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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PRIMP, v., adj., n. [primp]

I. v. 1. tr. To make prim and over-neat, to arrange or do up in a stiff, affected way, to dress or deck out in a consciously correct style (Sc. 1808 Jam.); also used intr. for refl. Gen.Sc. Ppl.adj. primpit, -et, primped, of things or speech: stiff, formal, over-elaborate, prim, correct; of persons: affected, self-consciously comme il faut, elaborately and formally dressed. Comb. primp-ma-dye [ < madame], a haughty and affected woman (Rxb. 1954 Hawick News (18 June) 7).Abd. 1812 W. Ingram Poems 58:
And when they hammer out a verse, 'Tis so confounded stiff and primpit.
Rnf. 1813 G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 37:
Wi' powther'd pow, an frulls sae finely crimpet, Plump as a pig, in chair o' judgment primpet.
Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters I. vi.:
I am sure her cousin Annie wad degust ane to see her, sae mim, primpet, an' petikler.
Peb. 1838 W. Welsh Poems 33:
Wasna Nell a buck hersel, An' pridefu' like she primpit.
Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 107:
And aiblins, some wi' primpit mou'.
Abd. 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert ii.:
A lot o' the big fairmers an' dealers wudna say a wird in onything bit primpit English, an' he jist cudna dee wi't, an' leet the bargains gae bye.

2. intr. To behave or talk in a mincing or affected style, “to assume prudish or self-important airs” (Bch. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; ne., m. and s.Sc. 1966). Deriv. primpie, adj., affected in dress and manner (Per. 1880 Jam.), “stuck-up”.Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 72:
Young primpin Jean, wi' cuttie speen, Sings dum' to bake the bannocks.

II. adj. Fastidious, straight-laced, prim; haughty, conceited (Mry. 1925; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Sh. 1966).Gall. 1835 Fraser's Mag. (July) 17:
Your primp wizand faces.
Abd. 1931 Abd. Press & Jnl. (19 Feb.):
Scotia's leed has mony a kin', Tae fit baith primp an' pliskie.

III n. “A person of stiff, affected manner” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 134), one who is straight-laced and self-consciously correct, a prig, a “show-off” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; s.Sc. 1966).

[O.Sc. primp, to deck, adorn, c.1590. Vbl. deriv. of Eng. prim, phs. through the sequence primmed, ppl.adj., > primt > primpt > primp. Cf. Primsie, prinkie, s.v. Prink.]

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"Primp v., adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 9 Dec 2022 <>



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