E is for English (or not in Scotland)

Not a place this time but a language – when I moved to Scotland we joked about whether or not I would be able to understand the accents, without realising that the Scottish words that people use are the ones that would cause me problems. It’s not Gaelic, the traditional language, it’s more a slang/regional thing – some words are just used in certain areas of the country.

I’ll be talking to someone at work and they’ll say something which I don’t understand, so one of my regular phrases is, I’m sorry but what does ??? mean? So for this post I thought I’d share some of the interesting ones that I’ve learnt.


The sentence I’ve most heard this one in is, “I’m going to kick them up the bahookie” – I was able to guess that it means bottom.


“I’ve put cheese in my piece” Any ideas what this means? It’s a sandwich,

Peely Wally

Last week I was told by someone that I was looking a bit Peely Wally – I wasn’t sure if I should be offended or feel complimented. I turns out that they were just concerned for me as it means pale.


If you’ve ever listened ย to the Proclaimers song 500 miles, then you will have heard this word. It means to talk rubbish. Here’s the song for you to listen to.


This one I knew before we came to Scotland as my beloved sometimes uses it. It means to cry.


I asked my beloved what this one means and he replied that it’s when someone has a pot on their arm or leg. Okay, he’s started to talk in a foreign language as well. Apparently in means a plaster cast. I’m not sure if pot is specifically Scottish but I’d never heard it before.


This one I’ve even caught myself using – I think I’m absorbing some of it by osmosis as I hear this one all the time at work. It means to talk, so I might say to someone, why don’t you sit and have a blether for a while.


This is a great sounding word, and it means to be bored or fed up.


“I’ve left a boorach at home” has been said to be by several people and every time I hear it I have to ask what it is as for some reason it doesn’t stick in my head. It means a mess.


This one I learnt whilst double checking spelling for the other words and I love it. It’s another word for a scarecrow.


“I’ve got to stop and get my messages on the way home”. At first glance that sentence almost makes sense, but no, it’s not what it appears – messages are groceries!!!


My beloved’s contribution of a word to include and it means an uproar or a brawl.

So there you have it, a small sample of words that I think are unique to Scotland, and some will probably just be from the Highlands. Before you leave why don’t you pop over to the A to Z blog and see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the letter E – clickย HEREย to visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and thing about what words are particularly unique to the area you live in.

Pamela & Ken

21 thoughts on “E is for English (or not in Scotland)

  1. I cannot tell you how many times I have read a Scottish authors work and had to Google something. Just this week I had to Google 'Bridie' since I had no idea what Rebus was eating. Turns out they are what we call Cornish pasties.


  2. Hi Pam and Ken – spotted you in the morass of the 'list' … and had to come by and say 'hi'! Lovely words – fun … oh excellent you've written about Clootie Well – I used the word when I wrote about Cows! I'll catch up after today … cheers for now – Hilaryhttp://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/e-is-for-extinct-animals-and-endangered.html


  3. The messages one gets me everytime as it's such a normal word and when someone says it I just take it at face value. I'd love to find out who first started using some of them but as with any slang I think that might be an impossible task.


  4. Good ones!And I guess you've answered my question from earlier this week (about the language).I love listening to Northern English and Scottish accents, even though I can't understand half of it ๐Ÿ˜‰


  5. It's not just the words, it's the accent too. Years ago I watched The Wind that Shakes the Barley. I turned on the subtitles only to realize they were already speaking English. I wonder how I would do there travelling on my own.


  6. You'd be fine – there's only been one person since I moved here that I really couldn't understand and they were from right up the top of Scotland. Your ear eventually tunes in to the accent.


  7. What a fun post! I might try to incorporate some of them into my vocabulary. Tattyboggle is my favorite, though, and it's sad I would rarely have a need to use it…since I rarely discuss scarecrows. Curious: If \”messages\” means groceries, what word do they use for messages as in voicemail, texts, notes…? Instead of saying \”I left a message,\” what term do they use?Trudy @ Reel Focus


  8. Pingback: E is for Edinburgh & Ephesus | Tasmanian Abroad

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