Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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INCH, n. Also ‡insh. [ɪnʃ]

1. A small island (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Freq. in place-names. Hence applied in, e.g. Per. and w.Lth., to a piece of rising ground in the middle of a plain. Clc. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 VIII. 597:
There are some beautiful islands, which are called Inches. These furnish excellent pasture for cattle during the summer. . . . They are a gentle kind of salt marsh, as they are entirely covered with water in spring-tides.
Per. 1799  J. Robertson Agric. Per. 476:
Such parts of the Carse [of Gowrie], as are elevated above the common level of the country are called Inches.
Sc. 1805  Scott Last Minstrel vi. xxiii.:
The blackening wave is edged with white: To inch and rock the sea-mews fly.
Abd. 1811  G. S. Keith Agric. Abd. 399:
A small rivulet . . . from the accidental lodging of a few turfs in the middle of its channel, about which a quantity of sand and loose earth was collected, gradually formed a diminutive island, or what is called an inch.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 279:
Any small island, such as the “Inch o' the Isle”, well known to wild ducks; and “Inch Keith”, as well known to the natives about the Firth o' Forth.
w.Lth. 1845–7  Trans. Highl. Soc. 230:
Diluvial deposits . . . are found in some localities to be of great depth, in some instances occurring in the form of rounded eminences, at others in isolated mounds, as in the neighbourhood of Bathgate, where they are composed chiefly of gravel, and are called inches.
Per. 1868  Ib. 175:
Locally called “black land”. . . . which formed islands or “inches” in the flat muddy waste that extended from Kinnoull Hill to Dundee Law.

2. A low-lying tract of ground on the banks of a river sometimes cut off at high tide (Abd. 1912 J. Milne Celtic Place-Names 197); a riverside meadow. Now chiefly in place-names. Abd. 1701  Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VI. 178:
30 Aprile — Payt . . . for repareing the dycks and inshes of the Midchingle water.
Abd. 1793  Session Papers, Leslie v. Fraser (29 March 1805) 14:
The foresaid river runs between the lands of Seaton and a large inch or track of ground belonging to the pursuer, called the Allochy Inch.
Sc. 1828  Scott F.M. Perth i.:
The town of Perth, with its two large meadows, or Inches, its steeples, and its towers.
Ags. 1890  A. Lowson John Guidfollow 256:
On the north side of the Loch of Forfar, there is a peninsula called the lnch.
Kcb. 1896  Crockett Grey Man xiii.:
On the green inch of Dalrymple, by Skeldon haughs.

[O.Sc. inche, = 1., from 1198, = 2. from c.1515, Gael. innis, an island.]

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"Inch n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Apr 2019 <>



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