Last time I wrote about glaikit, and I am staying in the world of folly. Gomerel is Scots for a stupid or foolish person, or someone who – in the opinion of the user of the word – has behaved foolishly or unwisely.
It is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable, which rhymes with gone, and you can get a great deal of passion and venom into its rather guttural sound.
Gomerel is most commonly used as a noun, but it can also act as an adjective. The word will gladden the hearts of those who never quite mastered spelling, because it has several alternative forms, such as gomeril, gomeral and gommerel. It is virtually impossible to misspell it, although gomerel is the most usual modern form.
Gomerel has another meaning and a curious one at that. Occasionally it is used to describe a person whose lower front teeth stick out beyond the upper teeth when their mouth is closed. It would be ungracious, not to say untrue, to suggest that such a dental feature is typical of fools, and so this meaning is a bit unfair.
The word gomerel is likely to be the source of gommy, a word which is found in the west of Scotland and has the same meaning as gomerel in its sense of fool or stupid person. Gommy can also act as an adjective. Someone whose stupidity knows no bounds could be described as a gommy eejit (idiot), unless they are bigger than you are and you are within striking distance.
Gomerel has its roots in the Scots verb goam. Goam can mean to look around rather vacantly in an unfocused way, as you might do if you get off a bus at the wrong stop in a strange place and have no idea where you are. Apparently animals, as well as humans, are prone to goaming.
Goam can also mean to pay attention to or notice, another meaning being to recognise or greet someone. Both senses are usually found in the negative, as in She didna goam (did not notice) the car until it hit her. Or: He didna goam his auld freen. (He didn’t recognise his old friend.)
Goam, which was fairly common in some northern English dialects, has come down from Middle English gome, meaning understanding or discernment, and has connections with Old Norse gaumr, meaning heed or attention.
From goam is derived the adjective goamless. Yes, you have guessed right. Goamless means stupid or foolish. Still, you can never have too many words relating to stupidity, since there is such a lot of it about. The English beat us to it as far as goamless is concerned. It appeared in northern English dialects before it came to Scots and is a forerunner of English gormless, meaning lacking intelligence, commonsense or initiative.