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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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About this entry:
First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SCRATCH, n., v. Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. Mashed potatoes, made thin and boiled with suet, and mixed with oatmeal.Ags. 1857 A. Douglas Hist. Ferryden 86:
A body cud eat o' them [potatoes] till they misportioned themsels; an' sae fine scratch the left anes mak'.

2. A colloq. name for the devil. Now only dial. in Eng., and also in form Old Scrat.Rnf. 1852 J. Mitchell Grey Goose Quill 139:
Gane are the days o' gude John Knox, Wha used sae well Auld Scratch to box.

3. In dim. form scratchie, a disease of sheep (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Lth. 1969). Cf. scrapie s.v. Scrape.

II. v. As in Eng. Agent n. scratcher, 1. a toy consisting of a string, a pin and a button so contrived as to swing and tap against a window-pane on a dark night to annoy the occupants of the house (Mry. 1925); 2. a trawler that fishes as close as possible to the three-mile limit and is thus able to come to port more freq. with the catches (ne.Sc. 1969); 3. a bed (Gsw. 1934 Partridge Slang Dict.), appar. orig. a public lodging-house term, sc. as being verminous. Gen.Sc. slang. Cf. Eng. slang flea-bag.2. Abd. 1949 Banffshire Jnl. (23 Aug.):
Aberdeen trawlers are classified as “Long trippers” and “Scratchers”. The former work off Iceland, the Faroes, the Orkneys and Shetland, or off the North-West coast. The latter fish off the East Coast. They land their catches several times a week.
3. Dmf. 1910 R. Quin Borderland (1933) 36:
No rest for you here — take my tip — Until you've squared yer scratcher.
wm.Sc. 1958 Bulletin (29 Nov.):
Come on, ye wee deevils. Awa' to your scratchers at the toot.

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"Scratch n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Apr 2024 <>



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