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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

MUTCHKIN, n. Also mutchken, muchkin (Ayr. a.1850 J. D. Brown Bard of Glazert 153); mutskin (Rs. c.1750 W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) 76), mutsken (Edb. 1703 Edb. Mag. (July 1795) 54), mutchin, mutckin(e), muskin (Sc. 1702 T. Morer Account of Scot. 16), -en; muching (Ork. 1718 H. Marwick Merchant Lairds (1936) I. 79); musquin; ¶meachen. [′mʌtʃ(k)ɪn; mʌ(t)skən] A measure of capacity for liquids or for powdery or granulated solids = approx. 26 cu. ins. or ¼ pint Scots, i.e. ¾ pint imperial. Gen.Sc. Sometimes loosely used to translate pint (imperial), esp. for spirits. Hence half (a) mutchkin, a measure of half this capacity.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 26:
Lass gi'e us in anither Gill, A Mutchken, Jo, let's tak' our Fill.
Arg. 1722 F. F. Mackay Carskey Jnl. 67:
Item to Margret McMurchy in her Sickness ane musquin Aquavity & quart of Aile got from Don: Morrison on my account att 10sh: Scots.
Fif. 1731 Two Students (Dickinson 1952) lxvi.:
Each Bursar hath for Breakfast the thrid part of a Scon & a mutckine of ale.
Mry. 1749 E. D. Dunbar Social Life (1865) 101:
The man will appear in a pint (that is a mutchkin) bottle [of an illusionist].
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 147:
The proportion . . . was like our mutchkin of salt to twenty pound weight of butter.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 143:
A mutchkin of linseed I'd i' the yerd fling, For a' the wanchansie beginning o't.
m.Lth. 1795 G. Robertson Agric. m.Lth. 93:
[Reapers'] breakfast is oatmeal porridge, about a Scotch pint, with a mutchkin of butter-milk to each.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xlii.:
The Christian souls, of the parish . . . haveing been fed but upon sour Hieland sowens by Mr Duncan McDonought who began the morning duly, Sunday and Saturday, with a mutchkin of usquebaugh.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Sir A. Wylie xiii.:
Some take a mutchkin of porter to their dinner, but I sloken my drowth wi' Adam's wine.
Sc. 1839 A. Ure Dict. Arts 248:
A Scotch mutchkin . . . weighs 6010 gr.
Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore 130:
I canna begin to mak' the shoon unless we hae a half mutchkin o' either rum or whusky.
Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie i.:
Scotland's last stand in the way o' national customs is bein' made at the Mull o' Kintyre Vaults, whaur the flet half-mutchkin, wrapped up in magenta tissue paper . . . is retreatin' doggedly . . . before the invadin' English Christmas caird.
Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (27 May) 4:
Whisky was retailed in the public house in pewter measures each with a hinged lid, the half gill at 3d, gill at 6d, half mutchkin at 1s, and mutchkin at 2s.
Dmf., Kcb. 1954:
Half-musken = a half-bottle of spirits, in practice usually whisky. In fact most people would just define it as a half-bottle of whisky.

Combs.: 1. Meg Mutchkin, a jocular name for a whisky bottle, in phr. to live upon Meg Mutchkin's comfort, to take to drink; 2. mutchkin-bottle, -bowl, -cap, -jaik (Ork. 1963), -joog, -mug, -stoup, -tin, various vessels holding a quarter of a Scots pint of liquid, esp. of spirits. For the nature of the vessels see second element.1. Sc. 1706 Short Survey Married Life 12:
To put the other Clout on your Cloak and live upon Meg Mutchkin's Comfort.
2. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 223:
That Mutchken Stoup it hads but Dribs, Then let's get in the tappit Hen.
Sc. 1747 Caled. Mercury (23 Oct.):
The sovereign Tincture and sovereign Ointment for the Gout, at half a Guinea the Mutchin-Bottle, with a Sufficiency of the Ointment, and printed Directions, with each Bottle.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Earnest Cry vii.:
Paint Scotland greetin ower her thrissle; Her mutchkin stowp as toom's a whissle.
Sc. a.1791 F. Grose Olio (1795) 115:
Paddy lifted a muchkin tin . . . and threw it at the narrator.
Edb. 1819 J. Thomson Poems 73:
Chappin-tankards, mutchin-bowls Toddy jugs for drouthy souls.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize I. xiv.:
A smith came in for a mutchkin-cap of ale.
Abd. 1827 J. Imlah May Flowers 180:
Speak o' toomin' mutchkin mugs.
Bwk. 1848 Edb. Antiq. Mag. 64:
18 dozen chopin botles, one dozen and ten mutchkin botles.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 164:
The mutchkin stoup stood on the table, and each player had a glass.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 97:
He sampled the mutchkin bottle.

[O.Sc. muchkyne, id., 1513. Early Mod. Du. mudseken, a measure of capacity, Du. mutse, mutsken, a measure, phs. of the same orig. as Mutch above.]

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"Mutchkin n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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