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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

ONCOME, n., v.

I. n. 1. The approach, advent, or commencement of a thing, “especially of one that requires great exertion, as in making an attack” (Fif. 1825 Jam.), onset; the setting about an action; development, progress (Sh., ne.Sc. 1964).Fif. 1823 W. Tennant Cardinal Beaton 156:
“I houp we'll hae a gud affcome.” “I'm for the good oncome, deil a fear for the affcome.”
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lxx.:
Sin ever I kent ye i' this library, I never kent ye bide the oncome o' the nicht.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 56:
The moudie, and the thrifty skrow, That howk their hames aneth the sward, The on-come o' that harle might rue.
Abd.7 1925:
Referring to events taking place, as an altercation between two individuals, and the onlookers say “We wytit t' see the oncome”, that is, they waited to hear how the wordy battle would proceed.

2. A heavy fall of rain or snow (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ags., Fif., Lth., s.Sc., Uls. 1964).Slk. 1875 Border Treasury (10 April) 417:
He says we'll hae oncome o' some kind within four-an-twenty hours.
m.Lth. 1897 P. H. Hunter J. Armiger's Revenge xvi.:
I ken't it was to be an oncome, an' here it is — a feedin' storm, an' nae mistake.
s.Sc. 1937 A. Hepple Heydays (1953) 65:
It took me some time to find her, for there was an oncome of snow.
Fif. 1952 People's Jnl. (9 Aug.):
The clouds are scuddin' gey sair across the wastert. I doot we'll hae an oncome afore mornin'.

3. An attack of disease of unknown origin, a sharp attack of illness (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; s.Sc. 1964). Cf. Income, n., 3.Sc. 1818 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxxi.:
Oncomes, as the Scotch call them, or mysterious diseases, which baffle the regular physician.

4. In Building: the corbelling at the gathering of a flue above the fire-opening (Sc. 1952 Builder (20 June) 942), funnel-shaped pieces of fireclay between the fireplace opening and the fireclay lining of a smoke flue (Sc. 1946 Spons' Practical Builders' Pocket-Bk. 441).

II. v. 1. As ppl.adj. oncomin, ready to make advances, friendly (Sh., ne. and em.Sc., Wgt., Slk. 1964).Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Margaret Pow 183:
He doesna seem to be very oncomin', for he's never been in the house yet.

2. Deriv.: oncomer, a cattle animal which is “coming on”, i.e. is being fattened for beef.Fif. 1949 Scotsman (9 May):
Stable, large reed, dairy, pig-house, oncomers' byre, bull-house.

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"Oncome n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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