Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
TAM, prop.n. Sc. form and usages of Eng. Tom. See P.L.D. § 54. Hence tam-cat, tamfeelery (Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 33), tam-tit (Rxb. 1942 Zai). For the dim. forms see Tammie.
1. A kind of small haggis or pudding of chopped meat. Cf. tammie puddin, s.v. Tammie, 5. (16).Dmf. 1875 J. Paton Leila 208:
Had ye seen my reekin' table When glorious Tam lay like a cable.
2. A small fresh-water fish, a stickleback (Kcb. 1972). Cf. n.Eng. dial. tom-barsey, id.Gall. 1933–5 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 264:
Various small fish which I only know by local names, such as “Miller's Thumbs”, “Tams,” and “Cadalick.”
3. A bite, a morsel of food. Cf. Eng. dial. or soldiers' slang tom(my), id., army bread. Comb. Tam Gray, see quot. For knotty tam, see Knot.Rxb. 1913 N.E.D.:
A hunk of grey bread distributed at Minto House, as part of a Hogmanay gift to the village children, used to be called Tam Gray.Ork. 1930:
“Never a tam got I,” said in reply to a query whether food had been offered.
4. Combs. and phrs.: (1) chitterin Tam, potted head (Ayr. 1972). Cf. (20) (i); (2) gabblin' Tam, the willow-warbler, Phylloscopus trochilus (Ayr. 1929 Paton and Pike Birds Ayr. 58); (3) Tam Faups, a name given to the single-soled shoes formerly manufactured in Selkirk, said to be so-called from the first maker, Tam of Fawhope in Ettrick (Slk. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 183); (4) Tam Gray, see 3. above; (5) Tam McLellan(d), a jocular name for spirits, from the firm of McLelland, formerly distillers at Wigtown (Wgt. 1929); (6) tom-noddy, the puffin, Fratercula arctica (Ork. 1771 T. Pennant Tour 1769 36). See Tammie, 5. (12); (7) Tam o' cheeks, id. (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). See Tammie, 5. (4); (8) Tom o' norrie, -y, id. See Tammie, 5. (15); (9) Tam o' Reekie, see Tammie, 5. (17); (10) Tam o' Shanter, a man's round flat-crowned broad woollen bonnet, freq. with a pompom on top, once reg. worn by the Scottish peasantry and given this name from the hero of Burns's Tam o' Shanter who is described as wearing such a cap, a Kilmarnock bonnet; later applied to a kind of beret worn by women and girls. Orig. used attrib. with bonnet; A similar khaki bonnet worn, from c. 1915, by other ranks in Scottish regiments, often known as a TOS [ti-o-′εs]. Also fig. Gen.Sc. See also Tammie; (11) Tam o' tae end, a large kind of haggis. Cf. 1.; now referring only to the skin in which a haggis is stuffed (sm.Sc. 1972); (12) Tam Park, a small drinking-glass. The origin of the name is not traced; (13) tam-plain, adj., frank, candid; (14) tam-taigle, a hobble tying the fore and hindleg of a horse or cow together to prevent it straying (Lnk. 1825 Jam.). See Taigle; (15) tam-taileor, -tealyir, tom-, the water-spider, Argyroneta aquatica (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also in Cmb. dial.; (16) Tam-the-Bam, General term for a daft person, whose first name is not necessarily Tam; (17) Tam-thoom, (i) the wood-wren, Phylloscopus sibilatrix (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (ii) the willow warbler, Phylloscopus trochilus (Rxb. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 26, ‡1923 Watson W.-B.); (18) Tam-tit, = (17) (i) (Watson); = (17) (ii) (Lnk. 1950 Scottish Field (Oct.) 17, Lnk. 1972); (19) Tam-tram, in phr. to play tam-tram, to play fast and loose (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 190). Cf. obs. Eng. Tom-Tram, a buffoon, jester; (20) tam-trot(t), a kind of toffee (Rxb. 1825 Jam., ‡1923 Watson W.-B.), also in n.Eng. dial. Comb. tam-trot join, a social gathering of young people to make and eat toffee (Rxb. c.1850 Watson W.-B.). Cf. Taffee; (21) trimmlin' Tam, (i) potted head (Ayr. 1880; Ags., Per., Lnk. 1972); (ii) a sweet jelly (em. and wm.Sc. 1972); (22) tumblin Tam, see Tummle. For nickie-tam, souple Tam, see Nickie-tam, Souple.(1) Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 209:
A big feed o' champit tatties, mashed turnips an' chitterin' tam.(10) Clc. 1848 Sc. Jnl. Topography II. 273:
A “Tam o' Shanter” bonnet, wi a red tap.Abd. 1881 Bon-Accord (19 May) 12:
Tam O' Shanters — Saxony, Cheviot, and Knitted. Special Colours knitted to order.Fif. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 80:
Big Tam o' Shanter, sleeved waistcoat.Ags. 1921 A. S. Neill Carroty Broon i.:
I like ye wi' that reid tam-o'-shanter on, Liz.Ayr. 1951 Stat. Acc.3 485:
Glengarries, balmorals, tam o' shanters, balaclavas and berets.Sc. 1988 Times 7 Nov :
In some ways he was a cartoon Scot. He routinely wore a kilt, tam-o-shanter and arty waistcoat, liked a dram two if possible and had a chunky pipe permanently clamped between his back teeth. Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 187:
But does he see a horrible sicht, some twisted, deformed craitur wi green een and slevvers running fae a bloody jaw, some further depth o Hades as black as the Earl o Hell's waistcoat, is Auld Nick there himself hotching on the pipes wi maybe a wee tam o'shanter on his heid atween the twa horns? Sc. 1995 Guardian 12 Jan 4:
To top it off, he would wear a tam-o'-shanter set at a rakish angle across his mop of white hair. Sc. 2003 Scotsman 26 Sep 9:
There were three types of leader at the SNP conference in Inverness yesterday: the former leader, the would-be future leader, and the current leader, upon whose head the Big Tam o' Shanter sits uneasy.(11) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 445:
Tam-o'-tae-end, the prince of the pudding tribe, the haggis being king. It hath but one open end, hence the name Tam of the one end.(12) Slk. 1817 Hogg Tales (1874) 154:
That's naething but a Tam Park o' a glass: if ye'll fill it again, I'll gie ye a toast ye never heard afore.(13) Kcb. 1828 W. McDowall Poems 70:
Now to be tam-plain, I dissent from R — n.(16) Gsw. 1962 Bill McGhee Cut and Run 121:
'Dead loss, Bill,' he groaned. 'Wan three pair for fifteen bob, an' that sody-heided mug Tam-the-Bam loast it on the next toss.'Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 9:
bampot This is often shortened to bam, and any eccentric named Thomas risked being dubbed 'Tam the Bam.'Edb. 1992:
You don't necessarily have to be called Tam to earn the appellation 'Tam the Bam'.Sc. 1993 Herald 2 July 16:
Students of rough cricket might be interested in a charity match at Drumpellier in Coatbridge on Sunday afternoon when Tam the Bam from the Diary makes a very belated debut with the bat.Sc. 1995 Scotsman 25 Jan 13:
Tam Dalyell, the MP for Linlithgow, is the doyen of parliamentary awkwardness. As infuriating as he is single-minded; as irritating as he is honourable, Tam the Bam, as he's known to many of his colleagues, is a one-man riposte to the Nolan committee.(20) Rxb. 1825 R. Wilson Hist. Hawick 192:
The poorest wretch who exposes for sale, on a wheel-barrow or an empty cask, a few fish-hooks, or thimbles, or sticks of tam-trot.Rxb. 1874 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 211:
Their wares of gingerbread, tam trott, and clagam.Rxb. 1909 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 78:
Taffy-shines, or, as they were locally called, “Tam Trot joins.”(21) (i) Fif. 1938 St Andrews Cit. (29 Jan.) 314:
Roast beef an' tawties, veal an' ham, Wi' butter'd fardles, tremblin' tam.(ii) Abd. 1922 G. P. Dunbar Whiff o' Doric 15:
Neist rich plum duff an' aipple tairt, An' “trumlin' tam” sae sweetly ser't.s.Sc. 1933 Border Mag. (March) 36:
“Trimlin' Tam,” braw sweetie cookies.
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"Tam prop. n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Aug 2022 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/tam_prop_n>