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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HAIM, n. Also hem (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 149; Cai., Arg., Kcb. 1956); haem; heam; heim (Fif. 1938 Scotsman (21 June) 13); and corrupt form hain (Ib.). Sc. variants of Eng. hame, one of the two curved pieces of wood or metal forming or covering one-half of the collar of a draught horse to which the traces are fastened; gen. in pl. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1703 Foulis Acc. Bk. (S.H.S.) 335:
To him to give James Davie for a pair of haims mounted . . . 13/-.
Arg. 1774 D. H. Edwards Men and Manners (1920) 85:
A pair hems 9d, for a collar 6½, cart saddle 1s 3d.
Arg. 1798 J. Smith Agric. Arg. 60:
Nor is the barbarous custom of tying them to the tails of horses (instead of drawing them by hems) entirely laid aside.
n.Sc. 1840 D. Sage Mem. Domest. (1889) 116:
The collars of the animals were of straw with hems of wood, to which were attached side traces made of horse-hair.
Abd. 1918 C. Murray Sough o' War 32:
An' scutter in the lang forenichts wi' britchin, bit, an' haims.
Lnk. 1997 Duncan Glen From Upland Man 8:
It's progress being prepared for
and haims and traces
and brechams and rigwiddies
aw noo in his past.

Combs.: (1) hame-blade, the half of a set of hames (Lth. 1825 Jam.); (2) haem-hough'd, of horses: having the houghs shaped like a pair of hames, i.e. bent inwards (Sc. Ib.); (3) hem-shin, a shin shaped like a hame, hence hem-shin'd, = (2); (4) hame stick, = (1); (5) haim-strap, a strap which fastens one part of the hames to the other. Gen.Sc.(1) Dmf. 1841 S. Hawkins Poems V. 25:
Sometimes a bane like a hame-blade.
(2) Fif. a.1721 P. Birnie Auld Man's Mare's Dead in Ford Vagab. Songs (1901) 144:
She was lang-tooth'd and blench-lippit, Heam-hough'd and haggis-fittit.
s.Sc. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws xxviii.:
Light down, ye young staup, and fight me afoot if you've a styme o' fizzen in your great haem-houghed body.
(3) Ayr. 1792 Burns Willie Wastle iii.:
She's bow-hough'd, she's hem-shin'd, Ae limpin leg a hand-breed shorter.
Ayr. 1862 J. Baxter The Kirn 46:
Muckle hem-shins, knill-knee'd Tam.
(4) Rxb. 1918 Kelso Chron. (31 May) 2:
Here and there you have a glance of gleaming steel “hame sticks.”
(5) Ork.1 1920:
He cut the hem-strap to save the horse fae bein' strangled.

Phr.: to hae (pit) the hems on one, to curb, control forcibly, keep in order (Abd., Fif., e.Lth., Bwk., wm. and sm.Sc. 1956); to put a stop to (something), make (something) impossible.Gsw. 1904 “H. Foulis” Erchie v.:
Jist let them try it wi' oor Willie! Dod! he would put the hems on them.
Arg. 1952 N. Mitchison Lobsters on the Agenda ii.:
“Ah, here's the Laird now and not often he comes to a meeting!” “Mistress Snow will have the hames on him, . . . He has a shoogly look, has he not?”
Gsw. 1966 Archie Hind The Dear Green Place (1984) 84:
'Oh for godsake. I might never even write anything worthwhile in my life -' 'You might not even write? Son, this is not the time to be putting the hems on yourself.'
Gsw. 1967 Stephen Mulrine in Hamish Whyte Noise and Smoky Breath (1983) 72:
Whit'll ye dae when the wee Malkies come,
if they dreep doon affy the wash-hoose dyke,
an pit the hems oan the sterrheid light,
Gall. 1982 Galloway Gazette 19 Jun :
Petition puts hems on late discos.
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 33:
hems To put the hems on someone is to restrain him or prevent him from doing something: 'He used to like his bevvy but when he got married the wife soon put the hems on him.' The phrase is also used when something is ruled out or made impossible: 'There's the snow on again. I doubt that's put the hems on the game the morra.'
m.Sc. 1991 William Neill in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 51:
He didna pit the hames on aa the patter,
yon jeedge. It seems the law is nae remeid.
Edb. 1993:
Ah'll pit the hems on you, m'lad.
Gsw. 1999 Herald 20 Sep 5:
Until he tired and started to make small mistakes, David Stewart put the hems on Michael Reynolds and had a whack from distance that needed alert strength from Thomas Gill to hold.

[O.Sc. haim, hame, etc. (gen. in pl.), from 1496, Mid.Eng. hame, 1303, Mid. Du. hame, haem, id.]

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"Haim n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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