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Updated on May 10, 2012


You may be planning a Scottish vacation, possibly have friends or family in Scotland or are simply curious and wish to understand a “wee bit o” Scottish language and it’s history.

For many people the Scottish language can be quite daunting. I hope this hub will not only raise a few laughs but ease a lot of the confusion for those of you with a keen interest in the Scots and help my American friends who requested that I compile a list for them understand the slang a wee bit more.

The scots do speak the English language for those of you that have no idea what to expect on arrival. However they have many terms and phrases that are not found in any English Dictionary and require a lot of translation for the everyday traveller.

So welcome to Scotland where they like to were their trackies (tracksuits) morning noon and nicht (night)

More common terms any tourist is likely to hear :

Hou are ye? How are you?

D'ye speak Scottish? Do you speak Scottish?

Whaur ar ye frae? Where are you from?

How auld ar ye? How old are you?

Whit’s yer name? What is your name?

Whaur's the Where is the?

Haud on please Hold on please

Can A gie ye a haund? Can I give you a hand?

Aye akin (yes I know) it seems like gibberish

So may I suggest that you go and get a few o yer neebs (neighbours) together; go doon to the offie (down to the off licence/liquor store) and grab a nip (a shot of any alcoholic drink such as whiskey, rum) Put yer bairns/weans (children) to their kip or Scratcher (bed) so they dinae bagsie (don’t claim) your attention with their peenging (moaning/complaining) cause ye widnae want to hae tae scud them (have to give them a hard slap) on the arse (bottom)and hae them greetin (crying) while yer haen a guid time (you are having a good time) peeing yer pants (laughing hard) wid ye? (would you)?

For all you wide-o’s out there (someone who believes they are streetwise) you best read up if you want to retain your street credibility North of the Border.

While ordering in a Scottish chip shop, anything with chips is known as a Supper, while an item without chips is a Single.

A pudding is not a “sweet or dessert” It is a meat dish served mainly in Scottish chip shops which consist of bacon, beef, pork, rind, suet, rusks, spices, oatmeal, beef fat deep fried in batter. So don’t go ordering a fish supper and red pudding to follow or you will be having two savoury courses!

You may need some scoosh (soft drink) to go with this. Many people in Scotland are Tea Jennys (someone who drinks a lot of tea)

Food can also be described as scran or the act of eating food.

I’m pure Hank Marvin is a cheeky term used to mean starving or very hungry. Don’t let yer maw (mother) hear you saying this though she may skelp ye (slap with an open hand)

On the other end of the food cycle we have to pray we don’t get the Skitters (diarrhoea) or spew (Vomit)

Anything worthy or impressive is described as a stoater “Did ye see Jacks new Girl? She’s a real stoater.

Rhyming Slang

Varicose veins (weans / children)

Walk in the lobby (jobbie, excretement)

Tin Pail (jail)

Tex Ritter (skitter~diarrhoea)

Single Fish (p*sh, urinate)

Scooby (clue) I haven’t got a Scooby as to what A'm leukin (I am looking) at.

Persian Rugs (drugs)

Mars Bar (scar)

Joe Baxi (taxicab)

Harry wraggs (cigarettes~fags)

See it’s really simple if you want to know what to say while chatting to a Scot isn’t it????????

I hae to shoot the craw (depart) as it’s Yon time again (an unspecified late hour of the day) and it seems to have taking Yonks to write this one (unspecified lengthy period of time) so cheerio the nou! (goodbye the now!)

I hope this brings back some fond memories for the older scots generation and enlightens the younger UK readers to a few old sayings and phrases. Likewise on a global level I do hope this has not discouraged anyone from travelling to this wonderful and beautiful part of the world. Keeping in mind for the most part the slang that is shared amongst close friends and family and is unique to certain areas and communities more so than within the wider more formal settings.

Please feel free to add your own and contribute to this hub page. We not only welcome these but look forward to reading them.


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      3 years ago

      its aye bean- its always been

      am gonna nut ye-i am going to headbutt you

      dafty- some one silly

      belter- can mean good or if describing someone (he is a belter) is an insault