WOW: Kelpie

This post is in response to Heena Rathore P.’s Word of the Week (WOW). This weekly meme is a great way of improving your vocabulary. If you wish to participate, simply create a post with your word and leave a link in a comment on Heena’s WOW post.


Here’s my WOW for this week:



kel-pie (kĕl′pē /ˈkɛlpɪ)

Part of Speech

1) A malevolent water spirit of Scottish folklore thought to inhabit streams and rivers. It usually takes the form of a horse, though it is also able to take human form. It drowns its victims and devours their flesh.

The Pictish Beast on The Maiden Stone (C6th-9th AD) – thought to be the earliest artistic representation of a kelpie

2) A medium-sized sheepdog breed developed in Australia from Scottish Collies. It has a compact body, usually erect ears, and a smooth, short coat of various colours.

Red and tan kelpie. Photograph copyright: Boggas

1) The only real synonym of kelpie is water horse (or waterhorse) but there are a number of related creatures in the folklore of various countries: the bäckahästen of Scandnavia, the capaill uisce of the Isle of Mann, the ceffyl dŵr of Wales, the wihwin of Central America and the bunyip of Australia. Scottish folklore also includes the each uisge, a more vicious water horse found in lochs and lakes.

2) sheep dog, sheepdog, shepherds dog

Word Origin
1) First recorded use: c. 1759. Of uncertain origin but probably Celtic – related to Scottish Gaelic cailpeach, meaning heifer or colt.
2) First recorded use: c. 1870. Named after an early specimen of the breed.

The Kelpies Sculptures, The Helix Park, Falkirk, Scotland. Photograph copyright: Rosser1954

Use in a Sentence
1a) The boys were drawn inexorably closer as the kelpie emerged from the river, fighting the impulse to climb onto its lengthening back…

1b) It was the water weeds in the man’s hair that gave him away, dashing her romantic hopes – he was a kelpie.

2) The kelpie bounded across the field, responding to the shepherd’s whistles with well-trained precision to herd the sheep through the gate.

If you want to find out more about the folklore of kelpies and water horses you can go here or here.

6 thoughts on “WOW: Kelpie

    1. Thank you! I found it an interesting post to put together – though it took a lot longer than my usual WOW posts. 🙂 I’m glad you liked it.


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