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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Laich, adj. Also: laiche, laych(e, laiych; laigh(e, leaigh; leich, leigh, liche; leach(e; laicht, laycht, leaycht. [North. ME. lagh(e (Cursor M.), midl. and south. loogh, loȝ, louh, early lāh (12th c., Orm), ON. lág-r: cf. Law adj. Cf. also Lach(e and Lauch.Sometimes printed (and ? occas. written) with t in place of c as laith etc.]

1. Low in stature or upward extent; not tall or lofty; also, flat.(a) c1420 Wynt. viii. 5560.
All the streynthis … Thai ewyn layche to the erde has made
c1475 Wall. vii. 968.
That toune thai may nocht kep; The wallis ar laych, suppos the dyk be depe
1543 Treas. Acc. VIII. 233.
For … velvet to cover ane pair of laich schone
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 200.
The cramis that salbe sett tobe ane burd on twa laych trestis
1561 Inv. Mary clxii.
Chyris, falding stuillis and laich stuillis
1566 Prot. Bk. T. Johnstoun 102.
The wardrope … ane laych rynnand bed
1595 Aberd. B. Rec. II. iii.
Begynnand at ane gryt stane … thairfra ascendand lineallie north … to ane laich eirdfast stane bayth crocit this day
1599 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 254.
To caus gett ane laich chymnay with ane bak to the lords tolbuith
c1610 Melville Mem. 124.
Then sche said the Quen was ouer heych and that hir self was nother ouer hich nor ouer laich
1612 Rooseboom Sc. Staple 141.
Twa lang laich hoyes, flatt bottomit
16.. Hist. Kennedy 17.
His neise wes laich be ane straik of ane goiff-ball
c1615 Chron. Kings 129.
The assaltt wes gewine to the spur or laiche bolwork of the castell
absol. a1598 Ferg. Prov. (1641) No. 625.
Men goes over the dyke at the laichest
(b) c1420 Wynt. viii. 5352 (W).
All sic strenth … Evin laigh with the erd thai maid
1568 6th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. 644/1.
Ane futtit cupe with a couer, tua laigh cowpis
1635 Dickson Wr. 120.
When he rode, it was on a laigh beast
1657 Montgomery Mem. 320.
Ane … laigh gilt salt fatt
1681 Edinb. B. Rec. XI. 8.
Incaice the walls of the saids two tinnes courts be to laigh … then to raise the same
1683 Invent. in Donibristle Mun. (Earl of Moray's MSS.) 9–10 May. 8.
Ane laigh green chair with armes
1685 Erskine Diary 126.
Our boat being too laigh in the sides to hide us from people on the shore
(c) 1578 Waus Corres. I. 192.
I wauld ye gart waile me ane laycht bed
(d) 1612 Misc. Maitl. C. III. 114.
Ane reid veluot poke, whilk wes layd vpon ane leach stule set before the Commissionars chyre
1653 Soc. Ant. XXIII. 300. 1661 Brechin Test. VI. 207.
Ane fitgang with ane leach bed

b. ? Narrow (lace). 1669 Thanes of Cawdor 312.
Heigh lace for band and gravat, … laigh lace therto

c. The lower or smaller (steeple). 1624 Glasg. B. Rec. I. 342.
That the laich steple of the heich kirk be theikit with leid
1631 Ib. II. 2.
For ane frie passage fra the turnpyik of the laiche stipill to the south syde of the said [metropolitan] kirk
1647 Ib. 115.
In that pairt of the Hie Kirk yaird dyke foireanent the laiche steipill

d. ? Shallow. 1560 Old Dundee I. 107.
[Neither shall] ony ballast, sand, red [etc.] ... be cast within the laich water

2. Occupying a low, or the lower, situation; low in position, low-lying; also, deep. Also transf.(1) 1465 Ayr B. Ct. 9 Oct.
& the landis of the said Trinyte with fundyn laychtsyd & ȝardsyd
c1530-40 Stewart Bann. MS. 140 b/29.
The laich ledder thay litt, Oft in tene thay it titt
1551 Hamilton Cat. 157.
This word in Latin infernus, is as mekil to say … as laych or underneth
1556 Glasgow Prot. V. 3.
The said south pairt suld haif the haill rowm abone the said laych throuchgang effering thairto
1581 Sat. P. xliv. 119.
Go hence then, lounis, the laich vay in abyssis
1581 Acts III. 305/1.
Gun pulder quhilk … wes placeit vnder the ground and angular stanis and within the voltis laiche [Dig. Justic. Proc. laiych] and darne pairtis … thairof
1596 Dalr. I. 44/20.
Thair the land bowing the selfe be litle and litle with a certane laich lout and bend with her bosum [etc.]
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 189/4.
Sicc ghames on horsebake … sicc as the tilte, the ring, & laiche ryding for handling of youre suorde
1598–9 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 243.
To caus mak ane sufficient devyse for keiping the laich gaitt … unpassit be hors or cairts
1601–2 Ayr B. Acc. 211.
Ane top band and ane laych band [for the Tolbooth doors]
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI 75.
Finding the lentell stane of the bak ȝet to be sumquhat laiche, he cawsit his man to lift off the lentell
1620 Edinb. B. Rec. VI. 210.
Chaplane of the chaplanry of the Halyrude … in the laiche kirkyaird of St Jeill
1638 Dundonald Par. Rec. 435.
[Scho] to stand in the laich jogs
1688 Galloway P. Feb.
[A tack] of … pairts and pendicles affeirand … to the hous barne & yeards called the Laich Syd
transf. 1533 Bell. Livy II. 198/21.
The ovir sey is callit Tuscum … and the laich sey is callit mare Adriaticum
(b) 1570-3 Bann. Trans. 125.
They suspected not the laighest part of the craig
Brus xiii. 651 (H).
[It that] laigh was vnder [ere, Mon lowp on loft]
1670 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 268.
With power to them to make laigher the said gramer scooll loft if found neidfull
1674 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS. 17 Oct.
With umquhill proveist Fullartouns skair under the Laighe Gate [infra Thomas Carsans halfe skair under the Hie Gate]
(2) 1610 Dunferm. B. Rec. II. 72.
Praying the devill … mak the heighest stane thairof the laighest

b. Low or low-lying (ground). 1566 Reg. Privy C. I. 471.
Be interchange of the … superflew frutis growand in the Laich and Hielandis
1589 Black Bk. Taymouth 244.
The daylie morthouris … committit be clannis of hieland men upone the inhabitantes of the laiche cuntreis
?1549 Monro W. Isles 23.
A laiche small iyle namit by the Erische Ellan Eisell
Ib. 29.
An iyle callit Ornansay, it is … mayne laiche land
Ib. (Sibbald) 18.
Ane laich roch ile, full of little laich craigis and holvis betwixt
1637 Boyd Fam. P. Oct. 12.
I have also set to the said William the haill laiche land formerlie possest be Johne McCrerie
1639 Baillie I. 201.
The highest paroches about Lanrick to follow my Lord Fleming for their crouner; the next … my Lord Lowdoun; … the laighest with the toun of Glasgow, my Lord Montgomerie
1646 Boyd Fam. P. May 14.
All and haill the … half of the Maines of the Heighlands of Pymount; … and for the saids laich lands of Pymount yeirlie aucht bolls beir
1684 Urie Baron Ct. 99.
That the saids laigh roumes above mentioned mey be eased of ther burdeine of furnishing baggadge hors … it is statute … that the saids wpper toones and lands furnish … tenn hors

c. The Low (Countries). 1566 Reg. Privy S. V. ii. 103/2.
Licence … to pas furth of thair realme to the Laich Cuntreis of Germany viz., Flanderis, Holland, Brabant, and Zeland

1. or 2. 1645 Tulliallan Coal Wks. 146.
Johne Hall for watt vork and laich coll [12 s.]

3. a. Occupying a low situation in a building. b. Chiefly, situated in the lower or lowest part of a building; the, or a, downstairs, ground floor or basement (room, etc.).Also Laich hous n. a and b.(1) 1532 M. Works Acc. (ed.) 93.
The uter lycht of the laich trans bituex the nethir chalmeris and myd chalmeris
1551 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 160.
It salbe lesum to ony maner of burgessis haueand ane laich buith to haue ane burd to cum no farther furth nor the owir stop of the said buith dur to lay his geir on daylie
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 335.
Thair was in ane chalmer togither, callid the laich chalmer, vnder the turne graice, … xiiij or xvj men
1579–80 Milne Home MSS. 50.
In his bed within ane laych chalmer in the place of Polwart
1589 Glasg. B. Rec. I. 131.
It sall nocht be lesum to him to big ony laiche windois … quhill he be jeist heicht
1596 Moysie 130.
His majestie … withdrew him selfe out of the heiche house [of the Tolbooth] doun to the laiche
1611 Ayr Chart. 143.
Four laych silleris and buithis under the tolbuyth
1610–12 M. Works Acc. (ed.) 327.
For mending of threttie sex feits of the laiche kirk gallrie
1645 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 47.
Four hich windowes, with thair slotis, thrie laich windowes, with yron stancheons
1666 Edinb. B. Rec. X. 9.
That no inhabitant … baik any bread in any high or loftit housses upon the hearth but in laiche cellars or voltis upon the ground
1677 Ib. 312.
Andrew Forrester … [craves] libertie to have enteries in Leith Weynd to his laich volts
1678 Douglas Bequest II.
These tuo merchand boothes wherof the ane heigh and the uther laich
(b) 1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 324.
The nobilitie … past throw Sanctgeillis kirk … to the laigh counsall hous of the toun on the west syid of the tolbuyth
1611 Dunferm. B. Rec. II. 87.
The insufficiencie of the tua laigh prissonies under the tolbuith
1630 Kirkcaldy Presb. 7.
For timber to the laigh chalmer windoes, 30 sh.
1644 Baillie II. 134.
In the great laigh hall were four tables for the Lords and Commons
1647 Moray Synod 87.
James Grant … saw him in a laigh vault dubbe and garre being abundant in it
1665 Glasg. B. Rec. III. 57.
Ane laigh chope … under his foir hinging stair
1694 Inchmahome Pr. 162.
In the laigh backroom … tuo dressing boxes
(c) 1529 M. Works Acc. MS. I. 10.
Lokkis … to the laicht dur in the turn in the tour at passis fra the sellaris
1529–30 Ib. (ed.) 25.
Ane litill irne yet in the passage betwix the laicht and heicht chalmeris
1562 Inverness Rec. I. 81.
Ten pece of eakin cuppillis … to big ane leaycht hall
1563 Reg. Cupar A. II. 279.
vj s. for biggyne wp of twa laicht durris, and the vmest dur of the stepill of Cupar
1563 Inverness Rec. I. 101.
Hendre Kar … desyrit … attollerance of the said Jasper of the wyndois on the eist syde of his house vnder his leaycht ruyff benetht the thek
(d) 1600-1610 Melvill 85.
A lafted leache seller
1630 Mun. Univ. Glasg. I. 252.
The leach chambers laitlie buildit upon the northe quarter of the said College
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 201.
The back court … with severall leach lodgings, especially the painted chamber called Shamerbrea
(e) c 1686 Haddington Corr. 199.
My leigh garner
(2) compar. and superl. 1531 M. Works Acc. (ed.) 69.
All the haill lychtis in the tour except ane smallar lycht in the laichest chalmer
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 18.
[The Queen herself] lay thair in ane laicher rowme under the Kingis chalmer
1597 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 153.
The laichest of the saidis tua stairis to be the wreitting hous for the clerk of this burght
1625 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 347.
Houssis nixt to the laichest lofting to putt out quhat lichtis thai pleis
(3) 1619 Dunferm. B. Rec. II. 122.
[He is not to kindle fire] in Henrie Mitchell's laich foir hous
1667 Murray Early B. Organ. I. 98.
His laigh foir hous, conteining hall, chalmer and seller
1670 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS. Mar. 9.
That pairt … of the foir tenement of land … being ane laighe dwelling hous with the loft above

c. Denoting the lower part or division of a specific building. 1554–5 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 298.
Ane key to the innerhous of the laich tolbuith
1573 Ib. IV. 4.
To repair the windois in the heche and laicht tolbuyth
1660 Ib. IX. 223.
The Papist bookis … quhilk wes sequestrat for a tyme and layed in the laiche Parliament House
1673 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 285.
[Several persons had] made an holl … and come doun to the laich tolbuth by ane tow
1683 Dunkeld Presb. II. 468.
For putting on the doors on the Laigh Abbey

d. On the floor of a church as distinct from a ‘loft’. 1602 Dundonald Par. Rec. 2.
The Sessioun … ordanit thame to mak thair repentance in the laich place
1632 Ib. 347. 1630 S. Leith Rec. 19.
The baxters to put on the dore on the laigh seat
1641 Ib. 37.
The session ordained hir to have the eastmost halfe of the leach desk before the saillors leach seats
1644 Ib. 47.
Those who keeps the keys of the lofts and laigh seats are ordained to be warnit against Saturday
1686 Ellon Par. Rec. 145.
His place and room … lyand betwixt his other laigh dask called Ladie Watertoune's … [and] the desk called Achredie's

4. See Laich hous n. c.(1) 1548–9 Corr. M. Lorraine 287.
My lord past hym self and mannit the laycht place [of Fernieherst Castle] with certane Frenchte men and Scoittis men
(2) 1624 Forbes Baron Ct. 219.
The haill tennentis wphaldis ther awin pairt off the laich bigging within the close of Fiddes wnder thack and raip
c1650 Spalding II. 175.
Thay tak in barnes and laiche bigging to sie if thay could get the yetis opnit and schot in at the hall wyndois
(3) 1641 Kirkcaldy Presb. 205.
The theaking of the laigh hall estimat be the workman

5. Heich and laich (once laych and heich), in various prec. senses.See also Heich a. 3 a and b.(1) 1542 Reg. Cupar A. II. 181.
For … the teyndis of the haill Campsy heicht and laicht
1563 Cart. S. Giles cxii.
[To] caus prepair the said reuestrye bayth laych and heich
1666 Edinb. B. Rec. X. 16.
The thesaurer to repaire the stepps of the Grayfreir Kirkyaird high and laiche
(2) 1563–4 Edinb. Old Acc. I. 448.
For … new glass to the saidis wyndowis, heiche and laiche
(3) 1554–5 Ib. 149.
To deycht the Tolbuith heych and laych
(4) 1584 Prot. Bk. A. Lawson 112 b.
The keis of the north hous heich & laich with the stray hous beneeth it
1605 Glasgow Merchants House 96.
[A] half of twa back hows, wherof the ane is ane hows heiche and laiche, conteinand hall, chalmer, and loft
1642 Melrose Reg. Rec. I. 98.
[The reversion of that easter onstead of houses] haich and laich [with yard adjacent]
1702 Old Ross-shire I. 323.
With the houses great and small, high and laich, byres and stables
(5) 1583 Glasgow Chart. II. 612.
[The transfer of his] tenement bak and foir, heycht and laicht, liand on the southt side of the Troyngate
1688 Irvine Deeds MS. June 8.
My tennement of land, back & foir, heigh & laigh, with the yeard & tailling rig following the samyne

6. a. Of voices: Not loud, subdued.Quot. 1571 seems rather to belong here than with Lath(e a. 1571 Bann. Memor. 127.
At this speiking, my lord Ducke, … and the captane, confessit, … nodding with thair heidis and with leath [sic in pr.] speiking, the premises to be of treuth
1688 Tryal Philip Standsfield 21.
I heard the voices continue, but more laigh till … they came about the chamber window

b. Of a coat: ? Reaching low, long. 1569 6th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. 672/1.
Thre leache coitis of crammosie satyne

7. a. Of persons: Low in rank or condition, humble. b. Low (rank or degree). C. Low in order of consequence or seniority; inferior, minor (office); junior (class in school). = Law a. 4–5.a. a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xxxii. 83.
Thoght I be laich, I beir a michtie mynd
1638 Henderson Serm. 4.
Lord or laird, high or laigh
b. 1581 Burne Disput. 146.
That thair aucht nocht to be onie distinction of temporal magistratis in heichar or laichar degrie
1596 Dalr. I. 117/5.
The thrid sorte of the commoune people ar thay quha numberit ar in the laichest digrie
c. 1638 Baillie I. 83.
Upon hopes … quickly to obtaine ane Archbishopricke, he is for nocht laigher
1654 Edinb. B. Rec. VIII. 342.
[To the doctors] of the laichest classes [of the school]

8. Applied to the Tron Kirk in Glasgow and St. Nicholas Church in Lanark, appar. orig. in contradistinction to the ‘high’ (hie, he, heich, high) or principal churches of these towns.(1) 1594 Thanes of Cawdor 211.
Dyittit … at the Laiche Kirk of Glesguowe
1637 Baillie I. 8.
Their [the town council's] patronage of the Blackfreirs and Laigh Church
1659 Glasg. B. Rec. II. 426.
To tack notice what weomen hes seats sett in the Laigh Kirk who hes chyres in wther kirkes
1661 Ib. 474.
That Mr. Ralph Rodger preach in the Trongait Kirk heirafter [marg. Rodger to preache in the Laigh Kirk]
1690 Ib. III. 460.
Gavine Wood … to uplift for the seats in the High Church, John Watsone … for the Outter High Church, John Coats … for the Laigh Church
(2) 1655 Lanark B. Rec. 155.
Annent repairing … of the counsell sait in the laiche church
1692 Ib. 241.
The … counsell have condescended to build two stairs without the Laigh Kirk to answear the lofts

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"Laich adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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