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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BOORACH, BOUROCK, n. Variant forms have (1) bowr-, buir-, burr- (all rare), in first syllable, (2) -ack, -ick, -ich, -och, -ik, in suffix. Also bourroch, bourach, ¶bowerique, and reduced dim. form boorie. Gen.Sc. [′bu:rəx, ′bu:rɪç, ′bu:rək, ′bʌrɪçi]

1. A mound, “a small knoll, as distinguished from a brae” (Slk. 1825 Jam.2); a heap of stones.Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxx.:
But then came in the story of my poor bairn, and my mother thought he wad be deaved wi' its skirling, and she pat it away in below the bit bourock of turf yonder, just to be out o' the gate.
Ags. 1932 A. Gray Arrows 79:
He has struck his fit on a bourock; he trippit and slippit, and syne He fell, and it snawed reid roses; and surely it rained cool wine.
Lnl. 1864 J. C. Shairp Kilmahoe, etc. 136:
And the bonny blithe shealings Are bourocks o' stanes, wi' rank nettles grown o'er.
Lnk. 1895 W. C. Fraser Whaups of Durley i.:
As you pass in, take care and not knock down that bourock of chucky-stanes.

2. A heap or mass; specif. a hoard of money, a "packet".Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 46:
Upon a little haughie . . . twenty deid deer waur coontit, a' lyin' in a boorach thegither.
Bnff. 1922 The Uninspired Peat in Bnffsh. Jnl. (21 Feb.) 6:
The men cut the peats, an' the lassies rowt them oot, an' coupit in boorochies or heaps o' a dizzen or saxteen.
Abd. 1868 G. Macdonald R. Falconer iii.:
See sic a warl' o' kists as she's brocht wi' her. . . . Saw ye ever sic a bourach (heap)?
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 35:
The hoose in the wid is framed bi larick an fir,
Aneth a boorach o pearlie clood, frost-fu.
m.Sc. 1979 William J. Rae in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 79:
A muckle bourach o brush-wuid gat sweepit doonstream towards Ag and Eck, and it hit them wi an awfu dunt.
em.Sc. 1909 J. Black Melodies and Memories 73:
But hirsle yont, see what a sicht O' holly leaves wi' berries bricht, An' bouracks big o' cake an' bun To grace the feasts an' spice the fun.
Fif. 1957:
He has a wee boorie in the bank - a little money gathered.
fig. Lnk. 1928 T. S. Cairncross in Scots Mag. (July) 274:
For organs, me, I dinna care a sourock And a' new-fangled music's juist a bourock.

Combs.: (1) bourock-fittit, of peats: set up to dry in small heaps (Gall. 1867). See Fit, v.1, 3.; (2) bourroch-heap. (2) Ags. 1774 Weekly Mag. (30 Dec.) 15:
To see the dirty town agen, Where fowk in bourroch-heaps are seen Rin to the devil.

3. A crowd, a group, a cluster (ne.Sc., Fif. 1975).Bnff.(D) 1920 E. S. Rae in Bnffsh. Jnl. (14 Dec.):
An' boorichs black o' crawin' clamrin' craws.
Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes, etc. 200:
Ilk ane taks a spoon ere the burrichie close, To try for the ring in a bassie o' brose.
Abd. 1993:
Ere wis a great boorach o fowk at e smith's roup.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 13:
There wis a boorach o wee chukkens heezin aboot in the thick girse here anna.
Ags. 1912 J. A. Duthie Rhymes and Reminisc. 76:
By this time there was a boorich roond's, a' tittin' to get the maister informed o' oor prank.
Fif. 1704 D. Webster Witchcraft (1820) 138:
She saw a bouroch of women.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto Tammas Bodkin (1868) xxxiii.:
The bourich o' blackguards that he brocht at his heels.
Lth. [1801] J. Thomson Poems (1819) 137:
The lambs in buiriks frisk and play Upon the flow'ry lee.
Hdg. 1801 R. Gall Poems, etc. (1819) 20:
Now some are seen in bouracks gay, On Bruntsfield Links to spend the day.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems II. 60:
His bonny, various, yeelin' friens Cam' a' in bourrochs there.

4. (1) A humble dwelling, a hovel; “a small bower or house” (Ags.2 1935, bourock).Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVI. 481–482:
It consisted of 50 or 60 mossy huts . . . irregularly huddled together; hence it got the name of the bourachs.
wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan I. 284:
I had just time to reply “Deed's I, my doo,” . . . and the hail lot of us alichtit at our ain bourock.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems I. 116:
The boys and lassies a', Toil'd mony an hour, and mony a day, To mak the bourock bra'.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 228:
And, nie'brin booricks, where he danc'd and sang.

(2) “An inclosure; applied to the little houses that children build for play, especially those made in the sand” (Sc. 1808 Jam.).

5. A muddle, a state of confusion or harassment, a pother (nn.Sc., Inv., Nai., Mry. 1975).Sc. 1991 Scotsman (6 Apr.)  8:
Euro-boorach [headline] It is not to detract from yesterday's timely report on the importance of Scottish businessmen learning continental languages to suggest that the present position regarding Scottish representation in Brussels is best described by a Scots word. A boorach, meaning a muddle, mess, confusion or fuss, is exactly what the Scotland Europe plan has become.
Sc. 1993 Herald (28 Jun.)  9:
Well, we came home from Orkney to find the garden a right bourach with the grass almost ankle high ...
Sc. 1995 James S. Adam New Verses for an Auld Sang 24:
Bit i the name o the wee man
whitna kind o boorach
wull they mak the morn
o Godfrey an Christopher
gin they cut them short?
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 65:
' ... He was fain o the auld plan and got a charter o regality tae raise Leith intae a burgh. It was a ludicrous notion - hoo could sic a clarty boorach be a burgh? ... '
Bwk. 1997:
Boorach = a confused mess with several people involved.
Arg. 1992:
He's just makin a right boorach o the thing.

Phrs.: (1) haud the bowerique, a name for the game of 'King of the Castle' (see quot.); (2) to big(g) (sandy) bourocks, — bowrocks (with a person), to be on friendly terms. Gen. neg.(1) s.Sc. 1810 R. H. Cromek Remains 254:
A more youthful game is common, I believe, on the borders of either kingdom, called 'Keep the Castle,' by the English, and 'Haud the Bowerique,' by the Scotch. One boy takes possession of a little knowe top, or hillock, from which his fellows attempt to dislodge him. Whenever he is pushed off his conqueror succeeds, and this is repeated until one of them reigns king beyond the power of dethroning.
(2) Sc. 1737 Ramsay Proverbs 70:
We'll never bigg Sandy bowrocks together.
Gall. 1794–1868 Curriehill:
“I'll big nae bourocks wi' him,” meaning we are not on friendly terms.

[The N.E.D. suggests a possible origin in O.E. būr, a dwelling + dim. suff. -ock. This is phonologically quite regular for the oo and ou forms. The form burrichie and verbal form, burrach'd (see Boorach, v., 1 (2)), however, and several of the meanings suggest a connection with O.E. burg (a fort, earth thrown up as a protection), from an ablaut variant of the verb beorgan, to protect, with its modern forms borough, bury, burrow.]

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"Boorach n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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