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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SLEEK, n.2 Also sleik, sleak, slick; erron. sleet (Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 468, note); diphthongal forms slike, slyk (Fif. 1970), and palatalised forms slee(t)ch, sletch. See etym. note. [slik; Fif. sləik; slitʃ]

1. An alluvial deposit of mud or sludge left behind by the sea or a river, silt (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 428, sleetch; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., sleech; Ags., Kcb. (sleetch) 1970); also sea-sleech, id. Comb. slick-worm, a worm used for fishing which breeds in the mud of a river-bed or the sea. Adj. slee(t)chy, composed of alluvial silt, muddy (Wgt. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 IV. 138).Fif. 1704 P.S.A.S. LVI. 58–59:
The said William was desired some time ago to bring some slyk to a house that belonged to Agnes.
Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife (1803) 156:
The loam and slike at the mouth of waters, where they run into the sea, is very profitable for meliorating land.
Gsw. 1736 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 456:
It not being practicable to fence his inclosures upon that side of the loch by reasons of moss and sleik.
Ags. 1737 Medical Essays (2nd. ed.) II. 49:
There ouzes clear Water dropping over Sleeks suspended thereat.
Sc. 1757 R. Maxwell Practical Husb. 36:
Middings of sea-sletch, earth, lime and dung.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 206:
The pilot ran her into a creek Got past the breakers 'mong sand and sleik.
Dmf. 1793 R. Heron Journey II. 83:
The sleech is a mixture of shells with earth, and sand comminuted by attrition.
Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVII. 469:
This brook has a rich muddy bottom, in which there is plenty of slick-worm, a species of food on which the trout peculiarly delight.
Bte. 1820 J. Blair Hist. Bute (1880) 92:
A few inches of sleechy sand occupying a great part of that division of the bay.
Abd. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XII. 804:
Below this vegetation ceases, and the sleek commences.
Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Wigtown 192:
The lands, fishings, sleechy grounds, and shores mentioned in the summons.
sm.Sc. 1899 G. Neilson Ann. Solway 44:
The salty particles glittering on the sleech like hoar frost.
Lnk. 1991 Duncan Glen Selected Poems 11:
The roadside burn daurk by groweth
hings in the stink o middens
and the livin sleech
and stanes
move the addle watter.

2. A stretch of alluvial soil or silt, a mud-flat.Abd. 1794 J. Anderson Agric. Abd. 120:
In the river Ythan there is a capacious bason which is filled with water every tide. This is called the slitch, provincially sleeks of Tartie.
w.Lth. 1902 Scotsman (11 Feb.):
There were near Bo'ness wide expanses of flat muddy foreshore, known as ‘sleeches', or ‘slob-lands', . . . covered at high tide.

[The variant forms have been treated together for convenience but they may have diverse origins. N.E.D. postulates an O.E. form *slic, which would explain Eng. slitch, id., and poss. slike, as the Northern equivalent, as ditch, dike, for which however cf. also Mid. Du. slijc. For sleek, cf. M.L.Ger. slick, mud, with lengthening of vowel, Sleetch has been borrowed from Eng. dial. The O.Sc. form is slyk, from 1375 onwards.]

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"Sleek n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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