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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MUTCH, n. Also much; mutsh (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.). [mʌtʃ]

1. A head-dress, esp. a close-fitting day cap of white linen or muslin with a goffered, gathered or trimmed border, specif. such as used to be worn by married women (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.); a baby's bonnet. Gen.Sc. Deriv. ¶mutchless, wearing no cap. Hence mutched, wearing a mutch.Abd. 1723 S.C. Misc. (1935) I. 44:
Alex. Simson . . . tore her mutch of her head and trampd it in the gutter.
Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 9:
Their toys and mutches were sae clean, They glanced in our ladses' een.
Sc. 1753 Trial of J., D. & R. M'Gregor (1818) 143:
She had a sort of mutch upon her head, but no cap, nor any thing else about it.
Ayr. 1768 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (4 May):
Asked some Linnen to make Mutches for the Child as she had called it for his sister.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xvi.:
My mother's auld mutch, and my red rokelay.
Inv. 1820 E. Grant Mem. Highl. Lady (1928) 276:
She wore the Highland mutch (the high clear cap of fine muslin, trimmed, in her case with Flanders lace).
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 216:
The mutchless mawsey . . . flings hersell frae the tap step o' the flicht to the causeway.
Lnk. 1868 J. Hamilton Poems (1873) 243:
Juist snod pipet mutches as white as the snaw.
Ags. 1888 Barrie Auld Licht Idylls iv.:
Jess, . . . hastily donning her black mutch, received Willie on the threshold.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xix.:
Old Lady Allardyce walked there alone in the garden, in her hat and mutch.
Fif. 1894 A. S. Robertson Provost 148:
Chatting with two white-mutched wives.
Uls. 1908 A. M'Ilroy Burnside i.:
The old women came out in red scarfs, called cardinals, or gaudily coloured paisley shawls, worn cornerways, and on their heads white mutches, bound by a black ribbon.
Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier 42:
She deftly arranged a stray lock of gray-black hair under the neatly goffered border of her white morning-mutch.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 54:
The head-dress in vogue at that time was a dainty mutch of muslin and lace, trimmed with ribbons or flowers.
Ayr. 1927 J. Carruthers A Man Beset i.:
Nellie tossed her mutched head.
Sc. 1999 Herald 21 Sep 11:
One newspaper survey in the early 1870s reported on the stair head "wee shebeens" in the Saltmarket-Gallowgate area of Glasgow "where a drunken old hag in a greasy mutch with trembling hands pours out from her black bottle a compound of whisky and methylated spirits, ...
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 240:
It was in the shape of a horseshoe on her forehead: she put back her mutch and frowned at them all, and the shoe appeared in her wrinkles, perfectly shaped and with dark spots like holes where the nails would go.

2. Combs.: (1) auld wife's mutch, old —, (i) a rotating chimney-cowl (Ags. 1963). See Auld, adj., 9. (24); (ii) in pl. in plant-names where the blossom suggests a bonnet: specif. the columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris (Abd., Ags., Ayr. 1963), the monkshood, Aconitum napellus. Cf. grannie's mutches s.v. Grannie, n., 8. (8); (2) baby-mutch, a baby's bonnet (Ork. 1963); (3) close mutch, a close-fitting mutch coming round under the chin; (4) deevil's mutches, the monks-hood, Aconitum napellus (Sh. 1963); (5) gipsy mutch, a bonnet with large side-flaps. Eng. has gipsy-bonnet, id., 1855. See also Gippy Mutch; (6) grannie('s) mutch(es), see Grannie, n., 8. Often with reference to an old fashioned little girl. (7). Also in dim. grannie mutchie as a soubriquet for an old woman (Bnff., Ags., Fif., Ayr., Uls. 1963). Cf. 3.; (7) mutch-box, a box for storing a mutch; (8) mutch-cap, a night-cap (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (9) mutch-croon, the crown of a mutch; (10) mutch-string, the string for tying a mutch under the chin (Ork., Per. 1963); (11) night mutch, a night-cap (Cai. 1903 E.D.D.; Ork. 1963); (12) soo-backit mutch, see soo-back s.v. Soo.(1) (ii) Per. 1871 Sc. Naturalist 1. 54:
Then, we have Ragwort, known by the name of Weeby; and Monkshood, by the appropriate term, “Old Wives' Mutches.”
(2) Sc. 1874 W. Allan Hamespun Lilts 171:
Still it wears its baby-mutch.
(3) Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb i.:
Mrs Gibb was dressed in a home-made grey wincey gown, a very precisely made up and very well starched close “mutch ” (they were old-fashioned people the Gibbs), and a tartan plaid.
Bnff. 1887 G. Green Gordonhaven x.:
The elderly females with “white close mutches.”
(5) Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 81:
[At Aikey Fair] the women also were in their “braws ”, and those of the fair sex who could afford it appeared in white. They generally wore high-crowned gipsy mutches.
(6)w.Lth. 1987:
She's aye gaun aboot like grannie mutch.
Edb. 1997:
When I wis wee ma ma aye said a wis dressed like 'auld grannie mutchie'.
Sc. 2002 Sunday Mail 8 Sep 18:
That Bairn's a right wee granny mutch: Our daughter is rather solemn-minded for a little girl.
(7) Kcb. 1894 Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet iv.:
The “mutch ” box lined with pale green paper, patterned with faded pink roses.
(8)wm.Sc. 1989 Anna Blair The Goose Girl of Eriska 170:
His astonishment at the sight of the snowy mutch-cap surrounding the winsome face which appeared from the poop, had the sailors chortling.
(9) Abd. 1916 Hamespun Rhymes (Smith) 13:
Her dram was as dry as her honest mutch-croon.
(10) Sh. 1892 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 24:
An poo'ed da mutch-string slacker.
(11) Edb. 1759 Caled. Mercury (13 Oct.):
Stolen . . . Two Bundles of Linen . . . boys night mutches.
Dmf. 1831 R. Shennan Tales 75:
Even her night-mutch did appear; The verra plaits aboon her brow.
Mry. 1865 W. Tester Poems 151:
Forkit Benjie into bed . . . Tied a nicht-mutch roun' his head.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xvii.:
She was jist up an' . . . o' the road oot wi' the ais-backet, an' her nicht mutch nae aff.
Cai. 1896 J. Horne Canny Countryside 109:
Ma broo hes never feelt onything bit ma bonnet an' ma nicht-mutch.

3. An old woman (Ayr. c.1930; Fif., Ayr., Kcb. 1963). Cf. 2. (6).

[O.Sc. much, a night-cap, 1473, Mid.Du. mutse, mutsche, a covering for the head, nacht-mutse, a night-cap, ad. med. Lat. almutia, and phs. ultimately of Arabic orig.]

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"Mutch n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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