Scottish Words and Phrases


Aye – yes, aye, aye – yes, yes frequently said in twos or threes

Hi Ya – as in “Hello there”

No’bad – used in response to “how are you?”

Magic – used in response to “how are you?” if you are really upbeat and positive

“Emm” – used in place of “uhh” in Scotland. They think it is an actual word because they use it all the time, begins most sentences.

Lovely – all purpose word for “great,” “wonderful,” “very nice,” etc.

Brilliant – “excellent” or “great idea” or just to indicate that what you propose to do is fine. Frequently used – everything that is okay with a person is “brilliant”

Cheers–“goodbye”, also “your welcome”, and sort of “have a nice day”

Chatter – get together and talk – as in let’s get together for a“chatter”

Blether or blather – visit and long talk, usually over tea

Knackered – spent, exhausted, worn out

Gobsmack – utterly astonished, totally amazed. Gaelic derived: Gob mouth or face- hence smacked in the face in utter astonishment. I first heard this used by a Stake President in stake conference referring to some miraculous event.

Green-faced: a novice, green-faced at driving on the left side of the road.

Bonnie – beautiful

Cannae – cannot – as in “I cannae make it to the stake picnic”

Guid – for “good”

See ya’elater – as in good bye “see you later” pronounced as one word.

Wee – small or little, as in “ I will have a wee drink”

Muckle – large or big

Sairy – for sorry – said all the time in the grocery store when they walk in front or cross paths or whatever, an all purpose acknowledgement you are there

Close – alley

Half-7 (or any other hour)  – meaning 7:30

Back 10 (or any other hour) – meaning 10 minutes to 10, or 5 minutes to 10, or 10?? Time is not too precise here. Did I mention they do the 24 hour clock, military time – hate it, have to do arithmetic every time you want to see what time it is- this will fade in time.

Fortnight – two weeks

Dreich – dull, bleak and miserable. “It is a dreich day with all this rain”

Haste ye back – come back soon

Come along –  get with the program, get with it

Fit Like?-An Aberdeen greeting, meaning how are you?

Leave it with me – as in “ I will take care of it”

Chock-a-block –full, packed tightly

Easy-peasey –no problem, simple, quite easy

Smart – well dressed, “You always go to an interview smart”

Braw – beautiful

Crabbit – bad tempered

You’re a longtime deid – enjoy life now

Unwell – sick, “my wife is unwell right now, so we will not be coming.” Really no one is sick they are always unwell.

Wabbit – under the weather, exhausted

Hogmany – New Year’s Eve (except it lasts all week)

Laird – lord, landowner

Rubbish – trash; bin – a barrel or container, thus rubbish bin is a trash can

Torch – flashlight

Uni – University – used whenever speaking of a university except in the formal name e.g. University of Edinburgh

Hospital – means the same but never used with an article in a sentence; as in “The Duke of Edinburgh was admitted to hospital” not even the name of the hospital, just hospital

Loo – toilet or water closet

Dreich – damp and dismal weather

Eejit – idiot  (my dad used this term all the time – did not know it was Scottish)

Muckle – much; as in “A misst ye sae muckle!” (I missed you so much)

A dinna kin – I don’t understand

Haur ye gae! -Here you go (as in giving some one something)

Food Words and Eating

Neap – a turnip and slang for an idiot

Taties – potatoes

Bits – pulp, as in “Orange juice with bits.”

Puddings – generic for desserts, they have lots of desserts with sauces but any dessert is a pudding.

Crisps – potato chips; they eat them all the time, more crisps in the store than anything but booze

Biscuits – cookies

Courgette – Zuchini

Digestives – graham crackers

Savory biscuits – can mean a flavored, non-sweet cracker

Chips – French fries and served in pubs
with everything including pasta

Mushy peas – mashed and over-cooked peas (yuk) served with many things especially Fish and Chips (and mushy peas) contrasted with Garden peas which are unmashed

Haggis – Traditional Scottish food made of  [you do not want to know] and cooked in the stomach lining of a sheep.

Black pudding, blood pudding or blood sausage – type of sausage made by cooking blood or dried blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. Very popular for breakfast with eggs and beans.

Traditional Scottish breakfast –most frequently offered version: toast, eggs, blood sausage, and beans (like pork n’ beans). May also have haggis, potato scones, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and maybe streaky bacon

Sweets – candies and cakes

Dinner consists of a starter (appetizer), mains (main course) and pudding (dessert)

Geography and Travel/Transportation
Lorry – a truck

Bonnet – the engine compartment

Boot – the car trunk

Burn – creek

Glen – valley

Brae – hill

Loch – lake

Firth – where the river meets the ocean or sea; The Firth of Forth is the bay where the Forth River meets the North Sea

Ben – mountain

Kirk – parish church

Verge – the edge of the road

Slip road – a merging lane

Dual carriage – two-way divided road

Single track with passing – single lane road with periodic passing places

Central refuge – the median in a road offering some protection for pedestrians or just to separate traffic

Zeebra, Pelican, Puffin, and Toucan – various kinds of pedestrian crossings

Traffic calming – various speed bumps, protrusions, and obstacles to slow down the speed of vehicles.



  1. Isn’t this fun! It was great when we could finally understand what they were saying. However, we discovered that over time we lost our ability to understand their accent as well on our return visits.

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