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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).

MUTCHKIN, n. Also mutchken, muchkin (Ayr. a.1850 J. D. Brown Bard of Glazert 153); mutskin (Rs. c.1750 W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) 76), mutsken (Edb. 1703 Edb. Mag. (July 1795) 54), mutchin, mutckin(e), muskin (Sc. 1702 T. Morer Account of Scot. 16), -en; muching (Ork. 1718 H. Marwick Merchant Lairds (1936) I. 79); musquin; ¶meachen. [′mʌtʃ(k)ɪn; mʌ(t)skən] A measure of capacity for liquids or for powdery or granulated solids = approx. 26 cu. ins. or ¼ pint Scots, i.e. ¾ pint imperial. Gen.Sc. Sometimes loosely used to translate pint (imperial), esp. for spirits. Hence half (a) mutchkin, a measure of half this capacity.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 26:
Lass gi'e us in anither Gill, A Mutchken, Jo, let's tak' our Fill.
Arg. 1722 F. F. Mackay Carskey Jnl. 67:
Item to Margret McMurchy in her Sickness ane musquin Aquavity & quart of Aile got from Don: Morrison on my account att 10sh: Scots.
Fif. 1731 Two Students (Dickinson 1952) lxvi.:
Each Bursar hath for Breakfast the thrid part of a Scon & a mutckine of ale.
Mry. 1749 E. D. Dunbar Social Life (1865) 101:
The man will appear in a pint (that is a mutchkin) bottle [of an illusionist].
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 147:
The proportion . . . was like our mutchkin of salt to twenty pound weight of butter.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 143:
A mutchkin of linseed I'd i' the yerd fling, For a' the wanchansie beginning o't.
m.Lth. 1795 G. Robertson Agric. m.Lth. 93:
[Reapers'] breakfast is oatmeal porridge, about a Scotch pint, with a mutchkin of butter-milk to each.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xlii.:
The Christian souls, of the parish . . . haveing been fed but upon sour Hieland sowens by Mr Duncan McDonought who began the morning duly, Sunday and Saturday, with a mutchkin of usquebaugh.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Sir A. Wylie xiii.:
Some take a mutchkin of porter to their dinner, but I sloken my drowth wi' Adam's wine.
Sc. 1839 A. Ure Dict. Arts 248:
A Scotch mutchkin . . . weighs 6010 gr.
Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore 130:
I canna begin to mak' the shoon unless we hae a half mutchkin o' either rum or whusky.
Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie i.:
Scotland's last stand in the way o' national customs is bein' made at the Mull o' Kintyre Vaults, whaur the flet half-mutchkin, wrapped up in magenta tissue paper . . . is retreatin' doggedly . . . before the invadin' English Christmas caird.
Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (27 May) 4:
Whisky was retailed in the public house in pewter measures each with a hinged lid, the half gill at 3d, gill at 6d, half mutchkin at 1s, and mutchkin at 2s.
Dmf., Kcb. 1954:
Half-musken = a half-bottle of spirits, in practice usually whisky. In fact most people would just define it as a half-bottle of whisky.

Combs.: 1. Meg Mutchkin, a jocular name for a whisky bottle, in phr. to live upon Meg Mutchkin's comfort, to take to drink; 2. mutchkin-bottle, -bowl, -cap, -jaik (Ork. 1963), -joog, -mug, -stoup, -tin, various vessels holding a quarter of a Scots pint of liquid, esp. of spirits. For the nature of the vessels see second element.1. Sc. 1706 Short Survey Married Life 12:
To put the other Clout on your Cloak and live upon Meg Mutchkin's Comfort.
2. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 223:
That Mutchken Stoup it hads but Dribs, Then let's get in the tappit Hen.
Sc. 1747 Caled. Mercury (23 Oct.):
The sovereign Tincture and sovereign Ointment for the Gout, at half a Guinea the Mutchin-Bottle, with a Sufficiency of the Ointment, and printed Directions, with each Bottle.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Earnest Cry vii.:
Paint Scotland greetin ower her thrissle; Her mutchkin stowp as toom's a whissle.
Sc. a.1791 F. Grose Olio (1795) 115:
Paddy lifted a muchkin tin . . . and threw it at the narrator.
Edb. 1819 J. Thomson Poems 73:
Chappin-tankards, mutchin-bowls Toddy jugs for drouthy souls.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize I. xiv.:
A smith came in for a mutchkin-cap of ale.
Abd. 1827 J. Imlah May Flowers 180:
Speak o' toomin' mutchkin mugs.
Bwk. 1848 Edb. Antiq. Mag. 64:
18 dozen chopin botles, one dozen and ten mutchkin botles.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 164:
The mutchkin stoup stood on the table, and each player had a glass.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 97:
He sampled the mutchkin bottle.

[O.Sc. muchkyne, id., 1513. Early Mod. Du. mudseken, a measure of capacity, Du. mutse, mutsken, a measure, phs. of the same orig. as Mutch above.]

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"Mutchkin n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Oct 2022 <>



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