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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).

LEASH, n., v. Also leesh, leis(c)h, and intensive form leeshach. [liʃ]

Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. As in Eng. Phr. to gie (somebody) the leash, to give one leave or liberty to act as he pleases, give one time off (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 55:
Gee us our leesh this night, an' ye sall be My dauted lass, an' gang alang wi' me.

2. A long piece of string, rope, thread, etc. (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 314; Abd.1 1925, “a leash o tow”; Abd., Ags., Wgt. 1960); fig. anything long or extensive of its kind, a lengthy discourse, a long distance, a large amount, a great deal (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 104, leesh(ach)), a long string or succession.Abd. 1809 J. Skinner Amusements 96:
[My muse]'s rattled out a leash o' rhyme.
Ayr. 1821 Scots Mag. (April) 351:
To yoke to an' skreid owre a lang leish o' clishmaclavers anent their stunkertness.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 104:
A leesh o' a speech. A leesh o' a sermon.
Abd. 1887 Bon-Accord (11 June) 12:
I wis jist thinkin' that I maybe wad be a gweed leesh mair comfortuble kin' gin I wis on the lan.
Ags. 1890 A. N. Simpson Muirside Memories 105:
Had yont a leish.
m.Lth. 1895 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick x.:
The tae side said his speech was juist a leesh o' lees.
Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 46:
Ye wisna sweir te rin a leesh.

3. A whip, a lash, the stroke of a whip (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh., m.Lth. 1960).Bnff. 1748 Sc. N. & Q. (Nov. 1927) 216:
Receiving six leashes at each of the following places.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 110:
Now some for this, wi' Satyr's Leesh, Ha'e gi'en auld Edinburgh a Creesh.

II. v. 1. As in Eng., to tie together, link as with a leash; hence fig. in ppl.adj. leished, married (Sc. 1880 Jam.); to tie by splicing, to lash (Cld. Ib.).

2. With aff: to unwind or unroll a length of rope or the like, hence fig. to talk or recite at length, to relate volubly (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 104, leesh(ach)). Cf. n., 2.Ib.:
For mair nor three oors [he] keepit a leeshan-aff o' (or aboot) a' the winners he saw.

3. To ply a whip, to lash, scourge (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Sh. 1960). Also fig. to reprove, castigate (faults). Cf. n., 3.Bnff. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 168:
They're seenil right, but whan they're leeshin ithers.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 159:
Terrour flew owr them wi' his whip. … He leisch'd the blude out o' their faces.
Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 15:
The drummie shud tak a pair o' whups an' leesh 'im frae the toon o' Arbroad?
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 63:
Bit heth! aald “Cerby” widna wheesht His tail frae side ta side he leeshed.
Hdg. 1896 J. Lumsden Battle of Dunbar 22:
Ablins, I micht hae lat him slip, Were he less ready wi' his whip! But for his leishin's he maun pay.

4. Of rain: to fall in torrents, lash down (Sh., Ags. 1960).Ags. 1950:
The rain's aye leeshin on.

5. To walk or move quickly or energetically, usu. with advs. (n.Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis s.v. releischand; Bnff., Abd. 1825 Jam.; Sh., Abd. 1960); to walk or stride in wet grass (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein); with at, adv. and prep.: to work with great vigour or speed (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 104), to go at it.Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1873) 25:
She sees him leeshin' up the craft.
Ags. 1815 G. Beattie John o' Arnha' (1852) 18:
Upon a crummock staff she lent her, Fast John came leeshin' up ahint her.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck v.:
Leish away, link away, Hell is afore ye.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 104:
Leesh-oot has reference rather to the beginning, leesh-on to the continuance of the motion.
Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sk. & Poems 8:
I heard dee leeshin at i' da barn whin I gaed in.
Abd. a.1890 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) XIII. 91:
Syne leeshed awa', an' left him ther.
Sh. 1919 T. Manson Peat. Comm. 121:
Noo, my Tittie, at a perteeclar time i da spring, whin I roar “Reel O,” ye come dis wye and go dat wye, an turn roond, an go back ta whaar ye cam frae, an dan leesh at.

6. Vbl. derivs.: (1) leisher, n., a tall and active person (Lnk. 1825 Jam.). Cf. v., 5.; an extensive tract, a long journey (Ib.). Cf. n., 2.; (2) leishin, ppl.adj., tall and active, of a person of either sex; extensive, as applied to a field, farm, parish, etc.; long, of a journey (Ib.). Cf. (1) above.

[O.Sc. lesche, leich, lash, n. and v., from c.1500.]

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"Leash n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Aug 2022 <>



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