Clamjamfry

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11 comments on this post.
  1. Marcus Evans:

    In common usage in the UK?
    I don’t think so!

  2. Victor:

    And here all along I thought it was an occasion where clams are fried in jam… Oh well

  3. Melissa:

    I found it in an old Merriam Webster dictionary that I frequently use to look up odd words. It has become one of my favorite words, and I once used it as the name of my website.

  4. Erica:

    I saw this word, while looking up things online to help me compose a poem. I recognized it and remembered I had come across the word a very long time ago. I knew what it meant.

    I just used it in a poem to hopefully stump a fellow poet who uses many words in his poetry that force me to do Google searches. I hope I’ve finally one-upped him!

  5. Phil:

    I’d forgotten that Lewis Grassic Gibbon uses it quite often in “Sunset Song” but that is being remedied with my first read through of that classic in some 20 years. Gibbon takes the usage further and applies it to appearances as well as people or situations in general, “a woman with her face all clamjamfried with paint and powder and dirt,” leaves nothing to the reader’s imagination!

  6. Jumphry:

    “common usage” isn’t what is meant by “very much in use”, which is what the article claims. Common usage would be quite another thing entirely.

  7. john begg:

    I use “Clamjafry” from time to time, especially when talking to other Scots, as a slightly derogatory word for a group of people. My grandfather (born in 1880s) also used it and I guess I got it from him.

    On a similar tack, what is the correct definition and derivation of “Hooching” as in “the marketplace was fair hooching with folk” (Very crowded with people)? Dictionaries only seem to give “hooch=illicit booze” which is not the same word.

  8. john begg:

    Also I think I have seen clamjafry in R L Stevenson, but I can’t remember where? Maybe in “Catriona” when David Balfour is talking to the McGregor Lawyer?

  9. john begg:

    Yes, it was – ““The Advocate be dammed!” cries he. “It’s the Campbells, man! You’ll have the whole clanjamfry of them on your back; and so will the Advocate too, poor body” From Catriona by RL Stevenson, David Balfour talking to Charles Stewart, Writer (to the signet = Scottish solicitor). If it is correct that it dates from early C19, then RLS has committed a rare anachronism, as Cationa is set in 1751!

  10. Peter A. Gallett:

    In Dickens’ Dombey and Son: “… a clamjamfry of wild young blades …” So it seems that an unruly passel of rambunctious revelers needn’t perforce be of the hoi polloi in order to constitute a clamjamfrey. Good word, though I still prefer the suggestion “clams fried in jam” proposed by Victor (above).

  11. Peter A. Gallett:

    Moderator — please correct my attribution of “clamjamfry” in the previous posting — it was NOT Dickens, but a collection of Scottish short stories where I encountered “clamjamfrey”. Sorry about the confusion. I just finished reading Dickens, so it’s still in my noggin.

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