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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.

CREAM, n. and v. Also crame (Per. 1887 R. Cleland Inchbracken 108). As in St.Eng., but note the following Sc. uses in comb. and phrase: (1) cream-crowdie (see quot.); known to Abd.9 1940; (2) cream of the water, — well (wall), “the first water drawn from a well on New Year's morning” (Cai. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.; Ags.17 1940, — wall); cf. crap o' the water, s.v. Crap, n.1, 4; also to cream the well, to draw this water (Abd.9, Fif.10 1940).[kri:m, but I., em.Sc. (a) kre:m](1) Sc. 1929 F. M. McNeill Sc. Kitchen 200:
Cream-crowdie. An indispensable dish at the Kirn, or Harvest Home. Oatmeal, cream, sugar and flavouring to taste.
(2) Cai. 1921 J. Mowat in Old-Lore Misc. IX. i. 16:
Perhaps associated with this superstition is the old custom of “creaming the well.” To be the first at the well on New Year's morning was to get the “cream” of the well, which meant beauty and happiness to the fair one who secured it. A wisp of straw was left in the well to indicate to the next comer that the well had already been “creamed.”
Abd. a.1893 J. E. Crombie in Folk-Lore IV. 318:
The fetching of water from the well — “creaming the well” as it is called — appears from replies to my enquiries in different parts of the county to have been almost universally the first thing done on New Year's Day morning.
Fif. 1723 in J. Campbell Balmerino (1899) 462:
James Paton in Cultra “had scandalized her in her good name by saying that she went to nine wells on the Road-day morning … to take away her neighbour's milk,” or, as the charge was afterwards expressed, “to get the cream of the water.”
Gall. 1939 F. Drake-Carnell It's an old Sc. Custom 32–33:
In parts of Galloway, the old belief still exists that water drawn at midnight before New Year has peculiar luck-bringing qualities and will undoubtedly help a girl who draws it to find a husband before next Hogmanay. The first jug-full is termed the “flower” or the “cream,” and on the stroke of midnight there is keen competition among the girls to secure it.

[The reg. Sc. word for cream is Ream, but cre(y)m stowp, ? a cream-pot, occurs in O.Sc. 1540 and 1640 (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Cream n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Sep 2022 <>



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