Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SHEUCH, n., v. Also sheugh, shooch, sh(o)uch, sh(o)ugh; s(e)uch, seugh, sewch, sough. [n., em.Sc. (b) ʃux; em.Sc. (a), wm.Sc. ʃ(j)ʌx; s.Sc. ʃjuxʍ; Sh. ʃɔx; Ork. søx]

I. n. 1. A trench in the ground, esp. one cut for drainage, a ditch, open drain (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; m. and s.Sc. 1970). Also in n.Eng. dial. Also attrib. and fig. Adj. sheuchy. Gall. 1702 Session Bk. Minnigaff (1939) 78:
He caused his servants divert the water by a little shouch about his hous.
Edb. 1715 Burgh Rec. Edb. (1967) 292:
Whosoever baits his horse or cow on his neighbours knows, dykes, baulks, or sheuchs.
Sc. 1763 Chrons. Atholl and Tullibardine Families III. 503:
The trees in the shough oposit to the Hermitage.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 72:
A cotter howkin' in a sheugh.
Sc. 1802 Wife of Usher's Well in Child Ballads No. 79 A. vi.:
It neither grew in syke nor ditch, Nor yet in ony sheugh.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Wool-Gatherer (1874) 147:
A deep dry seuch at the back of the garden.
Fif. 1822 Trans. Antiq. Soc. Scot. II. 193:
Sheuchy Dyke, so called, I suppose, for its being intersected with ditches, called Sheuchs.
Lnk. a.1832 W. Watt Poems (1860) 352:
Thir get noucht, to weet their mouth, But sma' swipes or sheuch water.
Mry. 1849 A. Blackhall Lays of North 92:
Aul' Clootie sat in his sooty seugh.
Wgt. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 74:
Priest, book and everything cam doon wi' a clooster in the sheuch amang the glaur.
Uls. 1889 H. Stephens Bk. Farm I. 107:
In some parts of Ireland the land is not ploughed into ridges at all, being made with the spade into narrow strips called lazy-beds, separated by deep narrow trenches named sheughs.
Ags. 1895 J. Inglis Oor Ain Folk 203:
I fand him lying in the sheuch by the roadside.
Uls. 1924 Northern Whig (2 Jan.):
I fell in a dry shough and very near brock my neck. I fell in a wat shough and very near got drooned.
Rxb. 1955 Abd. Univ. Review (Aut.) 150:
As ebbs the restless ocean's tide, And winter sheuch in Simmer's dried.

2. A trench or furrow into which plants are temporarily set until they can be finally transplanted or used. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1812 W. Nicol Planter's Kalendar 229:
Nothing is more destructive to young seedling trees, than allowing them to lye too thick together in the shough.
Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm I. 373:
The plants are taken from the sheughs when wanted.
Sc. 1946 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 429:
The sheughs for the trees to lie in.

3. A furrow made by a plough (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 725; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Sc. 1835 Trans. Highl. Soc. 311:
Making small open drains of 6 inches by 4 between the potato shoughs before the potatoes were raised.
Gall. 1892 Farmer's Curst Wife in Child Ballads No. 278 B. i.:
The auld Deil cam to the man at the pleugh, Saying, I wish ye gude luck at the making o' yer sheugh.
Lnk. 1923 G. Rae Langsyne vii.:
Nane o' yer Amairican ploos, but an auld-farrant smiddy-made yin that can drive a guid deep sheuch.

4. A street gutter (em.Sc.(a). Lth., wm.Sc. 1970). Dmb. 1894 T. Watson Kirkintilloch 199:
Huge open gutters or “sheuchs” on either side of the streets, received all the sewage.
Fif. 1952 R. Holman Behind the Diamond Panes 70:
No street lighting guided their way on roads flattered by the name of street, . . . showing up a few of the many puddles or crudely-made “shuch” or gutter.
Gsw. 1953 J. J. Lavin Compass of Youth I. v.:
Sellin' balloons on the Argyle Street sheughs.

5. A hollow road, ravine or passage way of any kind; an alley between houses (Lth. 1970); fig. the gullet, throat, the nape of the neck. Sc. 1875 A. Hislop Anecdotes 128:
Hout Atropos! hard hearted hag, To cut the sheugh of Jamie Craig.
Rnf. 1877 J. Neilson Poems 49:
Wi's big blue Kilmarnock; but jist like a seck It hung in the sheuch o' the dramatist's neck.
Sc. 1906 J. A. Harvie-Brown Fauna of Tay 184:
There is a “glac” or deep “scaur” or “sheugh” in Strathfinella Hill.

6. In jocular usage: the North Channel in the Irish Sea between Scotland and Ireland (Uls. 1970).

7. In fig. usages. Phrs. in a or the sheuch, in a state of squalor or misery, in the “gutter”, abject, ruined, in a sorry plight (Uls. 1953 Traynor; w.Lth., Ayr., Wgt. 1970); up a sheuch, in error, mistaken (Dmf. 1970). Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 147:
A puir wretch wallowin' in the sheugh O' cursed alcohol's pollution.
Edb. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar viii.:
He was in a bit of a sheugh, one that he was in a sweat to be out of.
Arg. 1917 A. W. Blue Quay Head Tryst 72:
Weak, distressfu' mortals: up wan day, in the sheuch the next.
Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle ii. iv.:
Back in the sheuch I took him out o'.

II. v. 1. tr. and intr. To dig, trench, make a ditch or furrow (in) (wm.Sc. 1880 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Per., Fif., Lth., wm.Sc., Wgt. 1970); tr. of peats: to dig out from a trench, to cast (wm.Sc. 1880 Jam.; Ayr. 1928). Rxb. 1808 A. Scott Poems 34:
Sic sheughing pranks we dinna need to fear; Except for quarrie, or a five-feet ditch.
Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 334:
They're howkin' sae in bank an' brae, An' sheughin' hill an' howe.

2. To lay a plant, etc., in the ground, specif. to put seedlings, root crops or the like into a temporary trench for later transplanting or storage in order to retain the sap (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II 725; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork. 1929 Marw.). Gen.Sc. Also fig. Sc. c.1714 Jacobite Minstrelsy (1829) 46:
Sheughing kail, and laying leeks.
Hdg. 1790 J. Mylne Poems 32:
My only hope was sheught in thee.
Sc. 1799 W. Nicol Practical Planter 167:
The plants being prepared as directed, brought to the ground and soughed in.
Sc. 1871 Trans. Highl. Soc. 444:
The plants should be carefully sheughed as soon as they are brought forward from the nurseries.
Sc. 1904 R. Ford Vagabond Songs 331:
In the winter when we're sheuchin' neeps.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 22:
Thae leeks'll never be sheuched.
Ags. 1951 Elgin Courant (9 Nov.):
A team of six pullers and a tractor or horseman with a plough should be able to “sheugh” about 5 acres a day.
wm.Sc. 1957 Bulletin (2 March):
Roses, which arrived from the nursery in the middle of January and were carefully sheuched in.

3. To bury, to cover with earth. Also fig. Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Ajax 3:
Ajax bangs up, whase targe was shught In seven fald o' hide.
Rnf. 1838 Whistle-Binkie II. 101:
The bodies in Mauchlin Wish Meg in her kist, an' as deep sheugh'd as Lauchlan.
Per. a.1880 W. Fraser Red Bk. Menteith I. 403:
They just shoughed it at the point of Coilmore, whence it was exhumed and placed afterwards in the old chapel.
Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 199:
His wanton widow sheuch'd him here.

[O.Sc. sewch, 1501, souch, 1570, shouch, 1665, furrow, trench, ditch, seuch, to make a furrow, 1513, Early Mid.Eng. sogh, furrow. Of uncertain orig. N.E.D. compares Brabant dial. zoeg, a meadow ditch.]

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



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