Probably from Middle English hamelen (“to maim, mutilate; to cut short”), from Old English hamelian (“to hamstring, mutilate”), from Proto-Germanic *hamalōną, *hamlōną (“to mutilate”), from Proto-Indo-European *kem- (“hornless; mutilated”). Cognate with Dutch hamel (“wether”), English hamble, Low German hommel, hummel (“an animal lacking horns”), humlich, dialectal hommlich (“lacking horns”), Bavarian humlet (“lacking horns”), German hammeln, hämmeln (“to geld”), Icelandic hamla (“to maim, mutilate”).
hummel (plural hummels)
- (Northern England, Scotland, also attributive) A stag that has failed to grow antlers; a cow that has not developed horns. [from late 15th c.]
1850 January, “[Quarterly Summary of the Improvements and Discoveries in the Medical Sciences. Anatomy and Physiology.] On the Fœtus in Utero, as Inoculating the Maternal with the Peculiarities of the Paternal Organism; and on the Influence thereby Exerted by the Male on the Constitution and the Reproductive Powers of the Female. By Alexander Harvey, M.D. (Monthly Journ. of Med. Sciences, Oct. 1849.)”, in Isaac Hays, editor, The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, volume XIX (New Series), number XXXVII, Philadelphia, Pa.: Lea & Blanchard; London: John Wiley, and John Miller, OCLC 863165171, page 180:
- A pure Aberdeenshire heifer was served with a pure Teeswater bull, to whom she had a first-cross calf. The following season, the same cow was served with a pure Aberdeenshire bull; the produce was a cross calf, which at two years old had very long horns, the parents both hummel.
1872 February, “An Old Mountaineer” [pseudonym], “Deer-stalking in the Highlands”, in Baily’s Monthly Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, volume XXI, number 144, London: A. H. Baily & Co., OCLC 614992700, page 233:
- A little hillock gave me ample concealment and an excellent rest for my rifle; and there I reposed as hinds and little stags filed by. First came the wary old hind, looking sharply about her; then a little stag, indifferent to consequences; then more hinds and calves; and last of all the great hummel. As he landed on top of the brow, about fifty yards from me, he stopped to look around. I drew a bead on the junction of his neck and shoulder, pressed gently on the trigger; a bang—smack, followed, and the great hummel lay stretched upon the heather.
1898, J. E. Harting, “RED DEER—(Cervus elaphus)”, in the Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire [Henry Charles Howard, 18th Earl of Suffolk and 11th Earl of Berkshire], Hedley Peek, and F. G. Aflalo, editors, The Encyclopædia of Sport, volume II, London: Lawrence and Bullen, Ltd. 16 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, page 248:
- Hornless Stags are not unknown, especially in the German forests. By this expression is meant, not stags wich have once carried antlers and shed them, but stags which have never possessed any. In the Highlands they are termed hummel stags; […] Haviers, or stags which have been gelded when young, have no horns, as is well known, and in the early part of the stalking season, when seen through a glass, might be mistaken for hummels; but as the season advances, the necks of the latter swell, and (except in the matter of horns) they assume all the characteristics, both in appearance and behaviour, of ordinary stags, and are thus easily distinguished from haviers.
2005, Brian K[eith] Hall, “Antlers”, in Bones and Cartilage: Developmental and Evolutionary Skeletal Biology, San Diego, Calif.; London: Elsevier Academic Press, ISBN 978-0-12-319060-4, page 107, column 1:
- Regeneration in the animal kingdom always requires a wound stimulus. Regrowth of antlers is no exception, the wounded pedicle exposed by the casting of the previous set of antlers serving as a vital stimulus for renewal of antler growth. This was convincingly demonstrated in congenitally polled (‘hummel’) red deer, which lack antlers, have pedicles, and can be induced to form a set of antlers if the tips of the pedicles are amputated.
2013, Steven P. Ashby, “Some Comments on the Identification of Cervid Species in Worked Antler”, in Alice Choyke and Sonia O'Connor, editors, From These Bare Bones: Raw Materials and the Study of Worked Osseous Objects: Proceedings of the Raw Materials Session at the 11th ICAZ Conference, Paris, 2010, Oxford; Oakville, Conn.: Oxbow Books, ISBN 978-1-78297-211-2:
- Contrary to popular sporting belief […], it has also been postulated that the reason for the hummel’s lack of antlers is not genetic, but relates to poor nutrition in the early stage of life, and a consequent failure to grow pedicles […].
- (also attributive) Especially in hummel corn: grain that lacks awns (beards or bristles), or has had its awns removed (barley, oats, etc.).
1792, Robert Bowmaker, “Number LI. Parish of Dunse, (County of Berwick.)”, in John Sinclair, editor, The Statistical Account of Scotland. Drawn Up from the Communications of the Ministers of the Different Parishes, volume IV, Edinburgh: Printed and sold by William Creech [et al.], OCLC 499791781, page 386:
- The farmers ſervants who have families, and engage by the year, are called hinds, and receive 10 bolls oats, 2 bolls barley, and 1 boll peas, which two laſt articles are called hummel corn, […]
[1808, John Jamieson, “Hummel-corn”, in An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language: Illustrating the Words in Their Different Significations, by Examples from Ancient and Modern Writers; Shewing Their Affinity to Those of Other Languages, and Especially the Northern; Explaining Many Terms, which, though Now Obsolete in England, were Formerly Common to Both Countries; and Elucidating National Rites, Customs, and Institutions, in Their Analogy to Those of Other Nations: to which is Prefixed, a Dissertation on the Origin of the Scottish Language: [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, Edinburgh: Printed at the University Press; for W[illiam] Creech, A[rchibald] Constable & Co., and W[illiam] Blackwood, Edinburgh; Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, T[homas] Cadell & W. Davies, and H. D. Symonds, London, OCLC 946611778:
- Hummel-corn, s[ubstantive] That kind of grain which wants a beard, as pease, beans, &c.]
1876, William Brockie, “Matrimony: A Puir Hynd’s Sorrowfu Soliloquy”, in The Confessional, and Other Poems, Sunderland: T. F. Brockie, 2, High Street East, OCLC 32337015, page 179:
- (transitive) Of an animal: to remove the horns; to poll.
- (transitive) To separate (barley, oats, etc.) from the awns.
1812 August 5, “S.” [pseudonym], “A Cheap Method of Hummelling Barley”, in The Farmer’s Magazine: A Periodical Work Exclusively Devoted to Agriculture and Rural Affairs, volume XIII, number LII, Edinburgh: Printed by David Willison, for Archibald Constable and Company, Edinburgh; and Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, London, published 16 November 1812, OCLC 938136568, pages 443–444:
- From the minute description of the machinery, I am apt to think it is made at a considerable expense; […] I am therefore induced to mention the manner of hummelling (or fattering, as it is called in this county) with me. […] My thrashing mill is of the old construction, being the first erected in this county (excepting one on Cotterel's plan), and is very powerful; but I apprehend any machine has power enough for the hummelling work.
1814, Robert Kerr, “On the Management of Arable Land in Scotland”, in General Report of the Agricultural State, and Political Circumstances, of Scotland. Drawn Up for the Consideration of the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement, under the Directions of the Right Hon. Sir John Sinclair, Bart. the President, volume I, Edinburgh: Printed by Abernethy & Walker, and sold by Arch[ibald] Constable & Co. Edinburgh; and Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, London, OCLC 561811697, part IV (Of the Articles Principally Cultivated for Their Seed), section III (Of Barley), page 498:
- [M]ost threshing-machines are defective in regard to separating the awns of barley from the grains, especially when it has been led home in a raw or soft state. Various devices are often had recourse to for obviating this defect. […] In other cases, where either of these devices are wanting, it has to be hummelled on the barn-floor, either by means of threshing with the old flails or swiples, or by stamping it with an implement resembling a paviour's ram, the under end of which is armed with plate iron made like a honeycomb. On some occasions, barley has known to be too much hummelled, at least for the use of maltsters; as, when the awn breaks off so close as to leave a small portion of the kernel naked, such grains do not malt kindly.
1848, Henry Colman, “European Agriculture. Eighth Report. CVI.—Crops. (Continued.)”, in European Agriculture and Rural Economy. From Personal Observation, volume II, Boston, Mass.: Arthur D. Phelps, 116 Washington Street; London: John Petheram, 94 High Holborn, OCLC 3695850, page 248:
- Machines are in use for hummelling barley, – that is, breaking off all the awns close to the grain, – and likewise for hulling it, so as to form what is called pot or pearl barley, a very nutritious and agreeable ingredient in broths and in drinks for invalids.
1867, A. S. Wilson, “The Weight of Corn”, in Journal of the Bath and West of England Society for the Encouragement of Agriculture, Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, volume XV, London: Published by W. Ridgway, 169, Piccadilly, sold by R. E. Peach, Bath; F. May, Taunton; W. Roberts, Exeter; James and James, Plymouth, OCLC 8621654, page 244:
- If threshed by the flail, the awns and sharp points [of oats] will be less broken and hummelled than if threshed by machinery. Whatever hummels the grain most will produce the heaviest bushel, while, of course, extremely little variation will have taken place in the dynamical relation of the kernel and hull.
1875, Edward H. Knight, “Hummeling-machine”, in Knight’s American Mechanical Dictionary: Being a Description of Tools, Instruments, Machines, Processes, and Engineering; History of Inventions; General Technological Vocabulary; and Digest of Mechanical Appliances in Science and the Arts, volume II (Ena–Pan), New York, N.Y.: J. B. Ford and Company, OCLC 950905381, page 1142, column 1:
- The Japanese hummel their rice in a mortar made of a section of a large tree hollowed out.
- (of an animal: to remove the horns): poll
- ^ Compare Abram Smythe Palmer (1876), “The Words ‘Flirt’—‘Flunkey’—‘Scorn’”, in Leaves from a Word-hunter’s Note-book. Being Some Contributions to English Etymology, London: Trübner & Co., Ludgate Hill, OCLC 156094804, footnote 2, page 43: “The expression an 'humble' deer, an 'humble' ewe, is applied to one without horns; but this is a corruption of hummel'd, from prov[incial] Eng[lish] hummel, hammel, O[ld] N[orse] hamla, to mutilate, lop, A[nglo-]Sax[on] hamelan, to hamstring.”
- ^ A[bram] Smythe Palmer (1882), “Humble”, in Folk-etymology: A Dictionary of Verbal Corruptions or Words Perverted in Form or Meaning, by False Derivation or Mistaken Analogy, London: George Bell & Sons, OCLC 1000034280, page 182:
Humble, in the sense of hornless, applied to a cow, ewe, deer, &c. […], is a corrupt form of Scotch and Northern Eng. hummel, hummle, homyll, without horns; […] All these words are akin to Prov[incial] Eng[lish] hamel, to lame, Ger[man] hammel, a wether, A[nglo-]Sax[on] hamelian, Icel[andic] hamla, to maim or mutilate.
- “hummel” (US) / “hummel” (UK) in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press.
- ^ “hummel” in John A. Simpson and Edward S. C. Weiner, editors, The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989, ISBN 978-0-19-861186-8.
Mostly used in its diminutive form.