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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LOCH, n., v. Also lauch; ‡louch (s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 119), †lough. [lɔx, s.Sc. + lʌuxʍ]

I. n. 1. A lake, a sheet of natural water, an arm of the sea, esp. of the fiord shape (Sc. 1755 Johnson Dict., 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc., universally applied to natural lakes, except the Lake of Menteith in Perthshire. Lake is used only of artificial formations (except as under Lake). Adj. lochy, full of lochs. Dims. lochan, -en, lochie. Hence lochan gull, the black-headed gull, Larus ridibundus, from its habitat (Ayr. 1936; Wgt. 1961). Cf. Collochan Gull. There may however be some association with Lauch, v.1, as in the Lat. name.Sc. 1702 T. Morer Acct. Scotland 72:
On the South-side of Edinburgh, was heretofore a Lough o r Lake.
Sc. 1726 Records Conv. Burghs (B.R.S.) 419:
The herrings which frequently ran up into our firths and lochs to spawn.
Abd. 1758 Aberdeen Jnl. (26 Dec.):
A man and his wife were riding through the lilly lough near the water of Dee, in the parish of Nether-Banchory.
Sc. 1773 Boswell Tour (13 Sept.):
One of the lochs, as they call them, or arms of the sea.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Tam Samson's Elegy iv.:
When to the loughs the Curlers flock.
Sc. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 36:
The rumour spreading round the lochan.
Sc. 1800 Edb. Advertiser (5 Aug.) 88:
Safe Lowland Wintering, along the sea shore, which bounds the Estate for above seventy miles, independent of numerous Sea Lochs.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 39:
Fairnyear, the lauch was frozen owre.
Sc. 1828 Blackwood's Mag. (Sept.) 302:
As woody, as lochy, and as rivery a parish.
Ayr. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 V. 431:
There are still to be found among these sandhills, little lagoons (Scoticé lochans).
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxii.:
Beneath us the whole of the land backwards, with its lochs and lochans, clints and mosses.
e.Lth. 1899 J. Lumsden Poems 6:
Duddingston's lone, lochy dell.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road viii.:
Their track was by a little lochan where the sedges hissed.
Sc. 1948 S. Gordon Highways Cent. Highl. 341:
Lochan Uaine, the Green Tarn … there are several lochans of this name on the Cairngorms.
m.Sc. 1982 Matt Marshall in Hamish Brown Poems of the Scottish Hills 10:
Or the bracken birstled yellow wi the sun?
O the moon abune the lochan
Ork. 1995 Orcadian 28 Sep 16:
Our dry peats were stacked in the hill. We had a little lochan, out of which my dad cut small black peats. As soon as the rains came the loch was flooded, leaving only the tops of the roos in sight.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 49:
The pew wis a lang, lang timmer sattle, aa sheeny wi the dowpin doon o hunners o docks, smeeth's the face o a lochan on a quate simmer's day.
Sh. 1999 Laughton Johnston in Myra Sanderson Heritage Scotland Vol. 16 No. 2 22:
On the hill are also scatterings of peaty lochans where that other bird with the voice of the wilderness, the raingoose (red-throated diver), builds its nest.

2. Transf.: the whole body of curlers or skaters playing on a frozen loch.Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 102:
The haill loch was laughing at him … Jemmy Simpson is a feckless bodie on the ice.

3. A small pool or puddle. Gen.Sc.; sometimes in reference to the discharge of urine (Ork., ne.Sc., Per. 1961).Abd. 1927 E. B. Levack Lossiemouth 31:
A wis sittin in a loch o' watter covert wi' tangles. Bit it wisna saut watter 'at weet me, A wis poorin' o' swyte fae tap to tae.

4. Combs.: ‡(1) loch-bluiter, the bittern, Botaurus stellaris (wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan Add. 486; Kcb. 1961). Cf. Bluiter, n.4; (2) loch-fit, -foot, the lower end of a loch. Gen.Sc.; (3) loch-fly, an angling fly used in fishing in lochs; (4) loch-head, the upper end of a loch. Gen.Sc., freq. in place-names; fig. the utmost point or extremity; (5) loch-learock, “a small grey water-bird, seen on Lochleven” (Knr. 1825 Jam.), phs. the dunlin, Calidris alpina. See Laverock; (6) loch-leech, the leech, Hirudo medicinalis, found in ponds, etc. (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 123). Also fig. of a rapacious person; (7) loch libbert, see Loch-liver; (8) loch lily, the water-lily, Nymphaea alba (Rnf. 1837 Crawfurd MSS. XI. 64; Uls. 1953 Traynor, lough-). The yellow loch-lily is Nymphaea lutea: (9) loch-liver, see Loch-liver; (10) loch-lubbertie, -ton, = (9); (1) loch-maw, -maa, the common gull, Larus canus (Sc. 1825 Jam.: Sh. 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 306; Sh., Cai. 1961); (12) loch reed, the common reed-grass, Phragmites communis (s.Sc. 1777 J. Lightfoot Flora Scot. II. 1131; Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 38); (13) loch robinson, see Loch-liver; (14) lochside, the side of a loch, the district round a loch. Gen.Sc., common in place-names; (15) loch trout, a trout which feeds in a loch, gen. of a larger size than a river-trout. Gen.Sc.(2) Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags xlvi.:
Down in the copse-wood at the loch-foot.
(3) Sc. 1847 T. T. Stoddart Angler's Companion 94:
The larger or spring sizes of loch flies may . . . be employed with success in angling for sea-trout or whitlings.
(4) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 62:
The player … is not to give it [curling-stone] powder, and shove all to lochhead of desolation, but simply to brak an egg.
(6) Sc. c.1702 Analecta Scot. (Maidment 1834) I. 66:
The lockleich of the Brittish bloode, The lockleich of the Brittish purse.
Sc. 1749 Scots Mag. (May) 218:
The leech-worm. or (as it is commonly called) the loch-leech.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie ciii.:
They ken as little about complaints in the stomach as a loch-leech.
Slk. 1827 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1876) vii.:
The gowk kens what the tittling wants, although it is not aye crying, Give, give, like the horse loch-leech.
Sc. 1834 M. Scott T. Cringle's Log (1895) ii.:
At length the whirling circle of white foam ascended higher and higher, and then gradually contracted itself into a spinning black tube, which wavered about, for all the world, like a gigantic loch-leech.
(12) Sc. 1746 Caled. Mercury (18 Dec.):
In one of the Lochs there is a great Plenty of Loch-Reed growing.
(15) Sc. 1847 T. T. Stoddart Angler's Companion 94:
During summer, and in weather comparatively calm, loch trout may be taken more readily with a small than with a large fly.
Wgt. 1875 W. McIlwraith Guide Wgt. 21:
The grey loch-trout plays in the depths of the little inland seas.

II. v. Of fish: to inhabit or enter a loch, specif. of herring going up Loch Fyne (Arg. 1960). Agent n. locher, (1) see quot.; (2) the grey loch-trout, Salmo fario.Arg. 1956 Manch. Guardian (12 Sept.) 5:
The herring have not been up that length [Inveraray] for a long time. Yet now there they are again. “Aye, they're loching right enough,” said one of the Tarbert fishermen, having seen the signs all up the shores.
Arg. 1992:
Thats's when the herring wid lie doon, as ye winna ken there wir a herrin in the sea. Right down. They must've been lyin on the bottom. They lie for a month or more. "It wiz lochin." - "It's lochin."
(1) wm.Sc. 1838 Caled. Mercury (27April):
A few fresh herrings have now been caught this week in Lochfine. They are small, or not of a good quality, being what is called lochers, that is fish that have remained in the loch [Fyne] all winter.
(2) Slk. a.1835 T. Craig-Brown History Slk. (1886) I. 348:
The great yellow-fin of Yarrow, or the still larger grey locher.

[O.Sc. louch, loch, from 1375, Gael., Ir. loch, cogn. with lake, Lat. lacus. Some forms in lou- may however go back to O.North. luh, from Early Welsh llwch.]

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



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