Grellmann (1787) collected the forms cham, cam, okam meaning ‘the sun’ and the form Schon ‘the moon’ from Continental gipsies. Smart & Crofton (1875) collected the forms tam, kam, sken ‘the sun’ from English Gypsies.
1 bad, awful, strange: A chan gaave is a bad wee town. 18-.
2 ashamed, embarrassed 20-.
verb to frighten 20-. etymology: originally this was thought to be a slang or Cant term. However later research revealed that it is in fact a loan word from Gaelic seann ‘old, aged, ancient or antique’; in southern Scots it is specifically associated with the Gypsy speech of Kirk Yetholm; form ‘chan’ attested in Galloway; also attested by Perthshire and Argyleshire Tinkler-Gypsies; also collected by EMcC/PS and RD; also collected by Simson (1865) and attested by two of his informants; also collected by Joseph F G S Lucas from Kirk Yetholm Gypsies; shan, adjective also attested in Shelta; also attested by SR, BS in TDITA, JS, ET, BW and DW; adjective collected by JS note:
Grose and Egan (1823) attest a form shan meaning ‘bad money’ as Cant.
Shan is also a word that has found its way into the everyday language in South East Scotland especially among school children and young people. It is defined in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language as follows: ‘Of poor quality, bad, mean, worn-out, shabby, pitiful, paltry…’. Within living memory in Dundee and Edinburgh there were shan shops where day-old baked goods were sold.
Canadian Paul Pope (2013) attests sense 1 with the definition ‘bad’.