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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Lam, Lamb(e, n. Also: lame, lamme. [ME. lam(e, lamb(e, pl. lambes (15th c.) and earlier lambren, -bres, lamber, lam(m)bre, OE. lamb pl. lamberu, lambor etc., ON. lamb pl. lǫmb.The regular and only plur. forms known to Sc. are in -is, -es, unless we count some place-names in Lammer-, Lamber-, as Lammermoor (Lombormore in Symeon of Durham I. 199, Lambremore in c 1160 Liber Calchou 257, etc.), perh. f. OE. lamb(e)ru pl., lambra gen. pl.The place-name Lambedena, -dene (also Lambdene, Lambeden) occurs a number of times in Liber Calchou (pp. 14, 53, 239, 240, 327) and, as Lambedene, in 1214–49 Liber Melros I. 206.]For some further exx. see Keb n. and wedder, ȝow.

1. A lamb, the young of sheep. Also as collect. sing.(1) 1456 Hay I. 294/9.
Allthe first lammyt lammys
1482–3 Acta Conc. II. cvii.
The wrangwis withaldin fra hir … of certane scheip, woll, lammys, gerse
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 361.
Quhare as thow said, that I stall hennis and lammys
1512 Treas. Acc. IV. 353.
The Kingis scheip and lammez
1513 Doug. ix. ix. 87.
The litill tendir kyd or the ȝong lam
1533 Boece ix. x. 310.
Ane lam baith male and femell
1561–2 Treas. Acc. XI. 112.
Dischargeing the slauchter of lammis
1702 Foulis Acc. Bk. 305.
For libbing 3 lams 0: 3: 6
(b) a1400 Leg. S. vii. 283.
A kow in calf bare A lame
a1500 Henr. Fab. 2612.
A silly lame come neir
1513 Prestwick B. Rec. 44.
Accusit … that his lamis et … his corne
(c) c1536 Lynd. Compl. Bagsche 26.
Ane wirrear of lamb and hog
1551 Acts II. 486/2.
It is ordanit … that na lambis be slane … except [etc.]
1569 Edinb. Test. I. 359.
Fiftie sevin lambes clippit
1612 Soc. Ant. XVIII. 304.
Yeiris lambis and yeild scheip
1662 Melrose Reg. Rec. II. 22.
A waiffe yew and lamb
a1699 Skene Agric. MS.
Twentie lambes makes a sowmme
proverbs 1535 Stewart 39116.
Seindill is sene … Ane lamb to haif ane fraudfull foxis taill
1540 Lynd. Sat. 2284 (B).
Trowis thow, bowchour, that I will by blind lammis
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 192.
A sarie ramb gets a sarie lamb
(2) 1497–8 Acta Conc. II. 150.
The proffittis of woll, cheise and lam
c1500 Rowll Cursing 27.
His woule his lamb his cheis his stirk Or ony teyndis of halie kirk
1550 Lanark Sheriff Ct. MS. 38 b.
The profett of ilk [sheep] in woll, lame, butter & hyrding ij s.
c 1600 Soc. Ant. XVIII. 295.
The bot teind fyfe gudlingis with halff lamb halff woll the other halff of lamb and woll usurpit … be my Lord Orknay
Ib. 297.(3) 1584 Edinb. Test. XIII. 177 b.
Sex ȝowis with lamb & lambit
1587 Ib. XVIII. 226.
Ȝowis with lams
a1699 Skene Agric. MS.
A yow goes eighten owlks with lambe

b. Lams skyn, lambis skin, = Lamskin n. 1586 Edinb. Test. XV. 348.
Send to Danskene twa hundretht four scoir thrie lams skynnis
proverbs 1540 Lynd. Sat. 3322 (B).
Quhat halines is thair within Ane wolf cled in a lambis skin
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS. No. 62.
As soone cumes the lambis skine [v.r. the lambeskin] to the mercat as the old sheipis

2. a. A lamb used for food. Also comb. in lams heid, lamhead, lamb leg, lam syde. b. The flesh of a lamb.a. 1561 Inverness Rec. I. 61.
He suld nocht by onne mettis … sic as kydis, lammis, muttons
1594 Acts IV. 70/1.
That na lambis nor young weillis … be slayne or eattin befoir Witsonday
1597 Stirling Palace Larder Bk. MS.
Kyds, lams, sweyn
1603 6th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. 673/1.
Purveior of beifs, muttons, veales, and lames
comb. 1631 Buccleuch Household Bk. 22 Nov.
A lams heid
c 1675 Sc. Ant. I. 178.
May, For a lame syde 19/- … , lame legge and haragells 14/-
1679 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS. 12 Feb.
[He is] to pay six shilling Scots for ane lamb leg
1703 Foulis Acc. Bk. 325.
For lamhead and harigalls
b. 1681 Acts VIII. 355/1.
All butcher-flesh, as beeff, veal, mutton, lamb, and swineflesh
1702 Foulis Acc. Bk. 305.
For a syde of lamb 1: 0: 0

c. The Paschal lamb. a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 275.
A place to grath, quhair he suld eit the lambe

3. In various proverbial comparisons and similes.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xv. 40.
I send ȝou … As wolfis amaung lammys vnsel
(2) Ib. xviii. 1433.
That lyone, as lame ryicht meke
Ib. xliii. 103.
Mek as a lame scho has thé send
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lv. 17.
Sum … Ar nou maid tame lyk ony lammis
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 234.
Meik, in chalmer, lyk ane lame
1600-1610 Melvill 135.
Or he died … God tamde him lyk a lamb
(3) c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxviii. 18.
Chryst … lyk a lamb in sacrifice wes dicht
Arundel MS. 243/152.
Jesu … thou wes lik ane lambe led to be slane
(4) a1568 Scott v. 52.
In May gois dammosalis and dammis In gardyngis grene to play lyk lammis
1567 G. Ball. 109.
The hillis dansit and lychtly lap lyke lambis
(5) c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 423.
Cled in cair weid, As foxe in a lambis fleise

4. fig. a. Applied to persons. a1400 Leg. S. ii. 600.
Of a felone wolf … A lame I haf mad hym mek
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 251/4.
[He] was … to his liegis a meke lamb
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxii. 3 (M).
Lait ane tod wes with ane lam And with hir plaid
Ib. lii. 4.
He is na dog, he is a lam
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3547.
Thow art … ane wolfe and semis ane lam
1567 Sat. P. iv. 102.
Ane saikles lambe, ane innocent
1583 Sempill Ib. xlv. 532.
Tak thir thrie for na saikles lambes

b. Applied to Christ. Also Godis (awne) lam(e, the lamb of God.(1) a1400 Leg. S. iii. 497.
Quhow that lame, quhen he is slane … luffis agane
1562-3 Winȝet I. 29/10.
Be the pretious blude of the immaculat lamb, the Sone of God
1567 G. Ball. 43.
Be Judas … That lamb for sober summe was sauld
(2) a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 252.
Godis awne lam … That of this warld dois awai syn
Ib. 291.
Lo! Godis lame
1560 Acts II. 528/2.
The clene and innocent lamb of God

5. Short for Lamskin. 1586 Conv. Burghs I. 213.
Futefallis, lentroun wairis, lambes, toddis, … otteris and foumart skynnis

6. Attrib. or comb. with keddie q.v., ledder, lether, woill (vol), also lambis woll, teind, and in Lamskin. 1615 Edinb. Test. XLVIII. 214.
Tuentie nyne pair lamb ledder gluifis at xxxvj s. the dosone
1626 Ib. LIII. 338.
xix paire of lambe lether gloves for weyman
1498 Halyb. 179.
A pok … half lamb woill and half tyd woill
Ib. 219.
A pok off lam vol in mandis, lois
1574 Hist. Kinloss A. 96.
Teynd buttir, teind cheise, teind lambis woll
1602 Shetland Sheriff Ct. 15.
The inhabitantis of the yle of Ȝell … sall pay to him the bullteind, lambteind, corneteind and wtheris teindis great and small

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"Lam n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Mar 2024 <>



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