Our Favourite Scots Words

Are any words quite as descriptive as those in traditional Scots? Lucy takes a minute to find out

On the way into work this morning, it looked very much like rain – which, coming hot on the heels of a very dry spell, was roundly welcomed by all the gardeners in the Friend office.

By the time everyone started arriving, they were all drenched – by rain which although it looks deceptively light, actually soaks you to the skin!

The word for this in Scots is ‘smirr’, which got me thinking about the wonderful words we use up here every day. So here are some favourites of the Friend team – with translations!

Judey: “Scots words I use all the time are; trachled – exhausted; scunnered – weary; thole – put up with; havers – nonsense; wheen – lots; bide – stay; stotting – bouncing; gloaming –  twilight; and braw – excellent!”

Alan: “Some of my favourites are – cuddy (horse), breeks (trousers), baffies (slippers), hoaching (busy) and minging – meaning yucky. Neeps, meaning turnips, and crabbit – bad tempered. Dour – stern and sullen. And “I can’t get out of the bit”, meaning I can’t get going.”

Jacki: “I love the word ‘barkit’ (dirty). I was forever getting moaned at as a child for my hands, knees and clothes being barkit. Also, my room was always a ‘midden’ (a rubbish dump!). As you can tell, I’m not a particularly tidy person!”

Yvonne: “I love the word “glaikit” to describe a foolish person. Clorty sums up something which is ingrained with dirt.

“One expression that I recall my granny saying is, “She’s fairly hingin’ intae the beef” which translates as, “She’s overweight and holding onto a few extra pounds!”. What can I say, she never was one to mince her words!

Moira: “My gran used to say, “It’s in the press,” meaning it’s in the cupboard. I also like dub, meaning a puddle; ‘sna’ aff a dyke’, meaning snow falling from a wall; and ‘let the doag see the rabbit’ – let me in to see what’s going on!”

Liz:Hackit – unattractive.”

Shirley:Manky – worse than filthy. Rotten, smelly, foul. Like the banana I brought to work yesterday!”

Lucy:Wheesht – be quiet; dreich – rainy and grim; coorie – to snuggle in; clype – a tell-tale; close – can mean either a stairwell in a tenement, or when it’s so hot the air isn’t circulating; eejit – an idiot; bidie-in – a live-in partner; fankle – a muddle; blether – can be a noun or verb, a chatterbox or to chat; stramash – commotion; thrawn – see ‘crabbit’; gumption – initiative; stour – dust; peely-wally – pale and wan; sleekit – sly; dauner – a stroll; skelp – a slap; dicht – wipe; swither – hesitate; footer – potter about; laldy – your best effort; stooshie – a palaver; shoogly – wobbly; guddle – a mess; smeddum – spirit; peching – out of breath; girn – complain; jalouse – work out; chap – knock (a door); burn – a stream; fash – fuss; corrie-fisted – left-handed; snell – biting cold; haar – cold sea fog which rolls in on the East Coast. Wabbit – exhausted.”

Margaret: “Dad always called us “Teenyfitroon” and “Hunnyfaethe dunny”. Was years later that I realised Troon was an actual place and a dunny was the cellar!”


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Fiction Team’s Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 150 years of 'Friend' fiction!