Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BROCHAN, Brochen, Brachen, Brachan, Brochin, n.1 [′brɔxən, ′brɔxɪn.]

1. Most commonly used to denote gruel, either of a thick or thin consistency, and cooked with various additions to the oatmeal, such as butter, honey, etc. Used also as denoting porridge, mainly in n.Ir. and Arg., although there also it can have the meaning of gruel. In n.Sc. it seems to be used exclusively as a name for gruel. The concoction is often taken as a cure for colds. This word is still known to older people. Also used attrib. Sc. 1706  Blythsome Wedding in J. Watson Choice Collection (1869) i. 10:
There will be Tartan, Dragen and Brachen.
Sc. 1737  Ramsay Proverbs 52:
O'er mickle Cookery spills the Brachan.
Sh.(D) 1891  J. J. H. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 97:
An tinks, my lamb, 'at shü wid need Ta mak hersel a brochin.
Ork. 1920  J. Firth Reminisc. Ork. Par. (1922) 93:
When this stage was reached the patient received but little attention, other than a drink of hot “brochan.”
Cai. 1915  B. in John o' Groat Jnl. (25 June):
The brochan pot sat far behin', the porridge pan before.
Mry. 1865  W. H. L. Tester Poems 120:
I'm sick o' brose an brochan dose, A richer caup I'll claw yet.
Abd. 1841  J. Imlah Poems and Songs 10:
For fiddler finer ne'er was eater O' brose and brochan.
Per. 1935  J. M. Batey in Scotsman (17 Jan.) 11:
In the Mid-Perthshire village in which I was born and bred . . . “brochan” was never used for ordinary porridge, but for a thick gruel, which, eaten with treacle or a slag of rich salt butter, was a homely remedy for a winter cold.
w.Sc. 1703  M. Martin Descr. Western Islands 12:
When the Cough affects them, they drink Brochan plentifully.
Uls. 1880  W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.:
Brochan, thin oat-meal porridge. There is a saying, “Never bless brochan,” i.e. that brochan is not worth saying grace for, and that such poor food comes as a right.

Comb.: brochan roy, “brochan with leeks boiled in it: used by the very poor” (Ib.).

2. “A fat mixture to feed young calves” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. s.v. brochen), “containing ground linseed and probably other feeding cereals” (Abd.9 1936). Mearns 1900  W. Macgillivray Glengoyne I. ix.:
Na, na, lassie, gie's a guid drink o' Brownie's het brochan.

[Gael. brochan, porridge, gruel; Irish brochán, id. (MacBain). MacLennan says that gen. in Gael. brochan = gruel, and lit = porridge, but there are places where brochan = porridge.]

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"Brochan n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Dec 2018 <>



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