from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A malevolent water spirit of Scottish legend, usually having the shape of a horse and rejoicing in or causing drownings.
  • n. Any of a breed of sheepdog originating in Australia.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A malevolent shapeshifting spirit, most often in the form of a horse, believed to haunt the rivers and lochs of Scotland.
  • n. An Australian breed of sheepdog.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An imaginary spirit of the waters, horselike in form, vulgarly believed to warn, by preternatural noises and lights, those who are to be drowned.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An imaginary spirit of the waters, generally appearing in the form of a horse, who was believed to give warning of approaching death by drowning, and sometimes maliciously to assist in drowning persons.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (Scottish folklore) water spirit in the form of a horse that likes to drown its riders
  • n. an Australian sheepdog with pointed ears


Probably of Celtic origin; akin to Scottish Gaelic colpach, heifer.
From Kelpie, the name of an early specimen of the breed.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
The dog breed derives from the name shared by the first two breeding bitches (dam and pup), which name derives from the mythological spirit. (Wiktionary)



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  • A mythical Scottish water spirit, but also an Australian breed of dog: "probably descended from the border collie and the dingo, this breed has been known since 1870," according to Simon & Schuster's Guide to Dogs, 1980.

    February 21, 2007