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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.

HAIMMER, n., v. Also hemmer (Uls. 1910 C. C. Russell Ulster 27; Bnff. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 83; wm.Sc., Kcb., Uls. 1956); haimer (Abd.4 1931); hawmer, haumer, hamir. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. hammer (Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 3).

Sc. forms:Sc. 1991 John McDonald in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 90:
whaur, yince again, chiels pit bye net an truan,
heuk an hemmer; tae gether ablow a licht -
that micht hae been anither birth.
Lnk. 1997 Duncan Glen From Upland Man 10:
And mony tools hung
on the waw. Mell and haimmer,
aix and saw.

I. n. 1. Sc. combs. and phrs.

Comb.: hammermen, (Members of) the medieval craft of workers using a hammer for metalwork, continuing in modern times as a charitable organisation.Edb. 1983 Scotsman 2 May :
The hammermen of Edinburgh, white-collar descendants of the mediaeval master craftsmen in metal working, meet tonight to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the granting of the Charter of Incorporation.

Phrs.: (1) hammer (and) block (and Bible, — study), a boy's game (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., hammer, block and Bible; Abd. 1902 E.D.D., hammer and block); see also Block, Hammer and Nail, id. and A. B. Gomme Trad. Games (1894) I. 41); (2) to lauch like the claws o' a haimmer, to guffaw (Abd.4 1931).(1) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 252:
Hammer, Block, and Study. A school game. A fellow lies on all fours, this is the block; one steadies him before, this is the study; a third is made a “hammer” of, and swung by boys, against the block; it is a rude game.
Abd. 1853 W. Cadenhead Flights 189:
At the “Hammer and the Block” deal mony a sturdy blow.

2. Clumsy, noisy working or walking; a clumsy, noisy person in work or gait (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 75).Ayr. a.1796 Burns Chalmers' Sweetheart v.:
My bonie maid, before ye wed Sic clumsy-witted hammers, Seek Heaven for help.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 75:
The hawmer he keeps up an doon the chaamer's nae bearable.

II. v.

Sc. forms:Ork. 1952 R. T. Johnston Stenwick Days (1984) 85:
" ... If I kent whar wrott it I wid hiv gone an' hemmered the livin' daylights oot o' him."
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 35:
Out the backies,
in bricht yella hard hats,
the laddies
hemmer doun the wash house.
m.Sc. 1994 John Burns in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 24:
Jock held on ticht til the pownie's fuit as he hemmert the nails intil't an cut awa at the hoof until he gat it juist richt.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 9:
O twal month traivels ower an by, tae welcome in the new,
I'm laith tae haimmer doon the kist an bid the Auld adieu.

Sc. usages:

1. To work or walk in a clumsy, noisy manner (Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Mry.1 c.1925; Cai., Bnff., Abd., Ags. 1956).Ayr. a.1786 Burns Meeting Lord Daer iv.:
An' stumpin on his ploughman's shanks, He in the parlour hammer'd!
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 75:
The muckle fabrick o' a cheel cam hawmerin' ben the fleer, an' knockit our the bairn.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xvi.:
Aw haumer't into the kitchie upo' the mistress an' him speakin.
Abd.15 c.1925:
Haud ower, ye haumerin' blicker, an' nae tramp on ma taes!

Hence hawmerer, a big awkwardly built person with clumsy feet, one who works in a rough, noisy fashion (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 75).

2. “To stutter, stammer, or hesitate in speaking” (Sc. 1887 Jam.).

[The fact that the forms of n.1. (2) and the v. are gen. pronounced [ɑ:] rather than [e:] suggest that they are orig. onomat. and only later associated with Haimmer.]

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



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