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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

AUMRY, AM(E)RY, AUMBRY, AMBRY, Aamry, Aumra, Almery, Almorie, Amurie, Awmrien. (all may take ie termination). Obs. in St.Eng. except hist. Still in north.Eng. dial., though obsolescent. [′ɑ:mrɪ̢, ′:mr, ′ɑmbrɪ̢, ′mbr]

1. A repository in a house, gen. for keeping domestic utensils, or food; either a separate room, or a recess in a wall, or usually a separate piece of furniture, mostly of wood; a pantry, larder, cupboard, dresser, chest; in Cai. a plate-rack above a dresser; occas. a book-chest or bookcase; also a money-chest.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 229:
And soon as he the Ambrie enter'd.
Sc. 1755 Johnson Dict. Eng. Lang.:
Ambry . . . 2, the place where plate, and utensils for housekeeping, are kept; also a cupboard for keeping cold victuals: a word still used in the northern counties, and in Scotland.
Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Sc. Proverbs (3rd ed.) 232:
Nae sooner up than her head's in the aumrie.
Sc. 1929 F. M. McNeill Sc. Kitchen 48:
The furniture of the but, or kitchen-end, [of the “typical Scottish” two-roomed cottage] consisted of an aumry (cupboard) generally placed opposite the window, where milk and provisions were kept, and above it the skelf (a wooden frame containing shelves) on which the crockery and utensils were arranged [etc.].
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Remin. Ork. Par. 12:
First there was the almery, a pantry or meat press about four feet high and two feet wide, with three or four stone shelves.
Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 64:
Amry . . . Not a cupboard, but a plate-rack usually placed on the top of the kitchen dresser.
Abd.(D) a.1857 Mrs A. Allardyce Goodwife at Home (1918) 16:
Fess but the plet o' honey that We gat fae Gowan Rig: It's sittin o' the aamry skelf, Aside the gray-beard pig.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 25:
His amry had nae liquor laid in To fire his mou'.
Bwk. 1856 A. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 87:
He kept his money in an old amurie of very black oak.
Arg.1 1928:
Amery. Cupboard. Once widely current here, but now obsol., if not obs.
Ayr. 1816 Sir A. Boswell Poet. Works (1871) 164:
Quoth Kerse, “the best Our almorie can yield bring ben.”
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail liii.:
Hae ye ony ark or amrie, Mr Keelevin, where a body might den himsel' till they're out o' the gate and away?
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 34:
Aumbry — A large oblong press or box, which stands on end in a nook of almost every country kitchen; it is generally divided into two apartments, a higher and a lower, with a broad folding-door to each; in the heigh aumbry, as the upper place is called, faurls o' bread, or oaten cakes, on their edges, lie closely packed together for daily use, also the meal basie, the feather swooper, and such things. In the laigh aumbry, or lower place, bacon, hams, and beef, which have reestled long enough in the smoke, barley for the broth, woo' shears for clipping sheep, fining woo' kames, and a variety of other articles, remain huddled together.
Gall. a.1901 old rhyme in Trotter Gall. Gossip 122:
Whaur's my share? In ye aumra.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) III. 276:
It's no aye the fattest foddering that mak's the fu'est aumry.

2. hist. A niche or recess in a church, in pre-Reformation times, for keeping sacramental vessels, vestments, etc.Sc. 1930 W. G. Robertson Some Pre-Reformation Churches of Scot. II. Cullen in Life and Work (Feb.) 53:
Of these one is the beautiful “aumbry,” or sacrament house, in which the sacred vessels and elements were kept in Roman Catholic times.

3. fig. A clumsy, stupid person.Sc.(E) 1897 Ld. E. Hamilton Outlaws of the Marches xvi.:
Did you ken, Gavin, you muckle awmrie, that there was a whole byking of Armstrongs?
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D.Bnff.:
Aumrie, a very stupid person.
Mearns 1825 Jam.2:
In phrase muckle aumrie. A figurative expression applied to a big, stupid, or senseless person. The idea seems borrowed from an empty press.

4. Combs.: (1) Bink aumry. (See Bink.) (2) Heigh aumbry. (See 1 above, quot. from Gallov. Encycl.) (3) Laigh aumbry (ib.).

[Freq. in O.Sc. in many forms, those with al- being recorded from the 15th to the 17th cent., and gradually giving way to the am forms; the spellings with aum- become common in 18th cent. See P.L.D. § 78. In use in Mid.Eng. from 14th cent. From Lat. armarium, a place for keeping arma, “utensils,” in Med.Lat. also almarium through O.Fr. almarie, earlier armarie; cf. Provençal armari, Sp. armario, Ital. armario, armadio, Mod.Fr. armoire.]

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



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