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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

ABLACH, ABLACK, ABLICH, ABLOCH, AIBLICH, n. [′ɑbləx, ′ɑblɪç n.Sc.; ′eblɪç Bch., L. Bnff.]

1. A mangled carcase.Mry. 1725 in W. Cramond Court Bks. Regality of Grant (1897) 26:
Alexander Grant in Dul presented in court ane wedder's skin and head found by dackering in the house of John Roy in Badenaden. He said it belonged to himself in respect he found it as ane ablach beside the fir wood.
Abd. 1825 Jam.2:
Ablack, the remains of any animal that has become the prey of a dog, fox, polecat, etc.

2. A body not necessarily dead but maimed or reduced to a pitiable condition.Ags. 1875 Kirriemuir Observer 2 July 4/3:
The muckle hailstanes played havoc till the cabbage an' buffed the berries to buit [boot] forby makin' ablochs o' the muircocks.

3. An insignificant or contemptible person (1) through lack of size, hence a dwarf; (2) through defect of will or intellect. Also applied often to a child in impatient or playful humour.(1) Bnff.2 1929:
Ablich, aiblich.
Abd. 1790 And. Shirrefs ( Gl. to) Poems:
Ablach, a dwarf; an expression of contempt.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 57:
Ye're naething but ablacks to the pretty men that were in my young days. [The 1908 edition spells this word “ablachs.”]
(2) Cai.1 1929:
A person of untidy habits and clumsy, ungainly demeanour. The word “ablach” is well known and is still often used in Cai., especially in the Highland parts of the country.
e.Rs.1 1929:
In my native Gaelic it means a pithless person, a useless, fushionless person. It used to be common in Easter Ross Eng. in that sense: “He is nothing but an ablach.”
ne.Sc. 1924 A. M. Williams Sc. Mag. I. i. 34:
“A preen-heidit ablach” is one of the many expressions of contempt common in the north-east.
Mry.(D) 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sketches 80:
“The ablach tried it on wi' me,” said Sandy, “but I seen pat a stop till't.”
Abd.(D) 1788 J. Skinner Christmas Bawing in Caled. Mag. Sept. 503:
And a' the ablachs glowr'd to see A bonny kind o' toolzie, Atween them twae. [The 1809 ed. has kenzies for ablachs and twa for twae.]
Abd.(D) 1913 C. Murray Hamewith 24:
An' faith the ablach threeve upon't, he never cried a halt Until he bocht fae Shou'der-win' a hardy cleekit shalt.
Abd.1 1929:
Ye wee ablich sit doon an' behave yersel til I get yer supper made.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Middleton in Sandy Stronach New Wirds: An Anthology of Winning Poems and Stories from the Doric Writing Competitions of 1994 and 1995 32:
The grumphy stoppit richt afore Mortlich, as nasty an aiblich as the kelpie hid ivver clappit een on.
Ags. 1897 Fergus Mackenzie Sprays of Northern Pine xvii. 212:
Dinna ye mind yon ablach o' a mannie that was preachin' i' the Free Kirk a twal'month past?

4. Transferred to inanimate objects defective through lack of size, etc., hence = a bit.Mearns 1825 Jam.2:
Ablack, a particle, a fragment; used in a general sense.

[Dinneen's Ir. Dict. gives “ablach, a carcase, a corpse, carrion, a useless, inert person, an unsightly person, a glutton.” The Highland Soc. Dict. gives “ablach, carrion, a mangled carcase, anything worthless or vile.” MacAlpine gives “ablach, anything mangled, a contemptible person.” See also Aploch.]

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"Ablach n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Nov 2023 <>



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