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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).

WAUCH, adj., n. Also waugh; wauf(f) (s.Sc.). [wɑx, wǫx; s.Sc. wǫf]

I. adj. 1. (1) Of a taste or smell: unpleasant, stale, musty, unappetising (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 208; Bnff., Abd., Ags. 1973). Also in n.Eng. dial. Hence waughness, an insipid taste (Abd. 1973); see a.1838 quot. Comb. waugh-tastit, having a bad taste (Abd. 1973).Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Journal 24:
It [ale] had an ugly knaggim, an' a wauch wa-gang.
Sc. 1814 C. I. Johnstone Saxon & Gael III. xv.:
I think she'll no put owre this night. The wauch earth smell is about her already.
Ork. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 345:
This term is used in a very singular phrase, common in Ork. waughness in sponses, expl. “dryness in one's nostrils.”
Ags. 1857 A. Douglas Ferryden 120:
It has an awfu' wauch taste wi't.
Bnff. 1860 Banffshire Jnl. (24 April) 3:
In a wauch droukit plaid to be drabbl'd a' day.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xi.:
Soot amang them, I'm thinkin', or some ither confoondit waugh-tastit graith.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 17:
There's a damp, waugh, nesty smell here.
Abd. 1963 J. C. Milne Poems 46:
Gie's a kiss! G'wa ye gock! Fat's adee? A wauch mou!

(2) Of food, cooking, etc.: tasteless, unappetising (Ags. 1926; Abd., Ags. 1973); not nourishing, unsubstantial. Also in n.Eng. dial.Dmf. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (Nov.) 154:
They wad gang to bed wi' sic a wauf wamefu'.
Gall. 1905 Gallovidian VII. 31:
“But look at the folk that suppit treacle an sma yill to their parritch, ay, an some o them took sugar and water.” “Wauf kitchen that, Jamie.”
Abd. 1931 R. L. Cassie Scots Sangs 22:
Wir brochan may be unco wauch For toon-born quines an' laddies.

(3) Of persons: having a dry, disagreeable taste in the mouth (Mry. 1930). Also wauchie, id., esp. after a drinking bout (Id.).

2. Unwell, faint, weak, weary (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 208; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 207; Dmf. c.1920), dispirited. Also in n.Eng. dial.Mry. 1875 W. H. L. Tester Select Poems 6:
Wauch, wearied, wayward, wandering Willie La.
Dmf. 1921 T. G. Gracie Songs 99:
Think I'll faint — I'm unco wauff!
Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie In Two Tongues 35:
And wauch and disjaskit He'll nae mair ask it. But lea' her for ever . . .

Derivs.: ¶(1) wallachie, pale, sickly-looking, sallow (see etym. note); (2) wauchie, -y, (i) id. (Lnk. 1825 Jam.). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (ii) weak, feeble; (iii) see 1. (3) above; (3) waufish, unwell, unsettled.(1) Nai. c.1930:
She's afa wallachie the day.
(2) (i) Sc. 1819 Scots Mag. (June) 528:
A laithsome fiend stude at his side Wi' wauchie cheek an' wauland ee.
(ii) Kcb. 1825 W. Nicholson Poems (1897) 78:
On his wauchie arms three claws did meet As they trail'd on the grun' by his taeless feet.
Sc. 1935 W. Soutar Poems in Sc. 50:
Cain's, amang his wauchy wisps [of corn], Smoor'd in a smochy drow.
(3) s.Sc. 1933 Border Mag. (July) 111:
I canna get it oot o' my heid. It's made me fair waufish the day.

3. Good-for-nothing, useless, worthless, feeble. Also used subst., a worthless character. In this sense phs. confused with Waff, adj., 2.Ags. 1812 R. Wighton Beggar's Son 41:
“Would you gie's a slice o' ham?” “Hams are no for trailin' wauchies.”
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Waugh fouk, loose or disorderly people.
Ags. 1883 J. Kennedy Poems 104:
To think that weel-born bairn o' hers Would turn a waugh play-actor.
Ags. 1897 G. A. Mackay Where the Heather Grows 163:
Gae wa, ye cuif. Ye're the wauchest chiel wi' the lasses I ever saw.
Abd.13 1910:
A workin' wife maks a wauch dother.

II. n. An unpleasant smell (Abd. 1913); a bad taste in the mouth (Mry. 1925).

[Sc. form of O.E. wealh, lukewarm, insipid, which in the oblique cases has given Eng. †wallow, id. The corresp. Eng. dial. form from the nomin. is waff, which has become established in s.Sc. The odd form wallachie is appar. a conflation of wauchie and Eng. wallow.]

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



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