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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MAUCHT, n., v. Also maught; macht; mauch, mawch; mach; myach (Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). [mǫxt, mɑxt]

I. n. 1. Bodily strength, might, power (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; Abd., Kcd. 1962); mental ability. Freq. in pl. form with sing. meaning.Abd. 1755 R. Forbes Jnl. from London 29:
The wile limmer was sae dozen'd an' funi'd wi' cauld, that she had neither farrach nor maughts.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 112:
Yet fearfu' aften o' their Maught, They quat the Glory o' the Faught.
n.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Of a person who is paralytic, or debilitated by any other malady, it is said; He has lost the machts, or his machts.
Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 29:
Then to the Loch, and Ward, they swarm'd To try their maught.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 142:
Ilk man fornent the tither straucht, Sat meditatin' deeds o' maucht.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 223:
She hisna mauchts noo for a sair turn.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ ii. xii. 73:
I' the Cross is maught o' min'.
Abd.4 1928:
He has nae machts o' 'imsel, i.e. his faculties are impaired.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 21:
Scotland can easy tirl
ocht sickart and set the wit in a whirl
that winna settle doon. Nocht's seen straucht,
aa's hotterin, senses rooked o maucht.

2. Phr.: to mak a maught, — maughts, to make a move or effort (to do something), to take steps, exert oneself (Ags. 1962).Ags. 1893 F. Mackenzie Cruisie Sk. xiii.:
Ye see, it was just on the chap o' nine, and we were makin' maughts for oor bed, when I thocht I heard a bit stir i' the back-room.
Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 82:
“Hech! dear me!” sighed Marget, as she made mauchts to tak the bowl an' spune frae me.
Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 75:
If ever more I make one maught Your grief to throttle.

3. Derivs.: (1) mauch(t)less, maughtless, ma(a)ch-, maich- (Fif. 1825 Jam.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 257), mauchterless (Ork.), feeble, without strength or energy, limp, helpless; sluggish, lethargic, lackadaisical (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; I., n. and em.Sc.(a) 1962); (2) mauchtlessly, feebly, without power; (3) mauchtly, of wind: strong (Sh. 1962); (4) maughty, powerful, mighty, bold (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.).(1) Abd. 1723 W. Meston Poet. Wks. (1767) 17:
In substance poor, in numbers few, A maughtless and unarmed crew.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 17:
If Lindy chanc'd, as synle was his lot, To play a feckless or a wrangous shot, Jeering they'd say, “Poor Lindy's mauchtless grown!”
Edb. 1795 H. MacNeill Scotland's Scaith xliv.:
Now grown mauchless, dowf and sweer aye To look near his farm or wark.
Mry. 1824 J. Cock Hamespun Lays 79:
She's maughtless, doited, auld, an' crazy, An' tint a' spirit.
Ags. 1860 A. Whamond James Tacket 264:
He took sic a fit o' laughin' himsel' that he was perfectly mauchtless.
Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 27:
Flat on the floor . . . Where mauchless he in beastly stupor fell.
Mry. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 19:
It wis the lauch o' a machless body.
Ork. 1930 Orcadian (13 Feb.):
With setting up wet sheaves only to be knocked down again — one is apt to get mauchterless, or forfoughten sair eneugh, as Burns has it.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 134:
Wirkin da pumps nicht an' day fill dey wir juist maachless.Sc. 1991 John McDonald in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 89:
Blaw, whusperin souch (wrackin nou the flourish).
Blaw, whusperin souch o life -
biggin an wrackin this mauchtless ghaist.
Edb. 1992:
He's just mauchless the day.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 25:
"O why frae a state o naethin-ness
Did God raise up ma mauchtless frame? ... "
(2) Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 117:
It had better been aff Than hae maughtlessly hung by this auld oxter staff.
(3) Sh. 1892 Manson's Sh. Almanac:
“Da carry is comin frae da nor-wast”, says Lowrie; “an if he hings up dat wy it widna be a fairlie if he sud be mauchtly thro da swaar o da dim”.
(4) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 23:
Amo' the herds that plaid a maughty part, Young Lindy kyth'd himsel wi' hand an' heart.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 38:
Whairat the mauchty Knicht took fire.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. vi. 92:
Jesus sal be wi' me as a maughty weiriour, an' ye'll staun sparrow-blastet.

II. v. To deprive of strength, found only in ppl.adj. maucht, maught, worn out, exhausted to the point of losing heart, puzzled, defeated (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).

[O.Sc. macht, strength, power, from a.1400, maucles, a.1585, Early Mid.Eng. maght, O.N. mátt-r, < *maht-r. In the pa.p. the -t of the ending has coalesced with the final consonant of the word.]

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"Maucht n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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