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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

ROOM, n.1, adj., v. Also roum(e); rowm; rum (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); ¶roam; and dim. roomie. Sc. forms and usages:

I. n. 1. As in Eng., living-space, accommodation. Comb. room-free, see quot.Sc. 1887 Jam.:
To sit room-free in a dwelling-house means to sit rent-free; and to hold a property room-free is to hold it without paying the usual burghal duties.

2. A place in a series or sequence, in a queue, in items of business, etc. Freq. in Wodrow. Phrs.: in the first room, in the first place, in the last room, last on the agenda, in the next room, at the following point in the proceedings; in room of, in place of (ne. and m.Sc. 1968). Now obs. or dial. in Eng.Sc. 1721 R. Wodrow Sufferings ii. iv. s.3:
The 11th act of this session . . . deserves a room in this collection. . . . Thus in the first Room after religious and Reformation-rights . . . are laid at the King's Feet.
Sc. 1721 R. Wodrow Sufferings i. iii. s.2:
The Parliament, in the next Room, approve all the Acts of Council.
Sc. 1729 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) IV. 72:
In the last room, the affair of Renfreu came in before the Commission.
Rnf. 18th c. W. Grossart Shotts (1880) 220:
Frequent quarrels between the miller and the inhabitants, and likewise with each other, for their “roume” or order of service.

3. Seating space for one person in a church pew. Cf. Bottom-room.Rxb. 1728 Melrose Session Rec. (S.R.S.) 154:
John [Bunzie] has pretentions to one of these seats; sessions reserve the disposal of the other room.
Ags. 1729 Carmyllie Session Rec. MS. (14 May):
David Storuk and Da. Anderson are placed in the two empty Rooms in the ninth seat and payd five shillings scots.

4. The distance or space allowed between fishing boats when setting lines (Mry.1 c.1930; Sh. 1968).

5. The compartment or space between the thwarts in a boat (Sc. 1750 F. Grant Letter to M.P. Plate; Sh. 1883 J. R. Tudor Ork. and Sh. 664, 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl.; Mry.11925; Sh. 1968).Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 127:
The boat was divided into six compartments, viz., fore-head, fore-room, mid-room, oost-room, shott, hurrik or kannie. The shott was double the size of a room.

6. Orig. the apartment of a but and ben cottage which was not used as the kitchen, hence, a sitting-room or parlour, “the best room”. Gen.Sc. Also attrib. Freq. in phr. room and kitchen, a dwelling, usually a flat I. 3., consisting of a kitchen(/living room) and another room.Kcb. 1789 Dmf. Weekly Jnl. (17 Nov.):
A house, consisting of a large kitchen, a room and two closets.
Wgt. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 485:
The better sort of inhabitants in the town, though they also use peat in their kitchens, burn coal in their rooms.
Slk. 1827 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) vi.:
Shown by the dimpling Border maid into the Room, which, in those days, meant the only sitting apartment of the house.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch vi.:
I might put down here the prices of the room-grate.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 176:
The bairns, puir things, wi' buiks aud toys, Were heartenin' ither ben the roomie.
Ags. 1899 Barrie W. in Thrums ii.:
I was ben in the room playing Hendry at the dambrod.
Cai. 1902 J. Horne Canny Countryside 25:
I slept in “the room,” the only woodlaid bit of the house.
Gsw. 1937 F. Niven Staff at Simson's i.:
He lived in a room and kitchen “house”.
ne.Sc. 1945 Scots Mag. (May) 89:
The album used to lie on the green plush cover on the “room” table at Faulds, the family Bible beside it.
wm.Sc. 1965 Alan Sharp A Green Tree in Gedde (1985) 29:
Mother Sommerville presided over six more like Robert, lodging them in the other room of a room and kitchen, feeding them on potatoes and porridge ...
Edb. 1967 Evening News (12 Jan.):
Mr. Williamson, who lives in a room and kitchen home with his wife and four children.
Gsw. 1985 Anna Blair Tea at Miss Cranston's 4:
The second apartment was the Room, and as well as being a sitting parlour for Sunday visitors it slept the children, whatever the mix or age range.
Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 39:
Then she went into The Room, where she sat by herself and played over her new found treasures. I watched her white fingers run over the old brown piano keys, and I saw the thunderous wounds from the gutting troughs grow silent, miraculously healed by the sheer power and beauty of the melodies which her hands played.
Edb. 1999:
In Edinburgh this meant the bedroom where children slept. Parents slept in the kitchen. My granny had a room; 'The Room' was always kept for best.
Gsw. 1999 Jimmy Boyle Hero of the Underworld 99:
Like us, they had a room and kitchen; their sleeping arrangements were eight in one bed and three in their mum's, which was where we'd squeeze into on our overnight excursions.
Sc. 1999 Herald 22 Sep 34:
Think, for example, of the Tenement House museum in Glasgow: it beats me why anyone who used to live in a room-and-kitchen for real should want to see another one ever again, but they turn up in their thousands to get misty-eyed over the big black range gleaming with fondly applied Zebo and the delightful jawbox sink with cold running water in which the weekly laundry (later to be hung from the ceiling pulley to dry by evaporation, no wonder we all had pleurisy) was the work of a mere five or six hours.
Dmf. 2003:
After the war my aunt and uncle lived with us; then they moved into a room and kitchen above a shop in Dumfries.

Combs.: (1) room-coal, coal of superior quality to kitchen coal, sc. used for the parlour fire; (2) room-door, the door of the parlour (n.Sc., Kcb. 1968); (3) room-end, the end of a but-and-ben cottage away from the kitchen, “the best room” (Ags., Kcb. 1968). See En, I. 1.(1) Edb. 1877 Scotsman (12 Jan.) 8:
Coals. — Good Kitchen, 13s.; Room, 14s. 6d., 16s.; Dross, 6s. 6d.
(2) Per. 1881 R. Ford Hum. Sc. Readings 7:
I widna set a'e fit inower that room-door.
Ayr. 1896 G. Umber Idylls 70:
We took refuge ahint the room-door.
m.Sc. 1947 Scots Mag. (April) 13:
A gaed ben an' knockit on the room door.
(3) Dmf. 1830 W. Bennet Traits Sc. Life II. 60:
They had been removed into the “room-end”, as the genteel part of a farmer's house was then almost universally, and still is very generally, called.
Bnff. 1880 J. F. S. Gordon Chrons. Keith 112:
“Watchy” travelled on foot from farm to farm, . . . having “the Room-end” all to himself.
Ags. 1920 D. H. Edwards Muirside 214:
In one corner of the “room-end” was the handloom.

7. A piece of land for which a certain rent was paid to the landowner, a farm, a Tack, an arable holding, a croft, the exact meaning varying according to the type of farming practised, e.g. in Sh. and on the mainland of Scot. in earlier times such areas were freq. divided among sub-tenants, cottars, part-time employees, etc. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1968). Now chiefly hist. or arch. or in place-names, esp. Headrooms (see Heid, n., 4. (14)).Sc. 1705 Observator (2 May) 34:
To make all the shift I could to get my Room Plow'd and Sown.
Sc. 1720 Grievances of the poor Commonality 31:
This way of dividing of Rooms of Land with Half-ploughs, Horse-gangs and Cottaries.
Ork. 1734 P. Ork. A.S. I. 65:
The Steilbow goods, seed, and Servants bolls upon the room and lands of Northstrynzie.
Dmf. 1759 Caled. Mercury (23 Jan.):
The Farm of Poolmoody, Kinnelhead, and Lochenhead, being three of the best Store Rooms in Annandale.
Lnk. 1777 Weekly Mag. (16 Oct.) 63:
His bien rooms, his hills clad o'er wi' sheep, His droves o' ky, and gaits on ilka steep.
Sh. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XII. 352:
The cultivated lands in this parish [Northmaven], as well as in all Shetland, are scattered spots, environed either by deep mosses, or by thin bare grounds, whereof the moss has been cut for peats, or by steep hills covered with heath and naked rocks. These spots are called Rooms, which have, at an early period, been divided into merks, but not equally.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xlv.:
Zealous professors, . . . to whom the preceding Duke of Argyle had given rooms in this corner of his estate.
Knr. 1819 Edb. Ev. Courant (30 Jan.) 2:
That Half-Head Room of Land in the Moors of Kinross, immediately to the north of the head rooms.
Lth. 1829 G. Robertson Recollections 257:
Rig and rig about, or alternately, through all the fields, so that every one might have a fair share of the room, as it was called.
Sh. 1884 People's Jnl. (19 Jan.):
Outside of these were the “toun-dykes”, dividing the “room” from the “scattald”.

8. A burial plot in a graveyard (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 262). Cf. Lair, n.1, 5.

9. Mining: a working space left between supporting pillars of coal (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 56; w.Lth., Ayr. 1968). Also in Eng. mining usage. Hence room and rance, a variety of stoup and room working (see Rance, Stoup) (Ib.).Fif. 1725 Hist. MSS. Comm. X. I. 154:
He must take great care that the wideness of the rooms and largeness of the stoups be according to the goodness of the roof and the hardness of the coal.
Sc. 1744 J. Cockburn Letters (S.H.S.) 98:
Push on the Mine till several rooms are set off from it.
Lnk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VI. 590:
The cannel-coal, which is done on a modification of the “long wall” principle, called “room and rance,” the whole coal being taken out.

II. adj. 1. Empty, unobstructed, wide, spacious, roomy (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.).Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis:
To make a room house, when one drives them out that are in it, and so makes it empty, and consequently much room in it.
Sc. 1765 Edward in Child Ballads No. 13. B. vi.:
The warld's room.
Mry. 1810 J. Cock Simple Strains I. 142:
When in their beds and snugly laid There's silence and a room fireside.

2. Of the wind: ample, favourable.Ork. 1719 H. Marwick Merchant Lairds (1936) I. 95:
Blised by God he has gott a fair occasion and a roume wind.
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
A rum wind, a following wind, favourable for sailing.

III. v. 1. To allocate a proportion of the common pasture to a tenant-farmer on an estate, calculated on the basis of the number of winter stock which his holding will carry, esp. in phr. souming and rouming, the estimating of the number of animals which each tenant may pasture on the common ground. See also Soum, v. Also table of rouming, a tabulated list of such allocations.Per. 1769 Survey Lochtayside (S.H.S.) 67:
The number of cattle mentioned in the table of roaming [sic].
Arran 1770 Bk. of Arran (1914) II. 179:
The propriety of summing and rouming of the island.
Sc. 1831 J. Logan Sc. Gael (1876) II. 65:
In Scotland, where there existed any right of common pasturage, the number of cattle which each individual was entitled to turn out was according to the number which he could fodder in winter on his own farm, and the proportions, in case of dispute, were settled by a form of law called an action of souming and rouming.
Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 932:
To sowm the common, is to ascertain the several sowms it may hold; and to rowm it, is to portion it out amongst the dominant proprietors.

2. To move aside in order to make room (Ork. 1968).Sc. a.1783 Child Waters in Child Ballads No. 63 B. xxix.:
I room ye roun, my bonny broun steeds, I room ye near the wa'.

3. To hollow out.Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 124:
Ee nicht I wis sittin at da fire roomin oot twa aik swills wi da singing iron.

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"Room n.1, adj., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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