Weird Scottish Words

This is a tiny (“wee”) dictionary of just a few Scottish English (or more generally British English) words, terms, and concepts that I was exposed to during the four and a half months I lived there. I chose the ones I chose based on a few factors: a) their representation of Scottish (or more generally British) culture from my American lens; b) their interesting parallel—or lack thereof—to American English; c) their particular interest to myself; or d) their funniness.

Em… — Um…

Tea — Dinner; one must say “cup of tea” to indicate actual tea.

Juice & biscuits — Soda & cookies.

Neeps & tatties — Mashed turnips & potatoes, usually served with haggis.

Coffee, filter coffee, real coffee — Respectively: instant coffee, coffee, espresso.

Irn-bru — Apparently, in every country in the world except Scotland, Coca-Cola is the most popular soft drink; in Scotland, it’s their own Irn-bru, which is bright orange and tastes a bit like bubble gum-flavored cough syrup. In a good way.

Cider — Hard (alcoholic) cider. They don’t really have our apple cider, which, on the rare occasions it’s found, is cleverly referred to as American cider. Those Scots who have actually heard of it tend to dismiss it as a rip-off of their cider.

Ginger — A noun or adjective indicating a redhead. Then there’s ginger minger: Minge being pubic hair.

Cunt, twat — Disturbingly common phrases, usually referring to a man who is stupid or an asshole or both.

Getting on my tit — Getting on my nerves.

Cow hanging over a dike — I was leaning on the bar and someone said I looked like this.

Asian — The largest ethnic populations in Britain are Indian and Pakistani, for which this is the PC umbrella term.

Paki — Derogatory term for a Pakistani person, a group that has a similar racist stereotype as Jewish people have here in the US: of being stingy and sketchy with money, i.e. someone with whom you’ve never want to do any type of business.

Red Indian — I actually heard someone use this to refer to an American Indian.

Suspenders, braces — Suspenders refer to garter belts, while braces are what we know as suspenders. I found that out the hard way, by saying to a guy, “I love your suspenders!”

Trousers, pants, knickers — Another fun faux pax to make, which I was thankfully aware of before I went there: Trousers are what we call pants, while pants are underwear (knickers are women’s underwear).

Rubber, durex — Respectively: pencil eraser, condom.

Sheep shagger — A term I knew before I went there as a derogatory term for a Welshman, which can also refer to someone from the Highlands of Scotland.

Taking the piss, taking the mick — Joking, making fun of.

Fitlike? — Particular to the Aberdeen region of the Highlands, it means “Hello, how are you?” A common response is “Nay bad, who’s yourself?” To which many the perplexed non-Aberdeenian respond, “I’m me!”

Filthy McNasty’s — A pub in Aberdeen, amusingly adjacent to the very bourgeois Braided Fig Bar & Bistro. The Indian take-away restaurant next door makes this block a microcosm of Scotland.

Weird phone numbers — Scottish phone numbers are weird: sometimes the exchange (area code) is five numbers, and sometimes it’s four, and sometimes the numbers themselves have six digits, and sometimes they have seven, and sometimes the six-digit ones are written 12 34 56, and sometimes they’re written 123 456, and sometimes they’re written 123456, and the seven-digit ones are written either 123 4567 or 1234567, and sometimes the exchange is separated and sometimes it’s not: 01234567890 or 01234 567890, and I heard someone on two occasions say his phone number: one time he said 0123 456 7890 and another time he said 01234 5678 90.

Advertisements

13 responses to “Weird Scottish Words

  1. Half of these aren’t Scottish words at all.. but general British (and not even ‘just’ British) words that only certain types people would use… Poor!

  2. Tiomus: Did you bother reading the introduction? And yes, Kirkcaldy is a poor area.

  3. I love that you included ‘getting on my tit’ – i use that quite often despite living/working in the U.S. Its not very well received here.

    Did you ever get totally ‘rat arsed’ while in Scotland. Another popular way of saying you got drunk.

  4. On a side note to Tiomus – dont be such a bloody snob. A lot of rich folk use the same language. By chance are you from the New Town in Edinburgh? I thought so…

  5. minger: Minge

    wrong wrong wrong

    minger means ugly!! minge means twat but is unrelated to minger!!!

  6. Haha!

    I’m Scottish and I must say — I love my neeps and tatties!

    Nice blogpost.

  7. NEED A PIPER FOR MY GRANDOPENING IN THE MALL OFF ABILENE THE BRITISH SHOPPE TTFN MAUREEN

  8. Thought I should put you right on some of this:

    Em… — Um…
    Nonsense.
    Tea — Dinner; one must say “cup of tea” to indicate actual tea.
    Also nonsense
    Juice & biscuits — Soda & cookies.
    Sort of half right
    Neeps & tatties — Mashed turnips & potatoes, usually served with haggis.
    BINGO!
    Coffee, coffee, real coffee — Respectively: instant coffee, coffee, espresso.
    Utter nonsense
    Irn-bru — Apparently, in every country in the world except Scotland, Coca-Cola is the most popular soft drink; in Scotland, it’s their own Irn-bru, which is bright orange and tastes a bit like bubble gum-flavored cough syrup. In a good way.
    Also very popular in Russia, I’m told.
    Cider — Hard (alcoholic) cider. They don’t really have our apple cider, which, on the rare occasions it’s found, is cleverly referred to as American cider. Those Scots who have actually heard of it tend to dismiss it as a rip-off of their cider.
    Arrant nonsense
    Ginger — A noun or adjective indicating a redhead. Then there’s ginger minger: Minge being pubic hair.
    Correct first half. Second half is, again, back to nonsense. The G at the start of “ginger” is, for “comic” effect, pronounced as a hard G. “Minge” is not pubic hair. It’s a particularly coarse word for the female genitalia.
    Cunt, twat — Disturbingly common phrases, usually referring to a man who is stupid or an asshole or both.
    Used throughout the UK and north America, so wrong again.
    Getting on my tit — Getting on my nerves.
    Should be plural “tits”.
    Cow hanging over a dike — I was leaning on the bar and someone said I looked like this.
    That’s “dyke”, as in wall.
    Asian — The largest ethnic populations in Britain are Indian and Pakistani, for which this is the PC umbrella term.
    What crap.
    Paki — Derogatory term for a Pakistani person, a group that has a similar racist stereotype as Jewish people have here in the US: of being stingy and sketchy with money, i.e. someone with whom you’ve never want to do any type of business.
    Correct on usage. I presume someone just made the rest up and told you a big lie, which you fell for.
    Red Indian — I actually heard someone use this to refer to an American Indian.
    I have actually heard Americans use this to refer to native Americans.
    Suspenders, braces — Suspenders refer to garter belts, while braces are what we know as suspenders. I found that out the hard way, by saying to a guy, “I love your suspenders!”
    Another score.
    Trousers, pants, knickers — Another fun faux pax to make, which I was thankfully aware of before I went there: Trousers are what we call pants, while pants are underwear (knickers are women’s underwear).
    Some people call them pants. Only a 5 year old would find the confusion amusing
    Rubber, durex — Respectively: pencil eraser, condom.
    Correct on the pencil eraser, but also nonsense. Condoms are also known as rubbers. Durex is a brand name.
    Sheep shagger — A term I knew before I went there as a derogatory term for a Welshman, which can also refer to someone from the Highlands of Scotland.
    Right again!
    Taking the piss, taking the mick — Joking, making fun of.
    And again!
    Fitlike? — Particular to the Aberdeen region of the Highlands, it means “Hello, how are you?” A common response is “Nay bad, who’s yourself?” To which many the perplexed non-Aberdeenian respond, “I’m me!”
    Almost right, if you think your accent and dialect are the only ones in the English language. Too complex to explain.
    Filthy McNasty’s — A pub in Aberdeen, amusingly adjacent to the very bourgeois Braided Fig Bar & Bistro. The Indian take-away restaurant next door makes this block a microcosm of Scotland.
    “A microcosm of Scotland”? Only if you only ever went to a bar and an Indian restaurant.
    Weird phone numbers — Scottish phone numbers are weird: sometimes the exchange (area code) is five numbers, and sometimes it’s four, and sometimes the numbers themselves have six digits, and sometimes they have seven, and sometimes the six-digit ones etc etc etc.
    That’s not “weird” – that’s just “not the same numbering system as you use”

  9. Actually Scottish people are intelligent

  10. Typical yank think they know scotland coz they spent a few months in here just goes to show they only take a few sayings and words try to plaster them as scottish hate the cuntry of inbred rapist red necks honestly just fucken stay across the atlantic and most of us don’t like being branded british

  11. Pingback: Scottish-isms | Picture Britain

  12. Speaking as a Scot, Sheep shaggers are from Aberdeen/general East coast are of Scotland, and Wales, the Highlands refers to the Northern and upper Western area of Scotland and I can tell you now that if you call a Highlander a sheep shagger, they will be VERY offended!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s