Everyday Scots words

Everyday Scots words

The Falls of Dochart looking beautiful or bonnie.

In an earlier blog, we took a look at the large number of Scots words associated with alcohol. This month, we’re going to widen the net a little and explore other words or phrases that you might hear in Scotland.

As you might expect in a country where we can easily experience all four seasons in a day – or even an hour – we have lots of words that refer to the weather. Equally unsurprisingly, most of them seem to refer to wet or cold weather. If a wind is snell then it will chill you to the bone. Especially if you are already drookit or soaked because you have been wandering around in the smirr or steady drizzle.

Scots words for weather

Possibly the most widespread word used to describe the weather around these parts is dreich. It means grey, gloomy, overcast, dull and perhaps even slightly threatening. If it is a dreich day out there then it may not be actually raining right now but it will be soon.

Insults are another speciality. At the tamer end of the spectrum, you might call someone a numpty, a daftie or just a plain old eejit. If their faults are more outrageous then you may wish inform them that they are a roaster or a tube. If someone’s behaviour is unpredictable and perhaps menacing then you might call them a rocket, a radge or a bampot. Although if they are properly aff their heid then it might be best to dish out the insults from a suitably safe distance.

Awa and bile yer heid and other insults

Of course, we have plenty of barbs that we use to flesh out regional rivalries. If an Edinburgh resident wished to imply that a Glaswegian acquaintance was a chancer or trying his luck then he might describe him as being ‘as wide as the Clyde’. The standard Glaswegian insult for anyone from Edinburgh is that they are ‘all fur coat and nae knickers’. Which means that while an Edinburgh person may give off an aura of smug superiority they have nothing to back it up. It’s all a show. A Texan guest chewed over this phrase once and offered a Lone Star state equivalent: that guy is all hat and no cattle.

Another accusation that a Glaswegian might level at an Edinburgh dweller is that they are inhospitable and unwelcoming. Thus it is assumed that any visitor to an Edinburgh home will be greeted with the words ‘You’ll have had your tea?’. By assuming that the visitor has already eaten there is no need to offer them any further refreshments.

X-rated insults

And we have not even touched upon the rich diversity of Scotland’s X-rated insults. This is not the forum in which to get down and dirty but, at the risk of being vulgar, one of this writer’s favourite cheeky insults is to describe someone as having ‘a face like a skelped erse’. I’m not going to spell it out but let’s say that Gordon Ramsay can usually be described as wearing such an expression at any given moment during an episode of Hell’s Kitchen.

We don’t want to end with any unpleasantness so instead we’ll finish up by mentioning the Gaelic phrase a wee ‘deoch an doris’. This is the last drink of the evening when you say goodbye to your friends and start to make your way home. It literally means the drink at the door and could be translated as ‘one for the road’.

If you want to hear more Scots words while enjoying mighty fine food and drink then book onto our walking tours in Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews: https://www.eatwalkglasgow.co.uk/

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