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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.

SKRAICH, v., n. Also scraich; skraigh, scraigh, schraigh (Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms iv. 1), skreagh, screagh (Uls. a.1870 W. Lutton Montiaghisms (1924) 35); skryaach (Abd. 1930); scraik (Uls. 1924 Northern Whig (5 Jan.); Mry. 1925; Ork. 1960), scrake, skraik, screck (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). [skre:ɛ; skre:k]

I. v. Of birds: to screech, to utter a high-pitched cry (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 67); of persons: to shriek, scream, shout (Jam.; Uls. 1923 Northern Whig (31 Dec.)). Gen. (exc.I.) Sc; of a horse: to neigh, whinny. Also of things. Derivs. scraigher, one who screeches, specif. the mistle-thrush, Turdus viscivorus, so called from its loud cries when alarmed (Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (15 Dec.) 10, screagher), ¶scraighton, person fond of screaming. For this formation cf. simpleton, singleton, etc.Per. 1730 “John o' Blair” Donald of Glenisla (1931) 275:
I and my servant heard a skraiching.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Ep. to J. Lapraik i.:
Paitricks scraichan loud at e'en.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 343, 377:
The ither may go, The auld scraighton sea din, To the regions below. . . . Ned's song, which he gives with a scraigh when fou; indeed, he is the finest scraigher I ever heard.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxii.:
To steik up their scraighing gabs.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xii.:
He wad seize hauds o' the fiddle . . . makin' a skraighin' noise like a score o' gan'ers.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 134:
Scraichin a' she wus fit.
Bnff. 1939 J. M. Caie Hills and Sea 31:
Hark, hoo the pipers skraich.
Abd. 1956 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iii.:
You smatchets, skirlin an' skryaachin.
Lth. 1966 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 174:
The ice was thrang wi' skaters an' wi' skraichan slidan weans.
m.Sc. 1991 William Neill in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 49:
an hears thir clansmen lauch an skraich
doun in the forest's mirk.
Abd. 1991 Douglas Kynoch in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 86:
Thalia, she was scraichin
Like a half-demintit hen.
Fut set the lassie lauchin
Only her an Clootie ken.
Dundee 1994 Matthew Fitt in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 175:
"Wha's goat ten pence?" He come stoarmin oot fae the phone buckie. "Gei's ten pence," he demandit aff an aald boy, setting oan his lane at a tebill. The aald boy's chair skraikit oan the flair an he stude up.

II. n. 1. A shriek, screech, shrill strident sound (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc.Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 4:
A hoody . . . down on the foe She darts wi' wicked skraich.
Dmf. 1808 J. Mayne Siller Gun 70:
And nought was heard syne owr the green But scraighs and groans!
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals iv.:
[The parrot] gied a skraik that made my whole head dirl.
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 118:
The chiel wi' the skraigh makes a soun', whenever he bursts out a-speakin, like a great big midden pootry fool purshued by a ggem-cock.
Abd. 1868 G. Macdonald R. Falconer xxiii.:
His auld, useless, ill-mainnert scraich o' a fiddle.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags xxiii.:
That was as naething to the scraich that the fowk aboot the fire gied.
Uls. 1904 E.D.D.:
I'll light on you with a scraigh, as the divil said to the ould seceder.
Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song 95:
She began to whistle, and laughed a loud scraich of a laugh.
Gsw. 1950 H. W. Pryde McFlannel Family Affairs 124:
As the scraighs rose in pitch and volume.
Rs. 1991 Bess Ross Those Other Times 252:
"Well, it wasn't me anyway," Marjie was the first one to deny it, the scraik of the needle as it swung across the bakelite still loud in her ears.
Ags. 1993 Mary McIntosh in Joy Hendry Chapman 74-5 112:
The hind-maist wurd wis a hairsh scraich. He delascht a roon o billits at the ruif. Aathing went quait. The air wis fou o the yowther an the wheesht dirled his lugs.
m.Sc. 1994 Mary McCabe Everwinding Times 31:
"I'm trying to tell you..." (Away up in a scraich goes the voice. Bring it down, bring it down.) "I'm trying to tell you..." (down, voice, down!) "... to tell you about my problem with Time! I knew you wouldn't believe me."
Sc. 1995 James S. Adam New Verses for an Auld Sang 41:
I was a grown man, mairrit an bein,
ma faither's daith
an a begrutten mither's wae
lang ahent me.
That sudden shakkin skraich
gart me ken that thru lang years ...
Lnk. 1998 Duncan Glen Selected New Poems 15:
Perched on a tree, an unseen bird maks skraik,
skraik as if bairn's rachteted gun. The one strong note.
But no! A stooping, stout auld buddie taks her
painfou wey, mumblin, stumblin and slaw.
Gsw. 2000 Donny O'Rourke in Alec Finlay Atoms of Delight 129:
Shriek Cock
By its skraik shall ye know it. No there's rarely any hush
The mating season's raucous for the Ulster mistle thrush

2. A puny, shrill-voiced person (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 162; Abd. 1970).Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song 179:
As though Scotch wasn't good enough now, it had words in it that the thin bit scraichs of the English could never come at.

[Imit. of a high-pitched screech. Cf. Skreich, and Skrauch, which conveys a deeper and more prolonged sound.]

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



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