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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XI).
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Wam(e, n. Also: vam(e, wamb(e, waym(e, waymb, vaime, womb(e, voyme, vom(b)e, uombe, wemb, weym(e, veym, weeme, wime, wimb(e, wyme, wymb, vym(b)e. [ME and e.m.E. wambe (c1160), wombe (a1200), wamb (Cursor M.), wame (15th c.), weame (1611), OE wamb, womb, MLG, MDu. wamme, ON vomb.]

1. The stomach, esp. as the recipient of food, also, by extension, the intestines, bowels, etc.; the digestive organs. Also proverb.Also comb. as wame-ill, -evill (Ill n. 4). See also Mekill-wame n.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xxxix 242.
A serpent … in his mouth enteryt … & sa in-[to] his wame done slaid
14.. Acts I 332/2.
Off the chalance of ail taistaris … al-thai fars thar wames in drynkand
1456 Hay II 119/35.
[They] oft tymis has felloun passioun in thair wame and in thair stomak as gryndingis brynnyng of herte and ventositeis with dolorous having and evill appetite to metis
a1500 Henr. Fab. 101.
They cullour dois bot confort to the sicht, And that is not aneuch my wame to feid
1490 Irland Mir. II 37/18.
Ionas the prophet was thre dais in the quhalis wame
1494 Loutfut MS 33a.
[The sturgeon] has a litil vame to the regard of his body
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 464.
Thou spewit … mony a lathly lomp Fastar than all the marynaris coud pomp And now thy wame is wers than evir it was
1513 Doug. iii vi 147.
Forto se the vgly monstre … Scilla, and heir the craggis rowt and ȝell For barking of sey doggis in hir wame
1513 Doug. viii Prol. 138.
Sum wald haue welth … and sum thar wame fow
1533 Boece 15b.
Of ane multitude of serpentis fundin in ane hartis wame
1531 Bell. Boece II 75.
Thay arre mair gevin to voracite than virtew, and more to thair wambe than to devine service
1533 Bell. Livy I 185/1.
The wame … nurissis all the laif of the membris
a1538 Abell 50b.
Quhen thai haif fillit thare wame … with meit and drink at the pure lauborar swetis fulsaire fore
1540 Lynd. Sat. 4346 (B).
Scho hes sic rumling in hir wame, That all the nycht my hairt ourcastis With bokking and with hinder blastis
1551 Hamilton Cat. 48.
The covatous man makis a god of his warldly geir, the glowton makis a god of his wambe
1551 Hamilton Cat. 65.
Quhen he passit … to purge his wame, al his bowallis and guttis fell doune throw him
1579, 1617 Despauter (1579).
Alvus, the wame
(b) 1456 Hay II 129/11.
Spedefull till have the wambe than moyste and laxative
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matth. xv 17.
Al thing that entris into the mouthe gais into the wambe
1531 Bell. Boece I 203.
The king was sa trublit be flux of wambe, that he was constranit haistely to pas to his eis
(c) a1500 Lanc. 375.
His vombe out fallith … Apone the ground, & liging hyme besid
1620 Perth Kirk S. MS 17 Jan.
Johne Thomsoun … micht nocht byde in the kirk the tyme of the efter nones sarmond for the flux in his womb
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 165/486.
The children … for thaire uakkness hes thair uombe that louse rinnis euer still
(d) c1650 Fugitive Poetry II xxvi 3.
His ribbes … and beath his hanches His cragge his weeme, and eke his panches And through his intraills all gange rumill
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. (1706) 260.
A foul foot makes a fow wemb
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 299.
Better playes a ful wom[b] nor a fair cote
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 531.
Foule fingers maks a full wyme
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 853.
I love not the meit speiks in my wimb
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1562.
There is caill in cuts wimbe
comb. c1515 Auchinleck Chron. 4.
The wame ill was so violent, that thar deit ma that ȝere than euir thar deit ouder in pestilens or ȝit in ony vther seiknes in Scotland
a1586 Lindsay MS 39a.
The peppins … quhen thai ar soddin … ar gude for folkis that hes the wambe evill

b. The wymbes of the puir, the bellies of the poor. 1598 Aberd. B. Rec. II 167.
Regrateris and skafferis of the wymbes of the puir

c. The stomach, intestines, etc. used, chiefly or only, as food, esp. in collocation with Panch(e n. 2, q.v. for further examples. Freq. as wame of panches, the belly and its contents. 1531 Bell. Boece I xxix.
In this region ar mony fair ky and oxin … The talloun of thair wambis is sa sappy, that it … flowis … in maner of oulie
1572 Elgin Rec. I 131.
Four veymis of panscheis
1597 Household Bks. Jas. VI and Anne I 6 April.
Ane wambe of painschis
1631 Buccleuch Household Bk. 3 Oct.
For a wholl wyme of penschis with the 4 feit wnboyled
1631 Buccleuch Household Bk. 3 Oct.
For the draucht and wyme of a scheip to be a hages
1655 Nicolson Diurnals 3 July.
For ane womb of panches

d. The (empty) interior cavity (of a bird). 1513 Doug. viii Prol. 52.
Sum grenys efter a guse, To fars his wame full

2. The abdomen, applied to the outer body except when, in cases of penetration by a weapon, etc., the inner body is implied. Also proverb.Also ? transf.the whole body or ? a further example of the above. Also fig.a. ?1438 Alex. i 667.
With … shoulderis braid, And small in vame [F. flans]
c1420 Wynt. iii 45.
Put it [sc. a sword] in his wame sa fast Quhill hylte and plumet bath in past And leyffyt it stekand in his belch
a1500 Rois Garlandis 322.
Blist be His haly wame that wes cruely scurgit at the pillar
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 131.
Ay quhen that caribald carll wald clyme one my wambe
1525 St. A. Formulare I 269.
I denunce … the committaris of the saidis saikles murthuris … I curse … thare stomokis thare bakis thare waymes
1531 Bell. Boece II 402.
The javellouris … pressit down ane hevy burd on his wambe
1533 Boece 330a.
Like ane hidropic his wame was boldin and hard
1534 Wigtown B. Ct. 289b.
Schallans for dynning & strykyne of hym in the vyme
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 985.
In his armis he did hir thrist … And wame for wame thay vther braissit
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 156.
He wes schot with ane hagbute … in his wambe
1580 Reg. Privy C. III 337.
To schute hir … with a pistolett, haldand the samyn to hir wemb
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 349 (T).
The rottin rim of thy womb with ruikis salbe revin
1598 Melvill Propine 132.
That his people tine not pretious time nor spend it heall vpon the back and wime like beastes
1623 Peebles Gleanings 17.
Marioun sat upoun the said Margaret her wambe … and straik her on the breist
proverb. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 928.
I sall ding yow on the wyme with a tume dish
transf. 1540 Lynd. Sat. 3625 (B).
I think this huid and hevy goun Will hald ȝour wame our warme
fig. 1691 Continuation Historical Relation Late General Assembly 45.
The Moderator … said, Man, take off the scab of the wamb of it, and see what's within it, for so … he called the King's seal upon it

b. The belly or underside of an animal, reptile or fish.The Monro quot. may belong in sense 2. a1500 Henr. Fab. 759.
Vnder ane busk … To beik his breist and bellie he thocht best … Straikand his wame aganis the sonis heit
1513 Doug. xi xv 105.
Hys [sc. a wolf's] taill … Vnder hys waym [Sm. waymb] lettis fall abasytly
1560 Rolland Seven S. 2162.
The bair … Vpon the wombe richt softlie can he claw
1568 Skeyne Descr. Pest 11.
Padokis … colourit gray on the bak, of purpoure … on the vombe
1571 Inverness Rec. I 211.
The said horse … crepit on his wambe, lyke ane dog trocht the sairness was in his guttis
1590 Burel Pilgr. i 142.
The edder … Vpon his wamb crieping
?1549 Monro W. Isles (1884) 49.
A kynd of fishe, the … shape of ane salmont … the under haffe, narrest his vombe is quhite

c. The belly part of a fur or hide. 1374 Exch. R. II 466.
c bakkys de grece … xlij wamys de menyvaire
1448 Exch. R. V 311.
Pro duobus mantellis de martrik wames
1566 Edinb. B. Rec. III 226.
The … flescheouris pullis the haill skyn fra the hals doun to the taill throw all the wambe thairof and cuttis ane tarledder [etc.] … for remeid quhairof the … counsall hes statut … [that all fleshers … ] flay all thair scheipe … wp throw the haill craig … and neuyer pull the woll of the hals, wambe, nor na wther pairt thairof
1570 Conv. Burghs I 21.
The evill brute … that of the wambes of all hydis and skynnis thair is tar letheris cuttit and tane away
1572 Inverness Rec. II 222.
To refound … ane half hyde wyth the wambe of ane wther half hyde
1581 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 225.
That the said flescheoures … nother pluk the woll of the halis, wambe, nor vther pairt
1586 Edinb. Test. XVI 42.
xxv wambes of hydis
1612 Bk. Rates (Halyb.) 305.
Beaver bellies or wombes the peice, viii s.

d. The part of a garment that covers the abdomen. 1590 Thanes of Cawdor 197.
For … nyne buttonis to the womb of his masterchipis breikis

e. transf.Applied to the belly of a statue. 1513 Doug. ii i 70.
Troianys, I pray ȝou in this hors; … I dreid the Grekis fors … Thus sayand, with al his strenth a gret speir At the syde of that bysnyng best threw he, And in ionyngis of the thrawyn wame of tre Festynnyt the lance that trymlyng gan to schaik The braid belly
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3741.
Nabuchodonosor … Ane ymage sawe … of … gold wes his heid His breist … of syluer … His wamb of copper
1595 Anderson Winter Night (1713) 8.
The hudge image, with copper wame

f. A further example of Rede-waimb n. 1597 Breadalbane Ct. Bk. 164.
Persewit for slaying of the reid wombs with nettis

3. The uterus. Also fig.(a) a1400 Leg. S. ii 734.
Lofe forbedis, That ony chyld, … Suld defowle the modir that hym fed Of hir wame
c1420 Wynt. v 1926.
In till hyr wame now is a barne, That [etc.]
c1420 Wynt. vi 2242.
I wes nevyr borne; Bot off my modyre wame wes schorne
1456 Hay I 79/7.
Twa propre brethir that lay bathe in a wambe
1472 Crawford Mun. Invent. II 6 (8 Nov.).
[The] are [= heir] of the said Johnnis quhilk as yit is in the moderis wame
a1500 Henr. Annunc. 17.
How that hir wame but woundis Consave it suld
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Rev. xii 2.
And scho had in wambe and scho crijs traualing of child, and is turmentit that scho bere child
1531 Bell. Boece II 63.
In Kent, ane child leuch in his motheris wambe
1533 Boece 280b.
Quhen hir wame grewe, and scho was coactit be hir parentis to schaw hir defouler
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 4011.
Blyst be the wamb that neuer bair
1566 Inverness Rec. I 139.
In case the berne that is in Jonet Sutherlandis wame inleak
1567 Canongate Kirk S. (ed.) 69.
Item, the woman with the bursit vam, iii s.
1569–70 6th Rep. Hist. MSS App. 651/1.
Quhill we se quhat God sendis of your ladyshipis wambe
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 193/14.
Vp gettis thair wame thay think [pr. thing] na schame And syn bringis hame the laird the horne
(b) c1420 Wynt. v 1878 (C).
Gret wayme withe barne the lady was
?c1500 Rathen Manual 27/1.
1513 Doug. x vi 64.
(c) 1549 Compl. 60/19.
1584 Dysart Rec. 41.
c1590 Fowler I 114/49.
His … desteneis … Which he contraited in hir wombe from whense he first did come
(d) 1533 Gau 102/29.
Blissit is the frwit of thy weyme
1571 Elgin Rec. I 127.
Furth of the weym yow castis bot kitlyngis and nocht childeryng
(e) 1596–7 Misc. Spald. C. I 98.
The bairne suld be ane las that was in hir wymb
1616 Misc. Hist. Soc. II 249.
The plenesing of Pitskelli, to the bairne that is in the mother's vymbe
fig. 1653 Binning Wks. (1841) 75.
All things come out of the womb of His eternal decree

4. The belly viewed as the source or seat of emotions. Also proverb. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 41/18.
My wame is of ȝour lufe so fow That [etc.] … Ȝe brek my hairt, my bony ane
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 717.
Quhen a man is full of lust, his womb is full of leesings
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 992.
I will draw my wime to my winning

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"Wam n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2023 <>



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