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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.

CATCH, v. and n.

I. v. As in St.Eng., but note the following:

1. Pa.t., pa.p., catched, catch'd, catcht, catchit, caacght, Sc. forms of Eng. caught; see also Cooch, v.2, and Cotch. Jam.6 gives the forms cacht, caght, caht. [kɑtʃt Sc.; kɑxt Sh.; kɑxʍt Rxb. (old)]Sc. 1717 J. Clerk Memoirs (S.H.S. 1892) 96:
Here I catched a severe cold.
Sh. 1916 J. J. H. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Iktober 23):
Happiness is no ta be caacght, nae metter hoo ye kooks her.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 223:
The first cigarette with the breakfast tea set him a-coughing.
'Have ye catched the cold?' asked his mother.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web iii:
I didna draw jist onythin an aathin bit raither ferlies I wis smittit wi, ferlies that catchit ma thocht in their bonnieness or their feyness.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 46:
That self-same chapel, caad "The Pity Vault",
Jyled witches catched invokin dreid occult;
Keepin them close till they war cairtit roon
As kinnlin - human bonfires in the toun.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 13:
a door compromise
'twixt soond, silence, dairk, licht -
the ootward cast o the state o my harns,
catched in a swither, whiles shair o the richt,
whiles thrawed wi doot ...
Edb. 1979 Albert D. Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 45:
It's a guid brain I hae
And yet I could be catcht by aa the whitricks,
Like Hutcheson and Leechman
That fair begowkt me out that college chair.
Arg.1 1931:
He made a breenge for't an catcht it.
Ayr. 1791 Burns Tam o' Shanter (Cent. ed.) ll. 29–32:
She prophesied, that, late or soon, Thou would be found deep drown'd in Doon, Or catch'd wi' warlocks in the mirk By Alloway's auld, haunted kirk.
Dmf. 1748 Records Conv. Burghs (1915) 274:
Wherein such smugled goods are catcht and found.
Uls. 1910 C. C. Russell People and Lang. of Uls. 32:
The word “catched” still remains in common use in Ulster.

2. Combs.: (1) catch-brod, a small bat used in the game of cat-an'-dog-hole, see Cat, n.2, 2 (3); †(2) catch honours, a card game, the same as (7) (Ayr. 1825 Jam.2); †(3) catch-match, a marriage of great advantage to one party; (4) catch-rogue, “cleavers or goose-grass, an herb, Galium aparine, Linn.” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; 1886 B. and H. 92); †(5) catch-the-plack, money-grubbing; see Plack; (6) catch-the-salmon(d), a boys' game, played with a piece of rope (Abd. 1938 A. Keith in Abd. Press and Jnl. (26 Mar.) 6; Abd.22 1938), see quot.; (7) catch-the-ten, — lang-tens, a card-game in which the main object is to take a trick containing the ten of trumps (the lang-ten), which counts ten points. Gen.Sc. Jam.2 gives the form catch-the-lang-tens for Ayr. See also up by cairts s.v. Cairt, n.2, 1.(1) Bnff. 1884 Trans. Inv. Scientific Soc. III. 45:
Amongst the games common in his early days at Keith, and which he found to be played in other countries of Europe, though under different names, were "catch-brod", "skyte the Bob".
(2) Ayr. 1821 Galt Ayrshire Legatees iv.:
Not only Whist and Catch Honours were to be played, but even obstreperous Birky itself for the diversion of such of the company as were not used to gambling games.
(3) Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. vi.:
She made out her catch-match and she was miserable.
(5) Ags. 1851 T. Watson Rhymer's Family 97:
'Twas in the toun o' Catchtheplack, So famed for beggin' kirks and schules.
Ayr. 1785 Burns First Ep. J. Lapraik (1786) xx.:
Awa ye selfish, warly race, Wha think that havins, sense an' grace, Ev'n love an' friendship should give place To catch-the-plack!
(6) Abd. 1898 A. B. Gomme Trad. Games II. Add. 410:
Catch the salmond. Two boys take each the end of a piece of rope, and give chase to a third till they contrive to get the rope round him. They then pull him hither and thither in all directions.
(7) ne.Sc. 1883–1886 D. Grant Chron. of Keckleton (1888) 46:
Bein' nae far aff yule-time, Matthew might hae sat down till a han' at catch-the-ten, which the lads at Greenslack often played for a penny the game in the winter forenichts, aifter the bestial wis settled up.
Ags. 1846 P. Livingston Poems and Songs (1855) 83:
Look ye up yonder! there's three chields, At “catch the ten” they're playing.

3. Phr. catch yourself on, pull yourself together!Sc. 2004 Daily Record 26 May 32:
Aye that'll be right. Catch yourself on, son. You'll get nowhere until you stop trying to convince yourself that you are somehow a victim in all this.
Uls. 1996 Caroline I. Macafee ed. A Concise Ulster Dictionary 57:
catch yourself on! "get a grip of yourself".
Uls. 1997 Bernard MacLaverty Grace Notes (1998) 12:
Catherine ran in the door and up the stairs. She heard somebody say, 'That's Brendan's girl.'
'Aw fuck - no.'
'Catch yourselves on.'
After that she made sure never to be around at that time. She would wait and be later rather than run that gauntlet again.
Uls. 2004 Belfast Telegraph 25 Mar :
"'Bout ye, big man/mucker?" appears to be the most annoying way we enquire after each other's health.
It ranked alongside face like a Lurgan spade, catch yourself on, quet your slabberin', c'mere til I tell ye and 'i'll knock your bake/pan in as most grating.

II. n.

1. A hold, grasp (Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10, Lnk.3, Kcb.9 1938).Sc. 1887 Jam.6, Add.:
I canna get a cacht o't.
Ayr. 1868 J. K. Hunter Artist's Life xi.:
I had a catch of one of the props.

Comb.: catchy-clappy, bouncing a ball against a wall (Abd. 1970s; Bnff., Edb. 2000s).Edb. 1991:
We played catchy clappy a lot when I was wee.

2. An acute pain, a “stitch” (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.2, Fif.10, Lnk.3, Kcb.10 1938).em.Sc. (a) 1895 “I. Maclaren” Days of Auld Langsyne 305:
A' started ae day, an' the catch in ma side . . . a' hed tae come back.

3. A knack (Abd.22, Fif.10 1938).Knr. 1886 “H. Haliburton” Horace in Homespun 76:
Weel dune, my bairn, ye hae the catch o't.

[O.Sc. has cach(e), catch(e), to catch, with pa.t. and pa.p. catchit, caucht, cauch (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Catch v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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