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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

COOCHER, COUCHER, Cootcher, Coutcher, Cudger, Cudgie, n. and v.1 [′kutʃər, ′kʌdʒər, ′kʌdʒi]

1. n.

(1) “A coward, a poltroon” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2; Ayr.3 1910; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obs.).

(2) A blow or tap on the shoulder with clenched fist as a challenge to fight (Slg.3, Lnk.3, Kcb.1 1937). Sometimes in pl. coochers. Jam.2 gives cudger and cudgie, but Watson in Rxb. W.-B. (1923) marks the former as obsol. and the latter as obs. Cf. coortie s.v. Cooard. Schoolboy slang.Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie's Wallet 165:
The big fouter's coutcher, the wee loon's retort; I see them whiles yet in the Auld West Port.
w.Sc. 1906–11 Rymour Club Misc. I. 4:
There's the coucher, there's the blow, Fecht me or ense no'. [There are various versions of this rhyme, the second line differing slightly in each.]
Lnk. 1893 J. Crawford Sc. Verses and Sangs 37:
Nane wad gie him the coochers, or weet his coat sleeve, They dreeded the wecht o' his big waly nieve.

(3) Comb.: coucher's blow, the final blow given or received by a cowardly fellow (Sc. 1825 Jam.2).Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) iv.:
And, rather than double a nieve to a schoolfellow, I pocketed many shabby epithets, got my paiks, and took the coucher's blow from laddies that could hardly reach up to my waistband.

2. v. ‡(1) With down: to bow; of a dog: to crouch (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2, coutcher; 1923 Watson W.-B., cou(t)cher, cootcher).

†(2) “To be able to do what another cannot accomplish, who contends in a trial of strength or agility. He who fails is said to be coucher'd” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2).

[O.Sc. has coucher, coutcher, one who lies down inactively or timidly; a poltroon, from 1624 (D.O.S.T.); Mid.Eng. cochoure, one lying down, from Fr. coucher, Lat. collocare. The verb does not appear in O.Sc.]

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"Coocher n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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