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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

BRASH, Brashe, Braush, n.1, v., adj. [brɑʃ Sc., but m.Sc. + brǫʃ]

I. n.

1. “An effort, an attack, an assault” (Sc. 1808 Jam., brash, brashe), lit. and fig. Obs. in St.Eng., but still found in n.Eng. dial.Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 282:
Takin' a brash o' godliness ance, . . . auld Cockenny took to the prayin' by himsel in the stackyaird and the parks.
Rxb.(D) 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes an Knowes 11:
Up-bye, as A paat on a bit aixtra brash, a grocer body . . . gien [gave] iz the weel-wurn hail.

2. A short attack of illness; an illness of any kind. Gen.Sc. Also found in Eng. dial. (E.D.D.).Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Brash. This word is very commonly used to denote the more slight ailments of children. The disorder, to which they are often subject after being weaned, is called the speaning-brash. We also speak of “a brash of the teeth” as denoting their occasional illness, when teething. The term is likewise used more generally to signify any slight ailment, the nature of which is not understood. . . . In this case it is vulgarly said, “It is just some brash.”
Ork.(D) 1910 J. T. S. Leask in Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc. III. i. 29:
Whin we hae a air i da hoose id slips awa ae way an' anither, atween a gless tae da mare whin sheu takes a brash an wir Pegs whin sheu takes a pain i 'er booals.
Abd. 1906 J. Christie in Bnffsh. Jnl. (3 July) 3:
If whiles they took a wee bit brash They gaed to sea an' took a splash.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto Tammas Bodkin (1868) iv.:
After teethin', cam' the spainin' brash.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Chron. of Glenbuckie 108:
Her little charge had taken a “brash” of a serious nature.
Uls. c.1920 J. Logan Ulster in the X-rays (2nd ed.) vi.:
I heard a Belfast merchant . . . excuse himself from attendance at a meeting because he had had a “wee brash.”

Hence brashy, “delicate in constitution, subject to frequent ailments” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1905 in E.D.D. Suppl.; Bnff.2, Fif.10, Slg.3 1935). Kcb. 1898 T. Murray Frae the Heather 172:
Which by-and-by may make them [sheep] brashy, And blight our hopes.

3. “A sudden gust of wind, a shower” (Abd.19, Lnl.1 1935); “a short time of wet or stormy weather” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 16; Bnff.2, Ags.2 1935). N.E.D. gives “a sudden dash or burst of rain” for Eng. dialects. Also fig.Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet, Letter xi.:
He got the first brash at Whitsunday put ower wi' fair word and piping.
Gall. 1930 (per Wgt.3):
I wadna gie ye a doit for a dance like that . . . ye never get any forreder. It's for a' the worl' like a brash o' wun'.

Hence brashy, brashie, braushie, adj., “stormy” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); “wet and windy” (Slg.3 1935; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays and Lyrics 234:
When winter nights were wat and brashie, Say, was your wick a rind o' rashie?
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 114:
We've brush'd the bent, thro' monie a speat O' braushie weather!

4. “A short turn of work; often applied to churning; as, ‘Come gie's a brash'; ‘Mony a sair brash it cost them, afore the butter cam'” (Lth. 1825 Jam.2). Also in Eng. dial. (E.D.D.).Arg.1 1929:
Tak a brash at the kurn in the by-goin'.
Tyr. 1931 “Clone” in North. Whig (17 Dec.) 10/6:
She had started the churn and wanted William James to tak his brash.

5. A noisy throng, an eruption of people (Ork. 1975). Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Poems 127:
With them they bring a brash o' bairns.

II. v., tr. and intr.

1. tr.

(1) “To bruise and break the bones; often used by angry persons in threatening children” (Dmf. 1825 Jam.2); to crush.Ags. 1829 Montrose Review (21 Aug.) 263/3:
An' brash a brig to crockinition That injures nane.

Hence brashed, adj., shaken.Dmf. 1837 J. W. Carlyle Letters (ed. Froude 1883) I. 395:
I got up to breakfast, but too brashed to dream of going off to London.

(2) “To eruct liquid into the mouth” (Bnff.2 1935).Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 69; Kcb.9 1935:
Ye were na ane wha boaks and spues, And brashes't [whisky] up the throat, man.

(3) To smash, batter, bash (a thing). Dmf. 1828 Letters T. Carlyle to his Brother (Marrs 1968) 254:
Any man may "take his hammer," and brash it when he pleases.

(4) In Forestry: to lop or break off the lower dead branches of a conifer, so as to leave the stem free of knots (Sc. 1962 Sc. Forestry XVI. 230). Cf. n.Eng. dial. brash, clippings, refuse of trees, dead underwood.

2. intr. To rush.Ayr.4 1928:
The corn's comin' brashin up, when corn has a good “braird.”
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 332:
Ay dash on, and brash on, Throughout this wardly strife.

III. adj. Impetuous. Given in N.E.D. as obs. or dial.Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days (1923) xxii.:
I feel so brash and brave myself in the morning I could skip the hills like a goat.

[O.Sc. brasche, brash, n., (1) a violent onset, attack or assault, (2) an attack of illness; v., (1) to break through or down by assault, (2) to beat violently at (a door). Imitative or suggested by Fr. brèche, breach (D.O.S.T.). Cf. M.L.Ger. brasch, crash (R.G.).]

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"Brash n.1, v., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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