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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

DRUMLIE, DRUMLY, adj.Also drumley, drummlie, †drumbly.

1. (1) Of streams or water: turbid, clouded, muddy, esp. of a river in spate. Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1737 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 28:
Good fishing in drumly waters.
Sc. 1802–03 Scott Minstrelsy ll. 142:
And wae betide ye, Annan Water! This night that ye are a drumlie river.
Sc. 1935 I. Bennet Fishermen viii.:
She gazed downwards fascinated by the furious tiny cascades which ended in drumly brown pools.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays (1908) 136:
Where Clyde, or silver Dee, Or drumly Don, or swirlin' Spey Winds towards the parent sea.
Ags. 1883 J. Kennedy Poems (1920) 125:
Lang had MacTavish wrought and tramp'd Owre mony a drumlie dub.
Ayr. 1792 Burns Highland Mary i.:
Green be your woods, and fair your flowers, Your waters never drumlie!
Gall. 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 132:
He . . . steer't up the cley an san' an dirt, an the drumlie water ran through the wee mill.

(2) Of liquor: full of lees or sediment.Sc. 1831 J. Wilson Noctes Amb. (1856) III. 294:
As lang's there's anither drap, however drumly, in the bottom o' the bottle, dinna despair.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 35:
At drumbly gear they take nae pet; Foul water slockens fire And drouth thir days.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems II. 60:
Come! whurl the drumlie dregs o't roun'!
Lnk. 1893 T. Stewart Miners 203:
For trade's sae dagont dull, That noo the best I ever taste 'S a drink o' drumlie yull.

2. Of the weather, etc.: dark, gloomy, sullen. Also fig.Sc. 1732 E. Erskine Works (1871) II. 15:
They are inquiring about the state and circumstances of God's Israel, in a dark and drumbly day like this.
ne.Sc. 1830 J. Grant Kcd. Trad. 46:
And she could fly through the drumlie sky On the stem o' the rag-weed green.
m.Sc. 1999 John Milligan Fifteen Scots Poems 6:
O stechie cloods an atmosphere
Aboon the drumlie hills
Knr. 1895 “H. Haliburton” Dunbar in Mod. Sc. 42:
In Winter's dull an' drumlie day, When Nature dons her dark array.
Edb. 1851 A. Maclagan Sk. from Nature 100:
As drumlie clouds o'er summer skies Let anger's shadows flit.
Lnk. 1881 D. Thomson Musings 9:
An' noo the drumlie drowsy sun, Quite wearied like does rise.
Ayr. 1793 Burns Logan Water i.:
But now thy flowery banks appear Like drumlie winter, dark and drear.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 61:
He pored owre Almanacks; hoo wather fair Or drumly cam'; the airts the wun' was blawin'.
Kcb. 1828 W. Nicholson Poems 123:
His face did glare like the glow o' the west When the drumlie cloud has it half o'ercast.

3. Fig.

(1) Of persons: muddled, confused, thick-headed; giddy (Rxb. 1942 Zai); gloomy; clouded (of eyes).Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 12:
Fatigu'd and drumbly from the Down he flies, With skinny Cheek, pale Lips and blood-run Eyes.
Sc. 1829 Scott Journal (1890) II. 233:
13 Feb.: I wrote for several hours . . . but was nervous and drumlie.
Sc. 1860 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 74:
Na, na, he [preacher]'s no just deep, but he's drumly.
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood 115:
Yer mither's feelin' drumlie kind.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 48:
He's rackle-handed
and I feel still his brosie glasp hauddin ticht
my bairnlie fingers. He glowres, his broon een
drumlie, hachers, grumphs: "It's nae richt"
as the snortlin tractor stotters doon the dreels.
Per. 1979 Betsy Whyte The Yellow on the Broom 126:
I was tired and still drumly after my outburst of temper.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 165:
His chafts are clappit in, his drumlie e'en Are faur ben sunken.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 71:
. . . the Muse ne'er cares For siller, or sic guilefu' wares, Wi' whilk we drumly grow, and crabbit.
Ayr. c.1789 Burns To a Gentleman ll. 5–6:
To ken what French mischief was brewin; Or what the drumlie Dutch were doin.
Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 87:
Mair deep, tho' not so drumley then, I've aft been fash'd to haud my ain.
Slk. 1835 Hogg Wars Montrose III. 76:
He was a great drumbly drunken stump, and could tell him nothing.

Hence drumliness, dullness.Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxi.:
His eyes of a hollow drumliness, as if he got no refreshment from the slumbers of the night.

(2) Of things: muddled, obscure, dim. Lit. and fig.Sc. 1736 Ramsay in Scots Mag. (April, 1932) 18:
And by corroboration drumbly Have broke the Kirk-house order comely.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 12:
You would never believe the drumlie, grey, dirty colour poor Lady Lindesay's napery is now!
Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 54:
Nae doot it's but a drumly warl', Thro' which puir chields their clay maun harl.
Hdg. 1902 J. Lumsden Toorle 159:
Throo the drumliest legal muddles, Like a high-paced naig he strade.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) I. 308:
We had neither air nor exercise; and the three months in the depth of winter passed over like a drumly confused dream.

[O.Sc. has drumly, -ie, drumblie, as above, from 1513, phs. a nasalised variant of earlier drublie, turbid, clouded, from c.1470, Mid.Eng. drubly. a.1340.]

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"Drumlie adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Sep 2022 <>



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