Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GANSH, v., n. Also ga(u)nch, †gansch; gainch. [gɑnʃ, gnʃ, Rxb. + genʃ]

I. v. 1. To snatch at anything with open jaws, to snap, snarl (Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr., Gl. 692; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 219, gansh; Lnk. 1825 Jam., gansch, gaunch; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., gansh, gainch, obsol.; Mry.1 1925; Peb., Ayr.8 1954); prop. applied to a dog but also used fig.; to gnash the teeth. Sc. c.1715  Jacobite Minstr. (1829) 133:
They girn, they glour, they scouk, and gape, As they wad gaunch to eat the starns.
Uls. 1804  J. Orr Poems (1935) 62:
Sud at her haunch Bauld Moses rise to “slay the witch” They'd mak' him gaunch.
s.Sc. 1856  H. S. Riddell St Matthew xiii. 50:
The angils . . . sall cast them intill the furnace o' fire: ther sall be gowlin' an' gaunchin' o' teeth.
wm.Sc. 1868  Laird of Logan 79:
You would gansh a body's head aff without rhyme or reason.
Edb. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xiv.:
I'm juist a hungry tyke, an' whan I see the bane hingin afore my nose, I canna but gansh at it!
Sc. 1928  Scots Mag. (May) 143:
The malairey wis ganshin' at his banes.

2. “To eat quickly or a lot” (Mry.1 1925).

3. To stammer, stutter (Uls. 1910 C. C. Russell Ulster 43; Rnf.1 c.1920, gaunch; Ayr. 1954). Lnk. 1805  G. McIndoe Poems 111:
Deil's in't, I'm (hic) beginning to (hic) ganch, I canna (hic) faith staun my (hic) lane.
Ayr. 1868  J. K. Hunter Artist's Life iii.:
He was troubled with a stuttering, or gaunching.
Uls. c.1921  J. Logan Ulsterisms, List IX.:
The fellow was ganchin' at every word.
Arg. 1939 1 :
Tak yer time noo an' speak plain; there's nae sense ganching awa' laike that.

4. To grimace, “to be very ugly” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).

II. n. †1. “A snatch at any thing; properly applied to a dog” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); a snarl. Sc.(E) 1935  W. Soutar Poems 24:
And lauch, and lauch, while his bluid sings, Abüne the gaunch o' the thunner.

2. “A piece cut or riven roughly out of anything” (Kcb.4 1900).

3. A stammer, stutter. Arg. 1949 1 :
That poor chap has an aafu' gansh.

4. “The act of gaping wide” (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.).

5. A person with widely-gaping mouth (Ib.), hence a stupid, dull-witted or clumsy person (Uls.3 1930); “a silly, stammering fellow, who tries to explain himself and fails” (Uls. 1910 C. C. Russell Ulster 43). Uls. 1880  Patterson Gl.:
A sore ganch of a craithur.

[Orig. uncertain. Prob. an imit. form influenced by such words as Gamse, slang Eng. gan, Gant, Eng. gnash; cf. note to Gam.]

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"Gansh v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Feb 2019 <>



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