Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BRAXY, BRAXIE, Braxi, n. Also in forms braxes, bracks, braxit (Sc. 1825 Jam.2). See also Braik and Breakshugh. [′brɑks, ′brɑksz, brɑks]

1. A term frequently applied to several different disorders in sheep. The true braxy is an intestinal affection, attended with diarrhœa and retention of the urine, and arises from the habit sheep have of gorging themselves with food when newly weaned or suddenly placed on rich or indigestible pasture. This produces a kind of colic or inflammation of the bowels, which gen. proves fatal. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1805  R. W. Dickson Practical Agric. II. 1169:
The Braxy, as it is termed in Scotland . . . seems to be of the nature of the gastritis.
Sc. 1915  J. P. M'Gowan in Trans. Highl. and Agric. Soc. XXVII. 56:
I limit my use of the term “braxy” to a condition in sheep of sudden sickness and death, characterised by certain concomitant phenomena . . . [such] as hæmorrhages.
Ags. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 IV. 8:
Many are cut off by a disease, which is here called the Braxes.
  Ib. 242:
Another malady . . . preys on the sheep here. Among the shepherds, it is called the Bracks.
Ayr. 1811  W. Aiton Gen. View Agric. Ayr 482:
They are not so subject to the braxy, as the black-faced sheep are.

2. A sheep suffering from this disease. w.Sc. 1866  R. W. Buchanan London Poems 236:
He loved the braxie still, as few can love, Save the good Shepherd.

3. (1) The salted flesh of a sheep that has died from braxy. Known to Bnff.2, Ags.1, Fif.10, Lnk.3 1935. Also (2) fig. of something that is “as dead as mutton.” (1) Abd.(D) 1913  C. Murray Hamewith 101:
Nae foreign galshochs, taste they e'er sae sweet, But I will match them fast as ye can name Wi' . . . hill-fed braxy that the tod has spar'd.
Arg. 1932 1 :
In the owld days they used tae gie the prisoners in the jile braxy, but I'm thinkin if they tried tae feed them on braxy noo-a-days there wad be a mutiny.
Ayr. 1786  Burns Ep. to W. Simpson xviii.:
While Highlandmen hate tolls an' taxes; While moorlan' herds like guid, fat braxies. . . . Count on a friend, in faith an' practice.
(2) Edb. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick x.:
The Auld Kirk's no' juist what ye micht ca' deid; she's got a kick or twa left in her. We're no braxy yet, Geordie, my man!

4. “Food of every description” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 16).

5. attrib. (1) with meaning corresponding to 2; (2) as applied to one who lives on or makes his living from braxy. (1) Sc. 1819  J. Rennie St Patrick III. ii.:
I harl't ye out tae the stenners, as wat's a beet o' lint, an' hingin' your lugs like a drouket craw, or a braxy sheep at the deein'.
(2) Edb. 1832–1846  J. Ballantine in Whistle-Binkie (2nd Series) 26:
Though miss'd by its owner, and left by its dam, Its [sic] gude gusty gear to our bauld braxy Tam.

Hence braxied, adj., affected with braxy. Sc. 1870  A. Stewart Nether Lochaber (1883) xix.:
A tender lamb, or braxied sheep.

6. Combs.: (1) braxy bree, soup made with “braxy” (Bnff.2 1935); (2) braxy-ham (Bnff.2, Lnk.3 1935) (see second quot.); (3) braxi hogrels, sheep of about a year old, infected with braxy; (4) braxy mutton, = 3. As the course of the disease is very rapid, many people assume that the intestines alone become infected and therefore every part of the sheep, excluding these, is eaten. A well-known sheep-farmer says of this food: “It is wholesome and very digestible, and . . . I have never known of any man, woman or child having any disease . . . from eating braxy. It should, however, be well cooked”; (5) braxy shelty, “a little rough pony kept by moor farmers to bring home braxy sheep” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 91). (1) Arg. 1925–1927  Green Braes o' Kintyre in Campbeltown Courier;
2 :
We feasted on lamb or the heid o' a ram An' the fine braxy bree o' Kintyre.
(2) Ayr. 1822  H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc. 242:
In the nick o' the Balloch lived Moorlan' Tam, Weel stented wi' brochan an' braxy ham.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 90:
Braxy-hams, the hams of those sheep which die of the braxy. . . . What of the carcases can then be ham'd, are done, and the rest of the flesh made present use of by the family. The hams thus cut out are hung up in the smuiky brace, until they are quite dry.
(3) Sc.(E) 1897  E. Hamilton Outlaws of the Marches i.:
“Braxi hogrels indeed!” I said indignantly. “I'll uphaud there are no finer dimmonts [rams] in all the sheriffdom of Roxburgh.”
(4) Bnff.(D) 1918  J. Mitchell Bydand 9;
2 :
A hoch o' braxy mutton noo an' than's nae a wa'-cast.
(5) Sc. 1874  A. Hislop Sc. Anecd. 201:
He bears them [the dead sheep] home to his master's house on the “braxy shelty.”

[Etym. uncertain. Perhaps orig. an adj. brax-y, formed from a collective pl. bracks, brax (cf. pox from pocks) in some sense derived from break. See also etym. note to Breakshugh.]

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"Braxy n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Dec 2017 <>



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