Meaning of kelpie in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkɛlpi/


  • 1A water spirit of Scottish folklore, typically taking the form of a horse and reputed to delight in the drowning of travellers.

    ‘The water bandits need to watch out for the kelpie and each uisge, the underwater sprites which inhabit Scottish rivers and lochs and which appear to unsuspecting strangers in the shape of a horse.’
    • ‘And the next thing you'll tell me is that kelpies and unicorns steal your lunch money.’
    sprite, pixie, elf, imp, brownie, puck
  • 2A sheepdog of an Australian breed with a smooth coat, originally bred from a Scottish collie.

    ‘Inspector Stephen Marais says he is looking for German shepherds, Rottweilers, Border collies, cocker spaniels, Labrador retrievers and kelpies to be trained in police work.’
    • ‘In close work (pens, yards, and chutes) in Australian summer heat, the kelpie (another variety of collie) has more stamina than a Border Collie.’
    • ‘She was a fine young chocolate working kelpie with plenty of personality and well-loved by our neighbours as well as ourselves.’
    • ‘Suddenly out of the blue my 35 kg kelpie Jessica bolts from around the other side of the house nearly knocking me of my feet.’
    • ‘Well, the red kelpie has been on the job and she's been barking all the way along this track, which suggests that a dingo has actually been along the track before us.’


Late 17th century perhaps from Scottish Gaelic cailpeach, colpach ‘bullock, colt’. kelpie (sense 2) apparently comes from the name of a particular bitch, King's Kelpie (c1879).