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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
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Selch, Selchie, Sele, n. Also: selche, selcht, selghe, selquh, sealch, sealghe, saylche, selich, seleich, selyh, selck, seall, seleché, seilché, selké. [ME and e.m.E. sele (Havelok), sely (? = selȝ (1383, north.), ceel (1409, north.), zele (1416, north.), sel (c1420, north.), seele (c1460, north.), seale (1579), OE seol(h. Also in the mod. north. dials. as (Shetl., Orkn., Caithness, Moray) selkie, silkie, and (Cromarty) sealchie.]

1. A seal. b. attrib., comb. and possess. See also Selch-skin. Also in place names.(1) c1128 Reg. Dunferm. 4.
De seliches quae ad Kingorn capientur postquam decimatae fuerint, concedo ut omnes septimos seliches habeant
c1277 Reg. Dunferm. 47.
Et de selyhes qui ad Kyngorn capiantur
a1384 Fordun (1747) I 46.
Vyst, … ubi de helchis [Fordun (ed. 1722) cetis], Anglice selquhis, ceterisque belluis marinis habetur abundantia
c1420 Wynt. iii 48.
The carle was fat as ony selch [C. selche, W. selghe]
a1500 Henr. Practysis 33.
Ane medecyne for the maw, … With the snowt of ane selch, ane swelling to swage
a1500 Henr. Practysis 55. 1488 Treas. Acc. I 91.
To a man that brocht a selcht to the king
1502 Treas. Acc. II 342.
To ane man brocht ane quyk selch fra Pittinweme … to the king
1518 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 129.
That the said Robert byis hering, keling, selchis and uthir fisch cumand in at the said port of Leith and saltis and pelis the samin
1535 Stewart 4996.
Merchandice … As selch and salmone [etc.]
1549 Compl. 60/22.
The selcht, quhilk sum men callis the see volue
1561 Reg. Episc. Morav. App. 404.
Pro uno lie seleich 4 solidos
c1575 Balfour Pract. 51. 1580-92 James VI Lusus Reg. 26.
As selchis haif milk & young onis laik in graunis
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 12/11.
Daulphins, seahorse, selchs
a1595 Descr. Isles 431. ?1549 Monro W. Isles i (1961) 56.
Upon the quhilk banks upon eb sea lyis infinite selchis [Orig. Par. II 273, selecheis] quhilks are slane with doggis
?1549 Monro W. Isles (1961) 77.
Ane ile … callit Haifsker, quhairin infinite slauchter of selchis [Orig. Par. II i 375, seilcheis] is maid at certane times in the ȝeir
?1549 Monro W. Isles (1961) 78.
The saids Stewartis ressaves thair maillis [sc. from Hirta] in maill and reistit muttonis, wild reistit foullis and selchis
1612 Bk. Rates (Halyb.) 329. c1630 Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 181. 1633 (1711) Sibbald's Orkn. & Shetl. 22.
There are no hares in these isles. There are no foxes. There are abundance of selches and otters
1633 (1711) Sibbald's Orkn. & Shetl. 75.
Upon the west side of the bay there lye several rocks, or skerries, which selches [Descr. Zetland 76 selcks] frequent in the moneth of November, and the inhabitants neglect not to wait upon them to kill them, the skins they sell, but the bulks they salt, and in time of Lent, they eat them as sweetly as venison
1659 Craven Caithness Diocese 107. 1667 Highland P. II 45.
The Kintaill men had the killing of them like selches
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 516.
I haue found a great selch at the shore … we may flea the selch and secure the fatt in such a place
c1680 Coll. Aberd. & B. 97. 1700 Anal. Scot. II 136.
The sealchs, and meersvoyne and poirpoises devour a great many of them [sc. skate]
(b) 1630-1651 Gordon Geneal. Hist. 4.
Ther is … upon all the cost of Sutherland a great quantitie of pealoks, sealghes or sealls and somtymes whaills of great bignes
(c) 1596 Dalr. I 57/33.
Sey calues or saylches
(d) 1630-1651 Gordon Geneal. Hist. 4 (see (b) above).
(e) 1602 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 2.
With ane rottin selchie comprysit to thrie schillingis Scottis
1602 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 63.
Ane selchie fund of twa leispund spick comprysit to ane gulyeoun
1604 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 112.(2) 1525 Household Bks. Jas. V 43.
viij bronoscopj, j quarta selch
1531 Bell. Boece I xxxvii.
This firth [of Forth] is richt plentuus of coclis, osteris, muschellis, selch, [etc.]
1531 Bell. Boece I xlvii.
In this … isle is incredible noumer of selch, pellok, and meirswine
b. attrib. (1) 1588 Cal. Sc. P. IX 671.
iij dozen selch beltis at iiij l. x s.
1616 Black Orkn. & Shetl. Folklore 135.
[The] selch bone [with which she stirred her milk to divine the product]
1646 Ayr Presb. in Scott Fasti (1868) III 128.
[He] did bring a great kirk-bible with ane selch covering thairon
1671 Edinb. Test. LXXIV 140b.
Ane parsell of selch skines … vi selch trunckes
(b) 1603 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 83.
[He] ordanis that nane frequent ony of my lordis holmis with ony selchie nets without leife
1604 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 145.
Being accusit for the wrangous intromissioun with fyve selchie fisches
(2) 1696 Retours I Inq. Spec. Caithness (36).
Cum haulknests et selkenes pertinentibus ad dictas terras
16… Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. III 7.
Near to this is another isle called Selch-Skerrie … There they kill many seales
(b) 12… Liber Melros 131.
& super Selestede ade duas acras & dimitias
possess. 1610 Wedderb. Compt Bk. 137.
Send to William Davidsone younger the selches skyn almry with the hempseid
1631–2 Misc. Spald. C. V 149.
For a trunk coverit with selches skyn, coft at London to the townes use

2. ? A seal as depicted on a playing card or ? an example of Sele n.2 in the same sense. Cf. Sow n.1 1 d. 1597 Edinb. Test. XXXI 176.
Item tua dussone pacok cairtis price xl s. Item tua dussone cairtis of the sow and the seill price thairof xl s.

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"Selch n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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