Of or relating to Scotland or its people, language, or culture.
1. Scots English.
2. (used with a pl. verb) The people of Scotland.
[Middle English scottisc; see SCOTS.]
Usage Note: Scottish is the full, original form of the adjective. Scots is an old Scottish variant. Scotch is an English contraction of Scottish that came into use in Scotland as well for a time (as in Burns's "O thou, my Muse! guid auld Scotch drink!") but subsequently came to be viewed there as insulting. For this reason, forms involving Scotch are best avoided in reference to people; designations formed with Scots are most common (Scot, Scotsman, or Scotswoman), but those involving the full form Scottish are sometimes found in more formal contexts. Scotch-Irish is a commonly used term for the descendants of Scots who migrated to North America, but lately Scots-Irish has begun to gain currency among those who know that Scotch is considered offensive in Scotland. There is, however, no sure rule, especially when referring to things rather than people, since the history of variation in the use of these words has left many expressions in which the choice is fixed, such as Scotch broth, Scotch whisky, Scottish rite, and Scots Guards.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendicies
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.