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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CHAUMER, Chamer, Chaamer, Chamm(b)er, Chawmer, Chalmer, Chaulmer, n. and v. Sc. forms of Eng. chamber and used in all its senses. Also dim. chaumrie. These forms are now obs. in St.Eng., though found in Eng. dial. None of the following meanings is to be found in mod. St.Eng. and the Eng. form is illustrated only in usages peculiar to Sc. [′tʃɑ:mər Sc., but m. and s.Sc. + ′tʃǫ:mər]

I. n.

1. The parlour, best room or spare room in a house, often an upper room; a room in gen., a chamber. Also = Eng. chambers, private office (see first quot.).Sc. 1825 in J. G. Lockhart Life of Scott (1837) VI. ii.:
“He was never bred in a writer's chaumer,” quoth Peveril [nickname of Sir Walter].
Sc. 1995 David Purves Hert's Bluid 20:
A hae hard tell anaw that at
the tyme thai open Paurliement,
thai hae ane unco chiel, Blek Rod,
that thryce maun chap the chaumer dure ...
Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 19:
Sheu heard de aesin' flags an' couples rumblan' doon on de cham'er fleurs abeun her heid.
Abd. 1863 G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod III. xxiv.:
“Come awa', Maister Sutherlan'; come ben to yer ain chaumer,” said she, leading the way to the room she called the study.
Ags. 1820 A. Balfour Contemplation, etc. 260:
Twa winnocks in the chaumer placed, Shewed Wattie had baith wealth an' taste.
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 43:
Quince: Richt on time. An here's a braw wally place for practisin. This loan'll be our brods. Thir haw busses our chyngin chaumer, an we'll dae it the wey we'll dae it fornenst the Duke.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 18:
Dinna bide in yon chaumer
Wi the wee, clorty winnock
At the tap o the hoose
Up the kypie stair
I tell ye, ye'll no ken yersel
Aince up in yon chaumer
An the door steekit efter ye.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 11:
The cloods are speldit like a door
Tae the chaumer o the King, an there
The Justice General kythes himsel,
In glory cled for ivermair.
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 75:
Alane, it breirds in benmaist chaumer
o the mind.
The seedlin thocht airts ti the licht ti
fin its soul.
wm.Sc. 1989 Anna Blair The Goose Girl of Eriska 89:
In fact they were first to arrive and were therefore not greatly surprised when the old uncle told them sheepishly that the barn was not quite ready and would they 'bide a wee while in the chaumer?'
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc. 78:
I've foun' ye buskit like a queen, In painted chamers sittin'.

2. (1) A bedroom in gen. Poet. or arch. in this sense now in St.Eng. and obsol., except in poetry, in Sc.Sc. 1859 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. v.:
A Scotch preacher was accommodated at night in the manse in a very diminutive closet. . . . “Is this the bed-room?” he said. “Deed ay, sir, this is the prophet's chammer.” “It maun be for the minor prophets, then.”
Bnff. 1882 W. M. Philip K. Macintosh's Scholars xi.:
I'll jist tak' a leuk into the chawmers and see that a' 's richt wi' the young fowk.
ne.Sc. 1883 Trans. Inv. Scientific Soc. II. 337: [a riddle about an egg]
Chip, chip, chaumrie, Hauds men's meat, An nae a door nor a window To lat them in to eat.-An egg.
Ags. 1927 L. Spence Weirds and Vanities 2:
As a bairn was I bedded In a chalmer o' green.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 72:
Now speed you to some madam's chaumer.
Rxb. 1913 W. A. P. Johnman in Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 49:
Ee'r [sic] daylight peeps within my chaumer Is heard thy vile unearhly clamour.

(2) The men's sleeping place on a farm, often an outhouse or room above the stable. Known to Bnff.2 and our Abd. correspondents (1939). Also attrib.Ork. c.1912 J. Omond Orkney 80 Years Ago 8:
Most old farm houses were built on the same general plan — . . . and in front of the dwelling house and separated from it by a narrow close, a few feet wide, another row of houses, generally a calves' byre, the chaumer or extra sleeping chamber, and one or two sheds.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays and Leg. of the North (1908) 17:
So Johnny he crap hame agen, In spite o' love's desire, An' hang his dreepin' duds to dry Aroon' the chaumer fire.
Abd. 1723 Third S.C. Misc. 44:
He was sitting in John Forbes' Chamber and heard a hurly burly and tumult in the closs.
Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb iii.:
He . . . went clanking across the causeway and up the trap stair to the “cham'er” over the stable.
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 48:
The lad had settled doon fine wi the other lads in the chaumer.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 18:
... aff she'd set tae redd oot the chaumer hoosie fur the new man comin tae bide on the Setterday nicht.
The chaumer hoosie wis biggit onno the byre, a cauld, steen hole wi jist the ae electric plug in it an a muckle great fireplace wi a pile o sticks flang in a boxie aside it.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 132:
This chaumer, or chammer, was a kind of detached room of the farm-houses of yore: here slept all the young men belonging to the family.

3. “A one-roomed cottage” (Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. Ork. Par. (1922) 150, chaumer); “one-roomed house or extra room” (Cai.3 1931); sometimes used of a general storage room in a barn (Ork. 1975).Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc. I. viii. 307:
Even old women living in “chaulmers,” or cots, were the owners of eight or ten sheep each.

4. Combs.: †(1) chaumer chiel, a valet de chambre; (2) chamer en', that end of the house where the spare room was situated; †(3) chamber-maill (see quot.); (4) chamber of dais, see Deas.(1) s.Sc. 1835–1840 J. M. Wilson Tales of the Borders (1857) V. 365:
She presented the white towel with its enclosure to the “chaumer chiel” of Robert Bruce.
(2) Sc. 1935 I. Bennet Fishermen, etc. iii.:
The ben was the kitchen and living-room and the “but en',” or “chamer en',” was where the tar, fishing-gear and oil were stored.
(3) Sc. c.1700 H. G. Graham Soc. Life Scot. 18th Cent. (1899) II. xi.:
What added to the wretched discomfort of the teachers was the want of any dwelling house . . . although there was often assigned an annual allowance for a lodging known as “chamber-maill,” equal to about ten shillings (£7 Scots).

II. v. To closet, shut up. Found only as pa.p. or ppl.adj. Arch. in Eng. (N.E.D.).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 43:
As he is chamber'd up he hears a grain, As of a bodie making heavy main.
Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xviii.:
They war chaumer't there, ye see, wi' the lawyers an' so on.
Knr. 1886 “H. Haliburton” Horace in Homespun 78:
Ithers again for weeks are chammber'd Glowerin' wi' hawks' een on a damberd.

[O.Sc. chambre, 1375, chawmbyr, c.1420, chawmer, 1424, chalmer, c.1450, chaumer, 1456, chamer, 1461, chammer, 1573, a chamber, (private) room, bedroom; also chalmer che(i)ld, a young chamber servant, valet, -mail(l), the rent of a chamber or room (D.O.S.T.). The l has been introduced in the later forms on the mistaken supposition that the long [ɑ] sound indicated the loss of an original l.]

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"Chaumer n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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