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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BODACH, BODDACH, n. [′bodəx, ′bɔdəx]

1. “An old man” (Sc. 1887 Jam.6; Cai.8 1934). Often used in a more or less contemptuous way.Sc. 1924 P. MacGillivray in Scots Mag. (July) 241:
Twa bodachs, I mind, had a threep yae day, Aboot man's chief end.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 3:
... an kent them as friens an neebors throw blin-drift, birsslin het an the on-ding o drookin thunnerplowts, frae bairn tae halflin, tae bodach an back again.
em.Sc. 1988 James Robertson in Joy Hendry Chapman 52 70:
There wis three auld men aince, three doitit auld fules that had aiblins mair sense nor ye'd think, an aiblins nane ava, three bodachs as a teuchter micht cry them, that set doun their dowps on a bink that owreluikit the Frith o Forth.
Fif. 1992 Simon Taylor Mortimer's Deep 392:
"Ye're no wantin tae gan in tae see the bodach the noo, are ye?" he asked.
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 31:
Then up sprang an old bodach, (who'd been dying almost daily).
"Come in", he beamed a welcome, "and we'll haff an early Ceilidh".
wm.Sc. 1983 Christine Marion Fraser Children of Rhanna (1989) 39:
He struggled out of his chair and Maggie rushed to hold him upright. 'You auld bodach,' she giggled.
Arg. 1882 Argyllsh. Herald (3 June):
It didna dae the boddach nae guid.

2. A person of small stature.Sc. 1934 A. Fraser Herd of the Hills 247:
He told of how Alicky Mag, the daft wee bodach that he was, had been taken away at last.
n.Sc. 1898 E.D.D.; Bnff.2 1935:
The new doctor's jist a wee bit bodach. dim. bodachan.
Sc. 1916 M. and J. Findlater Seen and Heard I. 42:
A braw bodachan ye'll mak' o' the bairn.

3. “Used by Scott and others in the sense of a spectre, bugaboo” (Sc. 1887 Jam.6).Sc. 1827 Scott Highland Widow i.:
Oh! then the mystery is out. There is a bogle or a brownie, a witch or a gyre-carlin, a bodach or a fairy, in the case?
n.Sc. 1898 E.D.D.:
In ye binna quayet, the bodach ill cum doon the lum an' tak ye.

4. “A familiar name for the devil” (Sc. 1887 Jam.6).

5. Fish names: (1) ‡bodach, “the small ringed seal, Phoca foetida” (n.Sc. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.); (2) in comb. bodachruadh, “the red gurnard: also the red rock cod” (Arg. 1936 L. M'Innes Dial. S. Kintyre).

6. A male tinker (Ags. c.1890).Uls. 1987 Sam Hanna Bell Across the Narrow Sea 93:
'No, they weren't bodachs,' replied the boy. 'They were better clad, like fighting men.'

7. A local Moray Firth name for the cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo (Mry., Bnff., Abd. 1975), also in Gael. dim. form bodachan.

[Gael. bodach, an old man, a churlish old man, a mutchkin. O.Sc. has boddoch, a mutchkin, early 17th cent. (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Bodach n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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