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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).
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Wem, Wame, Wan, n. Also: weme, vem, vam(e, wamme, wane, wain, wen. [ME and e.m.E. wem (a1225), wemme (1297), weme (Cursor M.), wen (1340), weam (1580), OE wam(m, wom(m, ON vamme. Cf. Wen n.] a. A (moral) blemish. b. A (bodily) blemish, mark, scar; a weal, bruise. c. ? Neglect, damage.Freq. in colloc. with wond (wound) which may provide a partial explanation for the forms in -n. Other examples may be due to a confusion of minims in the MS. Wan adj. does not seem a likely origin.a. 1375 Barb. xv 250.
To sauf mankin Fra wem [C. vem] of auld Adamys syne
c1420 Ratis R. 1331.
Quha hurtis thaim with ony wyce … Thar wyll remayne sum vem to se Eftir as the hurt is les ore mare
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Ephes. i 4.
That we be haly and without wem [W. wemme, P. wem]
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Ephes. v 27.
To gefe the kirk gloriouse to Him self, that it had na wem [W., P. wem] nore runkile
(b) a1400 Leg. S. ii 867.
Lestand blis … Quhare hele beis ay but seknes … Blowmand bewte but wane or smyt Of sawle and body to-giddir knyt
b. a1400 Leg. S. xxix 619.
Gyf the weme of a gret strak In til his hewyd [L. signum cicatricis in capite] ma we se, Bot dout Sir Placydas is he
a1568 Scott xxvii 4.
But hurt, but wem [: jem, geme], Or wind to stem, Inarmit I am with havines
(b) a1568 Bann. MS 221a/45.
The figurat dairt invennomit with blis … Withowttin wame hes wondit me
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 570 (T).
His peild pallat and vnpleasant pow The fowsome flokis of flaeis dois overflow, With vamis and wondis
1587 Carmichael Etym. 10.
Vibex, a wame
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Cicatrix, a wamme
(c) c1475 Wall. ix 1932.
Wndyr the chyn on the left syd, was seyn Be hurt a wain [McD. wain, 1570 wen]
1533 Bell. Livy I 167/1.
He … had done grete vassalege … as weil apperit be sindri wannys [L. cicatrices] and markis in his face
1533 Bell. Livy II 133/5.
Quhat woundis and wannys [B. wammis; L. cicatrices] thai had gottin in thare bodyis
1535 Stewart 46350.
To turne oure bak and fle … withoutin wan or wound
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1933.
He … fand his sone withouttin wan or wound
1567 G. Ball. 32.
He it is, quhilk geuis wan & wound And suddanlie He will mak haill and sound
fig. 1513 Doug. iv i 46.
I knaw and felis the wemmys [L. vestigia] and the way Of the ald fyre and flambe of luffis heit
c. 1522–3 Old Dundee II 332.
Howbeit he war prentice, [yet], be his demerit, certain curtains wet of David Lyn's, being littit are, through his assistance and wan [spoiled]

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"Wem n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Sep 2023 <>



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