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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GEMM, n., adj. Also gem, gemme, gyem, gjem; ¶ggem (Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 124), ¶ghem (Abd. 1875 G. Macdonald Malcolm I. xv.). Sc. forms of Eng. game in all its senses (Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Sh.10, gjem, Cai.7, Ags.16, m.Lth.1, wm.Sc.1, Arg.3, Ayr.8, Kcb.9 1954). See also game n. [Sc. gɛm, but Sh., Gall. gjɛm]Lnk. 1718 Minutes J.P.s (S.H.S.) 187:
The Laws and Acts of Parliament anent the preservation of the gemm and the killing of fish and fishing.
Per. 1883 R. Cleland Inchbracken xxxiv.:
Ye hae na sped sae waur as mony anither birkie laad, 'at wad [married] before tryin' on his gemms.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums vi.:
They didna un'erstaun the steam gemm, and they couldna dae withoot the engineers.
Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff xiv.:
“Then, think 'e”, said he, “she wud be gem tae gang on?”
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo v.:
Ay, Gabriel, ye've been a gemm yin.
Gsw. 1935 McArthur & Long No Mean City ix.:
Aw, Ah don't think this is a good gemm!
m.Sc. 1979 William J. Tait in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 36:
Whan fowk ken ye're sisters -
On the gemme, like -
They affen want a double-act,
Slk. 1986 Harvey Holton in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 166:
athout gemm, athout venison fresh frae hill-hie.
Sc. 1987 T. S. Law Chapman 50-1 145: muckle as a park, whoere gemme haed beild enyuch
wm.Sc. 1988 Scotsman 1 Oct 4:
A farmer friend summed it up to me when I was just out of my teens. "Gem! Gem! Every country pauper atween here and hell has got gem on the bliddy brain."
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 25:
Wan day we wur playing a team fae the Sou Side. They hudnae loast a gemme. So the manager gies us this big pep talk in the dressing room. Wavin his fist. Shoutin the odds. Go oot ther and hammer them boays.
m.Sc. 1990 Douglas Lipton in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 8: The Day I Met the Queen Mother 70:
Frog ... - 'Gan oan oot an' hae yirsel' a wee gemm o' puddocks, dearie, ...
Dundee 1996 Matthew Fitt Pure Radge 9:
an wi a glower o pure smeddum
blooters hit richt
back intil
the thrawn, raivelt, maikless gemm
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 19:
The peace an quate wad be shatter't whyles, noo an then,
Wi keen boolers or quoiters intent on thir gemme.

Phr. and Comb.: 1. aff the gemm, out of the game, not allowed to play (Ags.16 1954); 2. gemkeeper, a gamekeeper.2. em.Sc. (a) 1894 “I. Maclaren” Bonnie Brier Bush vi. No. 2:
There's naebody wears a kilt forbye gemkeepers.
Gall. 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 112:
A clud o' tame pigeons an pheasants comin at the g'yemkeepers whussel tae be fed.

[O.Sc. has gem(m), game, sport, from 1512, variant of game.]

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"Gemm n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Feb 2024 <>



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