Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SAUCHEN, adj., v. Also -in, saughen. [′sɑxən, ′sx-]

I. adj. 1. Made from willow, belonging to a willow, of willow (Bnff., Abd., Per., w.Lth. 1969). Hence sauchen-bush, -tree, etc., a willow, sauchen-bow, a hoop or curved handle of willow wood. Used as a n. in 1841 quot. Sc. 1728  Six Saints (Fleming 1901) I.95:
He caused dig a cave, with a saughen-bush covering the mouth of it.
Per. 1773  in Fergusson Poems (Grosart 1879) 76:
Just jog on at the sauchen tree, And mak' a riddle.
Abd. 1790  A. Shirrefs Poems 260:
As well yon bonny sauchen-shade Whare she first made his heart fu' glad.
Abd. 1841  J. Imlah Poems 7:
A strain frae Strachan Will mak a man o' stiffest stock As swack as saughen.
Gsw. 1863  H. MacDonald Poems 96:
When Spring ca's forth the sauchen buds.
s.Sc. 1875  J. Veitch Tweed 172:
They brought him slow From the hills on a sauchen bier.
Ags. 1901  W. J. Milne Reminiscences 24:
Cornel whips and sauchen whistles!
Bnff. 1908  Banffshire Jnl. (26 May) 16:
He would “let oot” a raip which one or other of the young men would twine with a sauchen-bow thraw-crook.
Abd. 1925  A. Murison Rosehearty Rhymes 42:
But they had been in Boyndlie Den Where sauchen trees grow bonny!

2. Soft, yielding as willow, flabby, languid, lacking in energy or spirit (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Abd. 1969). Comb. sauchen-toup, a simpleton, an easy dupe (Kcd. 1825 Jam.) See Toup. Abd. 1739  Caled. Mag. (1788) 499:
A sauchin slav'ry slype.
Abd. c.1760  J. Skinner Amusements (1809) 97:
But d'ye think a saughin block Can furnish out a decent stock O' poetrie?
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxviii.:
He was aye a sauchen, saurless breet.

3. Tough as a willow, of persons, dour, surly, sullen and stubborn (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 147; Bnff., Abd. 1969). Abd. 1920  R. H. Calder Gleanings I. 8:
It needs an iron tenant to fecht wi' a sauchen laird.

II. v. To make supple or pliable, like a willow (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).

[From Sauch, + adj. suff. -en. O.Sc. sauchin, = 3., a.1628, = 1., 1681.]

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"Sauchen adj., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2019 <>



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