Words related to scotch

scratch (v.)

c. 1400, scracchen, transitive, "mark or wound slightly on the surface by a scraping or tearing action with something rough, sharp, or pointed," probably a fusion of Middle English scratten and crachen, both meaning "to scratch," both of uncertain origin. Also compare scr-. Related: Scratched; scratching.

The meaning "relieve skin irritation by a scraping motion with the nails or claws or a scratcher" is by 1520s. The billiards sense of "hit the cue ball into a pocket" is recorded by 1909 (also, originally, itch), though earlier it meant "a lucky shot" (1850). The meaning "to withdraw (a horse) from a race" is 1865, from notion of scratching its name off a list of competitors; the phrase was used in a non-sporting sense of "cancel a plan, etc." by 1680s.

To scratch the surface "make only slight progress in penetrating or understanding" is from 1882. To scratch (one's) head as a gesture of perplexity is recorded from 1712. The plastering scratch-coat, roughened by scratching before it sets, is by 1891.

scorch (v.)

"to burn superficially or slightly, but so as to change the color or injure the texture," early 14c., scorchen, perhaps an alteration of scorcnen "make dry, parch; become singed" (late 12c.), itself a word of obscure origin, perhaps from Old Norse skorpna "to be shriveled," which is cognate with Old English scrimman "to shrink, dry up."

The old derivation is from Old French escorchier "to strip off the skin," from Vulgar Latin *excorticare "to flay," from ex- (see ex-) + Latin cortex (genitive corticis) "cork;" but OED and Century Dictionary find this not likely based on the sense difference. That word came into English separately as scorchen "strip the skin from" (mid-15c.).

Scorched earth military strategy is by 1937, said to be a translation of Chinese jiaotu, in reference to tactics to stem the Japanese advance into China. The tactics themselves are much older.

Scottish (adj.)

late Old English Scottisc, "of Scottish nationality; found or done in Scotland;" see Scot + -ish. Related: Scottishness.


"Scottish, of or relating to Scotland or its inhabitants," mid-14c., a contracted variant of Middle English Scottis, a northern dialectal form of Scottish. Also compare Scotch. As "the dialect of English spoken in the Scottish lowlands," by 1540s.

French (adj.)

c. 1200, frensh, frenche, "pertaining to France or the French," from Old English frencisc "French," originally "of the Franks," from franca, the people name (see Frank). A similar contraction of -ish is in Dutch, Scotch, Welsh, suggesting the habit applies to the names of only the intimate neighbors.

In some provincial forms of English it could mean simply "foreign." Used in many combination-words, often dealing with food or sex: French dressing (by 1860); French toast (1630s); French letter "condom" (c. 1856, perhaps on resemblance of sheepskin and parchment), french (v.) "perform oral sex on," and French kiss (1923) all probably stem from the Anglo-Saxon equation of Gallic culture and sexual sophistication, a sense first recorded 1749 in the phrase French novel. (In late 19c.-early 20c., a French kiss was a kiss on each cheek.) French-Canadian is from 1774; French doors is by 1847. To take French leave, "depart without telling the host," is 1771, from a social custom then prevalent. However, this is said to be called in France filer à l'anglaise, literally "to take English leave."

Scotchman (n.)

"native of Scotland," early 15c., Scocheman; see Scotch + man (n.). Scotchwoman is by 1818.

hopscotch (n.)
children's game, 1801 (from 1789 as hop-scot), apparently from hop (v.) + scotch (n.2) "scratch," from the lines scored in the dirt to make the squares for the game.