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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SCLATCH, v., n., adv. Also sklatch, schlatch-; deriv. sklatchin. [sklɑtʃ]

I. v. 1. To smear, bedaub, cover over with or apply some wet or messy substance, (Slk. 1825 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 159; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Wgt. 1969), vbl.n. sklatchin, a clot or mass of something messy or untidy (Gregor); to hit or slap with a resounding smack (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Yonderton xxv.:
A'thing wiz lockit an' sclatch't o'er wi' sealin' wax besides.
Fif. 1884 G. Bruce Reminisc. 169:
She was brought into the harbour, “sclatched” up, towed to Dysart, and repaired.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 20:
A'll sklatch ee roond the lugs wui this wesheen-cloot.

2. tr. and intr. To work in a dirty messy material or manner (Abd., Kcd., Ags., Fif. 1969); to make or construct clumsily or untidily, to use in a slipshod or careless way, to botch (Sc. 1808 Jam.).Ags. 1892 Arbroath Guide (13 Feb.) 3:
I canna think they are ony better o' bein' sclatched aboot as they ha'e been.
Per. 1910 W. Blair Kildermoch 120:
Thae silly rhymes were sclatched thegither an' sung by the scholars.
Fif. 1952:
Sclatchin about amon guitters.
Dundee 2000 Ellie McDonald Pathfinder 4:
This is yer Muse talkin.
Ye're on yer final warnin.
Nae mair sclatchin i the kitchen,
nae mair hingin out the washin,
nae mair stour soukin.
This is yer Muse talkin
fae the wyste paper basket.

3. To walk or move about in an ungainly slovenly way, to shuffle (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 159; Rs. 1911; Ags., Per. 1969). Adj. sklatchach [′sklɑtʃəx], ungainly, clumsy, shuffling, of gait (Per. 1969). Deriv. in comb. schlatcher-feet, a nickname for an awkward shambling person.Per. 1879 P. R. Drummond Bygone Days 178:
There's ye're taed; I fand it sclatching amon' a wheen puddocks.
Fif. 1902 D. S. Meldrum Conquest of Charlotte i. vi.:
A dirty, dishevelled character, one “Schlatcher-feet” by name.

4. intr. To dash down or fall heavily, with a great thud or clash (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 159).

II. n. 1. A large smudge, smear or patch on a surface (Sh., Bnff., Abd., em.Sc. (a) 1952); a mass, clot or daub of something wet or dirty (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 159); fig. a smattering (of knowledge).Ags. c.1830:
A local rather inexpert portrait painter in Arbroath in the thirties of last century was known as “Slatch Kidd”.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 159:
He hiz a red sklatch on's broo.
Per. 1895 I. MacLaren Auld Lang Syne 126:
For a' the warld like a sklatch o' eukiness half roond his waist.
Gall. a.1897 Rab Ringan's Plewman Cracks 9, 24:
I had but a sma sclatch o' schule-lair. . . . A bit sclatch o' geology.

2. A mess of any kind, a botch, bungle, “shambles” (Abd., Kcd., Ags., Fif., Bwk., s.Sc. 1969); a bungling clumsy workman, a botcher; “a big lubberly fellow” (Sc. 1808 Jam.).Ags. 1830 Perthshire Advert. (18 March):
A new ane [church] wud hae been the only thing. She'll just be a mere sklatch, I wud rather gie half-a-crown mysel' an' gotten a wise like ane.
Ags. 1898 A. H. Rea Divot Dyke 70:
And addled eggs, Like chucky stanes, ye muckle sklatch, Lay roond yer legs.

3. A heavy fall, esp. into water or mud, a splash, plump, a dashing down, clash, slap, smack or the noise of such (Ags. 1808 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 159; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; ne.Sc. 1969).Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chronicle (25 March) 4:
The Crailing lass who, in the dark! gave one of the bailiffs a resounding “sclatch” on the face.

4. A shuffling ungainly walker, a heavy flatfooted person (Per. 1969). Adj. sclatchy, shambling, ungainly in movement.wm.Sc. 1897 Trans. Highl. Soc. IX. 139:
He was not at all equal to his sire in merit, being “sclatchy” and long and hollow in the back.

III. adv. With a sharp smack or clashing sound, with a heavy footfall.Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 159:
He fell sklatch our o' the green.

[A variant of Clatch, n., Clatch, v.1, mainly of imit. orig., as Sklash, Slash, but cf. also O.Fr. esclache, a splash, and Eng. dial. slat, (to) slap, daub.]

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"Sclatch v., n., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 11 Dec 2023 <>



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