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verb (used with object)
  1. to put a definite end to; crush; stamp out; foil: to scotch a rumor; to scotch a plan.
  2. to cut, gash, or score.
  3. to injure so as to make harmless.
  4. to block or prop with a wedge or chock.
  1. a cut, gash, or score.
  2. a block or wedge put under a wheel, barrel, etc., to prevent slipping.

Origin of scotch1

1375–1425; late Middle English scocche (noun and v.), perhaps blend of score and notch (> Anglo-French escocher)


verb (used with object), noun Masonry.
  1. scutch(defs 2, 4).


  1. (used outside of Scotland) of Scottish origin; resembling or regarded as characteristic of Scotland or the Scottish people: Scotch plaid.
  2. Sometimes Offensive. of or relating to Scotland or its inhabitants; Scottish.
  3. (usually lowercase) Informal. frugal; provident; thrifty.
  1. (used with a plural verb) Sometimes Offensive. the inhabitants of Scotland; the Scots.
  2. (often lowercase) Scotch whisky.
  3. Sometimes Offensive. the English language as spoken in Scotland; Scots.

Origin of Scotch

First recorded in 1585–95; syncopated variant of Scottish
Can be confusedScot Scotch Scottish (see usage note at the current entry)

Usage note

The natives of Scotland refer to themselves as Scots or, in the singular, Scot, Scotsman, or Scotswoman. The related adjectives are Scottish or, less commonly, Scots. Scotch as a noun or adjective is objected to by the Scots except when used of whisky and in established phrases like Scotch egg and Scotch pine. In the United States, Scotch is often used in inforrmal speech and writing where the Scots themselves, or some Americans of Scottish descent, would prefer Scottish or Scots. The term Scotch-Irish is standard in the United States for the descendants of the Scots of Ulster who immigrated to America beginning in the 18th century.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for scotch

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It is a Scotch bow, I see, for the upper nock is without and the lower within.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The Scotch officer admired his sagacity in detecting this adventurer.

  • The word went among us they were Scotch, from the Canadas, but of this I know nothing.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Cameron is a Scotch name: to what tribe of Camerons do you belong?

  • Milicent had asked for a little Scotch song, and I was just in the middle of it when they entered.

British Dictionary definitions for scotch


verb (tr)
  1. to put an end to; crushbad weather scotched our plans
  2. archaic to injure so as to render harmless
  3. obsolete to cut or score
  1. archaic a gash; scratch
  2. a line marked down, as for hopscotch

Word Origin

C15: of obscure origin


  1. (tr) to block, prop, or prevent from moving with or as if with a wedge
  1. a block or wedge to prevent motion

Word Origin

C17: of obscure origin


  1. another word for Scottish
  1. the Scots or their language


In the north of England and in Scotland, Scotch is not used outside fixed expressions such as Scotch whisky. The use of Scotch for Scots or Scottish is otherwise felt to be incorrect, esp when applied to people


  1. Also called: Scotch whisky whisky distilled esp from fermented malted barley and made in Scotland
  2. Northeast English a type of relatively mild beer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for scotch



"of Scotland," 1590s, contraction of Scottish. Disdained by the Scottish because of the many insulting and pejorative formations made from it by the English (e.g. Scotch greys "lice;" Scotch attorney, a Jamaica term from 1864 for strangler vines).

Scotch-Irish is from 1744 (adj.); 1789 (n.); more properly Scots-Irish (1966), from Scots (mid-14c.), the older adjective, which is from Scottis, the northern variant of Scottish. Scots (adj.) was used in Scottish until 18c., then Scotch became vernacular, but in mid-19c. there was a reaction against it. Scotch Tape was said to be so called because at first it had adhesive only on the edges (to make it easier to remove as a masking tape in car paint jobs), which was interpreted as a sign of cheapness on the part of the manufacturers.


"stamp out, crush," 1825, earlier "make harmless for a time" (1798; a sense that derives from an uncertain reading of "Macbeth" III.ii.13), from scocchen "to cut, score, gash, make an incision" (early 15c.), of unknown origin, perhaps [Barnhart] from Anglo-French escocher, Old French cocher "to notch, nick," from coche "a notch, groove," perhaps from Latin coccum "berry of the scarlet oak," which appears notched, from Greek kokkos. Related: Scotched; scotching.


1778, elliptical for Scotch whisky. See Scotch (adj.).


"incision, cut, score, gash," mid-15c., related to scotch (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper