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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

YARM, v., n. Also yaarm, jarm (Jak.). Cf. Nyarm. [jɑ:rm]

I. v. 1. To bleat, of a sheep (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 221, 1908 Jak. (1928) jarm, Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; I.Sc. 1974). Hence jarmer, a taboo term used at sea for a sheep (Jak., Sh. 1974).Sh. 1899 Shetland News (29 July):
I heard a odious yarmin, an' da first 'at I saw wis a black lamb fleein' first da wan wye an' dan da tidder.
Sh. 1956 New Shetlander No. 43. 21:
Sheep yaarmin, dugs barking.

2. To mew, of a cat, esp. in a plaintive, persistent manner (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 221; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh., Ork. 1974). Hence yarmer, a cat, esp. in sea-taboo language (Jak., Sh. 1974). Comb. Hairst-yarmers, kittens born in harvest, popularly believed to be unthriving and so inclined to mew a great deal (Ork. 1960).Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 38:
The vero cat lay trem'lan' an' yarmin i' the back-hol'.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (2 July):
Yea, doo may yaarm, pussy.

3. Of persons: to yell, scream, shriek, vociferate. Hence yarmer, a church-precentor, esp. in sea-taboo speech (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), jarmer; I.Sc. 1974).Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 2:
The women yarmed an' skreeked eneuch tae gluff the Trow himsel'.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 188:
The upstaander and the yarmer had not then learned to quarrel over a “mug o' lū watter.”
Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 187:
He barks at her and sheu yarms i' his face aboot hoo things sheu'd be deun.

4. To grumble, grouse, complain in a peevish querulous way (Ork. 1974).Ork. 1948 Orcadian (May):
Jesso wis yarman on, 'boot de pain i' her heid an' her legs.

II. n., esp. in pl.: Caterwauling, yowling, mewing of a cat (Ork. 1950).Sh. 1898 Shetland News (26 March):
Da yarms an' spittin' o' da cat.

[Norw. dial. jerme, Icel., O.N. jarma, to bleat. Cf. Yirm.]

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"Yarm v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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