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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SWEEM, v., n. Sc. form and usages of Eng. swim. For other Sc. forms see Soom, v.1, n.1 [swim]

I. v. A. Forms. Pr.t. sweem (Ork. 1703 J. Brand Descr. Ork. 20; Inv. 1726 Session Papers, Presb. Skye v. Mackenzie (15 July); Edb. 1768 Caled. Mercury (9 April); Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 214; Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 377; Uls. 1879 W. G. Lyttle Readings by Robin 44; Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. v. 175; Abd. 1940 C. Gavin Hostile Shore xiv.; Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 16. 9; Ork., ne.Sc., Per. 1972). Pa.t. strong swam (Gen.Sc.); weak sweemt (Abd. 1932 Dieth Bch. Dial. 167; ne.Sc. 1972), sweemed (Mry. 1830 T. D. Lauder Moray Floods (1873) 241). Pa.p. strong swam, swum (Gen.Sc.); weak sweemt (Dieth), sweemed (Sc. 19th c. N.E.D.; Sh., Ags. 1972).m.Sc. 1979 William J. Rae in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 78:
And the swack wee craitur could suin gang ower a bit burn sweemin, nae bother ataa.
Dundee 1994 Evening Telegraph 10 Aug 3:
I'm not sure about bathing without trunks, but I wouldn't be surprised as "sweemin' bare buff" was perfectly normal at Lochee Baths when I was at Ancrum Road School.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 9:
As lang as salmon sweem the waves an I hae thochts tae myn,

B. Sc. usage in comb. and phr.: 1. Sweem-pad, a game in which a blindfolded boy crawls about in search of a cap the owner of which he has to identify, his motions being like those of a padda or frog swimming (see Puddock) (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); 2. to swim fair, of a plough: to cut forward with a steady level motion.2. Sc. 1797 Encycl. Britannica XV. 75:
When the plough goes on steadily, without any effort of the ploughman, it is said to be in trim, and to swim fair.
Sc. 1828 Quarterly Jnl. Agric. I. 428:
Performed by the ploughman until he feels that the plough continues to “swim fair,” to use his own technical language, that is, till he feels, which he does at once, that it continues to move horizontally forward without any tendency to rise from the earth, or to sink deeper into it.

II. n. A state of great wetness, a flood, a “sea” of water (Sh., Bnff., Abd. 1972).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 188:
The neep laan's in a perfit sweem.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (12 Aug.):
Da ert is in a sweem o' weet.

[O.Sc. sweme, to swim, a.1400. The form corresponds to Mid.Eng. sweme, swime, to swim, with lengthening of the vowel in an open syllable, and not therefore directly descended from O.E. swimman, but rather from O.N. svima, to swim.]

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"Sweem v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/sweem>

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