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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

USQUEBAE, n. Also usquabae, usquebea, -bey, usquibae; usqueba, usquba (Sc. 1732 Chrons. Atholl and Tullibardine Families II. 385), usk(e)yba (Per. 1746 T. L. K. Oliphant Lairds of Gask (1870) 140, 157), usqueba(g)h, -baugh, and, after the modern spelling, whiskybae (Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 98), whisquybeath (Sth. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 III. 525), and reduced forms usqu(a)e, usky, ¶husque (Sc. 1737 R. Chambers Dom. Annals (1861) III. 528). Earlier forms of Whisky, q.v., now only arch. or liter. [′uskɪbe] Hebr. 1703 M. Martin Descr. W. Islands 3: Their plenty of corn was such, as disposed the natives to brew several sorts of liquor, as common Usquebaugh.Sc. 1706 Te Address fer te Fishers on te Highland Coasts 7:
It will mak Usquebae dear.
Edb. 1727 Caled. Mercury (27 July):
Highland Usquebaugh or Aquavitae at 16 Pence a Pint.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 203:
Drinking roundly Rum and Claret, Ale and Usquae.
n.Sc. c.1730 E. Burt Letters (1815) II. 74:
My merchants moved the usky vessels before them.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 108:
Wi' usquabae, we'll face the Devil!
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xx.:
I think ye might as weel have offered me a glass of brandy or usquabae.
Lnk. 1867 J. M. Peacock Reverie 60:
'Tis usquebaugh, from our own old Highland still.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xvi.:
A flask of usquebaugh.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 57:
There's usquebae, an' kebbucks rife.
Sc. 1920 D. Rorie Auld Doctor 6:
He dined each day on the usquebae An' he washed it doon wi' haggis.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 34:
Think deep on the dern power o usquebae ...
the staucherin limb, the menseless bletherin tung ...
yeskin an soomin een an howff-yaird fecht.
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 21:
The lassies
aiblins thocht ye braw - ye widden
heidit feckless redeless randy.
I telt ye that ye'd licht i the midden
atween usquebae an hochmagandie.
em.Sc. 1997 Ian Rankin Black & Blue (1999) 88:
'A half-bottle of usquebaugh.'
'Jesus, the Bar-L must be drier than I thought.' The voice not so rough.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 10:
She had imbibed rather too freely of the usquebaugh and her heavy Glaswegian accent was slurred and hesitant, punctuated by hiccups.

Hence ¶semi-usquebaeism, semi-intoxication, inebriation.Edb. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 112:
The sicht o' the company in a state o' semi-usquebaeism was sad to see.

[O.Sc. iskie bae, id., 1583, Gael., Ir. uisge beatha, water of life, aquavitae, whisky. The forms in -baugh, also found in E.M.E., represent the Ir. pronunciation.]

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"Usquebae n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Oct 2022 <>



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