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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Lemman, Leman, n. Also: lem(m)ane, lemmand, -ayn, lem(m)en(e. [ME. leman (c 1250), lemman (c 1275), earlier leofmon Lef(e)-man n. Cf. also Lamen.]

1. A person beloved by one of the opposite sex, a lover or sweetheart.Common in popular songs and rhymes. Otherwise, in this sense, chiefly in early verse. In Alex. chiefly rendering F. ami or amie.(1) c 1315 in Brut (1906) 208.
Maydenes of Engelande, sare may ȝe morne, For tynt ȝe haue lost ȝoure lemmans at Bannokesborn
1375 Barb. xv. 351 (E).
Lat ilkane on his lemman mene
c1420 Wynt. viii. 2569.
Owris sall be this day … And … for oure lemmanys luwe Off pres … a poynt we pruwe
?1438 Alex. ii. 2256.
I haue na will, said Ydory, To becum lemman allanerly With speke
Ib. 2216, 2631, 3050, 3629, 4544, 4553, etc. Ib. 5163.
At this burd thare is sittand … Ȝouthhede, fairheid and amour, Lemman [F. amie et amis], eild and lufe
a1500 Henr. Robene & M. 56.
Ga lufe, Makyne, quhair evir thow list, For lemman I lue none
1513 Doug. iii. Prol. 6.
Pail Cynthia, … Lemman [v.r. leman] to Pan, douchtir of Hyperion
Ib. xii. Prol. 198.
Ane [girl] sang, The schyp salys our the salt faym Will bryng thir merchandis and my lemman haym
(b) a1500 Colk. Sow i. 223.
Gregry the bowman For lufe of his leman Licht lap at a lyn
(c) ?1438 Alex. (c 1580) ii. 2202.
Said Ideas … Gif I lufe and lemmen has, I thank … Wenus
Ib. 6078.
And ȝit ar thay, with all this weill Luffaris new and lemmens leill
c1530-40 Stewart Bann. MS. 252 a/18.
O lord of luve, how lykis thé My lemmens laitis vnleill?
(2) a1400 Leg. S. xlviii. 15.
That sad til hir, My leman dere
?1438 Alex. ii. 2521.
To the Kingscholukit … And callit him lufe and lord baith: … ‘Lemman [F. amis]’, scho said, [etc.]
a1500 Colk. Sow i. 306.
Joly lemmane, dawis it nocht day?
a1540 Freiris Berw. 181 (B).
Scho callit him baith hart, lemmane and luve
1549 Compl. 64/32.
Sum of the … sangis … , Trolee lolee lemmen dou
a1568 Bann. MS. 225 a/4.
Fair weill blythnes, fairweill sweit lemmane myne

b. Latterly chiefly spec. An unlawful lover or paramour; (a woman's) gallant; (a man's) light-of-love, mistress or concubine.(a) c1420 Wynt. vi. 162.
A wykkyd wyff … That lyvyd in till adultery, And had a lemman [v.r. lemmannis] specyally
Ib. 1636.
[Duncan] chesyd that woman To be fra thine hys luwyd lemman
c1475 Wall. v. 693.
With my gud will I wyll no lemman be To no man born
1490 Irland Mir. fol. 235 b.
Before this … haly mariage of the saule with God, it was the hure and lemmane of the Innemy
a1500 Seven S. 1056.
Furth past scho Till hir lemman hir lust to do
1531 Bell. Boece (M) II. 337.
King Robert marijt Elizabeth, his lemmayn
a1585 Maitl. Q. lxvi. 98.
Sall I ane lemmand tak, Ane servitour
1571–2 Elgin Rec. I. 130.
Jhone Innes, lemmand to Bessie Hay
1591 Ib. II. 9.
To solempneize … mariage with Mariorye Straquhyn his lemmane and partie with quhome he haldis hous
1670 Kingarth Session Bk. 57.
Saying that he sould frequent the company of a lemman among the furies commonly called fairfolks
1685 Lauder Observes 158.
Anna Bullen, his lemman
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xxix. 370.
Ay wes the schipmaster gowand A-pon the laydy … & thocht scho suld his leman be
c1420 Wynt. ix. 1341.
Schir Anton … Cleopatra … till his leman tuk
(c) ?1438 Alex. (c 1580) ii. 5310.
I sall neuer maryed be Na haue lemmen
1581 Edinb. Test. X. 31.
Alwyis scho kepe hir self but husband or lemmen
1594 Ib. XXVII. 200.
Sa lang as he is vncleithit with ane marrow or lemene

2. a. Of St. John the Baptist, Lemman (= friend) of the spouse, = L. amicus sponsi, John iii. 29. a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 9.
Sancte Johne [the Baptist] … wes … Of the spouse callit the lemmane For gret luf God gef hym thane

b. Of Ganymede: (Jove's) favourite, minion. c1420 Wynt. ii. 1040.
The barne Ganemede … for hys soverane bewte Lemman to that god wes he

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"Lemman n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Jan 2023 <>



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