(1 syl.). The native language of the West Highlanders of
Scotland, who are of Irish origin. It is a variant of Irish. Applied by
the Scotch Lowlanders to the Highland dialect of Gaelic. In the
eighteenth century Scotch was often called Erse, without distinction of
Highland and Lowland; and Irish was spoken of as Irish Gaelic. The
practice now is to limit the word Erse to Irish, and Gaelic
to Scotch Highlanders.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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