A bit of a different post today! I recently read (and loved) The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan, in which each chapter is named after a Scots word. Whilst I don’t have a particularly strong accent or think of myself as especially Scottish in the stereotypical sense, it did make me realise just how many traditional Scottish words and phrases are interwoven into my every day dialect. As a lover of stories and language, I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favourites, some of which I use regularly myself, others I just enjoy hearing.
It’s a sair fecht – A direct translation would be ‘it’s a sore fight’, but it’s used in the context of ‘it’s a hard life’; usually said with a sigh at the end of a long day. I picked this one up from my Grandad.
Dreich – Used to describe a dull, horrible day. We have ample opportunity to use this one in Scotland.
Haud yer wheesht – This essentially means ‘shut up’, usually said with exasperation when someone keeps rambling on.
Sleekit – A great way to describe someone who is dishonest or sly.
Dwam – A dwam is a daydream. My mum often tells us that a teacher once described her as being ‘in a permanent dwam’.
Glaikit – I love this word. If someone is glaikit, they’re slow or, frankly, stupid.
Numpty – A numpty is an idiot. What can I say, we’re a very sarcastic bunch.
Peely-wally – This means pale and is used to describe someone who looks washed out or ill.
Messages – To this day, I haven’t found anyone who can explain to me why we call groceries ‘messages’, and yet, we do.
Haver – This is both a noun and a verb. If you’re a haver, you never shut up, and may thus also be described as ‘havering a load of nonsense’.
Fouter – Again, this is both a noun and a verb. If something is a fouter, it’s an annoying, fiddly task. If you’re foutering, you’re making a needless fuss over something and over-complicating it.
Swither – If you’re swithering, you can’t make up your mind.
Shoogle – If you shoogle something, you give it a good shake.
Clype – A clype is someone, generally an annoying child, who tells tales to get other people in trouble.
Coorie – Coorie means to get cosy, as in to coorie under a blanket.
Braw – This simply means ‘good’.
Couthie – If someone is couthie, they’re sweet and friendly.
Tumshie – A tumshie is a turnip. It can also be used to call someone a fool, or as a term of endearment, similar to the way the French say ‘mon petit chou’ (‘my little cabbage’) – but I’m getting into a wormhole here, because I believe some people think that phrase originally came from choux pastry, rather than cabbages…
Awa’ an bile yer heid – Okay, I don’t think I would ever use this one in conversation myself, but it does make me laugh. Literally, it means ‘go away and boil your head’; used when someone is being annoying or talking nonsense.
Lang may yer lum reek – Again, this isn’t something I would likely say, but I love the sentiment behind it. It translates as ‘long may your chimney smoke’ and it’s an old well-wish that you would typically say when parting ways with someone; the idea being that if your chimney was smoking, you had surplus wood to burn, and thus financial stability and a warm, safe home. You tend to only hear this around New Year these days, as an old-fashioned way of wishing people a long and happy life.
Do you have favourite words or phrases from your native language or regional dialect?