Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

HIRTCH, v., n. Also hirch, hirtsch. [hɪrtʃ]

I. v. 1. To shudder with cold (Sc. 1808 Jam., hirch), or fear. Abd. 1797  Aberdeen Mag. 350:
But o'er them a' was Tam o' Shanter's mare, We sometimes leugh, an' sometimes hirch'd wi' fear.

2. tr. and intr. To move jerkily, edge forward (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 78); to shrug the shoulders (Ags. 1902 E.D.D.). Ppl.adj. hirtchin, walking with a jerky, hobbling motion, limping. Adj. hirtchie, unsteady in gait (Ags. 1957). Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 78:
He wiz unco bauch at the first, bit he shortly hirtcht in by amo' the laive.
Ags. c.1870–1900 W. Lindsay Sair'd him Richt 9  :
There's young hirtchin Leezie ootbye at Auchlishie.

Hence hirtchin-hehrie, hirtschin hairy, a children's game (see quots.). This may have been the orig. name of the game, Harry Hurcheon, q.v. Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 78:
A game among children, in which they sit on their hams, and jump round and round, striking their hands alternately before and behind, and crying out “Hirtchin-Heherie.” The same as Harie-Hutcheon.
Bnff. 1894  A. B. Gomme Trad. Games I. 215:
The players (boy or girl) cower down on their haunches, “sit doon curriehunkers,” and hop round and round the floor like a frog, clapping the hands first in front and then behind, and crying out, “Hirtschin Hairy.” It is sometimes called “Hairy Hirtschin.” In Lothian the players try to knock each other over by hustling against one another.

3. To approach in a sly ingratiating manner, to sidle (Abd.6 1913, hirch; Kcd., Ags. 1957). Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 78:
A kent the bodie wiz needin' something fae ma fae the wye he cam hirtchin' up t' ma.

II. n. A slight sideways push or jerky motion, a hitch (Mry. 1875 W. H. L. Tester Poems 20); a shrug of the shoulders (Ags. 1902 E.D.D., Ags. 1957). Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 77–8:
Ma birn 'll be aff o' ma back. Gi' ma a hirtch up wee't. . . . Gee yir chair a hirtch till a side an' lats in by t' the fire.
Ags. 1892  Brechin Advertiser (18 Oct.) 3:
They were twa drouthie carles, an' whiles needit a hirch hame.

Hence hirch-and-kick, a children's game (see quot.). Ags. 1902  E.D.D.:
Hirch-and-kick, a game formerly popular . . . so named because the competitor . . . had to toe the line and kick as high as he could without the aid of any impetus save that of a preliminary hirch or shrug of the shoulders.

[Orig. obscure. Cf. O.Sc. hurche, to crouch. Prob. orig. imitative as Hirsel, v.2, n.2, which has some similarities in meaning. For similar formations cf. Hotch, and Eng. hitch, of which Hirtch may be an intensive variant.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Hirtch v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2018 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down