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    Your Essential Phrasebook for Scottish Vocabulary

    2 min read

    By Ross Dempster
    More by Ross

    Welcome to Our Wee Country

    At Wilderness Scotland, we enjoy taking travellers from around the world on amazing journeys through the Scottish countryside.

    Part of the charm of our country is our distinctive language and even those who can speak fluent English may struggle to understand some of our local dialects. But fear not, we’re here to help you learn all about bairns (kid) bampots (crazy people) quines (girls) and loons (young men). Scotland’s many dialects can change in a relatively small distance keeping even us Scots on our toes. This handy phrasebook of Scottish words will have you havering (talking rubbish) with the locals in no time!

    Useful words

    Aye (interjection)

    Pronounced – Eye
    Meaning – Yes

    Wee (adjective)

    Meaning – Small

    Dram (noun)

    Meaning – a measure of whisky
    Example sentence: “Aye, I’d  love a wee dram.”

    Faff (verb)

    Meaning – to take time to sort something out/ get something done

    Ken (verb)

    Meaning – to know something or someone

    Scran (noun)

    Meaning – food
    Example sentence: “After we faff around here, I ken a good place to get some scran.”

    Blether (noun)

    Meaning – to have a long-winded chat
    Example sentence: “He was having a right blether about the weather yesterday.”

    Good weather

    Crackin’ (adjective)

    Meaning –very warm and sunny

    Braw (adjective)

    Meaning – beautiful

    Roastin’ (adjective)

    Meaning – very hot (anything over 18 degrees C)

    Bonnie (adjective)

    Meaning – pretty

    Barry (adverb)

    Meaning – great

    Bad weather

    Mingin’ (adjective)

    Meaning – not very nice

    Boggin’ (adjective)

    Meaning – see above

    Dreich (adjective)

    Meaning – (dreech), overcast/ drizzling/ grey

    Nippy (adjective)

    Meaning – cold

    Drookit (adjective)

    Meaning – very wet/ soaked/ drenched

    At the end of the day you might be feeling

    Druthy (adjective)

    Meaning – (Droothy) Thirsty

    Gubbed (adjective)

    Meaning – Tired

    Clarty (adjective)

    Meaning – Dirty/ muddy (mingin’/ boggin’ also work here)

    Words you may have heard before....

    Haver (noun)

    Meaning – To chat foolishly.

    Heard in “500 Miles” by the Proclaimers – And if I haver, hey, I know I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be the man who’s havering to you

    Sassenach (noun)

    Meaning – Outlander/ Foreigner/ English

    Heard in the Outlander series – Jamie often calls Claire a ‘sassenach’, although initially meant offensively, it becomes a term of endearment between them.

    Alba gu bràth

    Meaning – Scotland forever!

    Heard in Braveheart – William Wallace (Mel Gibson) shouts this before charging into battle at the Battle of Stirling bridge.

    Some odd Scottish phrases we love

    Lang May Yer Lum Reek

    Translation – Long may your chimney smoke
    Meaning – I wish you well for the future

    Haud Yer Wheesht

    Translation – Hold your tongue
    Meaning – Be quiet!

    Keep the Heid!

    Translation – keep your head
    Meaning – stay calm and carry on!

    Many a mickle maks a muckle

    Translation – Many a small thing makes a big thing.
    Meaning – All the small things add up (For example: one step may add up to a big distance)

    Ye mak a better door than a windae

    Translation – You make a better door than a window (sarcastic).
    Meaning – You are obscuring my view!

    Dinnae fash yersel

    Translation – Don’t anger yourself.
    Meaning – Don’t worry (reassuring).

    Ah dinnae ken

    Translation – I don’t know.

    Q: Foos yer doos? Aye, Peckin Awa Min

    Translation – Q: How’s your pigeons? A: They are still pecking
    Meaning – Q: How are you doing? A: Very well thank you.

    So there you have it, a brief insight into the wonderful world of our language.

    Book a tour to Scotland

    Fancy testing your new-found knowledge of Scottish words with one of our expert guides, fellow travellers or local innkeeper on an enthralling adventure trip around the beautiful landscapes of Scotland? Aye? Join us on one of our adventure holidays from Wilderness Walking to sea kayaking.

    Meet the Author: Ross Dempster

    “Ross's passion lies in exploring wild places in Scotland and around the world. He's been an outdoor enthusiast his whole life from the point his Father started dragging him up hills and grew up in Scotland learning from experiences around the lochs, hills and glens he grew to love.”

    View profileMore by Ross

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