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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

JIMP, adj., adv., v.2 Also gimp; †gimpt; jump, jaump (Rs. 1919 T.S.D.C. III.).

I. adj. 1. Of persons: slender, small, graceful, neat, dainty (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 237; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 30; Ork., n. and m.Sc. 1959; Edb., Ayr. 2000s). Also in n.Eng. dial. In liter. use in Eng. since early 19th c.Sc. c.1700 Annie Laurie in Ballad Bk. (Sharpe 1823) 108:
She's jimp about the middle, Her waist ye weel may span.
Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 76:
Right weel red up, an' jimp she was.
Sc. a.1783 Lass of Roch Royal in Child Ballads No. 76. D. i.:
An wha will lace my middle gimp Wi' the new made London ban?
Ayr. 1790 Burns Parnassus Hill ii.:
I see thee dancing o'er the green, Thy waist sae jimp, thy limbs sae clean.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie ix.:
And thy wee feet, sae jimp an' tender.
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lxx.:
She was a wee body, wi' . . . a body gimp and sma'.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road ii.:
Having still a jimp and girlish figure and a dauntless grip of youth.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 38:
There's a jimp young mune i' the branches abune.
m.Sc. 1979 George Campbell Hay in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 86:
Jimp an' trigg an' gleg an' aa,
ilka day is gled an' braw,
dae ye think the past is fell
an' the mair nations the mair hell?

Hence comb jimp-middled, -waisted, slender in the waist.Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 192:
That bonny dark-haired, pale-faced, jimp-waisted lassie came in.
s.Sc. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws ii.:
A stot for a quey, and jimp-middled lasses for men.

2. Of clothes: close-fitting (ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., m.Lth. 1959; Bnff., Fif., Edb., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s).Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. i.:
Polished busks and jimp bodice, he regarded as matters calculated to make ladies lose their balance, and become . . . candidates for the repentance-stool.
Abd. 1881 W. Paul Past & Present 154:
I maun hae my goon made . . . Side an' wide aboot the tail An' jimp for my body.
Bwk. 1997:
Gey jimp - describes clothes which are too skimpy for the viewer's taste.
Sc. 2004 Northern Echo 31 Mar 13:
In an attempt to improve Anglo Scottish relations therefore, or to understand them when they come calling, readers are invited to translate the following ten sentences into Queen's English. ... 4. Her skirt is right jimp.

3. Of measure or quantity: scanty, scrimp, barely sufficient, sparing (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Uls. 1934 Mid.-Uls. Mail (1 Dec.)). Gen.Sc. With o, lacking, short of, without, minus (Abd., Edb. 1959).Sc. 1702 Hist. MSS. Comm. Report (Hamilton MSS. Suppl.) 158:
This day the Councill meet, a gimpt quorum of nyne.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 12:
How soon as the jimp three raiths was gane.
Ags. 1795 Session Papers, Arbuthnott v. Scott (11 March) 226:
He looks upon the water this day to be a middling water, but jimp enough.
Sc. 1829 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 321:
He weighed, ready for spit, twenty pounds jump.
Sc. 1875 A. Hislop Anecdotes 128:
The evidence is a wee bit jimp this time, so I'll let ye aff.
Per. 1897 C. M. Stuart Sandy Scott's Bible Class 78:
The captain o' the Tarshish boat was on the jimp side o' ceevility wi' Jonah.
Abd. 1923 J. R. Imray Village Roupie 10:
A roosty fir gullie — 'twas jimp o' a han'le.
Fif. 1929 St Andrews Cit. (9 Feb.) 9:
What tho' their skirts are scanty gimp, Their knees exposin'.
Dmf. 1937 T. Henderson Lockerbie 15:
Them that didna boucht a pickle milk frae a neebour, or wherever they could get it, but it was gie jimp as maist o' the kye were dry.

4. Short of food, hungry (Abd. 1959).Abd. 1920 A. Ross MS.:
Ye'll be feelin' gimp by this time. Here's tippence, laddie, gang and get a bit gingerbread.

IIadv. 1. Scarcely, hardly, barely, sparingly, scantily. Gen.Sc. Also reg. adv. forms jimply, gimply.Sc. 1788 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 558:
Wha wu'd hae thought, a kintry chield That jumply had frae storm a bield.
Edb. 1788 J. Macaulay Poems 129:
An' snawy wreaths adorn the plains, Whan folk can jimply gang their lanes For fear o' couping.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize I. xxvi.:
During the walk to Irvine, which was jimp a mile.
Sc. 1829 Scott Journal (1890) II. 227:
The raising the statute labour of Roxburgh to an oppressive extent, to make roads in England, is, I think, jimp legal.
Sc. 1892 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
He had jimp said the word, when Tod Lapraik cam to himsel'.
Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 260:
By being jimply civil.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 23:
Jimp hed a gotten sutten doon, afore wei war off.
Ags. 1932 Barrie Julie Logan 20:
It is jimply six miles from my manse.

2. Neatly, tidily.wm.Sc. 1987 Anna Blair Scottish Tales (1990) 60:
James looked round the jimp-kept room with its swept lumstone and scrubbed table.

III. v. 1. To curtail, restrict (unduly), stunt; “to make too narrow, to press by want of sufficient room” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 62). Ppl.adj. jimpit, -et, on the short side, stunted (Ork., n.Sc., m.Lth., Lnk., Slk. 1959).Edb. 1812 P. Forbes Poems 82:
On Saturday, the night's no lang, But unco jimpet.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 62:
The taylor gimpit's quyte i' the mackan.
Ags. 1891 J. Y. Geddes In Valhalla 57:
Quick at the soond an imp appears, Vile lookin', jimpit for his years.
Sc. 1923 Edb. Ev. News (15 Feb.) 4:
The days are jimpit yet; the licht's no' clear, Wi' smurr o' rain, and whiles a fleck o' snaw.

2. With in: to shrink (of cloth) (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1959).

3. To restrict, keep in short supply, scrimp. Ppl.adj. jimpit, scanty (Ork., ne.Sc., Ags., m.Lth. 1959).Lth. 1813 G. Bruce Poems 101:
The nappie ale to warm the bluid, Gaun roun', trowth was nae jimpit, Nor sma', that night.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 62:
I bocht our mony nout this weentir; an' gimpit masel' o' siller t' get sheep.

4. To give short or bare measure (n.Sc., Ags., m.Lth., wm.Sc., Slk. 1959).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 62:
He gimpit 'im in the mizer. He gimpit the weight an unce or mair.

[O.Sc. gymp, slender, dainty, from c.1500, jimp, scanty, scrimp, from 1612. Of obscure orig., phs. imit. Cf. Gim.]

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"Jimp adj., adv., v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Mar 2024 <>



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