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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.

MINCH, n., v. Also minsh (Lnk. 1880 Clydesdale Readings 85); dim. minchick, double dim. minchickie (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 114). Sc. forms of Eng. mince (Ayr. 1726 Dailly Kirk Sess. Rec. MSS., Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 136; Ayr. 1788 J. Lapraik Poems 172, Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1813) 8, Kcd. 1849 W. Jamie Stray Effusions 147, Abd. 1929 Abd. Univ. Review (March) 128; Abd., Ags., wm.Sc. 1963). The Eng. form is now largely displacing the Sc. even in Sc. usages. [mɪnʃ]

I. n. 1. Minced meat, meat cut up very small, now esp. meat put through a mincing-machine. Now obs. in Eng. but the regular meaning in Sc. The chopped-up fruit now called mince in Eng. is usu. distinguished in Sc. as sweet mince.Fif. 1894 J. Menzies Our Town 63:
Better minsh never cam' oot o' the flesher's.
Abd. 1961 Buchan Observer (12 Dec.):
“Minch!” was the order of the day.

Combs.  (1) ‡mince-collops, slices of beef finely minced (Per. 1916 Wilson L. Strathearn 258). See Collop; (2) mince-meat, = (1); (3) mince-pie, a pie filled with finely chopped meat. Gen.Sc. What are now called mince-pies in Eng. formerly contained a mixture of fruit and meat; (4) mince round, a round pie of flaky pastry, encasing mince (Bnff., Ags., Fif., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s). (1)Ayr. 1821 Galt Legatees viii.:
A steam-ingine, that minches minch-collops as natural as life.
wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 415:
Supping in a back land in the Trongate . . . on mince collops, black puddings, and whisky toddy.
Fif. 1898 S. Tytler Mrs. Carmichael's Goddesses ix.:
He had ceased . . . to be aware that the Finnan haddies or mince collops were cooked for his special benefit.
Arg. 1914 J. M. Hay Gillespie i. ix.:
Poor Nan just works hersel' tae the bone for him tae gie him his minch collops an' his tobacca.
(3)Sc. 1902 E. W. Kirk Tried Favourites Cookery Bk. 55:
Entrees - Mince Pie. Half cook mince and season it with salt and pepper.
(4)Sc. 1996 Herald (7 Dec) 4:
The last three are Scotmid, Broomhill Road, Bonny-bridge, supplied on November 6 with pies, bridies, sausage rolls, mince rounds, and steak pies, Scotmid, Edinburgh Road, Penicuik, supplied on November 1, and Cameo cafe, Caledonian Road, Wishaw, supplied daily until November 22 with cold meats.
Sc. 1999 Press and Journal (24 Apr) 7:
It took gold for its steak mince round, silver with its honey mustard steamed gammon, and bronze for hickory smoked sausage, Cumberland pork sausage, pork sausage roll, mince and mealie pie and smokey pork meat balls.
Sc. 2001 Scotland on Sunday (25 Feb) 22:
Funny to think, but there was a time when there wasn't veggie nachos. It was the early Seventies before Grangemouth came to realise there was a world beyond the staple fare of corned beef, chopped pork, stovies, sausage rolls, bridies, mince pies, mince rounds, and mince and tatties, with, of course, tinned mandarins and Dream Topping for dessert.
Sc. 2003 Sun 28 Nov:
... and Bell's steak mince round at 59p.

Phrs. (1) as thick as mince, very stupid (Ags., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Rxb. 2000s); (2) like a pun o mince, (i) very untidy (Ags., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s);  (ii) See 1985 quot. (Ags., Edb., Gsw., Ayr. 2000s); (3) mince and tatties, (i) a dish of minced beef and boiled or mashed potatoes; (ii) stereotype of working-class Scotland. Chiefly attrib.; (4) sicken someone's mince, see 1985 quot. (Edb., Gsw., Dmf. 2000s); (5) yer heid's fou o mince, Your head's full of nonsense. (1) Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 46:
mince ... nonsense, rubbish: 'Yer heid's full a mince', 'He talks a lot a mince.' ... Extremes of denseness are also measured by it: 'He's as thick as mince.' ...
m.Sc. 1990 Douglas Lipton in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 8: The Day I Met the Queen Mother 58:
Hooded Crow Corbies, ya bass! Raptors is thick as mince.
Sc. 1997 Observer (10 Aug) 20:
'There are people ... who are as thick as mince and say the first, stupid thing that comes into their head for the most malevolant reasons.'
Sc. 2003 Scotsman (29 Mar) 3:
Their look of mute incomprehension spoke of utter disbelief. Or maybe they were just thick as mince.
Sc. 2003 Daily Record (21 May) 36:
Mind you, if you did carry out your threat, I bet you wouldn't see him for dust. But then, on top of everything, you're clearly as thick as mince.
(2) (i)Sc. 1998 Daily Record (13 Nov) 23:
But, compared with today's bikes, it handles like a pun' o' mince if you push it.
Sc. 2001 Sun 10 Feb:
That's right, heap all the attention on them and that way when Britney's bits start hanging like a pound of mince then no one will notice.
Edb. 2005:
Yer claes are hingin like a pun o mince.
(2) (ii)Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 46:
mince ... Someone who is listless or lacking in animation may attract a comment like: 'What's up wi you? Ye're sittin there like a pun a mince.'
(3) (i) Edb. 1989 Gordon Legge The Shoe 37:
'None of your Scottish muck in this house,' said Mental. 'What did you have for your tea? Mince and tatties, I suppose.'
Rnf. 1993 History on your Doorstep, The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum 38:
At dinnertime you usually got mince and tatties and soup.
Sc. 1993 Herald (27 Aug) 1:
A traditional school dinner of mince and tatties was being blamed last night for a suspected salmonella outbreak which has put 15 Scots children in hospital.
Sc. 2005 Sunday Mail (30 Jan) 46:
... and the main course selection features tried and tested courses such as lasagne (£6.95), mince & tatties or haggis & neeps (£6.50) or Arran lamb shank in redcurrant sauce and mashed potatoes (£8.50).
(3) (ii) Edb. 1989 Gordon Legge The Shoe 77:
The miners represented everything he hated about the 'mince and tatties mentality': 'All these places are Hun cities. Take Bo'ness, for example, typical fucking mining community. Hun bastards. You've got all these fat bastards moaning about not having any food. And I hate the word "scab". ...'
Sc. 1998 Scotland on Sunday (28 Jun) 4:
Some of them are in cul-de-sac restaurants in the city centre where tonight there's lamb and ginger and red wine on the menu, served on a crust of oatmeal, a long way from the city's mince and tatties image.
Sc. 1999 Herald (4 Sep) 8:
... under the blues-flavoured, mushy, Celtic rock anthems ... They were walking voodoo dolls of the Gaelic variety, holding their lighters aloft and swaying to the mince 'n' tatties beat. I left in a hurry.
Sc. 2005 Daily Record (13 Jan) 31:
I'm no prude, but flaming Nora, did we really need to see Mr and Mrs Mince 'n' Tatties getting down and dirty in all their gravity-defying glory on The Sex Inspectors (Channel 4, Thursday)?
(4) Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 46:
mince ... If a person succeeds in spoiling something for someone else, taking the wind out of someone's sails, etc., he might say: 'That's sickened his mince for him.'
(5) Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 46:
mince ... nonsense, rubbish: 'Yer heid's full a mince', 'He talks a lot a mince.' ...
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 7:
Yince a man sae full o' commonsense an a'.
In oor Troubles he picked the winnin' side, served Mr. Prince
And loyally and bravely. - But his heid's full o' mince
Noo that he's under Tartuffe's spell
Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 62:
Yer heids fulla mince. You are no more than an idiot.
Sc. 1997 Observer (10 Aug) 20:
... if tensions move the pace on to straight urban demotic, our respected Minister can expect to be told his heid's full of mince, or called, most woundingly, a numpty.
Gsw. 1998 Alan Spence Way to Go (1999) 17:
'It's not that. It's just, I might fancy doing something else.'
'Such as?'
Be an artist. Play for Scotland. See the world. Walk on the moon.
'Don't know. Just ... something else.'
Anything else.
'Ach!' said my father. 'Your heid's full o mince.'

2. A crumb, a very small fragment (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 114, minchick(ie), minshie; Sc. 1880 Jam., minch; Abd., Ags. 1963, minchie).

3. Nonsense (Ags., Edb., Arg., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s).Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 46:
mince ... nonsense, rubbish: 'Yer heid's full a mince', 'He talks a lot a mince.' ...
Gsw. 1993 Herald (9 Feb) 12:
And, just in case poets try to introduce any nasty modern demotic stuff into their verse the rules further state that: "The words used and their spelling shall in general be as appearing in Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language or Chamber's Scots Dictionary or the Scottish National Dictionary." For the moment we cannot think of anything to rhyme with mince.
Gsw. 1994 Herald (7 Oct) 16:
"Next will come Labour's statement of values and objectives for the 1990s, a modern big-membership party with mainstream policies." Ach, ye never heard such keech. And what is Brown doing writing this sententious mince?
Sc. 1996 Big Issue (7-20 Jun) 37:
On top of that, the telly tsars dish out more American mince than you'd get in a three million pound burger.
Gsw. 1997 David Crooks in Susie Maguire and David Jackson Young Hoots! 44:
An he starts tellin me how aw they films are mince, an they make spaceships look like Ford Cortinas, nothin but lights an furry dice.
Sc. 1999 Herald (25 Aug) 34:
There is so much top-level sport around, from television especially, that fans know mince when they see it, and whereas mince used to be eaten just on a Tuesday, now you can see it any time of the week at many sports grounds.
Sc. 2000 Edinburgh Evening News (27 Nov) 11:
Political correctness seems to abound and it often appears they worry disproportionately about being seen as racist, classist or ageist rather than erring on the side of safety. Nor do they ever seem to be held responsible for their actions or inaction.
All of this may be complete mince, but if it is how they are or how they are seen to be then they have a huge PR problem.
Sc. 2003 Scotland on Sunday 14 Dec :
We were relative innocents back in those ancient times - but even then we knew that job guidance from a man who wore cardigans as a fashion statement was bound to be mince.

4. An unpleasant substance (Edb., Gsw. 2000s).Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 46:
mince ... is also a general term for anything unpleasant that finds its way to somewhere it shouldn't be: 'The back a ma jeans is aw mince!' ...
Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 69:
The food at oor dinner school's aye mince. The food at our school's cafeteria is never to my liking.

II. v. 1. As in Eng., to chop into small fragments (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 114, minchick; Sc. 1880 Jam.). Vbl.n. mincing, the meat used for mince; in ppl.adj. in combs.: (1) minced collops = n., 1., a dish of minced steak suitably cooked and seasoned (see 1929 quot.); (2) minced pie, a pie full of finely chopped meat. The form minched-, minsht-pie is also used for Eng. mince-pie, a pie made with currants, raisins, etc., esp. one made at Christmas (Sc. 1715 Household Bk. Lady G. Baillie (S.H.S.) 282, 1816 Scott O. Mortality vii., 1828 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 67).Abd. 1961 People's Jnl. (16 Sept.) 3:
Four thousand pounds of mincing is used every week for mince, sausages and sausage meat.
(1) Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) III. 41.:
There were some minch'd collops dress'd with butter for him in a large sawce pan.
Sc. c.1760 Mem. W. Smellie (Kerr 1811) I. 174:
Lamb-legs, fat geese, minced collops, pork, trouts, pease, &c.
Sc. 1823 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 81:
Plumb-pudding, cod shoulders, minched collops, and indeed every species of food that requires little or no carving.
Sc. 1834 G. R. Gleig Allan Breck I. vii.:
I cookit ye up some nice hot minched collups that might supper a lord.
Sc. 1929 F. M. McNeill Scots Kitchen 135:
Minced Collops (an everyday Scottish dish). Minced steak, bread-crumbs or oatmeal or barley, dripping, onion, mushroom ketchup, stock, a pinch of nutmeg (optional), pepper and salt.
(2) Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 185:
We'll hae, forbye, a gude minch'd pie.

2. To cut short, to curtail, to remove the latter portion; to diminish (Sc. 1887 Jam.).Sc. 1718 Scotland's Present Circumstances 71:
They minch their Rest, and sear their Dawning to be at him.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 53:
Now sun's decline th' approach o' winter tells, . . . And in his course still mincing frae the day, Till days to gloamings maist were clipped away.

[For the form cf. O.Sc. minch, from a.1585, Mid.Eng. mynsh, and Ashet, Mishanter, Offish, Veshel.]

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



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