rings, Wi' leeming pearlings, strings on strings.
Sc. 1907 D. MacAlister Echoes (1923) 125:
Greet ye nae mair, o een sae blue, Wi' love like starnies leamin'.
Sc. 1928 T. T. Alexander Psalms xliii.:
O, let Thy licht leme and Thy truth, To airt me straucht to Thee.

[O.Sc. leme, brightness, radiance, 1375, to shine, a.1400, illuminate, c.1540, Mid.Eng. leme, a gleam, to gleam, O.E. lēoma, a ray, beam of light.]

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"Leam n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Sep 2022 <>



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