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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

REAM, n., v. Also reem, reme (Jam.); raem, raim, remm; rim-. [rim; Sh., em.Sc. (a) rem. See P.L.D. § 88]

I. n. 1. Cream (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Sh., ne. and m.Sc. 1967), as a food or cosmetic; in Ork. of curdled cream (Ork. 1929 Marw.). Hence reamie, -y, of a cream-like consistency; made with or consisting of cream. Also fig.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 89:
Without Ream, Sugar, and Bohea.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 52:
Scoup-fu's of crouds an' ream she aft wad steal.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 83:
Whan nature fails, at art she catches; Rubs o'er wi' 'reams her brows an' mouth.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck xii.:
Gie lastin' meals i' the milk o' praise, the reem o' thankfu'ness.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie lxxxviii.:
He's a fine bit body yon . . . he's just like a bonny wee china pourie, full o' thick ream.
Rnf. 1836 R. Allan Poems 23:
White as the reamy milk.
Abd. 1868 G. MacDonald R. Falconer vi.:
And here's a bit o' reamy cakes tu ye.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 209:
The raem o' ae coo's milk is thin.
Bnff. 1922 Banffshire Jnl. (21 Feb.) 6:
A whang o' blue hame-made cheese, an' a bottle o' reamy milk.
Ags. 1928 Scots Mag. (May) 144:
Aince back, he sookit up the feast afore him like a cat amang ream.
Abd. 1956 People's Jnl. (20 Oct.) 3:
There wis naethin' like stibble grazin' for gweed rich ream tae mak' intae saut butter.

Attrib. with names of various vessels used to hold cream, e.g. ream-bowie, -can, -crock (Ayr. c.1930), -dish (Sc. 1880 Jam.), -jug, -kirn, -pig(gie) (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 140; ne.Sc., em.Sc.(a), Kcb. 1967), -poorie (Ayr. c.1930), -stoupie (Abd. 1949 Huntly Express (25 Feb.; Kcd. 1967). See also second element.Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Jnl. from London 30:
A pint of their scuds, as sowr as ony bladoch, or wigg that comes out o' the reem-kirn.
Bwk. 1823 A. Hewit Poems 101:
Twa buffet stools, a guid ream can.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 396:
Some girls in the country . . . have a mixture of sour cream and the sap of bogbean, or trefoil made up in a mug, to wash their faces with, in dark times convenient. This raem-jug they keep in the most secret nuik of the house.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 194:
The “ream-pig” or “ream-bowie” was never washed. Washing took away all the luck. A sixpence was always kept in it; a crooked one had most virtue. A frog was kept by some in it.
Abd. 1955 Abd. Press & Jnl. (5 March):
Then there was a large “(c)ream piggie,” which she now uses as a bread bin.

2. Special combs. and phrs.: (1) Corstorphine ream, see Corstorphine Cream; (2) ream breid, oatcakes made with cream. See Breid; (3) raem calm, a calm with the surface of the sea as smooth and still as the surface of cream (Sh. 1967); (4) ream cheese, cheese made from cream (n.Sc., Lnk. 1825 Jam.; Bnff. 1967); (5) ream coo, a cow which gives rich creamy milk; (6) ream crowdy, a dish of sweetened oatmeal stirred into fresh or sour cream. See also cream-crowdie s.v. Cream; half-fermented cream or buttermilk with oatmeal added (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 263); (7) ream of the water, -well, the first draught of water drawn in the New Year (Kcd. 1925; Abd.14 1929), also on Rood Day. See Cream, n., (2). Also in Eng., dial.; (8) ream parritch, porridge made with cream instead of water; (9) Ruglen ream, see Ruglen; (10) fig. of flattery: to rub o'er somebody's cheeks and gab wi' ream, to streak ream in somebody's teeth, to flatter someone, to “butter up”.(2) Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 126:
There were fish, eggs and reem breed.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 122:
Wid we need to hae ony butter an' eggs an' reem breid wi's?
(3) Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 260:
It wis a raem calm, wi' a hush an' a caa aboot da shore.
Sh. 1964 New Shetlander No. 71. 32:
An dan whin raem-calm klinkin frost Hads fast da air atil his naive.
(4) Edb. 1796 Twa Cuckolds 9:
I hae some whauky, stout an' bauld, An' ream cheese ne'er a ha'f year auld.
(5) Abd. 1936 D. Bruce Cried on Sunday 8:
Weel, she's [a calf] turnt oot a richt reem coo.
(6) Per. 1835 J. Monteath Dunblane Trad. 21:
“Ta pooter, ta sheese, an ta ream-crowty”, was the perpetual call of party after party.
(7) Per. 1894 H. Haliburton Furth in Field 29:
The “water” custom of Hogmanay night was to slip from the house when the clock pronounced the doom of the old year, and, pitcher in hand, make for the nearest well in time to secure, before any of your neighbours, what was variously called the “crap”, the “floo'er”, and the “ream” of the water for the New Year.
Abd. 1903 J. Milne Myths 7:
To ensure food and water for the year, [she] rose before the sun on the Reed Day, and took in grass and water. The water was the ream of the well.
(8) Dmb. 1894 D. MacLeod Past Worthies 150:
I wad tak' 'ream parritch an' 'ream tae them.
(10) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 136:
He streaks Ream in my Teeth. Spoken when we think one only flattering us, and not earnest, nor sincere in what they pretend.
Sc. 1722 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 24:
He shakes while Rosie rants and capours, Rubs o'er his Cheeks and Gab wi' Reem, Till he believes't to be a dream.

3. The froth on the top of ale, etc. Adj. reamy, frothing, mantling (Bnff. 1967).Ayr. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 131:
The nappy reeks wi' mantling ream.
Rxb. 1826 A. Scott Poems 75:
For Burns, this way, in mony a toun, Yet gars the reamy swats gae down.
Sc. 1831 Blackwood's Mag. (March) 553:
A reamy richness, unknown to any other malt.
Edb. 1839 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxiv.:
We leisurely discussed between us the porter, which was in prime condition, with a ream as yellow as a marigold.
Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie Poems 26:
Ream sooms on the tap o' the yill in a place I ken.

II. v. 1. intr. Of milk: to remain undisturbed until the cream forms, to form a cream (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Hence reaming dish, a shallow dish for containing milk until it is ready to be creamed (Sc. 1888 C. Mackay Dict.). Also used fig. in comb. reaming calm, a calm with the surface of the sea as smooth and still as a bowl of cream (Sh. 1967). See also n., 2. (3).Sh. 1897 Shetland News (21 Aug.):
Da oshen wis lyin' wan raemin' calm.

2. To skim the cream from the top of milk (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; ne., m. and s.Sc. 1967). Also fig. Ppl.adjs. reamed in comb. reamed milk, skimmed milk (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 140; Ags. 1910; Watson; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. XIII. 36); reaming, in combs. reaming ca(u)p, a wooden milk skimmer (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 396); -dish, a shallow dish used to skim off cream (Per. 1737 Ochtertyre Ho. Bk. (S.H.S.) 248; Sc. 1825 Jam.). Deriv. reamer, a milk-skimmer (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 140; Abd.17 1925).Ags. 1712 A. Jervise Land of Lindsays (1853) 342:
A reaming dish and sidish.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 82:
Syne ream'd her milk, an' set it o' the fire.
Dmf. 1831 R. Shennan Tales 32:
I saw the coopers show their naps And ladles too, and reaming caps.
Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 137:
While some to gain a plack are scheming, And some the cog of wealth are reaming.
Fif. 1899 Colville Vernacular 53:
When the milk was drawn in the cog it was “sie'd”, or strained, laid away in kimmins, and reamed for the churn.

3. To form a froth or foam, to mantle: (1) of liquor, suds, etc. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 181).Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis:
We say that ale reams, when it has a white foam above it.
Sc. 1717 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 19:
Nor kept dow'd Tip within her Waws, But reaming Swats.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 188:
The claret reams in bells.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 41–2:
Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely, Wi' reaming swats, that drank divinely.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 24:
Nor did we drink o' gilpin water But reemin nap wi' houp weel heartit.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xi.:
A huge pewter measuring-pot . . . which in the language of the hostess, “reamed” . . . with excellent claret.
Nai. 1828 W. Gordon Poems 27:
They drown'd it [fire] out wi' reman stout.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet i.:
The reaming white which filled the blanket tub.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 43:
His ladle plowtered in the reamin' brew.
Uls. 1928 Irish Breeder 18:
An ugly-shaped beast is still a gid coo If she fills nine quarts reamin' foo tae the broo.

(2) of a turbulent stream. Also fig.Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (1905) 196:
And then the burnie's like a sea, Roarin' and reamin'.
Abd. 1884 D. Grant Lays 2:
A reamin' burn cam' rum'lin' doon Faur burn wis nane thestreen.
Sc. 1926 H. McDiarmid Drunk Man 79:
The secret clyre in Scotland's life Has brust and reams through me.

(3) fig. of liquor, etc.: to work confusion in the mind, chiefly after Burns.Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 115–6:
The swats sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle, Fair play, he car'd na deils a boddle.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxxiv.:
The swats began to ream sae divinely in the noddle o' Mr William Rouster, that . . . he actually imprinted several smacks on the blushin' lips o' Miss Branks.
Kcb. 1890 A. J. Armstrong Musings 218:
His heid reemed wi' thochts o' his dawtie.
Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 31:
Aul' times come reamin' throu' my heid.

4. To be full of a frothy liquid, to bubble to the brim (Mry., Bnff., Lnk. 1967); (1) absol. or with wi, esp. in ppl.adj. reamin, and in comb. reamin fu, id. (Sh. 1967). Also fig. Deriv. reamer, rimmer, a dish full to overflowing. The form rimmer is irreg. and influenced by rim, brim.Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 70:
The reaming caups Are nimbly handed round.
Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 59:
A forty pint butt reaming fou.
Rxb. 1815 J. Ruickbie Poems 189:
A reamin' horn the board to grace.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet ii.:
Las-a-day! it's a sore thing to see a stunkard cow kick down the pail when it's reaming fou.
Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays 4:
The bicker is reamin wi' pithy brown ale.
Abd., Ags. 1892 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 1.) VI. 28:
The word “reamer” is frequently heard in Aberdeenshire for an overflowing dish. I am told that in Forfarshire the form is “rimmer”.
Ags. 1895 Brechin Advertiser (9 April) 3:
Losh, my een were reemin' fu'.
Sc. 1933 Scotsman (22 Dec.):
Washed down with a draught of Yule-ale from the bowie that reamed briskly in a corner of the kitchen.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 3:
Ah, bit the meenister hidna seen (or mebbe he hid but chuse nae tae notice) auld Bunty Strachan hirplin up an doon stairs frae her mither's bedroom wi a reemin chunty in her hauns - auld Bunty Strachan, fa aince wis the swackest, bonniest quine in three clachans, ...
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 69:
Noo, tae keep the winged fowk o the air companie, sae they michtna weary, the fairies cowpit the Horn o Plenty alang the braes o Martullich, till ilkie teem neuk wis reamin fu wi leevin, lowpin craiturs.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 13:
Cauld-hertit hills that winna nou
Gie furth tae men their mineral store
Will jaw oot ceaseless rivers, thick
An reamin fou wi meltit ore.

(2) with ower: to be full to overflowing, to overflow, run over (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Sh., n. and m.Sc., Slk. 1967). Ppl.adj. reaming. Also fig.Ayr. 1786 Burns Sc. Drink ii.:
Richly brown ream owre the brink In glorious faem.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 87:
An' kend, what 'tis Grief's cup to drain, Whan reamin owre!
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 51:
He'd mairch to “Aden's Barren Rocks” Till reamin' owre wi' sweat.
Ayr. 1928 J. S. Gall Muses 7:
For reamin' ower his wee roon bag's Wi' glorious gold.

(3) fig. in reference to emotion, etc.: to bubble over, teem, effervesce.Rnf. 1861 J. Barr Poems 84:
He cam back without a plack, His noddle reamin' fu'.
Ags. 1872 J. Kennedy Jock Craufurt 112:
The transport that wi' hopes swell'd high, Ream'd brichtly frae the gladden'd eye.
Sc. 1874 W. Allan Hame-Spun Lilts 5:
Wi' fire an' energy he reamed.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 24:
Lang Charlie scratch'd his heid a wee, A tale was reamin' in his e'e.
Ayr. 1887 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) X. 123:
The guid king payed wi' a reemin' heart Thank offerings to the Lord.
Arg. 1917 A. W. Blue Quay Head Tryst 79:
Here am I reemin ower wi' the blessed tongue o' Zion.

5. tr. To sprinkle thickly over a surface (Sh. 1967).Sh. 1879 Shetland Times (2 Aug.):
I'll warm dee a lett o' milk an' ream a corn o' mael apon it.

[O.Sc. reamand, foaming, 1513, reyme, cream, 1549; O.E. rēam, id.]

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"Ream n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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