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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TOUCH, v., n. Also tuch (s.Sc. 1857 H. S. Riddell St Matthew ix. 29); tich (Ayr. 1889 Ellis E.E.P. V. 746; m.Sc. 1917 O. Douglas The Setons ii.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 271; Lnk. 1928 W. C. Fraser Yelpin' Stane 117); titch (Fif. 1805 J. Fleming Poems 5; Abd. 1887 Bon-Accord (5 Nov.) 5; Per. 1894 I. Maclaren Brier Bush 233, Peb. 1899 J. Grossart Chronicles 77; Fif. 1909 J. C. Craig Sangs o' Bairns 195; Abd., Ayr. 1930); ¶twitch. Sc. forms and usages. [tʌtʃ; ‡tɪtʃ]

I. v. 1. As in Eng. Phr. ¶to touch up, to touch upon, allude to, animadvert on (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Agent n. toucher, in golf: a good shot, one that gets near the hole. Somewhat sim. used of bowls in Eng.Sc. 1788 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 558:
Tho' he cou'd twitch yon starry lift, It wadna gi'm a lav'rock's gift.
Sc. 1906 Chambers's Jnl. (14 July) 522:
A good shot is generally greeted with the expression of “There's a toucher!”

2. In the Scottish Parliament: to ratify an act after its approval by touching it with the sceptre, the action being performed by the Sovereign or later by the Lord High Commissioner to indicate the royal assent. Hist.Sc. 1700 Edb. Gazette (31 Oct.):
An Act for Adjourning the Session was read again this Day Voted Approven, and Touched; And in the usual Manner Proclaimed.
Sc. 1830 W. Chambers Bk. Scotland 13:
On the passing of every resolution, it was the custom to touch the record with the sceptre, as expressive of the consent of the sovereign.
Sc. 1873 J. H. Burton Hist. Scot. VII. 341:
The Opposition could point to no fewer than six important acts which had passed the Estates, but had not been touched by the sceptre.
Sc. 1905 C. S. Terry Parl. Scot. 137, 148:
Each Act was endorsed by the Chancellor, carried to the Throne, touched by the Sceptre and became law. . . . Bills were “touched” and passed into Acts in the course of the session.

3. To trounce (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Vbl.n. touchin (Id.).

4. Ppl.adj. touched, fuddled, tipsy.Edb. 1896 J. Tweeddale Moff 96:
In respect of her liquor-traffic, she was seen ‘touched' about once a week.

II. n. 1. As in Eng. Phr. to play touch at, to get near enough to touch, be within touch of.Gall. 1901 Gallovidian II. 122:
Pussy made for the lonky hole and the dog wad never hae played touch at her.

2. An attempt at, a shot or “go” at.Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf ii.:
He'll be for a touch at the auld tower at Earnscliff.

3. With def. art.: the ability to set broken and dislocated bones by touch.Fif. 1912 D. Rorie Mining Folk 401:
In folk-surgery, the bone setter holds an accepted position. “A'body kens doctors ken naething aboot banes.” It is a matter of “heirskep”. The bone-setter's father before him, or at least his grandfather, possessed “the touch”, as it is called.

4. A short space of time, a moment. Dim. touchie.Ayr. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 80–1:
Ye maist wad think, a wee touch langer, An' they maun starve o' cauld and hunger.
Abd. a.1809 J. Skinner Amusements 92:
I want to crack a touchie wi' you.
Dmf. 1831 R. Shennan Tales 47:
They were drinking rather much, And wad be useless in a touch.

5. A large haul of herring (Arg. 1914 J. M. Hay Gillespie ii. viii.).

6. A shortened form of Eng. touchwood, a kind of tinder (Sc. 1887 Jam.). Phr. as sharp as touch, quick-tempered, easily enraged (Id.).

[Sc. has now chiefly adopted the Eng. form. The ti(t)ch forms, now obsol., are hist. from O.Sc. tuich, twych, twech, etc., from a.1400, O. Fr. tuchier.]

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"Touch v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Dec 2022 <>



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