- Double Meanings
Here are some "ordinary" words and phrases which can be used colloquially in Scotland to mean something entirely different!
- "Back" - when someone says they will see you "at the back of five" they mean roughly 5.15. There is no equivalent "front of five" for 4.45!
- "Ball's up on the slates" - plans have come apart.
- "Bite someone's ear" - long before Mike Tyson, this phrase was used to describe speaking nicely to someone to gain a favour.
- "Blue nose" - not someone who is feeling the cold but a supporter of Rangers football club (whose main team colour is blue).
- "Body swerve" - means to dodge or avoid something as in "The wife wanted me to go to see her mother but I managed to give it a body swerve".
- "Bubble" - means to weep, as in "What are you bubbling for?" Sometimes used to describe some who is sulking as in "Stick, bubbly!"
- "Bucket" - a good quantity of alcohol, as in "Her husband takes a right bucket!"
- "Check" - to look, often with astonishment, as in "Check the new jacket!"
- "Chin" - used as a verb, it can mean to go to someone to complain (perhaps sticking your chin out in the process).
- "Click" - establish a relationship with the opposite sex, as in "Jimmy was the only one with a click after the jigging" ("jiggin" is dancing).
- "Close" - not the verb to shut but the open entrance-way and common stair to a block of flats (tenements in Glasgow). In Edinburgh, it is applied to a narrow lane or passage from the main street. The word can also be applied to weather which is warm and muggy.
- "Desperate" - if someone says they are "desperate" they are trying to tell you that they are in urgent need of the toilet!
- "Don't act it" - don't behave in a deliberately misleading way, as in "If he says he didnae ken about it, he's acting it!"
- "Dot" - means to go somewhere quickly as in "I'll just dot into the paper shop".
- "Drawing in" - as in "The nights are drawing in" means that the days are getting shorter and darkness is falling earlier as we head into autumn and winter.
- "Duster" - as in "he went his duster" meaning that he worked hard.
- "Hammer" - if someone asks you to "Give the TV the hammer" don't take it literally - they just want you to switch it off!
- "Heavy" - in a bar, you may hear someone ask for "A pint of heavy" which is a heavier beer than lager and is roughly equivalent to the English "bitter" beer. "Export" is an even stronger and darker beer. Although originally brewed for sale abroad, it is nowadays found on draught in most public houses.
- "Hems" - not the stitched edge of a cloth, but if you "put the hems on" someone you have forced them to behave or restrained them as in "He couldnae go tae the pub, his wife put the hems on him."
- "Hen" - not a farmyard animal but a friendly way of addressing a girl or a woman, often when you don't know their name. For example "Can ye tell me when the next bus will be, hen?"
- "Jag" - in addition to the usual meaning of pierce, the word also can mean an injection as in "The doctor gave the kid a jag." Not to be confused with "The Jags" who are the Partick Thistle football (soccer) club.
- "Jotters" - not a school writing book but a worker's employment documentation which has come to mean the sack, as in "Ah goat ma jotters and signed on at the burroo" (the employment exchange).
- "Keys" - when said with thumbs raised, this is the traditional way in which children withdraw temporarily from a game, as in "I'm keys!"
- "Kilt" - if you hear someone in Glasgow say that "Ah wis nearly kilt" it has nothing to do with Highland dress but is the local pronunciation for "killed".
- "Knock" - a euphemism for stealing as in "Hughie knocked a motor car."
- "Lend" - no borrowing involved here. If you "take a lend" of someone you take advantage of their gullibility.
- "Lose the rag" - can mean to lose your temper.
- "Mask" - to "mask the tea" is not to hide it but to wait until it has infused.
- "Messages" - if someone is "going the messages" they are going to the local shops.
- "Mince" - while finely chopped minced beef is a popular dish in Scotland the word has also come to mean rubbish or nonsense as in "He was talking a load of mince." and someone who is as "thick as mince" is extremely stupid.
- "Miss yourself" - you missed having a good time as in "You missed yourself last night - we all got blootered." ("blootered" means "drunk").
- "On the bell" - when someone says that they are "On the bell" or "It's my bell" it means that they acknowledging that it is their turn to buy the drinks.
- "On the Panel" - absent from work. The "panel" is also a Scots legal term meaning the accused in a criminal trial.
- "Piece" - a sandwich, which could be the classic "jeely piece" of bread and jam.
- "Plank" - nothing to do with wood, but if you plank something, you hide it somewhere safe so that it can be used at a later time.
- "Refreshment" - a well known euphemism for any alcoholic drink.
- It's like "Sauchiehall Street" - it is very busy (as in this Glasgow street, before the days of pedestrianisation).
- "Special" - used to describe a strong beer as in "McEwan's Special"
- "Scratcher" - another name for a bed as in "I couldnae get oot ma scratcher."
- "Shed" - the side or middle parting of the hair as in "Is my shed straight?"
- "Shy" - the throw-in from the touchline in a game of football (soccer).
- "Steaming" - one of the (many) words to describe someone who is drunk.
- "Supper" - not a meal at the end of the day but anything served with chipped potatoes in a fish and chip shop is a "supper". So haggis and chips served at lunchtime is a "Haggis supper."
- "Tank" - to beat the other team soundly as in "Scotland tanked Spain 48-0 in the rugby game today."
- "Waste of space" - describes someone who is proving to be worthless or useless.
- "Well on" - what happens when you have imbibed too much "refreshment" and become a bit drunk.
- "Winch" - this word is used to describe a romantic involvement with someone, as in "Are ye winchin?" The origins of this word come from "wench", the old fashioned word for woman.
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