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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SMUCHT, v., n. Also more freq. in deriv. forms smuchter, smeuchter, smughter, smoochter; smocher. [′smʌxt(ər), ′smuxtər]

I. v. 1. To smoulder, to emit thick, black smoke, to burn slowly (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 170; Mry. 1925; Bnff., Abd. 1970). Also fig.Mry. c.1890 Gregor MSS.:
If the hair of the head that comes out with the comb when cast into the fire “smoochter awa,” i.e. burn slowly without almost any flame, it is a sign of death by drowning.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 107:
An' fat wis smuchterin in his hert she blew intil a flame.
Abd. 1959 Scotsman (24 Jan.) 17:
Nae heat, nae colour noo Bit the yalla sharn-midden's smuchterin fire.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 32:
Mim-moued's a corp, the nerra lanes
Lie straucht an trig, the toon's rig-banes,
Far starnies glimmer in the glaiss
Or smuchter in a plaque of braisse.

2. Of rain, snow, or the like: to fall in a fine mist, to drizzle down persistently (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 170, smeuchter; Bnff., Abd. 1970).Abd. 1954 Huntly Express (5 Feb.):
While I write frost holds and it smuchters awa'.

3. Of persons: to be short of breath, to breathe with difficulty from a thick, stifling atmosphere, a heavy cold, etc., to feel choked; transf. of the voice: to be muffled or thick. Ppl.adj. smughterin.Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 67:
A smughterin' noise I hears, o' speakin' folk.
Abd. 1920 R. H. Calder Gleanings II. 13:
Smuchterin' i' the cauld.
Abd. 1961 Abd. Press & Jnl. (30 Dec.):
Sae lang we've smuchtit [with heat and drought].

4. To work slowly and unskilfully, to potter (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 170, smoochter), to eat slowly and a little at a time, to nibble at food (Id.).Mry. 1954 Bulletin (9 Feb.) 4:
“Smochering” about our outside jobs in the winter light of a marginal farm.

5. To crowd, huddle together, to mill about.Abd. 1961 People's Jnl. (16 Dec.) 15:
A' smuchterin' aroon for a hug and kiss afore they're aff.

II. n. 1. Thick smoke, freq. of smoke from damp fuel or from a faulty chimney (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 170, smeuchter, smoochter; Mry. 1958, smuchter; Bnff., Abd. 1970, smucht(t)); sometimes of a slight smoke from a fire not properly alight (ne.Sc. 1970); a thick stuffy atmosphere (Bnff. 1970). Adj. smuchty, smoky, fuggy (Abd. 1970).Bnff. 1930:
There's hardly a smoke but jist a smuchter.
Abd. 1949 W. R. Melvin Poems 60:
There was a good dame of Glenbuchty, Whose chimney was horribly smuchty.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick v.:
Boxt up a' that time in a wee smuchty placie like the Airk.

2. A thin light mist or rain (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 170, smeuchter, smoochter, Mry., Bnff., Abd., Kcd. 1970, smuchter). Adjs. smuchty, smoochterie, of weather: misty, steamy, close (Abd. 1970).Abd.14 1915:
This smuchty widder's bad for the craps.
Bnff. 1930:
That wis a nesty smuchter o' a shooer.
Bnff. 1954 Banffshire Jnl. (20 July):
A drummlie, smoochterie mornin'.

3. A thick, choking cold, a heavy catarrh (Bnff., Abd. 1970). Cf. I. 3.Abd. 1961 People's Jnl. (16 Dec.) 15:
Haein' a bit smuchter o' a cauld.

[Orig. prob. a deriv. from smeuch, Smuik, though the formation is unclear. The sense development from smouldering to stifling is partly natural but phs. also due to association with smother, Smore and poss. Gael. Smùc, to snuffle, snivel. Cf. Smocher.]

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"Smucht v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Apr 2023 <>



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