Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

DEEM, Deam, n. Variant forms of Dame, q.v. Mainly ne.Sc. [dim]

1. A dame, an elderly woman (Abd.2, Abd.9 1940; Bch. 1891 J. Forrest in Trans. Bch. Field Club II. 12); also used prefixed to the surname as in arch. and dial. Eng. Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 61:
Hid fell on a Yeul mornin', Deem Lavrock . . . lay on her bed.
Abd. 1933  J. H. Smythe Blethers 13:
Misertoon's mither — a cankert aul' deem —

2. A young woman (Abd.4 1929); an unmarried woman; a girl (Crm. 1911 J. Watson W.-L., deam; Bwk. 1825 Jam.2, deam); dims. deemie, id., and deimack (Rs. (Avoch) 1949 Gsw. Herald (7 Feb.)), deemachie (Rs.1 c.1911), a little girl. Known to Bnff.2, Abd.2 1940. Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 140:
An' noo the deem's mae winsome wife, An' we hae bairns twa.
Abd. 1826  D. Anderson Poems 95:
The deems were peenin' on their duds.
Abd. 1928  Mains and Hilly in Abd. Press and Jnl. (8 Nov.) 6/3:
I min' on a deemie he wis coortin' fin I kent 'im.

3. Specifically applied in ne.Sc. to a kitchen-maid on a farm. Often in comb. kitchie deem. Known to Bnff.2, Abd.27 1947. Bnff. 1924  Burnie's Jeannie in Swatches 19:
The deem telt me auld Burnie cam intill the kitchie.
Abd. 1917  C. Murray Sough o' War 40:
Weel, syne we hae the kitchie deem, that milks an' maks the maet.

[Deme, deame, etc., irreg. variants of dame, are found in O.Sc. a.1400. The form deemachie is a double dim.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Deem n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Dec 2019 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: