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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PLOOM, n. Also ploum (Edb. 1866 J. Smith Poems (1869) 35). Gen.Sc. forms and usages of Eng. plum. [plum. See etym. note.]

1. As in Eng. Sc. combs. and phrs.: (1) plum-dam(as)(s), -dam(i)(e)s, -daimens, (i) a damson-plum or damson, orig. Damascene plum (Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs Gl.; Slk. 1966); (ii) a prune or dried plum (Sc. 1887 Jam. Suppl.; Rxb. 1915 G. Watson Nat. Hist. Lists viii., plum-damie). [plum ′dɑməs]; (2) soor plooms, (i) fig., = Eng. “sour grapes” from Aesop's fable of the fox and the vine, a feeling of resentment at another's good fortune, a tendency to belittle a desirable object which is out of one's reach (m.Sc. 1966); (ii) a sobriquet for the inhabitants of the town of Galashiels, from its motto “Sour Plums” and from the fox and plum-tree motif on its coat of arms (see 1898 quot.) (Slk. 1827 R. Chambers Picture Scot. I. 133; s.Sc. 1966); (iii) a sweet of the boiling variety, flavoured, coloured and shaped like a plum. Gen.Sc.(1) Sc. 1830 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1864) III. 39:
As you or me would squash a sour Ploomdamass wi' the heel o' our shae.
Sc. 1850 Tait's Mag. (April) 251:
What are ye buying? Plumedames sixpence the pound, . . . oranges, nutmegs, and lemons.
(ii) Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 210:
Guid barley broth and skink came next, Wi' raisins and plumdamis mixt.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xi.:
Third course, black-cock . . . plumdamas — a tart — a flam — and some nonsense sweet things.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch ii.:
Raisins and almonds, shell-walnuts, and plumdamases.
(5) (i) Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 137:
“Sour plooms”, quo' the tod, when he couldna climb the tree.
Slg. 1869 Royal Caled. Curling Club Annual 262:
Though we tried oor grief to hide, Soor plooms gaed roun' us a'.
Fif. 1887 S. Tytler Logie Town II. xiii.:
It does sound like soor plooms.
(ii) Sc. 1725 J. Glen Early Sc. Melodies 109:
The tune is called in the Orpheus Caledonius of 1725, “Sow'r Plumbs of Gallow Sheils.”
Sc. 1829 R. Chambers Sc. Songs II. 666:
Adieu, sour plooms o' Galashiels.
Rxb. 1870 J. Thomson Doric Lays 41:
They've neither grants nor charters, A sour ploom tree, a fox that sits Upon its hinder quarters.
Slk. 1898 R. Hall Galashiels 4:
Tradition affirms that a party of the English army, suspecting no danger, straggled from the main body, and began to gather the wild plums that grew in profusion in the locality. While so engaged, they were surprised by the Scots, who fell upon them and cut them off to a man. In commemoration of this exploit, the inhabitants of the village, who may have taken part in the skirmish [1337], adopted the sarcastic title of the “Sour plums of Galashiels”.
Slk. 1964 Stat. Acc.3 333:
The Ceremonial of “Soor plums” is enacted at the Raid Stane near Galafoot in memory of the first recorded exploit of the men of Gala.

2. The fruit of the potato-plant (Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 179). Gen. (exc. I.) Sc. Also potato-plum, id. Cf. Eng. potato-apple, id.Ags. 1791 Caled. Mercury (19 Sept.):
Nor skaid me haff a scon o' breid, Nor 'tatoe plum'.
Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Works 80:
When plums fa' aff potatoe shaws.
Rnf. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VII. 271:
The same most disinterested gentleman produced twelve of the best potatoes reared from the plum.
Sc. 1906 Trans. Highl. Soc. XVIII. 146:
The plan of producing new varieties from the seeds in the “plums” or “apples” was well understood also.
Kcd. 1909 Colville 163:
Her two “freits” in gardening were raising potatoes from the “plooms”.

[The vowel is the reg. development in Sc. of O.E. plūme, without shortening as in Eng. plum. O.Sc. plumdamas, 1565.]

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"Ploom n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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