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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.

CLAMJAMFRY, n. and v. Also in forms clamjamfrey, -fr(a)y, -phry, -phrey, clan-, and clamjaff(e)ry, clan-, clum-jampery; clamjamphrie; clamjauver; clamjaff; clangumphry (Gall. 1898 A. J. Armstrong Levellers xxi.); clanjamf. [klɑm′dʒɑmfrɪ̢, -fr, -′dʒɑfr, klɑn-, klʌm′dʒɑmprɪ̢]

1. n.

(1) A company of people (Uls.1 c.1920); gen. used contemptuously, hence a mob, rabble, the riff-raff of a community; “frequently used to denote the purse-proud vulgar” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2). Freq. in phr. the hale (whole) —, used fig. in Arg. quot. = every aspect, every minor detail. Given as obsol. by Watson in Rxb. W.-B. (1923), clamjamfry, clamjaffry, clan-. Gen.Sc. Also found in Nhb. dial. (E.D.D.).Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. (1817) xxiii.:
We maun off like whittrets before the whole clanjamfray be down upon us.
Sc. 1990 Sunday Times 5 Aug :
During the Edinburgh Festival the visitor is likely to be confronted by many a disjaskit (untidy) looking bogle (scarecrow) or clamjamfrie (ragged band) of same, stairing (thrusting) handbills at him advertising some bladry (foolishness, ostentation) or other.
Sc. 1999 Herald 2 Jul 19:
As the last of the children's banners swept down the Mound the guests, by now a wholly disordered clamjamfrey, ambled back up the hill for their lunch in Parliament Hall.
Sc. 2002 Herald 26 Mar 15:
... a veritable clamjamfrie of fowk in a position to give musicians work and exposure, which may account for the nervousness of the early part of the Scottish Women's performance.
Bnff.6 c.1920:
I winna ha'e ye gyaen wi sic clamjamfrey.
Mry. 1875 W. Tester Select Poems 22:
Mony a queer clamjaff we've had Sin' we hae trod life's lane thegither.
m.Sc. 1982 Douglas MacLagan in Hamish Brown Poems of the Scottish Hills 158:
The gerse was poo't, the boxes fill't,
An' syne the hail clamjamphrie,
Would tak' the road by Glen o' Tilt.
Slg. 1901 R. Buchanan Poems, Songs, etc. 162:
The hale clamjamphrey were fittin' it tae and heel wi' unbounded delight.
wm.Sc. 1991 James Russell Grant in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 56:
An the hale clamjamfrie eagle phoenix peehees fae China
an a'.
Arg. 1917 A. W. Blue Quay Head Tryst 144:
A wumman, ye understaan', sees the whole clamjaffery o' things an raither mair.
Gsw. 1994 Alasdair Gray A History Maker xiv:
"Why remember those nasty centuries when honest folk were queered, pestered and malagroozed by clanjamfries of greedy gangsters who called themselves governments and stock exchanges? ... "
Ayr. a.1839 Galt Howdie (1923) 9:
But among other regimental clamjamphry that were around this left-to-hersel' damsel, was a Mrs Gooseskin, the Drum-major's wife.
Gall.(D) 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 295:
Quirk wus a Manxman, Clark wus a native, an the Co. wus a' the rag-tag bobtail and clanjamfrey o' Europe.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) III. 272:
Gawin, can nae ye tak' the Minister ben the house, or the rest o' the clanjamphrey come in?

(2) Hurly-burly, row, commotion.Sc. 1931 J. Lorimer Red Sergeant 312:
Ye maun ken the clamjamfrey in the Hielan's is ower an' by.
Sc. 1979 John Kincaid in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 28:
Class barriers are crumbling dry-stane dykes in Scotland, but class attitudes and postures glory in a continuing clanjamphrey of confrontations.
Abd. 1923 B. R. M'Intosh Scent o' the Broom 40:
Oh, nocht kens my mither, sae sober and douce, O' sic a clamjamfray kicked up in her hoose.
Wgt., Dmf. 1988 W. A. D. and D. Riach A Galloway Glossary :
clamjamfrey 1. a brawl, a rabble.
Slk. 1986 Harvey Holton in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 168:
dauncean simmer's daith in a clanjamfrie o colours.

(3) Worthless odds and ends, rubbish. Given as obsol. by Watson in Rxb. W.-B. (1923), and by Arg.1 1940. Also attrib.Bnff.(D) 1918 J. Mitchell Bydand 8:
An' halesome is the hamely fare in ilka hoose an' ha', For galshachs an' clamjamfry trash we canna thole ava'.
Wgt., Kcb. 1988 W. A. D. and D. Riach A Galloway Glossary :
clamjamfrey 2. a collection of rubbish.
Rxb. 1825 Jam.2:
“Did you stop till the roup was done?” “A' was sell'd but the clamjamfry.”

†(4) “Nonsensical talk” (w.Fif. 1825 Jam.2).Sc. c.1860 J. B. Hunter in Scotsman (13 Sept. 1933):
“Nane o' yer clum-jampery” — None of your nonsense.

2. v.

(1) To crowd, clutter (up). Gen. found as ppl.adj.Sc. 1896 R. L. Stevenson Weir of Hermiston 312:
It would be a queer thing, I think, if I was to clamjamfry up your faither's house . . . wi' a dirty, black-a-vised clan.
Mearns 1932 “L. G. Gibbon” Sunset Song i. 28:
Its own road was fair clamjamfried with glaur from late in the harvest till the coming of Spring.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood 33:
But doun in the glen ye're that clamjamphried wi' michty trees that your heid spins like a peery.

(2) To chatter, gossip animatedly. Gsw. 1829 New Scotch Haggis 325:
I' the course o' the clish-maclavering an' clamjauvering o' the women.

(3) To roam about in a loose aimless manner, with implications of keeping doubtful company, from 1. (1). Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy Geordie Chalmers 11:
Clanjamfin' awa here an there for years, an leavin' their flocks to the mercy o' a whean half-learned curates will never do ava.

[Not in O.Sc. Origin obscure.]

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"Clamjamfry n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Sep 2022 <>



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