ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Scottish Words and Phrases

Updated on June 19, 2016

Scottish Words and Phrases

Scottish words and phrases can be a source of bewilderment to those who don't live there. Even native Scots can fail to understand some of them, due to regional variations of words and dialects. Upcoming generations, learning from tv imports and text-speak, are losing the ability to speak native Scots.

Here you'll find some common Scottish words and phrases, along with their meanings. Use them if you want to feel closer to your heritage, impress your Scottish acquaintances, or simply if you want to baffle your non-Scottish friends!

Common Scottish words A - E

Abune - above

Afore - before

Ahint - behind

A'place - everywhere

Auld - old

Ava' - at all

Baffies - slippers

Birl - twirl, spin

Blether - chatter

Bowk - retch or vomit

Brae - hill

Braw - excellent

Breeks - trousers (pants)

Canny - careful

Close - alley

Couthie - pleasant, nice

Cowp - tip over

Crabbit - bad tempered

Cratur - creature

Cried - named

Daunder - stroll

Dee - die

Dicht - wipe

Dreich - damp and dismal weather

Drookit - soaked through

Drouth - dry weather

Dunt - bump

Eejit - idiot

Een - eyes

Efter - after

Regional Variations

A few examples

Many non-Scots don't realise that the language of the country varies from region to region. A person born and bred in Aberdeen doesn't sound the same as someone from Glasgow, or Shetland, or Edinburgh, and so on.

Often, people from different areas will use different words for the same thing.

Take the number one for example. It can be wan, ane, een or yin. A small child tends to be a wean in the west, a bairn in the east.

In Aberdeenshire a girl is a quine, a boy a loon, but you won't hear those words in other parts of the country.

It really is a rich and varied language we have here in Scotland.

Books Featuring the Scots Tongue

Common Scottish words F - N

Fa' - fall

Feart - afraid

Fell - very

Fleg - a fright or to frighten

Flit - move house

Forbye - besides

Forkietail - earwig

Gaithert - gathered

Gang - go

Gey - very or rather

Girn - complain

Glaikit - stupid, foolish

Greet - weep

Guid - good

Hairse - hoarse

Haiver - talk nonsense

Hame - home

Haud - hold

Heft - lift up

Hurl - a ride

Isnae - is not

Ither - other

Jag - prick, injection

Jeely - jam (jelly)

Jyle - prison

Keek - peep

Keeker -black eye

Ken - know, understand

Kirk - church

Kist - chest

Laird - lord, landowner

Lang - long

Licht - light

Loon, loun - boy

Lug - ear

Lum - chimney

Mair - more

Makkit - made

Messages - shopping, usually groceries

Mind - remember

Muckle - large or a lot

My lane - on my own

Nane - none

Neb - nose

Nippin' - nagging

3 Different Scottish Dialects - Can you tell the difference?

Listen to three of the many Scottish regional accents, all markedly different. All are courtesy of the Scots Language Centre.

Scottish words in song

The first of these videos is a traditional song that almost every Scottish child learns. The second, a poem of love and heartbreak written by Robert Burns. The third was originally a drinking song, but is now used to say farewell.

Common Scottish Words O - Z

Oorsels - Ourselves

Orra - shabby, dirty

Ower - over

Oxters - underarms

Palaver - fuss

Peely-wally - pale, wan

Peerie - small

Pooch - pocket

Puckle - a few

Puddock - frog

Puggled - tired out after effort

Quine - young girl

Reek - stink or smoke

Reid - red

Roon - round

Sassenach - an English person

Scaffie - dustbin man, garbage collector

Scunnered - fed up with something

Shoogle - shake

Skelp - smack

Stoat - bounce

Taen - taken

Thole - put up with

Thrawn - stubborn

Trauchle - drudge

Twa - two

Wabbit - exhausted

Wad - would

Waur - worse

Wheech - zoom

Wheesht - shush, be quiet

Yon - that

Scottish Language Reference Books

Scottish Proverbs and Sayings

  • Lang may yer lum reek!

    A salutation wishing long life and prosperity. Literally, long may your chimney smoke.

  • Haste ye back.

    Come back to visit soon.

  • Awa' an' bile yer heid!

    Get lost! Literally, go and boil your head.

  • Givin' it laldy.

    Doing something with gusto.

  • Haud yer wheest!

    Be quiet!

  • Fit Like?

    An Aberdeen greeting, meaning how are you?

  • Dinnae fash yersel.

    Don't trouble yourself.

  • In the name of the wee man!

    Oh for goodness' sake.

  • You're a long time deid.

    Enjoy life now.

  • Up to high doh.

    In a state of anxiety.

  • Sic as ye gie, sic wull ye get.

    You'll get out of life as much as you put in.

  • Ye'll get yir heid in yir hauns an yir lugs ti pley wi.

    You'll get in big trouble. Literally, you'll get your head in your hands and your ears to play with!

  • It's a sair fecht.

    It's a hard life, or something that troubles or disappoints.

  • High heid yin.

    The boss; the highest in rank.

Scottish Toasts

Try to decipher these!

  1. Some hae meat, and canna eat,

    And some wad eat that want it;

    But we hae meat, and we can eat

    And sae the Lord be thankit.

  2. Here's tae the heath, the hill and the heather,

    The bonnet, the plaid, the kilt and the feather.

  3. May the best ye hae ivver seen be the warst ye'll ivver see.

    May the moose ne'er leave yer girnal wi a tear-drap in its ee.

    May ye aye keep hail an hertie till ye'r auld eneuch tae dee.

    May ye aye juist be sae happie as A wuss ye aye tae be.

  4. Where'er ye bide in the world sae wide,

    We wish ye a neuk on the sunny side,

    Wi' muckle o' love and little o' care,

    A wee bit pursie wi' siller to spare,

    Yer ain wee ingle when day is spent,

    In a wee bit housie wi' hearts content.

  5. Here's tae us; wha's like us?

    Gey few, and they're a' deid.

    Mair's the pity!

A Popular Nursery Rhyme in Scots

Wee WIllie Winkie

This is the original first verse, written in 1841 by Scot William Miller:

Wee Willie Winkie rins through the toun,

Up stairs and doon stairs in his nicht-goun,

Tirlin' at the window, cryin' at the lock,

'Are the weans in their bed, for it's noo ten o'clock?'

You can read the other 4 verses, along with translations of some of the words, at Rampant Scotland.

How To Pronounce The Word 'Highlander'

Few people outside Scotland get this right...:)

The emphasis is on the first syllable, with the second shortened, so it's:




Lowlander is much the same.

One Final Thing

People of Scotland are known as Scots or Scottish - not Scotch. Don't call us that, we hate it!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)