Definition of kelpie in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkelpē/


1A water spirit of Scottish folklore, typically taking the form of a horse, reputed to delight in the drowning of travelers.
Example sentences
  • 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.
2A sheepdog of an Australian breed with a smooth coat, originally bred from a Scottish collie.
Example sentences
  • 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.


Late 17th century: perhaps from Scottish Gaelic cailpeach, colpach 'bullock, colt'. sense 2 apparently comes from the name of a particular bitch, King's Kelpie (circa1879).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: kel·pie

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