Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To separate the valuable fibers of (flax, for example) from the woody parts by beating.
  • n. An implement used for scutching.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to beat or flog, especially for extracting the fibers from flax stalks
  • n. An implement used to separate the fibres of flax by beating them.
  • n. The woody fibre of flax; the refuse of scutched flax.
  • n. A tuft or clump of grass.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To beat or whip; to drub.
  • transitive v. To separate the woody fiber from (flax, hemp, etc.) by beating; to swingle.
  • transitive v. To loosen and dress the fiber of (cotton or silk) by beating; to free (fibrous substances) from dust by beating and blowing.
  • n. A wooden instrument used in scutching flax and hemp.
  • n. The woody fiber of flax; the refuse of scutched flax.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To beat; drub.
  • To dress (fibrous material) by beating.
  • n. Same as scutcher, 1.
  • n. A coarse tow that separates from flax during scutching.

Etymologies

Obsolete French escoucher, from Anglo-Norman escucher, from Vulgar Latin *excuticāre, frequentative of Latin excutere, to shake out : ex-, ex- + quatere, to shake; see kwēt- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Perhaps imitative. (Wiktionary)
From Irish. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Then you 'scutch' it, which requires scraping the last of it away with a dull knife.

    languagehat.com: SCUTCH.

  • Nabokov, of course, would have taken delight in using "scutch"; I suppose I'd go with "I feel in my gut the Fate tugging the thread" for phonetic and associational reasons, but I would regret losing the specificity of the technical term.

    languagehat.com: SCUTCH.

  • Some would chop down the trees; some would measure and cut off the logs; some would "scutch" the logs; and others would come along with a broadaxe, and hew two sides of the logs flat.

    Last of the Pioneers, Or Old Times in East Tenn.; Being the Life and Reminiscences of Pharaoh Jackson Chesney (Aged 120 Years).

  • There is another verb scutch meaning 'to strike with a stick or whip, to slash, switch,' but although it is "not impossible" that this is "a transferred use of the verb meaning 'to dress by beating',... more probably the present verb is an independent onomatopœic formation: cf. scotch vb."

    languagehat.com: SCUTCH.

  • The specific meanings "whip" and "scutch" aren't actual, but something like "Today he has to spend the afternoon messing the hemp" would be a workable idiom if anyone actually used it.

    languagehat.com: SCUTCH.

  • But here, in the context of the Fates and thread, it clearly takes on its primordial meaning, 'to scutch.'

    languagehat.com: SCUTCH.

  • Yes, that's the first definition in my trusty Oxford: to scutch, swingle flax, hemp, etc.

    languagehat.com: SCUTCH.

  • Patches started to scutch about at the strange noise, but I held her in, and as the plane approached, I took off my hat and waved.

    Half Broke Horses

  • She was a shrewd, agile, withered woman, thin as a gnat but indestructible as scutch grass.

    An Excellent Mystery

  • V-shaped cutting block, an incision made where desired with the tin saw, and after the bolster and club-hammer have removed the portion of the brick, the scutch, really a small axe, is used to hack off the rough parts.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Part 3 "Brescia" to "Bulgaria"

Comments

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  • I've tagged a few flax-related words over on retting, if you're interested.

    God I love this site.

    March 22, 2011

  • Ha ha!

    "I've long thought about making a list of old flax processing terms."

    Classic hh quote there!

    March 22, 2011

  • Oh 'zuzu - I've long thought about making a list of old flax processing terms. You can bet scutch will lead the list!

    March 22, 2011

  • Ooh!

    *adds*

    Thanks!

    June 3, 2009

  • Reesetee, doesn't this word belong on your list of possible sneezes?

    June 3, 2009

  • Yes. Yes it is. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm late for Morphewapalooza 2009.

    June 3, 2009

  • Is travelling to see ancient words turned into festivals a sign of Wordie addiction?

    May 28, 2009

  • *expects a report, and photos*

    May 28, 2009

  • I have just discovered this delightful festival and plan to attend if possible.

    May 28, 2009