Thursday, 24 July 2014


scottish man kilt purple thistle highland cow scotland scottishisms scots language western isles isle of lewis outer hebrides island life freckles and all blog

Being the language enthusiast that I am, I love the fact that the Western Isles of Scotland is a bilingual community. Here on the Isle of Lewis, English and Gaelic have equal language status and a large proportion of children are taught exclusively in Gaelic. This being the case, I was prepared for a few language difficulties when I moved up from Essex. Little did I know though, that it wouldn't only be Gaelic that I'd have trouble understanding.

I naively assumed, as a native English speaker, that the only thing to prevent me from understanding my mother tongue in Scotland would be the unfamiliar accent. It soon became apparent though that there are fair few words and phrases used in Scotland that we don't really come across south of the border. Initially these idiosyncrasies baffled me, but two years down the line I've grown to love the quirks of Scottish English.

With the spotlight on Glasgow this week for the Commonwealth Games, I thought there's no better time to share a few of my favourite Scottish-isms.

Here they are with (I hope, accurate!) translations:

noun: blether
long-winded talk with no real substance, chat

adjective: bonny
pretty, beautiful, attractive

adjective: boggin
disgusting, unpleasant, vile, ugly

adjective: canny
having or showing shrewdness and good judgement

noun: chancer
trickster, person who pushes their luck

adjective: crabbit
grumpy, bad-tempered

noun: dafty
a silly person

adjective: dreich
dreary, bleak (especially of weather)

adjective: glaikit
not very bright, gormless

verb: gonny
going to

phrase: getting the messages
doing the shopping

phrase: haud yer wheesht!
be quiet!

noun: neb

noun: neep

adverb: noo

adjective: peelie-wally
off colour, pale looking

verb: shoogle
shake about

noun: tattie

Huge thanks go to my bonny pal from Perthshire whose translations have stopped me looking like a dafty on numerous occasions. She's brightened many a dreich day since I've been a wee bit peelie wally and is always there for a good blether. I'm gonny miss her heaps when we move back down south! 


  1. Hahaha, I once had a Scottish man order something from me back when I was a waitress and I honestly had to ask him to repeat himself three times, he wanted a sandwich but he didn't call it a sandwich he called it something I've never even heard of! Accents and slang within the UK is crazy! Essex is my neighbouring county and there's still some words Essex people say that I find myself saying 'huh?' too! When are you returning back to Essex?

    Hayley-Eszti xx

  2. lol wow you just educated me on scottish slang. The only thing I knew was tattie lo.l I love listening to scottish people talk, but I can never understand what they say. When are you moving?

    Lennae xxx

  3. Us spoonies are certainly peelie-wally's. Hopefully soon to be rectafied a little.

  4. Being from the north east of england I say a lot of these too, especially neb and canny!

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  6. Lol a sandwich is a piece in Scotland. A jeely piece is a jam sandwich


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