ScotSpeak ©1998
Disclaimer   And a smattering of BritSpeak and UKspeak
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What is Skint? Scunner? Glaikit? Find out here.
 A-Zed A to Z, the ultimate guide to London streets
Aberdonian A person of Aberdeen (see also Dundonian)

A fabulous cooker/heater/boiler.  Per Nigel: "The modern very trendy and very expensive equivalent of the old kitchen range (solid fuel cooker) especially favoured by affluent 'incomers'."
Aggro Aggravation, annoyance
Argy-bargy Altercation or scuffle.
Artic Tractor-trailer truck
Auld Reekie A nickname for Edinburgh (see also reek)
  1. You're probably right
  2. Yes
  3. You're boring me
  4. Mmm-hmm
  5. Damn right
(from Kirsty:) "A ba' is a ball, as in fitba (football) and the classic phrase, "Aye weel, it's ma ba', an if Ah canny play ah'm awa' hame." (=the rules may be on your side, but I have the upper hand due to my investment in the proceedings). Pronounced baw."
Baffies Slippers (from Jim Henderson)
Bahookie Buttocks (see also bum) (from Jim Henderson)
  1. Child
  2. Person from Falkirk
(from Jean and Bill)
Bampot  From Kirsty: Bampot is a smashing word, only sorry to realise that you have not made its acquaintance before now. It means nutter, very mad person, frequently shortened to "bam", as in the phrase "Aye-ya bam!!" meaning anything from "Please do not do that again!" to "You are a very mad person". It's practically an ejaculation, if someone were to hit me over the head when I least expected it, and was a million miles away in a good book, I might respond with "Aye-ya bam!" instead of "Young man, what on earth do you think you are playing at?" Also magnificent when delivered in a Glaswegian accent, "Total bampot, by the way".
Bank card ATM card
  1. A thick gated entryway into an ancient city. York, for example, has famous bars.
  2. Pound stirling, as in "another 30 bar in his pocket".
Bar L, Bar-L, BarL Bar L is not Barlinnie - We contributors, on both sides of the pond, give heartfelt thsnks to the sharp-eyed who help keep this resource accurate.
Barlanark, a low-income housing complex in Edinburgh of a type that would be called "the projects" in the U.S.
Barney See stooshie.
Barrister A flavor of lawyer
Bawbag According to STV, it's "a vulgar Scottish term used for the scrotum, also [a derogative term] against anybody who's a bit of an idiot."
Be mother Serve the tea. Ex: "Shall I be mother?"
Beeb, The The BBC; From Ken: "Also known as 'Auntie Beeb' or simply 'Auntie'."
Big Smoke, The A Scottish nickname for London
Bin v.: To throw in the trash, as in "she binned the candy wrapper"
Birl Spin, as in "made his head birl." From Kens: "Can also be used to describe Scottish Country Dancing, or even a little run in the car: 'Ah'm awa' furra wee birl in the car'."
Biro Pen (but from Ken: "Yes - but whilst it is in common use as a generic term, it is actually a registered trademark. So don't use it as a catch-all if you are in the company of a corporation of Bic lawyers. Much the same as the Hoover and the Jeep in that respect.")
Biscuit Cookie
Black house See Tigh dubh
Bleezy Pie-eyed; bleary-eyed as when drunk (contributed by John once of Anchorage)
Bloody-minded Refers to a person or group that is:
  1. stubborn
  2. warlike (ex: early Scots)
  3. an inconsiderate neighbor
  4. divorcing you
  5. suing you
  6. not liking and appreciating you
Boak v.: Ralph; barf; lose your lunch
n.: Nausea, as in "giving me the boak"
Boffin From Kens: "a brainiac. A boffin is a particularly clever scientist. It's a word that you commonly see in the headlines of the Daily Record whenever any minor scientific advancement occurs (e.g. 'Beer Boffins Give Head' to describe the invention of the widget that allows draught drink from cans). Could be used sarcastically to describe a fool, though."
Boiled sweets Hard candy
Bollocks Literally, testicles. In slang (ex. "absolute bollocks") it means crap or bullshit.
Bollocking A beating, generally verbal, as in "gave me a bollocking"; usually equivalent to a tongue lashing
Bonnet Hood
Boot Trunk
Brambleberries A lovely wild berry that is sort of a cross between blackberries and mulberries (or might even be blackberries!)
Braw Nice, great, wonderful (from Jim Henderson)
Breeks Trousers
Breid (plain) From Kirsty: "plain breid = thick white bread with an inedible crust" (see also pan)
Bridie From Kens: "Bridies are a bit like pasties, but much, much nicer. Particularly the ones you get from Greggs bakeries. They consist of minced beef and onion wrapped in a horseshoe-shaped pastry case - usually puff pastry, but for some reason, they seem to want to use shortcrust pastry up here in the north east! It's just another one of those reasons why the West coast is so great and the East coast is so weird. D'you know that in Embra they ask if you want salt and brown sauce on your chips instead of salt and vinegar? I mean to ask you... BROWN SAUCE! And you canny get a pie in Dundee. It's a peh. Yeesh. I wanna go home."
British From or of the British Isles (Scotland, Wales, and England); "British" is NOT a synonym for "English." See this engaging explanation: The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained "
Brolly Umbrella
Broons See Oor Wullie & the Broons
Broo; b'roo See Buroo
BT British Telecom, Britain's telephone service provider
Buckfast From Kens: "When you mention wine to your typical earthy Weegie or central Scot, chances are, instead of thinking of a fine claret, their minds will skip to Buckfast - the fortified tonic wine of choice round the parts where I was raised. I don't know if you get midget gems (a fine assortment of fruit-flavoured gums), but Buckfast to me is like strongly alcoholic, liquid midget gems. It has the consistency of thick cough syrup and a kick like a mule. You're lucky if you can manage to drink the neck of the bottle before getting pissed and feeling a sudden need to boak. It's brewed by the monks at Buckfast Abbey which has become a source of pilgrimage for the alcoholics of North Lanarkshire (and was the subject of an episode of Rab C. Nesbitt), and I think something like 90% of their entire output ends up against a wall in either Airdrie or Coatbridge."
Bum Buttocks (see also bahookie)
Bumf Bum fodder: something of low dignity and value
Buroo; buroo office This from Steve Barker:  It's where you get your unemployment benefit or dole.  To be "on the buroo" is to be unemployed.  Maybe derived from bureau? And similar from James Walker: "On the broo" : drawing your unemployment benefits.  Could be a distortion of "bureau" as in "unemployment bureau." Maybe the application form is still called a UB40?.....same as the reggae band.....
Busker From Kens: "A street musician. In Glasgow, there is a special breed of busker, known as the jakie. These guys are usually those who have subsisted on a purely liquid diet for some number of years, and consequently, have an aroma and appearance quite distinct from the rest of us. Anyway, they tend to stand in alcoves halfway along Sauchiehall St. and sing rambling, incoherent songs in the style described by Billy Connolly in his Glasgow party sketch."
Butty A sandwich, widely believed to be a breakfast sort of sandwich and/or a sandwich made with a roll rather than bread.  See Ken's commentary on sarnies, buttys, and roll and slice.
 Call box Payphone
Camcorder Cockup Video blooper
Car Park Parking lot
Caravan No, not bedouins with camels -- it means "RV" or "camper" or "trailer"
Carryout Takeout, as in food
Carriageway Highway. Also motorway.
Classic Scottish mashed potatoes (From Jim Henderson & Kens)
Cheeky monkey I'm not sure exactly what this means, but I love the sound of it, and it seems to be affectionate
Chemist Drugstore; pharmacy (actually, it's usually a cosmetics shop)
Chips French fries
Chuffed Stoked
Citizens of the Capitol City Folk from Edinburgh (from Jean and Bill)
Clark Clerk; oddly, it's even spelled clerk. (I have no explanation for why it's pronounced "clark.")
Cleg A nasty, biting horsefly
Clippy Bus conductor, as in John Watt’s song: "She’s just a Kelty clippy, she’ll no tak’ nae advice / It’s Ach drap deid or Ah’ll bile yer heid or Ah’ll punch yer ticket twice."(contributed by Kirsty of Fife)
Close "A wynd is an alleyway that is open at both ends, whilst a close is one that is only open at one end." (from Smoothhound)
Cludgie, kludgie Toilet (see also Jobbie Wheecher)
Cockup Foulup.  See also Preston Station
Cod A jest or a hoax, such as a "cod-American accent"
Coddy Construction foreman
Come ben From Kirsty:  Many rural Scottish houses at one time consisted of two rooms.  The house would be
called a "but and ben".  The ben would be the room with any seats in it, the but would be the sleeping room.  Hence, any vistor would be invited into the ben, usually by the phrase "Come awa' ben" or "Come ben the hoose".

Costermonger From Kens: One who sells (usually fruit and vegetables) from a barrow.  Used here as a euphemism for the rough-and-ready working classes.
Council flats From Kens: "houses owned by the local councils and rented out to tenants on a priority system (there are frequent stories of young girls getting pregnant just to jump the housing queue, for example). The rent is much cheaper than renting privately, but the quality of housing, particularly in some areas of social deprivation can be atrocious. In order to try and address this, Glasgow Council came up with the idea of handing over control of public housing to a privately owned housing association, but this has caused all sorts of protests and bother with the tenants who fear rent rises and so on."
Court shoes Pumps (Contributed by Barb)
Cratur As in "a drop of the cratur". From Kens: "A wee nip of very strong drink (whisky!)."
Crisps Chips
Crivvens See Jings, crivvens, help ma boab
Crupper Bum
Curple Bum
 Dab hand As in "he's a dab hand at...": person with competency at...
Daft Crazy or mentally defective or just plain silly
Dasypygal (da-si-PYE-gul) Having hairy buttocks (see also Hairy-arsed)
(Contributed by BCLJ)
Daughter of the Rock A woman from Stirling (Contributed by Kirsty Holmes, of Stirling)
Desperate Dan A Beano cartoon set in Dundee; originally drawn by Watkins and eventually taken over by Ken H Harrison.
Do a runner Escape (without paying one's bill, for example)
Doric A dialect of Scotland; Donna P. says:  " I learned of it when in Dufftown, where I was given a wee book on Doric.  Later on I purchased a couple more.  They are quite humorous."
Dole As in "on the dole" -- public assistance. See also buroo.
Douce Posh, also genteel, net curtains, lace tablecloths etc. (from Kirsty)
Dreeing your weird "drift around like Lady Macbeth, sighing and being very sad" (from Kirsty)
Dreich More from Dr. Kens:
"that's a word that typifies the weather in Glasgow. Weegies, you see, much like the Inuit who have over 20 different words for snow, have umpteen different ways of describing rain.  A driech day is when thick grey clouds are hanging heavily in the sky, and although there may be an all-permeating drizzle, there isn't any actual rain to speak of.  It's pronounced 'dreech' (with the 'ch' at the end as in 'loch'). It was a dreich day when I fell off my bike and gashed my knee, but that's another story..."
Dundonian A person of Dundee (see also Aberdonian)
 Embra Edinburgh
English Pertains only to people and things of England; definitely does not apply to anything of Scotland, Ireland, or Wales; you can get away with calling the latter "British" (although you will be met with an almost imperceptible wince and an instant's evaluative silence) -- but never, never use the word "English."  See " british" for more detail.
Estate agent Realtor
Estate car Similar to a station wagon. From Kens: "It's essentially a normal hatchback or saloon car with an extended boot for lugging around stuff or kids. Think of big, boxy Volvos - they epitomise estate cars."
 Fa's a' Who's that? (From Nigel)
Fag A cigarette; many Brits are unaware that this is our word for poofter.
From Kirsty: Welcome, as in ceud mile failte, a hundred thousand welcomes. Failte is pronounced FAL - chi - unless anyone knows better?
Fairy cakes Similar to cupcakes. From Kens: "Little sponge cakes in paper cases, usually with icing and a little sugared cherry or jelly sweetie on the top."
Fairy lights Christmas tree lights
Fan When
Fankle Unkempt.  From Kens:  "Man!  Wid ye check the fankle aboon Kenny's fizzog?  That thing could be a cormorant's but'n'ben, so it could!";  Translation: Goodness! It appears that Kenny has allowed his hair to become wild and unkempt."
Fantoosh Alexander McCall Smith, 4 May, 2012: "Fantoosh is, I think, strictly speaking not English, but Scots, and it is used to describe something fancy or grand.  So one might say: 'Do you like my new outfit?' and your friend might reply: 'Yes, I do! Very fantoosh!'   It is a very useful word and I hope that it becomes more common."
Far Where
Feartie/Fearty From Kens: Scared. A feartie is a big jessie or girl's blouse (one who is scared of his own shadow).
Fecht Fight
Fifty pee to the pound Not all there
Firth From Kirsty: A wide, wide area between the estuary of a river and the open sea or ocean. A word very well suited to Scotland with all its crinkly bits round the edges. If you look at the Firth of Clyde or the Moray Firth, it's really pushing it to assume that the water there still principally derives from the river!
Fit? What -- see also whit
Fit like? How are you? (From Nigel)
Fit up Frame up
Fit's oan yir clock? What time is it?
Flat Apartment
Floater Ice cream float; best made with Irn-Bru
Folk fae Embra People from Edinburgh (from Jean and Bill)
Foo Full up (see stappit) (from Jim Henderson)
Foos yer doos? How are you? (From Nigel)
  1. Criminal record (He has form.)
  2. Level at school (She's in the 3rd form.)
  3. Social behaviour (Bad form, that.)
Foties Photos
Fouling Dog poop (lef on the pavement)
Free range Livestock's sacred right (and sacred rite) of freely looting and pillaging the villagers
Fruit machine Slot machine; one-armed bandit
Fur Boot Town Aberdeen (Also called Granite City)
Furry boot ye fae Where are you from?
 Gammy Non-functional, as in "Ah've got a gammy leg" (thanks, Kirsty)
Gamp Golfing sized umbrella (from Jim Henderson)
Gaol Jail (and pronounced "jail")
Gee To give, as in "I'll gee ya a skight round the lugFrom Jim Henderson
Geez Give me, as in "Geez a shot of yer bike. (from Jim Henderson)
Get a leg up; get a leg over Boff; see also shag
Gey From Kens: "Gey is essentially a synonym of 'extremely' or 'awffy'.  So 'gey jealous looks' are the sort who have the looking party grinding their teeth, furrowing their brows and having all steam come out their ears."
Git Jerk
Geordie A person from Newcastle (or the border)
Glaikit/Glaiket From The Scotsman's Scottish word of the day: "(Pronounced glay-kit; also spelt glaiket) an adjective used to describe a stupid, foolish and thoughtless person or action.   like in: 'Don’t just stand there looking glaikit, do something!'  It is mainly used in Scotland and Northern England.  The origins of this word are quite obscure.   It seems to come from the Scots word glaiks which means tricks, pranks; and evolved in the first half of the 15th century to the Middle English word gleek. ... gleek, which isn’t used in everyday language anymore, means a jest or a trick. 'To give someone the gleek' is to mock someone.

Glaikit is used in The Irish Cottier's Death and Burial by 18th century Ulster poet James Orr:
An’ now an’ then divert awa their care
by tellin’ tales to please some glaiket wean
Gob Mouth
Gobsmacked Astounded
God slot A UK colloquiallism for the late night religious programmes (contributed by Glenise)
Gowf Golf (from Jim Henderson)
Gowk Cuckoo, as in "hunt the gowk"
Girl's Blouse See feartie.
Girning The act of screwing up one's face in/for either:
  • pain/agony
  • exertion
  • grief
  • fun
  • sympathy
Giro day From Nigel: The day when claimants collect their social benefit payments.  From Ken: "Ah the stories my dad could tell you all about giro day. You see, he's currently biding his time until he retires by working up in the [...] social security office (or the 'brew' as we call it). There's nowhere in Scotland quite as rough as the brew offices of the East End of Glasgow and North Lanarkshire. The number of convicted murderers and drug dealers that my dad deals with on a regular basis is quite frightening. Still, he never sees any trouble, because [...], who's probably spent more of his adult life in the BarL than anywhere else, and quite possibly the hardest man in Scotland, has spread the word that Big Geordie Boy (as my dad is known by his punters) is alright, and anyone who gives him any grief will have [...] to answer to. Nice."
Glad to see the back of 'im! Quite pleased by his departure from my life; good riddance
Glaikit From Kens:  stupid or foolish.  As in "Forbye! Yer stan'in' there gowpin' wi' a big glaikit look oan yer walloper!"; Translation:  "Goodness!  What a foolish expression you are wearing!"
Graft; grafter Hard work; laborer
Granite City Aberdeen (Also called Fur Boot Town)
Gubbins Crap; hogwash
Guff; guffy Odor; smelly (contributed by Neil near Aberdeen)
Gutties See trainers.
Gyp, giving Trouble or grief
From Kens: "A haar is a thick, sea fog that slowly and menacingly creeps in from the sea. Crail is great when it's shrouded in one. It's transformed from being a quaint little picturesque seaside village to a mysterious, brooding wee place. Even better if the foghorn on the Isle of May starts bellowing too!"
Hae To have (from Jim Henderson)
Haggis A small, furry, endearing animal that has one pair of legs shorter than the other, adapting them for life on hillsides; the murderous Scots frighten them, thus causing them to fall over and roll down the hill where the women hold out their aprons and catch them. Then they are bludgeoned to death to make food substances of widely varying quality
Note: This was told to me by my Hamish friends, who are one and all serious and erudite people, so I can guarantee that this is true. They also tell me that the plural of haggis is hagii.
I spent two weeks arduously researching this term.  The results are equivocal -- it seems to be intuitively understood from birth, rather than explicitly defined.  However, I have come to some conclusions.  It seems to represent and celebrate a rebellious, anti-authority posture.  This appears to confirm what I had already suspected:  The Scots are less than warm-and-fuzzy about their neighbors and about bureaucracy (often one and the same), and experience joyful identity-ness at the thwarting of either.  I've observed that the more rebellious the person, the more gleefully and more often this term is hurled forth. (See also Dasypygal.)

(This entry is dedicated with great affection to Kens, who has surely the hairiest of them all.)
Happy Families A G-rated card game, along the lines of "Go Fish"
Haring off Dashing away precipitately
Haulier Trucker
Havers, havering Kirsty: "Basically it means to talk rubbish. eg 'She was havering on about seeing alien spaceships on the beach.' 'Och, havers!' means 'Oh, rubbish!' Best encapsulated in the The Proclaimers' song 500 Miles:

'When I haver, well I know I'm gonna be, I'm gonna be the man who's haverin' to you.'

They don't write them like that any more."

Having you on;
Having me on
Leg-pulling; shibai; wink-wink
Hedgerow Magical borders of shrubbery crisscrossing country lands, in which precious storybook animals can be found
Help ma boab See Jings, crivvens, help ma boab
Hen Woman ("Aye, or the lanky one out of the Broons," says Kens)
Hibee; Hib A supporter of Hibernian football club (Contributed by Kirsty Holmes)
Hire car Rental car
Hoaching From Kens: "A particularly Scottish type of hustle and bustle. One would describe Sauchiehall Street the Saturday before Christmas as the epitome of hoaching."
Hoochter-teuchter From Kirsty: "Hoochter is the word which goes in front of teuchter when referring to music, as laid out below. It doesn't really exist outwith that, but we don't say 'teuchter music', in fact we often just say hoochter-teuchter and drop the noun. And we shout 'hoo-oo-ooch' if we get really carried away while dancing."
Hoovering Vacuuming
Hunt the gowk April 1st, a day of silliness
Hurdies Hips according to some, but there are those who use it as "buttocks"; Kirty notes its use in Address to the Haggis by Robert Burns:
    "Yir hurdies like a distant hill,..."
 In trade Part of the merchant class
Incomer Outsider, non-native.  As with malahini and haole, it can be either an innocuous or hostile word, depending on context.
Inquiry agent P.I.
Invernusians People from Inverness (from Jean and Bill)
Irn-Bru Irn-BruBubble gum that is liquified, then carbonated, and -- if one is strong -- then drunk

For the brave: Donzilla's Irn-Bru Butt Chicken recipe.

Also good for a floater.
J cloth
A disposable cleaning cloth, made of papery fibres. Made by Johnson + Johnson, hence the J, I guess (from Kirsty)
Jacket potato Baked potato
Jambo A supporter of Heart of Midlothian football club (Hearts = Jam tarts, hence Jambo) (Contributed by Kirsty Holmes)
Jakie See busker.
JC+HMB See Jings, crivvens, help ma boab
Jeely Fruit jelly or jam (from Kirsty)
Jessie, a big See feartie.
Jings, crivvens, help ... Jings, crivvens, help ma boab:  an expression of amazement; Kirsty adds:  "much beloved of Oor Wullie and the Broons, Dundonian (more or less) cartoon characters with whom you will be well acquent.  Often rendered now as JC+HMB, especially by Paul [of Edinburgh]."
Jobby wheecher Toilet (see also Cludgie) (from Jim Henderson)
Jumper Pullover
As in "in keech up to your chin"; From Kens: "Keech is a great word which, like pish, can be used in about a million different ways. Yeah, it literally means foulings, but that doesn't automatically mean that someone who calls you a big keech is insulting you!"
Keen Enthusiastic. Ex: "not too keen on..."
Keep the head Keep your head; stay calm
Ken Sometime merely "know;" more often, to both know and to understand (equivalent to "grok," or "comprehend")
Kludgie; cludgie Toilet
Knackered Exhausted
Knickers Underpants
 Lambeg A type of drum, very large
Layby Pullover area along a road or highway
  1. Leg it: See Do a runner
  2. Leg pull, as in "it's a bit of a leg pull": See Having you on
  3. See also: Get a leg up; get a leg over
Let, letting agent Rent, rental agent
Lie down (as in, "have a bit of a...") Nap
Lift An ancient and dangerous relative of the elevator; not to be found in areas where people carry burdens
Line See Sick line
Local A communal living room for residents of a particular neighborhood, used for drinking; identical in function and ambience to the Surf Lounge
Loon Boy (Doric or Aberdonian); feminine equivalent is quine (from Kirsty)
Loons 'n quinies Boys and girls (From Nigel)
Lorry Truck
Lose your rag Lose your temper; lose control -- see also lost the place
Lost the place Lost your temper; lost control -- see also lose your rag
Lost your bottle Lost your courage, or your momentum; also, "your bottle snapped"
Lot, the All of it; as in "take the lot!"
Lug Ear  (from Jim Henderson)
Lumbered Burdened
Lum Chimney  (from Jim Henderson)
 Mac Raincoat
Mair, a wee bit Streetsmart, as in "Aw therr'n a wee bit mair."
From Scottish Life magazine, spring 2005, contributed by Carl Ingwalson
Malkie, Malky To have been killed as a result of violence. Example from Carl Ingwalson, from Scottish Life magazine, spring 2005:
"You're gauny get the malky."
Manky Dirty, nasty, rotting, contaminated (pilau in Hawai'ian)
Mancunian A person from Manchester
Marmite I've never had a clue quite what marmite is, but here's this from Dr. Kens:

Marmite is a concentrated yeast paste, enjoyed at any time of the day, whether on toast for breakfast, in sandwiches at lunchtime or as an added ingredient in stews and casseroles, or so goes the marketing bumf.

Personally, I think it's howfin'. Still, some people seem to like it, and it's not that bad for you 'cos it's 100% veggie *and* provides a rich source of vitamin B12, Riboflavin and Niacin and Follic Acid, so I guess it's just the thing to get a craving for with pickled ice-cream when you fall pregnant.

As for the taste - I guess you could call it the working man's caviarre - it's very salty and very definitely acquired. I still haven't cultured my palette, but my mum likes it with cheese on plain bread. Still, it's sold by the bucketload and it helped the allies win the war, so I guess the 'my mate Marmite' ad campaign must have at least a little bit of truth behind it.

Mash Mashed potatoes (see also tatties)
Messages Groceries, sundry supplies
Mickle A small thing, as in "Many a mickle makes a muckle" (mickle is pronounced "meekle") (from Jim Henderson)
Midge An insect resembling a mosquito, but nearly a foot long, and which swarms in clouds that blacken the sun.
Midget Gems Jujubes
MoD Ministry of Defense -- roughly equivalent to the Pentagon (but only roughly)
Moggy A mixed-breed domestic cat, though the term is sometimes applied to all cats
Motorway Freeway; highway. Also carriageway.
Muckle A big thing, as in "Many a mickle makes a muckle" (from Jim Henderson)
Mullach People from the lovely isle of Mull (from Jean and Bill)
 Naughts and crosses Tic tac toe
Neeps Turnips
  1. v.: Steal (She nicked my jacket.)
  2. n.: Jail (She's in the nick.)
  3. n.: Condition (It's in good nick -- well maintained)
Numpty An idiot; Kirsty says, "We seem to have an awful lot of words for this. :-) "
Nutter Nut case
 Oor Wullie & the Broons From Kens: "Scotland's number one family, the product of the fevered brain of the late Dudley D. Watkins - an English(!) cartoonist. You can follow their adventures every week in the Sunday Post (6 out of 10 Scots take the Sunday Post - the other 4 pay for it).

And from Kirsty: "Plus, Granpaw is the scallywag, and whatever Paw does, he always gets found out. They have been going since before WWII, and along with their compadre, Oor Wullie, have given rise to several phrases which have become embedded in the Scottish psyche, not the least of which is "Jings, crivvens, help m'boab!" (An involuntary expression of surprise and shock. Most often employed on finding that PC Murdoch has foiled one's latest cartie exploit. (PC Murdoch = the resident polis in OorWullieland. Cartie = wooden box on wheels much loved by children in Dundee in the first half of the previous century. Presumably.)

"And Kens, fancying Maggie? Very shallow, I'm sorry!! Daphne is obviously the one with hidden depths. You guys..."

Kens: "Yes, but Maggie is a fox. You don't need to have hidden depths when you look that good approaching your 70s."

Check out The Sunday Post for more info.

Anyways, reading from top to bottom, the Broons consist of:

  • Granpaw (the big kid)
  • Paw (the heid o' the family)
  • Maw (the *real* heid o' the family)
  • Joe (the athletic one)
  • Daphne (the dumpy unattractive one, who thinks she's the bees knees)
  • Hen (the lanky bean-pole with the moustache)
  • Maggie (the gorgeous one I've fancied since I was a wee boy)
  • Horace (the swot)
  • The Twins (two tearaways who bear an uncanny resemblance to Oor Wullie except without the dungarees)
  • The Bairn (the baby of the family, and Granpaw's favourite. Also known as 'ma wee lamb')

    All the stories are based around the same sort of premise: one of the family gets into a scrape and everyone rallies around only to find out it's been some major misunderstanding, but that all adds to the charm. After all, PG Wodehouse essentially used the same plotline in all his books, and Haydn wrote the same symphony over a hundred times, but nobody minds that!

 Optics A pub's bottles of whiskey and glassware
Orkadian Someone from the Orkney Islands
Outwith Outside of
 P.C. Police constable
Pagga See stooshie.
Pan From Kirsty: "pan = floppy white bread with all the taste and resilience of a J cloth" (See also breid)
Panda Police car (black-and-white)
Panto (As in "doing panto.") From Nigel:  Performing pantomime. Per Kens: "This is an annual affliction that seems to hit Australian soap stars more and more. I dunno why. Must be something in the water."
  1. Territory or area of expertise, as in "stay off my patch"
  2. "Not a patch on...": Unable to compete, by comparison
Peckish Hungry
Peh Pies;  From Kirsty: "Strange Dundonians like my cousin and now, undoubtedly, Kens, claim to have the best meat pies in the universe.  To distinguish them from other, lowlier brands, they have taken the word 'pie' and mangled it into 'peh'.  Even Cartman of South Park has proven himself to have Dundonian antecedents when uttering the immortal phrase 'Why no Kitty, that's ma peh.'"
Pensioner Retiree
Petrol Gasoline
Photies Photographs
Piece See sarnie
Pile A snobbish name for a family mansion, meant to suggest that extreme wealth and fabulous homes are to be casually taken for granted, and even mock-denigrated, unless the wealth is colossal.  Ex:  "I'm taking Phyllida to the pile this weekend."  This is heard much more often in England than in Scotland.
Pillock (great bloody) An idiot or fool. Per Ken, it originally had an offcolor meaning, but "now that its meaning has been lost in the annals of history, can be safely used at the dinner table when your grannie comes round for tea."
Pint A mug of beer; it may or may not add up to a pint (Barb informs me that it jolly well better add up to a pint!)  A word of warning:  Pints breed, and tend to become many pints.
Piss See Take the piss
Pissed Inebriated
Plimsolls Shoes. From Kens: "The main difference [between plimsolls and trainers], I think, is that plimsolls tend to be slip-on rather than tie up. When I was a wee boy, we used to have to wear black plimsolls with elasticated tongues to PE at school. I hated them, and lived for the day when we were allowed to wear proper trainers, which came in Primary 3. Trainers are also known as gutties up here."
Plonk Wine
Plooter/Plootering Awkward to do, or messing about (from Jim Henderson)
Po faced From Kirsty:  Po faced is much the same as "not amused", basically referring to anyone who has had a sense of humour by-pass.
Poke Sack, as in "put it in a poke"
Poofter A man whose significant (and insignificant) others are shaped differently than the statistical mean.
Porridge Oatmeal.  Your hosts will pretend they don't understand, but they're just having you on.  Actually they know perfectly well what oatmeal is; this is just their way of pressuring you to improve your speech.
Post Office A stationery and candy store; some of them sell within-Britain stamps
Press Cupboard, such as a linen cupboard
Pub A very, very old place used for drinking
Puckle A few (from Jim Henderson)
Punter Per Nigel, originally "client," but nowadays bookmakers and ladies of the night are inclined to refer to their clients as punters.  There's a connotation of being someone to be taken advantage of. But from Kirsty: "I would also put in a word for 'punter' meaning ordinary member of Joe Public. In our office it's interchangeable with 'person', colloquially."
Preston Station The armpit of the universe (not to be confused with Preston itself, which is probably quite nice)
  Queue A waiting line, such as for a ticket booth
Quine, quinie Girl, lass (Doric, or Aberdonian); the masculine form is loon (from Kirsty)
 Rag See Lose your rag
Rambler Someone who walks about for pleasure, often in groups. There's no real equivalent for this in the U.S., though there are things with partial similarity, like the Sierra Club.
Rain Town Glasgow
Rammy See stooshie.
Redundancy A type of layoffs/downsizing
Reek Stink, as used in the U.S., but also can mean smoke, as in Auld Reekie or "Lang may yer lum reek." (from Jim Henderson)
Rent boy Young male streetwalker -- "chicken" in the U.S.
Rise Raise (in pay)
Roll and slice A sandwich, probably of the meat and bread sort.  See Ken's commentary on sarnies, buttys, and roll and slice.
Rum From Kens: "'Rum' frequently means surprising (check out any book ever written by PG Wodehouse), so 'a rum go' is an unforeseen turn of events. Quite different from a square go, which usually follows a bit of argy-bargy."
 Sacked Fired
Saltire A flag of Scotland with a white St. Andrew's cross on a field of sky blue. There is also the Royal Banner of Scotland, a red lion on a yellow field.
Sarnie Sandwich, as in bacon sarnie.  Kens on sarnies and buttys: "Bacon sarnies: Best way to make 'em is with grilled bacon on lightly toasted bread with brown sauce. As for a butty, I think the word originates from the north of England, but I would certainly use the word butty before sarnie, which to me, at least, has a very southern feel to it. I also think that the two are slightly different - I'd always use butty to describe a sandwich made from a bread roll, whereas a sarnie is more of a sliced bread-and-meat type of affair. A particularly Scottish type of buttie would be the infamous fried square sausage on a bread roll with lashings of Heinz tomato sauce. This, however, would be described as a roll and slice. To call it anything else would be wrong. And people wonder why we top the world's cardiac arrest league..."
Scarper See "Do a runner"
Schemies From Kens: "Schemies are people who live in the schemes (estates of council houses). Generally they're all pretty tough nuts (ten-minute eggs, some of them). The schemies of Paisley, the East End of Glasgow and North Lanarkshire are broadly recognised as being the toughest around. I'm sure that those from the likes of Granton in Embra might disagree, but they're all fearties."
Scran Food
Scunner Disgusting person.  From Kens:  As in "Paw Broon, yer a scunner.  I'm black affronted!" [Can also be an adjective -- see "Scunnered".]
Scunnered From Kens:  disgusted.  As in, "Paw Broon!
I'm that scunnered wi' ye!  Fechtin' wi' that auld midden ben the close at your age!  Whit sort o' an example are ye showin' tae thae bairns?";  Translation:  "Father Brown!  I'm disgusted with your behaviour.  Fighting with that elderly rapscallion at the other side of the close at your advanced age, too.  Your standing as a role model for the family unit has been severely compromised by this incident.") [Can also be a noun -- see "Scunner".]
Sello-tape Scotch tape
Semidetached home Essentially two houses side by side in the same building, each with its own front and back doors and little plot of garden. (From Kens)
Shag Boff; more advanced than snog; see also Get a leg up
Shieling A shelter, often a fisherman's shelter but sometimes referring to a shepherd's shelter
Shoogle Jiggle (contributed by Kens)
Shoogly (as in "down the shoogly wee streets"): From Kens: "wobbly, or in this case, rickety. Shoogle is the verb from which the adjective is derived. You might give something a wee shoogle to try and dislodge it, for example."
Shot An opportunity to try out, as in "Geez a shot of yer bike" (from Jim Henderson)
Shout, my
  1. My turn, as in my turn to buy the drinks
  2. I win
Siccar Sure
Sick line Doctor's note, excusing one from school or work
Sitooterie A structure on the grounds to sit oot in
Sitting in The opposite of takeaway
Skellt Spilled, as in "I skellt my coffee."  (from Jim Henderson)
Skight To slap with the back of the hand as in " I'll give you a skight round yer lug  (from Jim Henderson)
Skint Broke; short of the ready
Slainte From Kirsty: A toast. Full version is slainte mhath - (spoken slange-y-va).
Smatchet Twirp; dweeb (contributed by John once of Anchorage)
Smirr And here from Kirsty:

"...[smirr and dreich] both pertain to that favourite British topic, the weather. Dreich should really be prefaced with gey, as in 'It's gey dreich the day.' People may have various ideas on this, but in our house it means a really grey, wet, depressing day, where everything is sodden and very gloomy.

Smirr is a very fine light rain, like a spray

Snell wind From Kens: "a cold, piercing wind, as in: 'That snell wind fair cuts ye tae the bone!'"
Snog Make out; milder than shag
SOCO Scene of the Crime Officer/s; pronounced "sock-o"
Solicitor A flavor of lawyer
Sookie sweeties Boiled sweets
Spliff Joint
Spliffed Stoned
Sponge bag Bath kit
Spot on Exactly right
Squat Temporary digs -- a dump
Stappit Full up, as in "I'm stappit after that big meal." (see also foo) (from Jim Henderson
Stockist Retailer of a specific product or brand
Stooshie From Kens: "Brouhaha; commotion; barney; pagga; rammy (there you go - three bonus words!)"; the sort of thing that might happen if you lose your rag.
Stovies From Kirsty: Stovies is a dish made up of potatoes, onions, lard and perhaps some bacon.  It is as filling as a full plate of haggis, neeps and tatties.  It is not listed in the Atkins diet. It is very tasty.
Strath From Kirsty: The land a river runs through, longer than a glen, usually very fertile and sometimes astonishingly picturesque. Much loved of whisky companies .
STV Scotland on TV, a great source of online videos from and about Scotland
Subway Underpass
Swanning about Imitating Demi Moore thinking she'll get an Oscar; behaving as if your prestige is far greater than it actually is
Sweeties Candy
Swot From Kens:
  1. n. A bookworm, one who is studious to excess. Me when I was a second year UG at uni (all I did was study, work, eat and sleep - I got *so* rich 'cos I didn't have time to spend any of my wages!). I was truly Kenny Naemates, though.
  2. n. a pedant or someone who enjoys displaying their theoretical grasp of acquired knowledge to the belittlement of others. Usually used in the oprobrious sense.
  3. v. to study hard
 Tablet A sweetie made from condensed milk
Take the piss Be deceptive; put someone on; pull the wool over someone's eyes; ridicule someone
Takeaway Takeout, as in food; see also "carryout"
Tannoy Loudspeaker or P.A. (public address) system
Tat shop Schlock shop
Tatties Potatoes
Tenement Although this can have the squalid connation as in the U.S., it can also be used ordinarily.  This from Kirsty:

"Hmm, tenement. It used to have negative connotations, especially when applied to some of the slum areas of inner cities. The most famous was the Gorbals in Glasgow, but this doesn't mean that Edinburgh was any better, so hold back there Kens! They can now be found in some very douce and expensive areas of town. Basically it's a terrace of three to four levels, with two to four flats (apartments) on each level.

"Long ago a flat was more likely to be 'a room and kitchen' with shared toilets, indoors if lucky, outside if not. I don't really know the date of the decision to demolish these in the town centres, but the famous sense of cameraderie was lost when populations were moved wholesale into high rise blocks. These were meant to operate like a street, but on a vertical axis. However, not having several of the attributes of a horizontal street, they quickly became targets for vandals, and left many people feeling very isolated and housebound.

"Plus, as the song so accurately puts it, 'You cannae throw pieces from a 20 story flat, 50,000 hungry weans'll testify tae that, be it something cheese or jeely, be it plain breid or pan, the odds against it reachin' earth are 99 tae wan.'

"Old habit of throwing a sandwich down to children playing in the back court was also lost. (Piece = sandwich, weans, pronounced waynes, = children, but only on the west coast! jeely = fruit jelly or jam, plain breid = thick white bread with an inedible crust, pan = floppy white bread with all the taste and resilience of a J cloth.)"

Teuchter This from Dr. Kens:

"In Weegie-speak, a teuchter (pronounced choochter - first 'ch' as in 'cheese' second as in 'loch') is used as a slightly derogatory term to describe a person who comes from the Highlands and Islands - anywhere north of Loch Lomond is probably fair game. It's sort of like calling someone a yokel or a redneck.

As an extension, hoochter-teuchter music is the traditional Scottish country dance music that we all like to birl to as often as we can." (See also hoochter.)

And in The Scotsman's Scottish Word of the Day:

Moving onto casual insults now, the word teuchter is used by those in Lowland areas of Scotland to describe those from the Highlands, specifically those in rural areas who speak Gaelic. More loosely, the term is used for a country-dweller. Although the word is now used almost exclusively as a Scots term for an English person, sassenach used to be the Highlanders’ – or teuchters – retort for Lowlanders. Generally good-humoured in tone, both "insults" are unlikely to cause great offence. Unless, of course, there’s a deep-rooted and bitter history between certain Lowlander and Highlander families or clans.

Thrawn Contrary, bull-headed, counter-mainstream
Tigh dubh "Black house": A stone cottage with rounded corners and a reed or heather-thatched roof. The fire was laid on a slab in the center of the room, and the smoke escaped through a hole in the thatch. (From Siobhan via Scottish Life Magazine)
Tin Can
Tolley A "number-two" that goes into a cludgie (from Jim Henderson)
Ton 100; Example: Doing the ton between exits = driving 100 miles/hour between exits. From Nigel. Says Kens: "Dig out and have a listen to 'Well I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day' by Roy Wood's Wizzard."
Tooled up Packing; carrying; possessed of weaponry (contributed by Peter Redfarn)
Top (oneself) Commit suicide
Torch Flashlight
Towerblock High rise tenement
Trainers Soft soled shoes. From Kens: "Trainer is an abbreviation of 'training shoe', and is used to describe more or less any soft shoe, whether it be for serious sporting use or simply pimping around the town in your shell suit and gelled-down hair.". See also plimsolls.
 Underground Subway
 VAT Value added tax: A government-coerced form of mandatory tipping
width="90%" border="0" cellspacing="4" cellpadding="4" ALIGN=CENTER> Wanker I will lose my PG rating if I give a literal definition of this, so I'll give the figurative:  a wanker is someone whose activities are of worth only to himself. Wanksta A white gangsta rapper wannabe Washing powder Laundry detergent Way out No, not a hippie accolade; it means exit Wean Young child Wee dram A euphemism for a festive custom in which you order (and drink) a shot of each whiskey on the top row of the bar shelves, moving from right to left. Weegie Glaswegian Wheen A goodish bit, as in "a wheen bit more" From Kens Whisht Hush, as in "Whisht now!" Whit What, as in "Whit's that y'say now, y' bampot!" -- see also fit White settler A Scottish term for English incomers. (contributed by Neil near Aberdeen) W.P.C. Woman police constable -- this term is no longer PC (politically correct): it is now correct to call either gender "P.C.". Wynd "A wynd is an alleyway that is open at both ends, whilst a close is one that is only open at one end."(from Smoothhound)  Zed The letter 'Z' as in A-Zed      

I published ScotSpeak© in 1998, and have continued collecting treasures for it during the years since.  Imagine my pleasure when a book by that name was published in 2001 by Christine Robinson and Carol Ann Crawford. The academic text is very valuable, but the richest treat of all is the accompanying CD, with its musical Scottish voices.

To purchase ScotSpeak the book/CD:

And whether you love beauty or all things Scottish, I offer the following recommendations (Amazon US):
Cover of Scots Quair Cover of An Tuil Cover of People of the Sea
A Scots Quair
by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, edited by Tom Crawford; an exquisitely beautiful tapestry
An Tuil
translated by Ronald Black; One hundred Gaelic poets, including Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna and Sorley MacLean
The People of the Sea: A Journey in Search of the Seal Legend
by David Thomson; not just information but travels and interviews that are haunting & poetic in their own right
or £: Amazon UK or £: Amazon UK or £: Amazon UK
And for the sheer joy of hearing a good story told in Scottish voice, I recommend audiobooks by my favorite author, Ian Rankin, and my favorite reader, James MacPherson:
Audio: The Falls Audio: Mortal Causes Book:  people of the Sea
The Falls
Mysterious carved dolls and toy coffins -- the ancient and the modern
Mortal Causes
I visited Edinburgh's mysterious Mary King's Close, the macabre history of which is part of this novel
Black and Blue
From North Sea oil to a resurfacing serial killer
£: Amazon UK £: Amazon UK £: Amazon UK
Audio: The Falls
The Black Book
Encoded secrets and an unidentified body
A Question of Blood
(Please save yourself a terrible loss of good storytelling by avoiding the abridged version.)
The Naming of the Dead
£: Amazon UK £: Amazon UK £: Amazon UK


Go to Itchy Coo

Exit Music
I rejoice to find that we have James MacPherson on this one.
  And if you have bairns,
don't miss:

Itchy Coo:
Braw Books for Bairns o Aw Ages
The novel: Exit Music


And give yourself the treat of visiting the authentic Ian Rankin site


Links of Interest
Scots Language Resource Centre Worldwide Words
Scots Online British-American
Dictionary of the Scots Language John Bechard's
Glossary of George Falconer
BBC's h2g2
Scottish Dialect
History of the Scots Language


and the
Lehua's Refuge LehuaNet

The Spirit of This Offering

This offering is lighthearted and affectionate.  I am far from expert on matters British or Scottish.  I am merely an enchanted traveler, happy beyond expression to have the chance to enjoy all that these isles purvey, hoping to bring to you at least a few of the many smiles inspired by what I heard and did.  If you're needing a true, authentic expert, you're very much in the wrong place, and should seek amongst the vast numbers of sites that provide same.

Scottish phrases are mixed with British.  Here is what the experts tell me:  Scots are British, though not all British are Scots, and Scots are most emphatically not English.  If you disagree, (polite) dissent is welcome.

All that having been said, the above is my attempt to make meaning -- for me, at least -- across the seas.

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