A Compendium of Old Scots Words and Slang Phrases
Welcome to Munro’s Scottish-English Dictionary! See the original dictionary to the right.
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Wrong or awry
A disgusting and potent alcoholic beverage made by gomes by fermenting wasp and bee stings along with liquorice roots and yeast, and then distilling it
To tumble “head-over-heels.
Yes, or always
Idiot. This is yet another on the very long list of Scottish words meaning “idiot.” I am not sure what a “Bam” is but a pot full of bams does not sound like a good thing
A female ghost whose blood-curdling wail is terrible to hear because it is thought to foretell death or disaster
A plain, white, flour morning roll. Ideal for stuffing full of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, or even potato chips or candy bars for an extra dose of carbohydrate! The term Bap-face can be applied to someone with a plain, round, white, uninteresting, and rather dull-looking facial expression, whether or not they are stuffing their face with a bap at the time
A copper coin of small value
Gaelic for mountain
Arguing and sniping in an unproductive and irritating way
To talk foolishly. Talk long-winded nonsense
A silly, foolish, blabbering person
The local name for the Great Skua on the western isles of Scotland. Catharacta Skua is the proper name. These are large birds that, as a species, fall somewhere between the gulls and the buzzards. They are aggressive, territorial predators that prey on other birds
Gaelic for trout
Oatmeal or porridge
fat, inactive, stupid (someone whose head is full of oatmeal)
This does not mean a phony cactus, or a false cup of cocoa, even though it sounds like it. It means a jumble of confusing noises
Cotton candy. Not to be confused with dental floss; an item rarely used in Scotland
Can’t, can not
Can be used to mean any combination of careful, skillful, astute, favorable, and lucky
(pronounced Kaylie!) is a Gaelic word meaning an informal social gathering, where, usually, there is singing, playing of musical instruments, dancing, storytelling and ample supplies of liquid refreshment. Gaelic is a language that is lovely to listen to and impossible to write down. Legend has it that when the Gaelic elders were finally forced to write down the words of their language they all got drunk and decided to amuse themselves by inventing the most ridiculous spelling imaginable to irritate the Lowlanders, and English speakers south of the border. On the Island of Lewis, Hugh and Wullie once passed through a little village where the sign said, “EADAR DHA FHADHAIL” but the locals assured them that it was pronounced, “Ardroil.
Young lad or lass
So cold that it makes your teeth chatter
Job. Highlanders, like Big Sandy, often sound the letter “J” as if it was “Ch” instead
Cloth-covered. A clootie dumpling is a large kind of cake thing made of flour, spices, raisins, dried fruit, and suet that is wrapped up in a cloth, and is boiled in a pot for hours. It is a kind of boiled pudding. It can be eaten as a dessert, or, like most everything else in Scottish cuisine, it can be allowed to cool down, can be cut up into slices, and then get fried for breakfast! To say that someone looks like a clootie dumpling, or is as smart as a clootie dumpling, is not exactly a compliment
Gaelic for a small hill. Being Gaelic of course it is pronounced “Crock!
“Goodness me, that’s a surprise!
Dried cow dung. Used by gomes and their ilk for smoking in pipes
Gaelic for a rock
Mountain range on the Isle of Skye
This can have a lot of different meanings. The peck of a bird is a “dab.” It can mean a light blow, or a slap. In some parts of Scotland a dab is a small flat bottom-feeding fish like a flounder. To be “a dab hand” at something means to have great skill and be really good at something, after much practice
Foolish, stupid, crazy, frivolous, thoughtless. To be daft about something or someone means to be extremely fond of or crazy about
Really (as in “You should listen to his music. He’s dead good, so he is!”)
Gaelic for a pebble
Don’t, do not
“Don’t go to any trouble on my account.
Doesn’t, does not
A gome technique for extracting the emotional essence from a rock
A quick swim, to dip something or someone briefly in water (an essential in Scottish water!)
A small alcoholic drink, such as whisky
Gaelic for black. Needless to say it is not pronounced “Dubb” or even “Dub-huh.” Instead it is pronounced to rhyme with Scottish pigeons, “Dooooo!
Idiot, foolish person
Complete or absolute (as in “Ye’re a fair disgrace, so ye are!”)
This combination of Gaelic words is the name of Big Sandy’s cave on the Island of Lewis. It means Seaview
This word has two main meanings. It can mean a sheepfold (as it does in the Blackhope Scaur story) or it can mean a coil of rope. A fankle is an impossible tangle of rope (or string or fishing line, or indeed any long piece of material left unattended for even a millisecond
Trouble, inconvenience, bother
Afraid, or scared
A cowardly, fearful perso
Value, worth, strength, abundance
Weak, feeble, incompetent, awkward, not resourceful, weak-minded (someone lacking in feck!
A small lie, although like most lies it may start out small and get bigger and more troublesome over time
Football… that is soccer, the game where you actually kick a ball with your foot (as opposed to American Football where you mostly throw, catch, and carry the ball while gigantic opponents crash into you)
Forever. Soft-spoken Highland gomes, like Big Sandy, often pronounce the letter “v” as a soft “f” instead
A foolish, clumsy person
a causal look ove
Foolish or stupid (see also gomeral, gamaleerie eejit, neep heid, lunk, mug, pudden, and a few hundred others!)
Sulky, sour-looking, sullen
Long-lived, mischievous, creatures formed from rocks. Thought, by some, to be extinct, or even mythical, unreal, or magical
A fool or stupid person. The Scots are sometimes an uncharitable race, or they recognize fools more often than most. There are three pages of synonyms for stupid person in most Scottish Thesauruses (or should that be Thesauri? If I don’t know does that make me a gomeral?)
Attacked with vigor
Doesn’t this word even sound disgusting? It is the entrails of a deer. In other words all of the guts and lungs and organs that are taken out and thrown away after a deer has been killed
A greedy person
While this word can mean welcome it can also mean crying. A Scottish Greeting Card would still usually be an upbeat, cheerful, welcoming card. I have not heard of a “Crying Card” although that might be a great, unfilled commercial opportunity in Scotland
Had not, or hadn’t
Talking trivial, foolish nonsense
Very fancy, posh, or expensive
a silly, stupid, lazy person
“What does she call it?
Used in the phrase “To take the huff,” it means to take offense and sulk
Squat down in a crouching position. Settle patiently, without drawing attention to yourself
Gaelic for attack
guess, suspect, or imagine
As in, “Ye big Jessie!” it means a scaredy-cat. A derogatory, politically (and literally) incorrect suggestion that girls (like one called Jessie) are more timid and tentative than boys are
Has many meanings. Here, it means a brief glance, or peep. A quick, surreptitious look
Someone who stands out in a crowd as being easily recognizable. Distinctive in appearance
Really tired and weak and exhausted
A trivial piece of something. Superfluous, cheaply-made, frivolous thing
Young man, boy
Young woman, girl
Gaelic for gray
Gaelic for great or magnificently large
Ear. The projecting part of an object
A large, dull, useless, person
To mope, to wander around thoughtlessly or listlessly
Acting in a dull, thoughtless, listless way
Gaelic word containing lots or randomly placed “h” letters, just to make it easy to remember how to spell it. It is, of course, pronounced Varry, to rhyme with Harry
A large collection of cow manure. Also used as a Scottish term of endearment
Tiny biting insects that lurk in their millions all over Scotland waiting for the most irritating and inconvenient time to come out of hiding and start sucking your blood
This Gaelic phrase literally means “My hatred.” This is what Varry Doo calls her cloud of blood sucking Highland midges. They are only too happy to dish out Varry Doo’s hatred whenever they are asked to do so
Gaelic for large, huge, or gi-bungous
Mole (small furry burrowing animal), or a sneaky, untrustworthy person
Dirt. Farmyard manure. If someone is called Lord Muck or Lady Muck or is said to be acting like a Muckity-Muck this means that they are putting on airs and graces as if they were superior and more important than anyone else
A gullible fool, an idiot, someone easily taken advantage of
Humid, drizzly, fogg
A person’s nose. Any projecting tip or point
A turnip (see also Tumshie)
A stupid or foolish person (literally “turnip head”)
To move quickly
A puny, insignificant, worthless, good-for-nothing person
“Oh go away, I don’t believe a word you are saying.
Oh! An expression of irritation or exasperation
Gaelic for hammer
A rock that has absorbed a lot of human emotion
Many meanings, depending on the context. Put. A large hole in the ground. Peat
Could (theoretically) mean, “Put the peat in that large hole in the ground!” although, I must confess, I have never heard anyone utter that exact sentence
A heap, or pile of discarded rocks and unusable or unburnable coal
A zit, or blackhead. Can be used as a derogatory term for someone you don’t think very highly of
A Highlander’s “boat.
Police. The expletive statement, “Murder Polis!” means, “Goodness me, what a surprising and unfortunate situation!
Pocket. Can also mean dog
Bother. Highlanders, like Big Sandy, often pronounce a “B” with a soft, “P” sound
A hot medicated bandage that is supposed to draw infection and pus out of a wound. Boggie and Weasel got this word mixed up with the word solstice which means one of the two times every year when the sun is farthest away from the equator. The midsummer solstice is on about June 21st and the midwinter solstice is on about December 22nd
Idiot. Embarrassingly clumsy oaf
Pudding (any sausage made from diced up meat with onions, oatmeal and spices, boiled, and stored for future use. Also, a stupid or clumsy person.
Frog. Can also be used to refer to a toad… or as a derogatory remark about someone whom you don’t consider to be too smart. So if you are looking for an alternative to eejit, gomeral, neep-heid, etc., you could say, “Ye daft wee puddock!
Pooped. To be puggled is to be brought to a standstill because of complete exhaustion and frustration
Somewhat derogatory word for a common man or ordinary person
Something really impressive
Can be used for the way a Highlander like Big Sandy says the word, “but.” It can also refer to the traditional Scottish pastime of trying to knock a small round white ball into an elusive little hole on a lawn of grass by hitting it several times from short distances (accompanied by colorful Scottish slang and terms of endearment towards the ball)
Rambunctious, boisterous, disorderly
A strong (and usually unpleasant) smell
A short, undersized, dwarfish person or animal, poorly formed and unhealthy
Soft, wet, tender and gentle
Scar (of skin, or of the earth or of the ground. A steep eroded hillside)
A mass of loose stones on a hillside, which can turn into a landslide if things go awry
Naked bare skin
A feeling of disgust, loathing, or dislike (or a person that gives one a feeling of disgust, loathing or dislike). If a person feels scunnered then they feel disgusted at the injustice or unfairness of a situation
“Goodness me, that’s annoying!
Gaelic for hunter
Thin, puny, shrunken, starving and unhealthy looking
Go away! Get out of here! Often said to animals, who apparently understand Scottish better than most humans
To move in and unsteady, shaky and wobbly way
Shouldn’t, should not
A disappointingly small amount of something
A tall, slender person
To sneak around furtively. To move in a way to avoid detection
A wet, muddy mess
Clever person, often used as a derogatory term
To steal or acquire through luck
Snoot or snout is nose. Someone who is snooty has their nose in the air. They are snobbish, and project a superior air. Rich person who exhibits these features
Slimy mucus dripping from someone’s nose. A snottery person is someone with slimy mucus dripping from their nose
Gaelic for comfortable
Thousands. As used in the famous Scottish knock-knock joke: “Knock knock” “Who’s there” “Amos” “Amos who?” “A mosquito!” “Knock knock” “Who’s there? “Anna” ”Anna who?” “Another mosquito!” “ Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Susan” “Susan who?” “Soosands o’ mosquitoes!
To vomit, or to pour out, in a continuous stream
To move clumsily and laboriously; to struggle or flounder. Like so many old Scots words the sound of the word gives a sense of its meaning
A sweet pastry filled with delicious gooey filling, and/or icing, or frosting on top. Scottish cuisine may lack sophistication but they make many varieties of really tasty sticky-buns
Stacks of hay, or other grain, gathered together to dry in the sun after being harvested, and before they are stored for the winter
A public uproar. A tumultuous disturbance (see Stramash
An uproar. A tumultuous disturbance
The gome capital of Scotland. A city built under the mountain of Ben Macdui near the human town of Braemar, Scotland
This word does not mean an unwell elephant, and is not the way to describe the situation if you are fed up hanging out with your uncle’s wife. Instead, this word means someone who is always kissing up to someone else. A self-seeking flatterer
To. Also, toe
Someone whose clothes are so scruffy, ragged, and torn that they look like a ragged scarecrow. (Hint: it is not a Scottish compliment to call someone a tatterwallop.
“Tut, tut, tut, you silly person, you!
Tourists. Highlanders, like Big Sandy, pronounce the first syllable of the word tourist as if it rhymes with cow
A turnip. Since turnips are not the most intelligent of vegetables it can also be used as a derogatory term for someone who is not too smart
A young human with great affection for rocks and gomes. In gome legend such a human could be altered to become a “vessel of life” (from the Latin vas animi) and provide great value to gomes
Gome hunters with a reputation for being ruthless, silent, and relentless. Rarely ever seen. Thought by some people to be mythical
This can have many meanings, depending on the context. In this setting it simply means the number ‘one.’ It can also mean lacking, insufficient, poorly formed, weak and sickly, win, wind
Mischievous, unpleasant, and treacherous
(pronounced “wains” to rhyme with “rains”)
Unpleasant, ill-natured, as if the person has been affected by the bite, breath, or hiss of a weasel
Several, a large number of, “Soosands and soosands!
Quietness. “Haud yer wheesht!” means “Keep quiet!
Would, also wood
Wasn’t, was not
Wouldn’t, would not
Deranged and destructively vengeful (Hint: not a nice quality to look for in a person.
pull vigorously. Can also be used as an endearing term for an American
To talk or bark
A derogatory expression for people who talk too much
That (as in “Yon thing ower there.