Some Fine Old Scottish Sayings And Scottish Slang Words
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This is where you can have a look at some of our fine old Scottish sayings that go back not only to grandma's day, but for generations beyond.
Most of them are not used anymore, and maybe that's just as well as they can even confuse some Scots, depending which part of the country you are from of course.
The Scottish dialect is so much varied from The Highlands to South Ayrshire, and from the East Coast to the West Coast. You see, people in different parts of Scotland can use different words that can mean the same thing.
Honestly, some of these sayings will have you scratching your head, as I did, but I will translate the meanings, as I understand them. Like they say "a nod's as guid as a wink tae a blind horse", meaning, explain yourself properly, and make your meaning clear. If you understand phrases like that, you're halfway there! Most Scots use slang occasionally and think nothing of it. It's only when you read some you can see how funny it is.
Here I take a look at a mixture of some of the old Scottish sayings, some that are not so old, and some Scottish slang words ......
The old ones ......
Some Scottish sayings that are not so old ......
- I'll gie ye a skelpit lug! - I'll give you a slap on the ear.
- Whit's fur ye'll no go by ye! - What's meant to happen will happen.
- Skinny Malinky Longlegs! - A tall thin person.
- Lang may yer lum reek! - May you live long and stay well.
- Speak o' the Devil! - Usually said when you have been talking about someone - they usually appear.
- Black as the Earl of Hell's Waistcoat! - Pitch black.
- Failing means yer playin! - When you fail at something at least you're trying.
- Mony a mickle maks a muckle! - Saving a small amount soon builds up to a large amount.
- Keep the heid! - Stay calm, don't get upset.
- We're a' Jock Tamson's bairns! - We're all God's children, nobody is better than anybody else - we're all equal.
- Dinnae teach yer Granny tae suck eggs! - Don't try to teach someone something they already know.
- Dinnae marry fur money! - Don't marry for money - you can borrow it cheaper.
- Is the cat deid? - Has the cat died? Means your trousers are a bit short - like a flag flying at half mast.
- Haud yer wheesht! - Be quiet.
- Noo jist haud on! - Now just hold it, slow down, take your time.
- Hell slap it intae ye! - Means it's your own fault.
- I'm fair puckled! - I'm short of breath.
- Do yer dinger. - Loudly express disapproval.
- Gie it laldy. - Do something with gusto.
- Ah dinnae ken. - I don't know.
- Haste Ye Back! - Farewell saying meaning "return soon".
- It's a dreich day! - Said in reference to the weather, when it's cold, damp and miserable.
- Gonnae no' dae that! - Don't do that.
- Pure dead brilliant - Exceptionally good.
- Yer bum's oot the windae - You're talking rubbish.
- Am pure done in - I'm feeling very tired.
- Am a pure nick - I don't look very presentable.
- Ah umnae - I am not.
- Ma heid's mince - My head's a bit mixed up.
- Yer oot yer face! - You're very drunk.
- Yer aff yer heid - You're off your head - a little bit daft.
For sayings sent in by visitors see the Your Sayings
And some Scottish slang words ......
Thanks to Sarah Moffat from Glasgow, UK for these :
- Aboot - About
- Ain - Own
- Auld - Old
- Aye - Yes
- Bahooky - Backside, bum
- Bairn - Baby
- Baw - Ball
- Ben - Mountain, or through
- Bide - Depending on the context, means wait, or stay.
- Blether - Talkative, when referred to a person. To "have a blether" is to have a chat.
- Bonnie - Beautiful
- Bowfing - Smelly, horrible
- Braw - Good, or brilliant
- Breeks - Trousers
- Coo - Cow
- Crabbit - Bad tempered
- Cry - Call, as in what do you call him?
- Dae - Do
- Dauner - Walk - "I'm away for a dauner"
- Didnae - Didn't
- Dinnae - Don't
- Drookit - Soaking wet
- Dug - Dog
- Dunderheid, Eejit, Galoot, Numptie - All mean idiot
- Dunt - Bump
- Frae - From
- Gallus - Bravado, over-confident
- Gang - Go
- Gaunnae - Going to
- Geggie - Mouth, as in "shut your geggie"
- Glaikit - Stupid, slow on the uptake
- Goonie - Nightgown
- Greet - Cry
- Gumption - Common sense, initiative
- Hae - Have
- Hame - Home
- Haud - Hold
- Haver - Talk rubbish
- Hing - Hang
- Hoachin' - Very busy
- Honkin', Hummin', Howlin' - Bad smell
- Hoose - House
- Hunner - Hundred
- Huvnae - Haven't
- Keek - A little look
- Ken - Know
- Lum - Chimney
- Mair - More
- Merrit - Married
- Mockit, Manky, Mingin', Boggin' - All mean dirty
- Moose - Mouse
- Naw - No
- Neep, Tumshie - Turnip
- Noo - Now
- Oot - Out
- Peely Wally - Pale
- Poke - (to poke - to prod) (a poke - a paper bag)
- Reek - Smell, emit smoke
- Riddy - A red face, embarrassed
- Screwball - Unhinged, mad
- Scullery - Kitchen
- Scunnered - Bored, fed up
- Shoogle - Shake
- Simmet - Gents singlet
- Skelp - Slap
- Skoosh - Lemonade (or fizzy drink)
- Sleekit - Sly
- Stookie - Plaster cast (for a broken bone)
- Stour - Dust
- Tattie - Potato
- Thon - That
- Wean - Child
- Whit - What
- Willnae - Will not
- Widnae - Would not
- Windae - Window
- Wummin - Women
- Ye - You
- Yer - Your
- Yin - One
Thanks to Jenna Smith from the UK for these :
- Maw - Mum.
- Mad wi' it - Drunk.
Thanks to Isobel, Canada for this :
- Slitter - To spill food stuff down yourself.
- Scunner - used to describe someone as being irritating as in: "oh you're a right scunner".
- Gowk - Daft.
- Dighted - Also means daft.
- Tattyboggle - Scarecrow.
- Dicht - To dust, or wipe.
Thanks to Marjory, London for these :
- Clyping - To tell tales on someone.
And thanks to Tracey Perry, UK for this :
A classic Scottish saying combining a few slang words is :
"Whit dae ye cry thon yin?"
- Baffies - Slippers.
- Bubbly Jock - Turkey.
Translates to : "What do you call that one?"
And the one I'm asked most often about is :
"It's a braw bricht moonlit nicht the nicht"
Translates to : It's a good (or brilliant) bright moonlight night tonight. Truth is, I've never heard anyone actually say this.
And here are some words that describe being drunk ......
Blootered, Steamin, Wrecked, Bladdered, Hammered, Smashed.
And here is my favourite of all the old Scottish sayings ......
When you have just said something to someone that they don't quite believe, they are very likely to reply by saying - Aye, Right!!
Perhaps one of the most used Scottish sayings is "Auld Lang Syne"
the famous song by Robert Burns sang throughout the world at New Year. The translation can be taken as "old long since" or "old long ago".
This list is by no means comprehensive, there are hundreds of old Scottish sayings. These are just some of my favourites and I can't think of any more just now, no doubt some will come to mind later. If there's any you can think of, email them to me
and I'll add them to Your Sayings
Read more Scottish Phrases and Sayings
sent in by visitors.
If you enjoyed these Scottish Sayings, try Some Scottish Humour
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