Word of the Day


© Getty Images/Caiaimage


Scottish: a lake, or an area of the sea that is almost completely surrounded by land

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

Loch comes from the Scottish Gaelic ‘loch’ and was first used in English in the early 15th century.


The Scottish word loch refers either to a lake or to an area of sea that is mostly surrounded by land. The latter are commonly referred to as sea lochs. Like its Irish English cousin lough, the word loch is pronounced /lɒx/(/lɔx/ in American English) with the final sound being a velar fricative. Pronouncing it /lɒk/ marks a person out as an irredeemable Sassenach. There are estimated to be over 30,000 lochs in Scotland, but apart from a couple of manmade bodies of water, there is only one lake: the Lake of Menteith, near Stirling, also known as Loch Inchmahome. Its name is believed to derive from a misunderstanding of the word ‘laich’ which means ‘low place’.


“I’m just about to move to a place that you can only get there by rowing a boat across a loch, which I’m thoroughly looking forward to. It’s not got electricity or anything.”
(Rory McCann)

Related words

lake, lough, mere

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

Leave a Comment