Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BRECHAM, Brechim, Brechem, Braichum, Brechan, Brachin, Brauchan, n. and v.

I. n.

1. The collar of a horse or ox, lined, orig. with straw, to obviate friction in draught work. A Pluscarden MS. (1750–1880) states that the collar itself was made of three coils of twisted straw. Also used fig. and attrib. Gen.Sc. [brɛxm, brɛxn, brɛxŋ Sc., but Ork., Mry. + brɑxɪn; brexəm Bnff.] Sc. 1788  Scots Mag. 558:
Nor slacks the brecham on her breast, Nor needs she goad.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality xvii.:
“If yon lads stand to their tackle,” said Cuddie, “we'll hae some chance o' getting our necks out o' the brecham again; but I misdoubt them — they hae little skeel o' arms.”
Mry. 1925 1 :
John McNish and Donald Gair wi their brauchans dressed sae braw.
Abd.(D) 1877  W. Alexander North. Rural Life in 18th Cent. 36:
A “brecham” or pad of dried “sprots,” rushes, straw, or strips “tyave” of moss fir roots, intervened between the neck of the ox and the bow, to prevent friction in the draught.
Ags.(D) 1922  J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden xvii.:
He got Bandy Webster to go ootbye wi' the train, an' tak Donal's saddle an' brechim wi' him.
Per. a.1879  A. Maclagan in
R. Ford Vagab. Songs, etc. (1904) 93:
An auld teethless harrow, a brechem ring rent, Wi' mae broken gear, whilk are meant to be men't.
Ayr. 1786  Burns To W. Chalmers' Sweetheart i.:
Wi' braw new branks in mickle pride, And eke a braw new brechan, My Pegasus I'm got astride, And up Parnassus pechin.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 91:
Brechams, collars for horses; anciently they were made entirely of straw, and called “Strae brechams.”

2. Transferred meanings.

(1) “Brecham, a bulky wrap round the neck” (Abd. 1921 W. Walker W.-L.; Fif.1, w.Lth. 1935 (per Lnl.1)); “ludicrously: A heavy muffler, or other untidy neck-wear” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

(2) “A ring round the moon” (Mry.1 1925).

(3) “The hames on the collar of a draught horse” (Abd.7 1925); “wooden hems” (Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. Ork. Par. (1922) Gloss., brachins).

(4) “A clasp for a woman's hair” (Abd. 1914 T.S.D.C. I.).

II. v. Usually with up. (See quot.) Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 16;
2 :
Braichum-up, to put on much dress in an untidy manner; to inwrap in an untidy fashion to protect from the weather. The word often conveys the notion of too much care.

[O.Sc. brechame, brechim, braichhame (D.O.S.T.); n.Mid.Eng. bargham, barwam. Prob. from O.E. beorgan, to protect + hama, dress, covering. Present in n.Eng. dial. in forms bargham, braffin, etc. An inverted form is hamburgh in use in Irel., Yks., Lan., Lin., Gmg., Pem., Dev. (E.D.D.).]

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"Brecham n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jan 2019 <>



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