Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Favourite Scots Words

During the festive season I helped a friend in her kitchen. She asked me to add some spices to a sauce and provided me with the container. In order to find the quantity required I asked her how much would I use. She replied, "Just a bit."  My response was, "Is that a ticky or a wee ticky?" Raucous laughter ensued and when she'd dried her eyes, she explained she hadn't heard that expression since childhood.  As we are both a bit past that, you will gather that's some years ago.

Our conversation started us thinking of our favourite Scots words.  A few of mine are (in no particular order) below and I've taken the liberty of providing an English translation for those who may not be acquainted with Scots.

scunner (v): what a wonderful word. It describes a multitude of emotions from angry to completely frustrated.  (A good example would be when you feel like pulling your hair out: "I'm scunnered."

caw cannie: go carefully, cautiously.

press (n): usually a full length shallow cupboard in a room which is embedded in the wall.  Common in houses built before the 50s. My grandmother's press kept the best whisky, jams, pickles and a variety of other delicious edibles, all under lock and key of course. 

peely-wally (adj): a lovely word to describe someone who's feeling off colour and looking a bit pasty. 

clorty (adj): dirty, filthy. My mother used that word often when we were children.

That's a few of my favourites.  It would be interesting to hear yours, especially as words can vary in spelling from different areas.


JRB said...

My favourite old word still in daily use –

boorach - a heap; a mass; an untidy mess; a humble dwelling; a hovel
(can also be used as a verb to create any of above)

We have in the kitchen a drawer, into which goes all the odds and ends that don’t have an organised place of their own – the key for the shed; spare batteries for the torch; the thing that balls melons; takeaway menus etc. It is chaotic – this is the boorach drawer.

When my daughter was young she had that teenage skill of being able to boorach her room into a total chaotic tip, with clothing, books, etc everywhere.

subrosa said...

Ah a lovely word JRB. My Aberdeenshire grandmother used it regularly - or should I say constantly.

It's not a word I heard much in Dundee though. Maybe boorachs don't travel. :)

Elby the Beserk said...

"Scunnered" is the only one of those words that this Celt (1/2 Irish, 1/4 Cornish) recognises. I do like "gralloch", which I gather means to disembowel a deer. Sadly, I didn't have my gralloching knife (or knowledge) with me a few weeks back, when our Lurcher mutt took down and killed a Roe deer in some local woods. And I love Venison. Deer must be gralloched on the spot, else the meat spoils.

Sheila said...

Apologies if this gets posted twice - computer had an unexplained hissy fit.

The ones I find myself using most are wabbit, thrawn, dreich and wheesht!

Chef Files said...

Coming fae Glesca, we are well known for speaking only the correct Queens English. Apart fae these wee beauties. Baffies, Skelp, Scunnered, Drookit, Fitba, Glaikit, Hing, Jaiket, Mauchit, Hee-haw, Hoachie, and of course Teuchter, for all those who are no blessed enough to be Weegies.

Clarinda said...

best of all - shoogle

many too rude to include but most have that edge of humour and a life lived.

Hamish said...

Doited: away with the fairies.
Malyhackered*: knackered.

*can't find this one in the dictionary, but I distinctly remember my Aunt Netta, who had a great command of Scots, saying "Im fair malyhackered".

Ian said...

When I lived in Scotland, a friend would tell me to "screw the bobbin."

Ian said...

Remember Stanley Baxter with the "Parliamo Glasgow" segment of his tv show ?
" Now we see how to use 'izzyaffiz'."
"Is his appetite diminished?" = "Izzyaffiz meat?"
"Is he mad?"= "Izzyaffiz bliddychomp?"

Elby the Beserk said...

Stanley Baxter! Thanks for the memory!

Alan said...

Loads of Scots words at

Sheila said...

Tee hee!

"HILARIOUS evidence has emerged showing how parliamentary officials in London are baffled by the accents of Scottish MPs.
One Hansard reporter sent a note to a Scottish MP asking why he made a reference to the SNP calling them “big fairies”.
Bemused Jim Sheridan MP was forced to explain that he actually said “big fearties”.
Sheridan explained – in block capitals – to the Hansard Reporter: “No big fearties Scottish ref to people who are frightened.”
The Labour MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire translated his words after receiving an “urgent request” from official Hansard shorthand reporters.
Hansard reporters log everything that is said in the House of Commons.
If they fail to understand something that is said, they have the option to request help from speakers.
Jim Sheridan said: “It was quite funny – it’s not a word used in England.
“Sometimes it’s hard for the Hansard shorthand reporters to understand all the people with different accents, like the Geordies too.
“They often seek clarification unless you speak with an exceptionally posh voice.
“Unless you are sitting right next to the shorthand writer, it can be difficult to get everything.”
He added: “What they thought I said was ‘big fairies,’ it’s applicable to both though."

subrosa said...

Mmm Elby, I don't recognise that one but then it's not a habit of mine to disembowel deer. :)

I love venison too.

subrosa said...

Ah Sheila, I use all these too. Thanks.

subrosa said...

I love hing Chef. Another word I used when younger was mince but I think that's an English one.

subrosa said...

Ah Clarinda, great choices. Stoor - just wonderful.

subrosa said...

Have heard dolted Hamish, but not malyhackered. Nice one though.

subrosa said...

Strangely enough Ian, I recorded a programme about him recently and just watched it when I was waiting for Andy Murray to play late the other night.

He is superb. Think the programme was a story about his success. It may still be on iPlayer,

subrosa said...

Indeed Elby, a superb entertainer.

subrosa said...

Many thanks for the link Alan.

subrosa said...

Lovely story Sheila.

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