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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).

SKEICH, adj., adv., n., v. Also skeigh, skeech, skeegh, skiech, skiegh; skech-; skeek, skich, skick; skake-; ¶skight; skey (Clc. 1852 G. P. Boyd Misc. Poems 3). [skiç]

I. adj. 1. Of horses, etc.: inclined to shy, or startle, restive, frisky, mettlesome, spirited (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ayr. 1912 D. McNaught Kilmaurs 296; Slg., wm.Sc., Wgt. 1970). Hence skeighish, id.Sc. 1707 Hogg Jacob. Relics (1819) I. 69:
Whene'er her tail play'd whisk, Or when her look grew skeigh.
Sc. a.1758 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 319:
For tho he be mair fleet and skeigh.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Auld Mare viii.:
When thou an' I were young an' skiegh, An' stable-meals at fairs were driegh.
Sc. 1882 Scott F. Nigel iv.:
The loupin here and there of the skeigh brute of a horse.
Dmb. 1827 W. Taylor Poems 12:
The capering skeighish jade Made him owre the rumple fly.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Poems (1874) 86:
The deer was skight, and the snaw was light, And never a blood-drap could they draw.
Sc. 1839 Wilson's Tales of the Borders V. 85:
Bogglin at it, like a skeigh horse at a gate-post.
Sc. 1891 N. Dickson Kirk Beadle 62:
The minister remarked as he saw the mare a little friskier than usual, “She's a little skiech the day, John.”
Bnff. 1910 “Camlach” Ballads 25:
The horse are fu' skeigh when they set to the ploo.
Dmf. 1914 J. L. Waugh Cracks wi' R. Doo 66:
The waesome and pathetic gied place to the skeich and deevil-ma-care.
Sc. 1935 W. D. Cocker Further Poems 81:
What gars auld Dobbin 'mang the nowt Caper an' fling as skeich's a cowt?

2. Of persons: (1) in high spirits, gay, frisky, animated, daft, skittish (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 266; Sc. 1970). Comb. skey-wittit, daft, scatter-brained (Ags. 1970).Per. 1821 T. Atkinson Three Nights 16:
It cheers the spirit, warms the bluid, And mak's us skeigh and vauntie, O!.
Sc. 1829 R. Chambers Sc. Songs I. 159:
You'll fash na your head wi' a youthfu' gilly, As wild and as skeigh as a muirland filly.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxvii.:
As skeigh an' contermashous at times as ony body was fit to be.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 83:
I raley thocht the man had gone skeich.
Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Lady Jean's Son ii.:
Everybody kens Buchan is skeich. He's as daft as his brother Harry is wise.

(2) esp. of women: shy, coy, disdainful, saucy, haughty (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 266; Lnk., Ayr., Wgt. 1970); “fierce-looking” (Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 693).Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 68:
Wow gin she was skeigh, And mim that Day.
Abd. 1729 Third S.C. Misc. II. 138:
The girle was stiff and sullen but seemed not skeigh.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 90:
The lasses turned skiegh, man, They hid themselves amang the corn.
Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters I. iv.:
I think the lassies a' that muckle the better, that they're a little skeigh — it keeps them in after gloaming.
m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 235:
Come awa wi' something, man; yer a most awfu' skeigh, sleepy fallow.
Fif. 1897 L. Keith My Bonnie Lady xiii.:
She'll draw to him yet for all she's so skeigh.
Bte. 1922 J. Sillars McBrides xxix.:
A little skeich with Hugh as though maybe she would rouse the temper in him.
Ayr. 1927 J. Carruthers A Man Beset i. vii.:
Those skeigh Swan-Camerons, with their snobbery.

Hence (1) skeichness, aloofness, haughtiness (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (2) skakesem [= skeichsome], coy, shy (Ork. 1970).(1) Ayr. 1892 J.C.C.B. A. Boyd's Cracks 25:
The laird thawed wonderfu' and raired and laughed, A' pride and skeichness gane.
(2) Ork. 1894 Sc. Antiquary 81:
Der no vero skakesem i' coortin' ata'.

3. Unpalatable, insipid, tasteless, lacking flavour.Clc. 1852 G. P. Boyd Misc. Poems 6:
Some o' thae teetot'ler dogs, Wha're feedin' him wi' their skeich drugs.

II. adv. In a shy, coy manner, skittishly, disdainfully, saucily, spiritedly (Sc. 1880 Jam.).Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 193:
Tho' her phraizing (far owre gaudie) Gars me cock my tap fu' skeigh.
Ayr. 1792 Burns Duncan Gray i.:
Maggie coost her heid fu' high, Looked asklent and unco skeigh.
Slg. 1804 G. Galloway Poems 47:
Auld Scotia held her head fu' skeigh When kings they rang in Stirling.
Ags. 1867 G. W. Donald Poems 165:
When skeigh the jads ran in my noddle.
Lnk. 1893 J. Crawford Verses 40:
A snod keepit pony nichered skeech 'tween ilk tram.

III. n. Pride, arrogance.Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms ci. 5:
The skeigh o' the een, an' the hoven heart.

IV. v. 1. To shy, startle, turn aside in fright or excitement (Ayr. 1970). Ppl.adj. skeekid, of persons; affected in manner, flighty; of a horse: nervous, excited (Cai. 1970).Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 13:
I've skewed and skeighed and skirled and skelped.

2. Of cattle: to jump about in a lively way (Cai. 1904 E.D.D., skick).

[O.Sc. skeich, mettlesome, of a horse, a.1508, coy, a.1568, to shy, 1513. Appar. related to O.E. sceoh, Eng. shy, the sk- being phs. due to Scand. influence. Cf. the cogn. Norw., Swed. skygg, timid, inclined to shy. Mid.Eng. has a form skey, id.]

Skeich adj., adv., n., v.

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"Skeich adj., adv., n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Jun 2022 <>



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