- scotch (v.)
- "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.
- Scotch (adj.)
- "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.
- scotch (n.1)
- 1778, elliptical for Scotch whisky. See Scotch (adj.).
- scotch (n.2)
- "incision, cut, score, gash," mid-15c., related to scotch (v.).