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