Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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FLECH, n., v. Also flaich (Sh.); †fleigh (Bch. 1832 W. Scott Poems 45), flegh, fleach (S.D.D.). [flɛ]

I. n. 1. A flea (Sc. 1755 Johnson Dict.; n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; I. and n.Sc., Ags., Per., Fif. 1951). Combs.: †flech-brod, “a board with crevices for catching fleas” (Cai.1 c.1920); kill-the-flech, the feverfew, Chrysanthemum parthenium (Ags. 1952). See below. Ags. 1859 C. S. Graham Mystifications 17:
I have a flech that loupit aff him upon my aunty.
Abd. 1868 G. Macdonald R. Falconer vii.:
To send him off . . . wi' a flech in's lug.
Fif. 1873 J. Wood Ceres Races 62:
Pity the flechs that canna soom!
Sh. 1888 Archæol. Review I. 348:
Da Flech an' da Loose lived tagedder in a hoose.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 28:
Wi' bow-hoch't legs an' pirn taes Bit swuppert as a flech.

Hence flechie(-y), flaichy, covered or infested with fleas (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; I. and n.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1951). Comb. flechie-Nell(ie), the feverfew, Chrysanthemum parthenium, used to drive off insects (Ags. 1952). Ags. 1894 Arbroath Guide (8 Sept.):
That flechie brute o' a cat on the stairheid.

2. A restless, active person (ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1951); “a person of a light, unsteady disposition, and of no great stature” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 48). Ags. 1836 Arbroath Argus (1 Feb.) 23:
Our minister is an awfu' flech o' a creatur.
Abd.7 1925:
One who is always in a hurry will be called a “flech o' a craitur.”

II. v. 1. tr. and refl. To rid of fleas (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; n.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1951). Sc. 1900 E.D.D., Abd.27 1953:
The dog's flechin' (himsel').

2. intr. To be restless, to fidget. Abd.7 1925:
Fat are ye flechin' aboot at?

3. tr. To beat soundly; to scold (Abd.27 1926); “employed in a half-joking, half-contemptuous way, and most commonly of a woman falling out on a man” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 48). Vbl.n. flechin, a scolding.

[O.Sc. fleche, a flea, 1610, O.E. flēah, id.]

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"Flech n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Feb 2020 <>



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