AskDefine | Define loch

Dictionary Definition



1 a long narrow inlet of the sea in Scotland (especially when it is nearly landlocked)
2 Scottish word for a lake

User Contributed Dictionary

see Loch



  • /lɒx/, /lQx/
  • Rhymes with: -ɒx
  • /lɒk/, /lQk/
  • Rhymes with: -ɒk


From loch.


  1. A lake; a bay or arm of the sea.

Derived terms


lake, bay or arm of the sea
  • Finnish: järvi



  • /lɔk/


fr-noun m
  1. a log
  2. A loch



From loch < (cf. Latin lacus, Old English lagu).


  • lang=ga|[l̪ˠɔx]


  1. lake




  • /lɔx/


From loch.


  1. lake, loch, firth

Scottish Gaelic



  1. lake
  2. arm of the sea
  3. fiord

Extensive Definition

For the novel by Steve Alten, see The Loch
A loch (usually Lough as a name element outside Scotland) is a body of water which is either:
Sea-inlet lochs are often called sea lochs.


This name for a body of water is Gaelic in origin and is applied to most lakes in Scotland and to many sea inlets in the west and north of Scotland. For a list, see List of lochs in Scotland.
As a name element Loch has become Lough for many bodies of water in Ireland and for some in the north of England. However, reference to the latter as lochs or loughs (lower case initial), rather than as lakes, inlets and so on, is unusual. For lists, see List of Irish loughs and List of English loughs.
Although there is no strict size definition, a small loch is often known as a lochan (so spelled also in Scottish Gaelic; in Irish it is spelled lochán).
Perhaps the most famous Scottish loch is Loch Ness, although there are other large examples such as Loch Awe, Loch Lomond and Loch Tay.
Examples of sea lochs in Scotland include Loch Long, Loch Fyne, Loch Linnhe, Loch Eriboll.

The uses of lochs

Some new reservoirs for hydroelectric schemes have been given names faithful to the names for natural bodies of water - for example: the Loch Sloy scheme, and Lochs Laggan and Treig (which form part of the Lochaber hydroelectric scheme near Fort William). Other expanses are simply called reservoirs, eg: Blackwater Reservoir above Kinlochleven.

Scottish lakes

Scotland has only one natural water body actually called a lake, the Lake of Menteith, an Anglicisation of the Scots Laich o Menteith meaning a "low-lying bit of land in Menteith", and applied to the loch there because of the similarity of the sounds of the words laich and lake. The Lake of the Hirsel, Pressmennan Lake and Lake Louise, (In the grounds of Skibo Castle), are other bodies of water in Scotland which are called lakes and all are man-made. Most Scots will be quick to correct anyone who refers to "lochs" as "lakes".
The word "loch" is used as a shibboleth to identify natives of England, because the hard "ch" () sound is used in Scotland whereas most English people pronounce the word like "lock".

Lochs beyond Scotland and Ireland

As "loch" is a common Gaelic word, it is also found as the root of several Manx placenames.
The US naval port of Pearl Harbor, located on the south coast of the main Hawaiian island of Oahu, is one of a complex of sea inlets. Several of these are named as lochs, viz. South East Loch, Merry Loch, East Loch, Middle Loch and West Loch.
Brenton Loch in the Falkland Islands is a sea loch, near Lafonia, East Falkland.


loch in Czech: Loch
loch in Spanish: Loch
loch in French: Loch
loch in Scottish Gaelic: Loch
loch in Hebrew: לוך
loch in Norwegian Nynorsk: Loch

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

arm, armlet, artificial lake, bay, bayou, bayou lake, belt, bight, boca, cistern, cove, creek, dam, dead water, dike, estuary, etang, euripus, farm pond, fishpond, fjord, freshwater lake, frith, glacial lake, gulf, gut, harbor, inland sea, inlet, kyle, lagoon, laguna, lake, lakelet, landlocked water, linn, lough, mere, millpond, millpool, mouth, narrow, narrow seas, narrows, natural harbor, nyanza, oxbow lake, plash, pond, pondlet, pool, puddle, reach, reservoir, road, roads, roadstead, salina, salt pond, sound, stagnant water, standing water, still water, strait, straits, sump, tank, tarn, tidal pond, volcanic lake, water hole, water pocket, well
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