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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.

MIM, adj., adv., v. Also mimm. [mɪm]

I. adj. 1. Prim, prudish, demure, unassuming, restrained in manner or behaviour, usu. affectedly or priggishly so (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.; Sh., Bnff., Abd., Edb., Ayr. 2000s). Gen.Sc.; “affecting great moderation in eating and drinking” (Jam.).Sc. 1715 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 68:
And wow gin she was skeigh, And mim that Day.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 114:
Now Nory a' the while was playing prim, As onie lamb as modest an' as mim.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Holy Fair xvi.:
See, up he's got the word o' God, An' meek an' mim has view'd it.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf ii.:
It was nae want o' spunk, that made ye sae mim.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost ii.:
Na, na, gudeman, ye need ne be sae mim; every body kens . . . ye're ettling at the magistracy.
Ags. 1822 Caled. Mag. I. 401:
For as gentle as you are, an' as mim as you haud your mou!
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 56:
Ye wha are unco mim i 'e mou, Wha at a dram do snuff and grue.
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce II. vii.:
Maidens should be mim and meek, Swift to hear but slow to speak.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 65:
Maidens should be mim till they're married, and then they may burn kirks.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 84:
Than mine, yenow, a mimmer face Was never shewed in either case.
Sc. 1883 J. Kennedy Poems 217:
When the birkie began in club or in clan The bauldest were mim as a mouse.
em.Sc. 1898 H. Rogers Meggotsbrae 89:
There he sits as mim's milk.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters x.:
A mim cat's never gude at the mice.
Cai. 1930 John o' Groat Jnl. (23 May):
A'll dae ma best till be as mim as A can.
wm.Sc. 1946 Scots Mag. (June) 207:
I wisht I could be like you, that mim and genteel.
m.Sc. 1978 Alastair Reid Weathering 27:
Changed into legend, she was given rest; and, left alone at last, the small mim servant shuttered in her being peeped mousily out; ...
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 34:
And over the following winter and spring Rab was tamed a little and Maggie weaned from some of her mim ways.

Combs. and derivs.: (1) mimlie, primly, prudishly (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; (2) mim-mou, a small, slightly pursed mouth giving an innocent or prim expression. Hence mim-moued, -mout, -moo(e)d, -mowed, -mouthed, mimmoot, mimooed, affectedly prim or demure in speech, mincing in one's talk (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 345). Gen.Sc.; genteelly restrained in eating (Abd. 1963); n. mim-mou'dness; (3) mimness, prudishness (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc. (4) mim-spoken, prim or shy in speech, quiet-spoken. Gen.Sc.(2) Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 22:
O black-ey'd Bess, and mim-mou'd Meg.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To W. Chalmers' Sweetheart iv.:
Some mim-mou'd, pouther'd priestie.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 27:
He downa sing at the Psalm For spoiling his mim, mim mou'.
Abd. 1875 G. Macdonald Malcolm I. viii.:
Some of the rougher of the women despised the sweet outlandish speech she had brought with her from her native England, and accused her of mim-mou'dness, or an affected modesty in the use of words.
Wgt. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 316:
She . . . had turned horrid genteel and so was very mim-mouthed, and exceedingly careful to avoid all vulgar phrases likely to lead anyone to consider she was Scotch.
Fif. 1912 D. Rorie Mining Folk 391:
Mim-mou'ed maidens never get a man; muckle-mou'ed maids get twa.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 204:
You'll no' get it by keepin' a quate sough or a mim mooth.
Rxb. 1914 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 13:
Nane o eer mim-mowed peikeen got that Jethart toozy table threh mei; for A puisteet an leined masel weel.
Ags. 1947 J. B. Salmond Toby Jug iii.:
She was the prim dressmaker of Cargie with the preens between her lips making her assuredly mim-moued in physical fact.
Edb. 1949 F. Urquhart The Ferret i. vii.:
You can't expect a bairn of three to sit mi'mooed.
(3) Slk. 1835 Hogg Tales (1874) 539:
My angel Lady Jane . . . had now lost all her jocularity and flippancy of speech: there was nothing but mimness and reserve in the Marquis's presence.
(4) Sc. 1896 L. Keith Indian Uncle xi.:
Douce, plod-plodding, mim-spoken lads.

2. Restrained, not disposed to enter into a quarrel, peaceable (n.Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 201).Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf ii.:
Did I not say it was nae want o' spunk that made ye sae mim?

II. adv. In a mincing prudish manner, esp. of affected speech (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 228). Gen.Sc.; with great restraint and discretion. Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders xxxvi.:
Jen, who was making a shift for herself and had a pin in her mouth. “What for are ye speakin' sae mim?”
Sc. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days xv.:
Speaking mim as if you had a clothes-pin in your mouth.

III. v. To move or act in a prim affected manner, to mince along. Hence mim(m)ery, affected primness of manner, mimin, affected behaviour or postures, esp. with the lips. Rarely tr., to screw up (the mouth) affectedly, purse (the lips).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 114:
The peer pridefou bodie cam mimmin an primpin' ben the fleer.
Sc. 1878 J. H. Stirling Burns in Drama 7:
I canna mim my mouth, and straik my hair, and look the saunt.
Ags. 1880 Arbroath Guide (9 Oct.) 4:
An' he cud tell, the graceless loon, Tho' Jean micht sklent and mim, O.
Kcb. 1897 G. O. Elder Borgue 31:
They canna tak a dram o' liquor now without ha'ein' as mony mimins and preein's to gang through, as if they were a' born gentry.
Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 65:
Yer auntie here could crack ye mony a bar gin only her mimry wisna sae far awa' wi't.
Rs. 1936 C. Macdonald Echoes Glen 19:
Everyone so mincingly polite with the mimmery of a formal concert.

[O.Sc. mim, = 1., a.1586. Orig. imit. of speaking through pursed lips, as Eng. prim. Cf. mum.]

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"Mim adj., adv., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Aug 2022 <>



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