You all should be aware by now of my attempt to document my thoughts about what it’s like to be an English girl, living in Scotland. One of the things which I’ve laughed at most during my 6 years, and particularly since meeting Stacey, is the Scottish slang which is used from time to time. Now, I’m not talking about the general words which most people attribute to Scots – ‘wee’ or ‘hen’ – but what about ‘piece’, ‘glaikit’ or ‘baffies’? I didn’t think so…
Stacey has somewhat of a unique heritage, as her mother is English and her dad’s Scottish; for the first few years of her life she lived in Aberdeen, so she has a hybrid Scottish accent and uses a number of strange Scottish terms – some from her grandmother, some from her dad and uncles. I continue to be entertained by so many of these words which she uses on a semi-regular basis.
Now, local dialects and vernaculars are something that isn’t new to me – in my school days in Essex, slang changed on pretty much a daily basis. For us, ‘getting off with’ someone meant kissing them, whilst ‘getting with’ them was something slightly more intimate. When I studied, things were ‘kool’ – by the time my brother was at the same school as me, he was calling them ‘phat’. ‘Mate’ and ‘bruv’ were both regular phrases in this arsenal, whilst I called my friends ‘babe’ or ‘hun’.
Stacey has just told me that when she was at school, a greeting was most likely to be ‘alright lads’ to a group of people, but she wasn’t opposed to greeting her best friends with ‘alright fannybaws’. Now lets break this down – ‘fanny’ is an often used term in Scots dialect – literally, it obviously refers to a female body part and is most often used as an insult, particularly when someone does something idiotic, rather than something malicious. Baws, I hope, is obvious.
Here’s a list of some of the most common Scottish slang words that Stacey uses – note, this is a pretty subjective list – some of out other friends use totally different words! We may try and add to this list in future – so if you have any requests for words you’ve heard but never understood, leave a comment below!
Stacey’s List of Scots Slang
baffies (n. pl.) slippers, but I call slip-on (ballet pump) style shoes baffies because they provide the same amount of support/warmth/protection as a pair of slippers
blether (n. or v.) chat, usually of no importance, but for a considerable length
haver (n. or v.) to speak lies or nonsense e.g. “He was full of havers” or “Don’t haver!”
“haud yer wheesht!” = “be quiet”; equally just “wheesht”
close (n.) alleyway; narrow corridor between buildings or houses
sleekit (adj.) sly/deceitful; most famously used in the opening line of Robert Burns’ “To A Mouse”
jakey (adj.) shady; ‘chav like’; unsavoury; used to describe people, particularly the sort to go on Jeremy Kyle
bam (or bampot) (n.) person who’s a bit of a waste of space; used in conjunction with jakey, i.e. “jakey bam”
glaikit (adj.) daft or dim; harmlessly stupid
bairn (n.) usually a baby or small child, particularly of primary school age; can also be used mildly offensively to describe anyone younger than yourself
scriech (v. or adj.) to cry or to wail; for example “scrieching bairns” = crying children
loon (n.) male youth; predominantly used in the North East of Scotland
quine (n.) female youth; predominantly used in the North East
“fit like?” = literally “what like?”, which means “how are you?”; predominantly used in the North East
dyke (n.) wall
wynd (n.) used in street names; e.g. in St Andrews, Butts Wynd is the name of a close (see above)
pridefu (adj.) stuck up; snobbish
poke (n.) small bag, usually made of paper; but also commonly used in “a poke of chips”, referring to a cone-shaped container (see below)
plook (n.) pimple; spot
stookie (n.) plaster cast used for broken bones
This a very short Scottish slang dictionary, and we hope it’s helpful! It must also be noted, however, that different regions have different words and meanings for things – these are just words Stacey uses, and it’s by no means definitive!
Carley (with assistance from Stacey…)
PS. In case you were wondering, a piece is the Scottish term for a sandwich – no, I don’t get it either!Carley