Definition of machair in English:


Pronunciation /ˈmakə//ˈmaxə/


mass noun
  • (in Scotland, especially the Western Isles) low-lying arable or grazing land formed near the coast by the deposition of sand and shell fragments by the wind.

    ‘machair is the focus of most Hebridean crofting agriculture’
    count noun ‘machairs occupy long stretches of the western seaboard’
    • ‘On the lower ground, choose a line which leads over crofting machair land to a tractor track back to the village.’
    • ‘After removal of sand, each machair sub-community showed some capacity for an elastic photosynthetic response.’
    • ‘The herbivore samples were obtained from Norse and Iron Age strata at a second coastal, machair site at nearby Bostadh.’
    • ‘Sand dunes, including the machair on the Hebrides, some types of lowland lochs, fens, meadows, hedgerows and blanket bogs are all mentioned as habitats needing further protection.’
    • ‘The habitat known as machair is of European importance.’
    • ‘The only visible sign of military presence are the tracks of a four wheel drive vehicle crossing the beach to a tarred road in the machair.’
    • ‘The Atlantic Ocean has created a sandy plain, known as machair, which blankets the west coast of the whole island chain, providing some very fertile soils.’
    • ‘The machair is an internationally rare habitat that is formed when sand is blown onto peat moorland.’
    • ‘I plunged down off Dun-I, fumbled out gloves and scarf from the backpack, and set out for a serious stride over the machair - grassy sward grown up on a thick bed of shell sand.’
    • ‘Here too is the machair, the flat strip of sandy grass-grown land close to the shore.’
    • ‘The final section of the walk through the Bealach Creag an Eoin even follows a track once used by burial parties coming from the Bays to the machair of the Atlantic coast - a coffin route.’
    • ‘Labour, the Liberals and the Nationalists slowly colonised the raised beaches left by the Tories' long decline, and proved tough as machair grass.’
    • ‘In fact it's more than an improvement - it's absurdly beautiful - creamy pink beaches, noble mountains, formidable views, sweet-flowered machair grass, even the sheep are cool and relaxed.’
    • ‘On Iona, the threat is to its white sand beaches and the coastal machair which protects low-lying areas further inland.’
    • ‘The yellow bumblebee, which used to be widespread, is now confined to the flower-rich meadows of the machair in the Hebrides.’
    • ‘Rabbits, meanwhile, are a particular problem in the Uists and Coll, where they cause erosion to the machair, a rare habitat which is of particular importance for wildlife globally.’
    • ‘There is nowhere quite like Tiree - to stroll over the machair, covered with clover, wild thyme, harebells and frog orchids, is to slough off every vestige of urban stress.’
    • ‘It was two tyre ruts in the machair with a central ridge of grass and small boulders to threaten his sump.’
    • ‘This is the famous machair grassland, a rich habitat for rare birds and plants.’
    • ‘I suppose the southern end of Harris is similar to parts - the wide open beaches and machair.’


Late 17th century: from Scottish Gaelic.