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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DWAM, n. and v. Also dwaam, dwamm, dwalm, dwaum, dwawm, †dwame. Also in Eng. dial. [dwɑ:m]

I. n.

1. A swoon, a faint; a slight feeling of faintness; a sudden attack of illness (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.); a decline in health. Gen.Sc.Sc. a.1724 Lady G. Baillie in Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1750) IV. 337:
The day it was set, and the bridal to be, The wife took a dwam, and lay down to die.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxix.:
He fell out o' ae dwam into another, and ne'er spake a word mair, unless it were something we cou'dna mak out.
Ork. 1912 Old-Lore Misc. V. ii. 69:
Bit he buist tae been i a kind o' dwam.
Bnff. 1924 Swatches 40:
Naething like a wee mou'fu' to cure a dwaam.
Per. 1753 A. Nicol Rural Muse 19:
While in a grouffing easy dwame He slept to rest.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 155:
Every now and then she keeked out, hopin' the pig was only in a dwalm.
Bwk. 1859 P. Landreth J. Spindle (1911) 77:
My mother took a dwalm an' pined slowly awa'.
Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe 124:
Wha kens but — but he has only ta'en a dwam, an' fa'en an stupified himsel'.
Uls. c.1920 J. Logan Ulster in X-Rays (2nd ed.) vi.:
One who has had a weak turn or has been temporarily ill is said to have had a “dwam”.

2. A stupor, a trance; a day-dream, reverie. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 65:
Breaks out . . . in the dwawm-like silence o' a glen [like] the sudden soun' o' a trumpet.
Sc. 1990 Scotsman 24 Mar 10:
Nevertheless I am ashamed that so many of my fellow Scots pathetically responded to a clear-headed, disciplined and passionate performance by our national team by submerging themselves in an alcoholic dwam.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 214:
Dougie lived in a dwaum of love for all that day. His feet took him around the croft but his mind was fixed on Alison's face and lips.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 62:
"Come awa then," quo Tullio hypocreetically. "Are ye in a dwaum? Pit the fit doon."
Wi her vyce sweetened bi the flichterin o luve, Ines agreed: ...
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 89:
Whitna dwam's this? It maun be
dwam, shairly, for oor Scottish trees
(as oniebodie that kens Scotland kens)
are owre kirkyairdie-like for sic harum-scarum
em.Sc.(b) 1978 John Herdman Pagan's Pilgrimage (1987) 141:
I suppose I sat staring at the epic painting in a kind of fascinated dwalm for about twenty minutes, ...
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 100:
'Aye,' he said. 'I was in a dwam. I'm fine.' But his leg was pounding again.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 6:
Flipote! you're staunin' in a dwamm like a big daft dug!
Get a move oan or Ah'll gie you a skelp on the lug,
wm.Sc. 1987 Anna Blair Scottish Tales (1990) 180:
But through his dwam he was taken aback to hear his own name thundering out from the pulpit, in a tone and context which were certainly not respectful.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xxxv.:
Few'll come to Mungo Byde's hostelry if his wife 's to be eternally in a deevilish dwaam, concocting Hielan' spells.
Gsw. 1936 F. Niven Old Soldier iii.:
Reid had fallen into a dwam . . . while he stared at the small red dome . . . as though it were a crystal.
Gsw. 1966 Archie Hind The Dear Green Place (1984) 33:
Like all young people, particularly when they are in love, ... They didn't believe they would ever experience the anxieties and miseries of ordinary domestic life. The kind of erotic dwalm in which they were living convinced them of the truth of this.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 115:
She was in a dwaam of drink.
Tyr. 1903 S. R. Keightley The Pikemen x.:
I was jist in a dwam, but I'm no sayin' I wasna expectin' ye.

3. A nap, a doze, a short sleep (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Sh.10 1950). Also freq. form dwammer, id. (Sh.11 1950, obsol.).Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 239:
I waukens oot o' a dwaam an looks i' da door.

II. v. Often with awa(y).

1. To faint, to swoon (Bnff., Abd., Fif. 1950). Vbl.n. dwalmin'.Sh. 1919 T. Manson Humours Peat Comm. II. 170:
Noo, dunna ye sit doon an dwaam awey.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 162:
As he in dwalmin'-fit lay there.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xvi.:
We immediately proceeded, and lifted the poor lad, who had now dwalmed away.
Ayr. 1913 J. Service Memorables 57:
Nanny . . . maist dwaamed wi, dreid.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 31:
The invalid nar dwalm't, he gat sae waik Thro' loss o' bluid, an noo cud hardly spaik.
Kcb. 1896 S. R. Crockett Grey Man xlvii.:
I fainted or dwamed away till the sharp knife pricked me into consciousness again.

Hence (1) dwamie, dwammy, dwamlie, adj., sick(ly), faintish; dreamy (Abd.15, Fif. 1950; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., dwamy; Dwn. 1931 North. Whig (17 Dec.) 10, dwalmy; dwammy Ags., Ayr.; dwamlie Ags. 2000s); (2) dwaminess, n., sickness, faintness (Abd.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1941; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein); (3) dwaamish, adj. = (1) (Abd.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1941).(1) Abd. 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert ii.:
A grey dwaumie leuk spread doon fae his een oot-ower his cheeks.
m.Sc. 2000 Bruce Leeming in Alec Finlay Atoms of Delight 91:
Doun i the haugh
dwammy wi haw flourish
a wumman greitin.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 52:
'And I keep gaun intae dwams. Real stuff disna feel real and the dwammy stuff does. Does that sound like the behaviour of an emotionally balanced person?'
Edb. 1872 J. Smith Jenny Blair's Maunderings (1881) ii.:
Then she gangs to her bed in a saft, dwamy condition, an' dreams a' the nicht o' the words that had kittled her lug sae finely.
Gsw. 1937 F. Niven Staff at Simson's 43:
I felt dwamy in that crush.
w.Dmf. 1917 J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 171:
It . . . starts wi' a kittlin' in the thrapple . . . an' ye got dwamy an' weak aboot the knees.
(2) Kcb. 1893 S. R. Crockett Stickit Minister 254:
She has been troubled wi' a kin o' dwaminess in her inside for near three weeks.
(3) Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 263:
I began ta fin a dwaamish kind o' a wy aboot my ain heed.

2. To sicken, decline in health (Slg.3 1941; Lth. 1825 Jam.2, dwaum).Per. c.1879 J. Craig in Harp of Per. (ed. R. Ford 1893) 349:
I'm maistly like to dwaum an' sicken, Sae deep's my wail.
em.Sc. (a) 1894 “I. Maclaren” Bonnie Brier Bush 31:
He begood to dwam in the end of the year and soughed awa in the spring.

3. Fig. To grow faint, to fade. Vbl.n. dwauming, in phr. dwauming o' the light, dusk, nightfall.Abd. 1787 A. Shirrefs Jamie and Bess Act IV. Sc. ii.:
Sane after, she gae'd hame to sair the Knight, Ae evening, just 'bout dwauming o' the light.
Abd. a.1879 W. Forsyth Sel. from Writings (1882) 7:
The music dwam't awa ere lang.
Dmf. 1877 R. W. Thom Jock o' the Knowe 4:
When the breath o' the wun' has dwamed away.

4. Sometimes with ower, to fall asleep, to take a nap, snooze. Also freq. form dwammer (Sh.11 1950, obsol.).Sc. 1965 Weekly Scotsman (25 Feb.) 18:
You might have seen a man lying there of a summer afternoon dwamming under a spread newspaper.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 82:
I wis juist dwaamin ower whin shu gae me a gluff as shu reissled da bed ta da waa.

5. To dream, daydream (Sh., Bnff., Ags., Ayr., Rxb. 2000s) Also fig.Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 22:
Sylvester wis curled up inno a cosy baa, dwaumin o Fuskers an cream, fin Henry cam back frae the agency.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 81:
A wearisome warssle it wis anna, fur a hett-bluided lass tae pit by the rigg o ilkie nicht wi a shargeret auld bodach fa snored and snochered an dwaumed awa, aa the oors sud be keepit fur luvin.
m.Sc. 1996 John Murray Aspen 5:
ower the dwammin haughlans fanklin,
in spate we tak on
wir lives lang syne,
em.Sc.(a) 1991 Kate Armstrong in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 113:
Werena we a maist perjink, aye dreamin,
dwamin o hoo thae weel-spoken lads
wid clap yer shouther, haud yer haun, cry ye brither?

6. To move 1996 Sheena Middleton in Sandy Stronach New Wirds: An Anthology of Winning Poems and Stories from the Doric Writing Competitions of 1994 and 1995 28:
Sae sweet an caller an cweel war the burnies that treetled doon the side o the Darroch, that the Dee hersel, dauchled and dwaumed an dovered as she roundit its braes, ...

[O.Sc. has dwalm, dwawm, etc., n. and v., from c.1500. Orig. deriv. of the ablaut series dwel-, dwal-, dwol-, as in O.E. dwęlian, to go astray, O.Teut. *dwaljan, O.E. dwolma, confusion. Cf. O.H.Ger. twalm, giddiness, O.Sax. dwalm, delusion.]

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



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