Saturday, 12 May 2012

Scottish words and their meanings

So my friend Bea from Bea's Book Nook gave me an idea for a blog post after I posted a couple of my favourite Scottish words on Twitter last week (or possibly just earlier on this week) and I thought, "Yeah! I'm going to do that."

Know what I didn't think of? Even though I am Scottish, live in Scotland, have never lived anywhere else and speak Scottish every minute of every day of my life ~ trying to think of a list of Scottish words is actually quite hard! Because I speak them every day, I don't think of them as being unknown to others, so yeah this list is a bit varied and is probably going to the first of a series since I'm sure I'll remember other words after I've written this post. Also, just because the words are written here do not mean that I personally say them, some words are regional. For instance, I'm from the West Coast of Scotland and my boyfriend is from the East Coast, I say words he doesn't know but, for some reason, there aren't as many words he uses that I don't know. He has, in recent years, started saying Ken though, which they do not say on the East Coast.

Also, I'd like to state for any Scottish people reading this: I have no idea how to spell a lot of these words! If I don't know how it's spelled, I'm writing it down phonetically. The problem with Scottish words is that it's slang or purely just an accent thing so it doesn't have an actual correct spelling. I'll try my hardest to list the phonetics with the words, they'll be in these funky brackets {}, if there are no funky brackets it means I think the word is already written like it's said.

But anyway, here goes:

Auld ~ old
Awfy {Aw-fay} ~ awful, really It's awfy cauld ootside
Aye {I} ~ yes
Baltic ~ really cold, freezing Man, it's baltic oot there
Blether {B-leather} ~ a chat, a chinwag, a wee bit of a gossip 'Mon in for a wee blether and a cuppa
Boggin ~ really dirty thing or person Gadz, he's boggin
Cannae {Can-nay} ~ can't
Cauld ~ cold
Chankin ~ really cold, freezing (you can see we have a lot of words meaning cold, it's a cold country, LOL)
Clatty ~ really disgusting thing or person
Couldnae {Could-nay} ~ couldn't
Cowp ~ to dump something. Also the actual dump to dump your stuff in Cowp it oot ower there / Gawn tae the cowp wi' this auld table
Cry/cried ~ call or called Whit dae yae cry him again? / He's cried Jim
Dae {Day} ~ do
Daein {Day-in} ~ doing
Didnae {Did-nay} ~ didn't
Disnae {Diz-nae} ~ doesn't
E/een ~ eye/eyes I hurt ma e / Open yer een
Fae {Fay} ~ from Whaur ye fae?
Faither {Fay-thur} ~ father
Fitba(w) ~ football. Can be said with or without the W
Fousty {Foo-stay} ~ mouldy or stale. Not just looks but also smell That breed's awfy fousty / The fridge smells a bit fousty
Foutery {Foo-terry} ~ small and hard to handle I cannae hold it, it's too foutery
Giy ~ a lot of, very This year's gone giy fast
Gonnae {Gaw-nay} ~ going to Gonnae shut up?!
Gowf ~ golf
Gowpin ~ sore My feet are gowpin
Isnae {Iz-nay} ~ isn't
Ken ~ know Dae ye ken where the car is?
Kip ~ bed
Lowp/lowpin/lowped {low more like cow than low} ~ jump/jumping/jumped The dug lowped the fence
Lug ~ ear
Manky {Man-kay} ~ really dirty Ma windaes are manky
Maw ~ mum
Mawkit ~ really dirty
Mither ~ mother
Nae ~ no as in number wise There's nae bread left
Naw ~ no as in opposite of yes
Oose {Oos} ~ fluff (on your clothes). I'm not entirely sure if this is Scottish or not
Pech/peched ~ tire you out/tired, gasping for breath. The "ch" is the hard Scottish phlegmy noise Man, I'm peched fae that hill
Pruch ~ dig through something e.g. cupboard, bag etc. Again the hard Scottish "ch" I love pruching through auld boxes
Rank ~ stinks, disgusting
Shouldnae {Should-nay} ~ shouldn't
Twa {Tw-aw} ~ two
Wan ~ one
Whaur ~ where
Whit ~ what
Widnae {Wid-nay} ~ wouldn't
Willnae {Will-nay} ~ won't
Windae {Win-day} ~ window
Wisnae {Wis-nay} ~ wasn't
Yin ~ One

So that's it. Hope you all enjoyed (and understood). Sorry if it's confusing but I'm not a dictionary and it's difficult explaining things. Questions? Put them in the comments and I'll either answer them here or in another post.


  1. I'm surprised by how many of those I knew. That would be the result, I'm sure, of so much reading, plus tv and movies, and of course, chatting with you. :P

    This was interesting, thanks JA.

    1. A lot of them, like couldnae wouldnae etc, I think are fairly obvious. But yeah, our language isn't all that bad ... it's our accents that people struggle with.

  2. I've a couple for you to add:

    Birling - to twirl around.
    Dreech - rotten. Normally relating to weather "It's a dreech nicht the nicht"
    Drookit - soaking wet
    Greeting - crying. "Stoap yer greeting, ye soor faced puddin'"

    1. Och ya bugger, you stole some that I had listed for my next post!!

  3. Reminds me of some of the "Texan-talk" things:


    Some of these are more rural and less used these days.

    I mostly speak with a neutral Midwest accent, although I always say "y'all" regardless. But I can lapse into a West Texas drawl when needed.

  4. I really liked this post. It's cool to see the slang from other countries. I find it absolutly fasinating. And I have to say the Scotish Accent is my all time fav. I love the way it sounds. Really enjoyed your blog. :)Maybe when my babies are all grown up me and my old man will take a trip over there and see the sites. I've seen picture of rolling hills and valleys in Scotland and it just took my breath away.

    1. See people say that about Scotland but I've seen similar landscapes in Canada. And America has some pretty cool sites as well. I always wonder what makes Scotland's any different.

    2. The people espically Glaswegians

  5. I knew most of them, its fun to find out regional words. There's a whole set for most area's for example Cumbrian is a foreign language to most with words like:

    Gadje (means guy/man)
    Yan, Tan, Tetheran (One, Two, Three)
    Yam (Home)
    T'old Lass (The Old Lady, usually your Mum or if of a certain age, wife)

    Thanks for this Julie, really made my morning.

    1. Gadje is very similar to a Scots words that means something COMPLETELY different. But that will be in my next Scots post, LOL.

  6. I love regional accents and sayings, it adds real colour to a place, and the people who live there. Your list is pretty extensive, although I was a little disappointed not to see 'och' or 'noo' included. ;)

    1. Och is actually quite a hard word to give a meaning to. It's basically just a frustrated noise, LOL.

  7. Probably the one you make when you read comments by annoying sassanaks like me... ;)

  8. Fantastic post! I love languages and dialects, and this one made me laugh as I learned ;) I'll be following this series for sure.