Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GOLACH, n. Also gol(l)och, -ach, -ich (ne.Sc.), -a(c)k, -ock, †-ogh; gallack (Uls.); gowlich, -ick (em.Sc.(a)), -ock, goul-, goal-; gullock, -och (Ayr.), gillock and dim. and deriv. forms gollochy, gullachy, †gulghy (n.Sc.); go(o)lachan, golyachan (Rs., Inv.); gullacher, -acker, gallacher (wm.Sc.). [Sc. ′gɔləx, -ək, ′gol-, ′gʌl-, ′gʌul-, Inv. ′gu:l(j)əxən, wm.Sc. ′gʌləxər]

1. One of various insects: the carnivorous ground beetle (Ags. 1808 Jam.; n.Sc. 1825 Ib., gulghy; ne.Sc., em.Sc.(a), Ayr. 1954); the earwig (Lth. 1808 Jam.; Cld. 1824 Jam.; Rnf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 348, gullacher; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 249; Rs., Inv. 1950, go(o)lachan, golyachan; Cai., Ags., Per., Clc., Edb., Peb., wm.Sc. (gullacher), Uls. 1954; a centipede (Slg. 1900 E.D.D.; Cai.7 1954). Kcd. 1760 in W. B. Fraser Hist. Laurencekirk xxxii.:
Her [Eppie Bisset, staunch Jacobite] first exclamation [when she saw the last of the Earls Marischal on the High Street of Stonehaven after he had taken the oath to the government] was, “Ah! wae's me! Has he swallowed the gollachie?”
Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot. II. 155:
Earwigs, in Scotland generally called gollachs, attack all ripe fruits.
Edb. 1829 G. Wilson Sc. Laverock 118:
Some filthy unclean sort o' brute, Some grumphie, some golach, some serpent or taid.
Mry. 1865 W. H. L. Tester Poems 143:
The worms haudin frolic Wi' a rogue o' a golack.
Rnf. 1896 Longman's Mag. (Nov.) 107:
A bud in which goulocks, In thoosands repose.
Slg. 1901 Trans. Slg. Arch. Soc. 74:
The clock or golach was regarded by many housewives as being lucky.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 28:
An' clocks an' golachs, an' the like O' a' yon vairmin has their use.
Knr. 1925 “H. Haliburton” Horace 247:
An' it had words were a' its ain; A gowlock was a gowlock thain.
Abd. 1952 L. Starr Myself Again 146:
All other grubs and creepy-crawlies [except centipedes] we lumped together in the category of “naisty gollochs.”

Combs.: (1) black golach, a cockroach, Blatta orientalis (Ags. 1808 Jam., Ags.19 1953); (2) cancer goloch, see Cancer, n.2; (3) flachter golak, an earwig; see Flauchter; (4) forky golach, id. (Bnff., Abd.27 1954, rare); (5) horn(ie) (horned) golach, id. (Ags. 1784 Gentleman's Mag. II. 506, horngolach, 1813 J. Headrick Agric. Ags. App. 50, horned gollich, 1905 E.D.D. Suppl., -gollochy; Bnff.16, Abd.29 (hornie-), Ags.19, Ayr.8, Kcb., (horn(ed)-) 1953), a carabid beetle (Abd.27 1954, hornie-). (3) Mry. 1909 Colville 149:
Another creeping thing that he shunned was the earwig, which he knew, not as the clipsheers of my youth, but as the flachter golak.
(4) Bnff. 1950 N. Paterson Behold Thy Daughter 225:
I'd as soon blush for a forky goloch.
(5) Fif. 1844 J. Jack St Monance xxxiii.:
The horned golock . . . is . . . esteemed a very lucky creature, and . . . the good housewife . . . will frequently put herself to considerable inconvenience . . . rather than incommode this lucky insect in its grovelling pursuits.
Abd. 1889 Bon-Accord (1 June) 16:
Oh, the happy hornie golach . . . He wags his little forky tail, An' winks his little een.
Sc. 1932 Bk. Sc. Verse (Burnett) 83:
The horny gollach's an awesome beast, Souple and scaley; He has twa horns an a hantle o feet An a forky tailie.
Bch. 1946 J. C. Milne Orra Loon 1:
Fin mornin' cam', says I, ‘My man, There's horny-gollachs here!'

2. A derogatory term applied to a person (Abd. 1954); specif. applied by Sutherland people to Cai. folk (Sth. 1918 per Mry.2; Cai.7 1954). Kcd. 1934 “L. G. Gibbon” Grey Granite i. 95:
You great coarse bap-faced goloch that you are.

3. A forked stick (Abd.3 a.1929). Per.4 1950:
There's a gowlack wad mak a guid gutty [catapult].

4. A small haddock (Ags. (Westhaven) 1916 T.S.D.C. II.).

[Gael. gobhlag, an earwig, a fork-shaped stick, also applied in ridicule to a bow-legged female; gòbhlachan, earwig, centipede; also applied to several kinds of fish.]

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"Golach n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 May 2021 <>



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