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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FLECH, n., v. Also flaich (Sh.); †fleigh (Bch. 1832 W. Scott Poems 45), flegh, fleach (S.D.D.). [flɛç]

I. n. 1. A flea (Sc. 1755 Johnson Dict.; n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; I. and n.Sc., Ags., Per., Fif. 1951). Combs.: †flech-brod, “a board with crevices for catching fleas” (Cai.1 c.1920); kill-the-flech, the feverfew, Chrysanthemum parthenium (Ags. 1952). See below.Ags. 1859 C. S. Graham Mystifications 17:
I have a flech that loupit aff him upon my aunty.
Abd. 1868 G. Macdonald R. Falconer vii.:
To send him off . . . wi' a flech in's lug.
Fif. 1873 J. Wood Ceres Races 62:
Pity the flechs that canna soom!
Sh. 1888 Archæol. Review I. 348:
Da Flech an' da Loose lived tagedder in a hoose.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 28:
Wi' bow-hoch't legs an' pirn taes Bit swuppert as a flech.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 57:
I'm gleg as a flech, spinnin like a peerie,
singin like a lintie an' oh, I canna weary.
Abd. 1991 Douglas Kynoch in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 86:
Terpsichore was trachelt;
But, for aa she had tae pech,
Was lowpin like a limmer
Wi a forkie or a flech.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 216:
Food for ilka manner o creeping thing - worm, klock, flech, bluebottle, dragonfly, shonnag, shitey-flee.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 8:
Sae Davie cuppit his haun tae his heid wi the boolie inno his nieve an made on he wis scrattin his harns, thouchtfu-like. Molly McKenzie glowered at him-she wis sure he hid a dose o flechs.

Hence flechie(-y), flaichy, covered or infested with fleas (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; I. and n.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1951). Also n. Nickname for a flea-infested person. Comb. flechie-Nell(ie), the feverfew, Chrysanthemum parthenium, used to drive off insects (Ags. 1952).Ags. 1894 Arbroath Guide (8 Sept.):
That flechie brute o' a cat on the stairheid.
Abd. 1992 Press and Journal 25 Jul 4:
Flechy feels fair ferfochen [Headline] "I see Flechy's back," she said. Mother Dreep looked up. "I thocht Flechy was deid," she said.

2. A restless, active person (ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1951); “a person of a light, unsteady disposition, and of no great stature” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 48).Ags. 1836 Arbroath Argus (1 Feb.) 23:
Our minister is an awfu' flech o' a creatur.
Abd.7 1925:
One who is always in a hurry will be called a “flech o' a craitur.”

II. v. 1. tr. and refl. To rid of fleas (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; n.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1951); to scratch.Sc. 1900 E.D.D., Abd.27 1953:
The dog's flechin' (himsel').
Ags. 1992:
Fergie, stop yer flechin! (to a dog)

2. intr. To be restless, to fidget.Abd.7 1925:
Fat are ye flechin' aboot at?

3. tr. To beat soundly; to scold (Abd.27 1926); “employed in a half-joking, half-contemptuous way, and most commonly of a woman falling out on a man” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 48). Vbl.n. flechin, a scolding.

[O.Sc. fleche, a flea, 1610, O.E. flēah, id.]

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"Flech n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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