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Scotch down

Posted by RRC on December 04, 2008 at 14:14

In Reply to: Scotch down posted by Baceseras on December 04, 2008 at 14:01:

: : : : : I grew up in rural southeastern Virginia. Many of the older men would use the term "scotch down" as a substitute for "hunker down". For example, when I would hunt with them, they would say, "Go over to that bush and scotch down while I drive the animal your way." I can't find references to the phrase "scotch down". I have read that "hunker" is based on Scottish. Perhaps these facts tie together? Any info on the "scotch down" phrase would be appreciated.

: : : : The Oxford English Dictionary had no helpful definitions of the verb, to scotch. However, the well-known verb, to scooch (down), seems like what you want. According to the OED, it means "To crouch or stoop (chiefly with down). Also: to fit oneself into a small or crowded space; to squeeze in."

: : : : The OED considers it as originally an American colloquialism, and cites, as its first example, "1858 Atlantic Monthly Sept. 421/2 She scooched down on the floor and pulled my two hands away, and looked me in the face."

: : : : I first heard the expression from my wife, who was raised in Philadelphia and uses it freely. So I suppose it must be fairly common.

: : : : As for the origin of the word, the OED speculates that it may be a variant of scouch or scrooch or crouch or scoot, which may or may not be helpful. It does seem that "scooch" is used exactly as you indicate "scotch" is used.
: : : : SS

: : : 'Scooch' is also used as a noun meaning a small amount, like a 'tad'. ("More gravy?" "Just a scooch.")

: : : As a verb 'scooch' often signifies to make a small movement or adjustment, as when trying to add oneself to an already crowded couch - "Scooch over." - and everyone shifts a little.

: : The noun meaning a small amount is SKOSH from the Japanese 'sukoshi' (not even related to scooch).

: Interesting if true. What does the Japanese 'sukoshi' mean? How old is it in Japanese? And when did it make its way into American spoken-English? (Whichever one made it first, I suspect the coincidence of sound between 'sukoshi' and 'scooch' is what clinched the colloquialism.) - Bac.

Skosh is skO-sh not skoo-tch. I have no resources to determine the age of Japanese words, but it came into English in the early 50's by troops on R and R in Japan from the Korean War. I don't think the "similarity" is that great (since you thought they were the same word, they may seem more similar to you than to others).