'clamour' (Modern English yarm)


ME ʒarm (n.) and ʒarmen (v.) are probably best explained as loans given the late date of the sole occurrence of OE gyrman (v.) 'to howl, wail' (DOE). The probable source is ON, cp. OIcel jarmr 'bleating' and jarma 'to bleat' (so MED, Menner, Anderson). This provides a good fit for both form and sense, and the earliest attestations of both the ME v. and n. come from N alliterative texts. The form suggests a PGmc root *erma-, which is not otherwise attested, in which case the ON fracture of /e/ followed by shift of stress in the resulting diphthong would provide a phonological test of loan. Given the uncertainty of the word's etymology, however, it is not possible to say conclusively whether this criterion applies. CV instead suggests it is 'probably identical with' a set of WGmc adjectives < PGmc *jēm(a)raz (from which MnE yammer), and while it is tempting to see such a connection given the sense, the medial <r> is problematic. Welsh also had a n. garm 'shout', as MED also notes, but in order to give /j/ in English, this loan would have had to occur very early (before first fronting and palatalization). David Callander points out, moreover, that the v. MED notes is cited only from the late 16c. poet William Cynwal, where the form garmio may be a poetic coinage to provide rhyme.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

jarmr 'bleating'
(ONP jarmr (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far jarm(an), Icel jarmur, Norw jerm

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

[ON fracture of */e/ and shift of stress in diphthong */ea/ > /ja/] (may not be applicable)

Summary category



This is the only instance of the n. in ME cited by MED and OED; it occurs in MnE dial from the N, E and Sc.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Cl 971


MED yarme (n.) , OED yarm (n.) , HTOED , EDD yarm (v. and sb.), de Vries jarmr, Mag. jarma, GPC2 garm, DOE gyrman