Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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MORTERCHEYN, n. Also morta(r)-, morti-, mort d(e)-; -cheyne, -chyne, -sheen, -shein, -chien. A disease of horses, the glanders (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Bnff. 1729 W. Cramond Annals Bnff. (S.C.) I. 200:
The owners of mortercheyn horses are ordered to keep them close within their houses day and night.
Sc. 1759 Fountainhall Decisions I. 406:
Anent the horse infected with the mord de chien.
Ork. 1768 Stenness Kirk Sess. Rec. (10 April):
Collection for James Tulloch, a poor man in the parish of Harray, who had lost his horse by a sudden death called the Mortasheen.
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 86:
And now he's tane the mortersheen, See how he runs at nose an' een.
Abd. 1882 W. Forsyth Writings 154:
A hotterin' lauch 'at mynt me o' a horse i' the mortar-shien.

[O.Sc. mortiecheane, glanders, 1635, poss. a corruption of O.Fr. mort d'eschine, lit. death of the spine, once attested in a proverb in 1534, the disease being popularly attributed to an affection of the spinal marrow. The first element may be however a corruption of Fr. morve, glanders, thick mucous discharge.]

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"Mortercheyn n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jan 2022 <>



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