Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SKECH, v., n. Also skaich, skegh, skaigh, scaigh; skeach, skeech, skeich; schech. [ske, ski]

I. v. 1. tr. and absol. To obtain a thing in an indirect, underhand or furtive manner, by wiles, wheedling or filching, to scrounge, cadge, purloin (Cld., Slk. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., w. and sm.Sc., Rxb. 1970), freq. of wandering about in search of food, to scrounge a meal (Sc. 1880 Jam.; Edb. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar xviii., schech). Deriv. skaicher, skaigher, one who skechs, a scrounger, sponger (Cld. 1825 Jam.; Ags. 1910 Arbroath Guide (18 Aug.), applied playfully to a child (Ags. 1808 Jam., Mry. 1970). Lnk. 1827  J. Watt Poems 98:
Fox what he'd skech'd fu' keen devourin'.
Abd. 1832  W. Scott Poems 138:
Eppy Wabster, in her time, Was kent by a' the vagrants fine, She eest to skeigh.
Per. 1881  D. MacAra Crieff 233:
It was frequently midnight or after ere the different “skeaching” parties returned.
Edb. 1898  J. Baillie W. Crighton 47:
Some to sell, others to “skech” or “cadge”.
wm.Sc. 1899  Mont.-Fleming s.v. Skaigher:
A man is said to “skaigh for his dinner” who calls upon a friend just at dinner-time. A skaigher is one who sponges upon his friends for an occasional meal or dram.
Dmf. 1925  Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. XIII. 38:
Lookin' aboot for onything he can skech.
Rxb. 1925  E. C. Smith Mang Howes 10:
A speerd if there was a mael o meat ti be bocht — skecht — gotten a len o.
Abd. 1958  People's Jnl. (21 June):
She'd skaicht an' hain't ilka drap that the caufies didna' need.

2. To go about in a silly, vain, idle manner (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 156; Bnff., Abd. 1970). Abd. 1968  Abd. Press & Jnl. (27 Jan.):
Syne socht news fae a glaikit loon Wha skaiched aboot the Bay.

II. n. 1. The act of skeching or scrounging, a wheedle, begging wile; what has been obtained by such means, plunder, loot (Ayr.4 1928). Phr. on the skaigh, on the look-out or prowl for something (Abd., wm.Sc., Kcb. 1970). Lnk. 1889  A. MacLachlan Songs 160:
Their prayer is a' a sneakin skech.
Slg. 1904  E.D.D.:
He's on the skaigh for a lass.

2. A scrounger, sponger (Abd., Kcd., Fif., wm.Sc. 1970); a truant from school. Edb. 1893  J. Baillie W. Crighton 12:
The biggest skech and meiser in the Wark.
Fif. 1909  J. C. Craig Sangs o' Bairns 104:
Jock Macelly played the “sketch” For three weeks at a tack.

[Poss. a survival of Mid.Eng. skeck, skick, skeg, a raid, plundering expedition, to raid or plunder in a petty way, O. Fr. eskec, eschec, spoil, booty, of Teut. orig.]

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"Skech v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2019 <>



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