- Men and Women
Here are a number of words used to describe men and women. Children> are on a separate page.
- "Bauchle" - the opposite of "big yin", usually a "wee bauchle" is used to describe a shabby-looking person, especiually a small one. A "bauchle" was originally a worn-out shoe. Another derogatory word to describe someone who is worthless is "nyaff" or "wee nyaff."
- "Biddie" - Another word for a woman, as in "That poor biddie's no lookin' weel". On the other hand, "red biddy" is cheap, red wine!
- "Big Yin" - While most often used as a nickname for the comedian Billy Connolly, "big yin" means "big one" and can be used to describe (with some respect for his size!) any above average size man.
- "Hen" - particularly in Central and Southern Scotland this word is used to address any woman or girl - "Are ye gaun tae the bingo, hen?". A "hen party" is any women only gathering - and not necessarily a party!
- "Jimmy" - in Glasgow in particular, if you do not know someone's name, they will often be referred to as "Jimmy" - "Hey Jimmy, do you know when the next bus is coming?" Alternatively "Hey mac" will do just as well.
- "Keelie" - a young working-class male from any large town such as a "Glasgow Keelie". It used to imply someone who is tough and a potential hooligan. It is derived from the Gaelic word "gille" meaning "a lad".
- "Mistress" - no, not what you think, but a term of address or a name for an older woman, implying respect - "Is the mistress of the house at home?"
- Nippy Sweetie Sharp-tounged or bad tempered as in "That nippy sweetie in her peerie heels would argue with the door-post" "Peerie-heels?" High stiletto heels on women's shoes.
- Teuchter Pronounced "choochter" this was (is) a contemptuous name given by a Lowland Scot to someone from the Highlands, especially someone who speaks Gaelic. Recommended NOT to be used in the presence of a Highlander!
- "Wee man" - while "wee" usually means small it is used in the this context to indicate "young man" - often used by fathers to refer to their sons. On the other hand, "In the name o' the wee man" is a mild expletive!
People with airs and graces don't get a lot of encouragement in Scotland. Here's a few words used to describe such vanity.
- "Dichty water English" - the affected speech of a Scot trying to sound English. "Get round the mouth wi' an English dishcloth" has a similar meaning.
- Fantoosh Pretentious or ostentatious as in "that's a right fantoosh motor caur ye hiv there". It is said to derive from the french word "fantoche" for puppet.
- "Lord and Lady Muck" - someone who puts on airs and graces
- "Pan loaf" - an affected "refined" way of speaking to try to impress people. Speaking "Kelvinside" or "Morningside" have similar meanings, reflecting the speech found in these "toffee nose" or posh parts of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
- "Primsie" - self-consciously correct and straight-laced.
- "Tattie-peelin" - literally potato peelings but used in some parts of the country to describe an affected, prim style of speech.
- "Wallie close" - a tiled close in a "tenement" (block of flats with a common stair) which was considered to be a sign of status.
Here are some words dealing with getting older:
- "Auld yin" - someone who is old. "Auld farrant" is old fashioned.
- "Dotterel" - someone who is has lost their wits due to old age.
- "Going doon the brae" - failing physically.
- "Grannie Mutchie" - a nickname for an old woman though it also used to describe a girl who is old fashioned.
- "Lang in the horn" - advanced in both age and experience.
- "Long-teethed" - aged.
- "A nick in your horn" - a year of life.
At the risk of being morbid, here are some Scots words associated with death and burials!
- "Be a gone corbie" - to be done for, breathing your last. A "corbie" is a crow or a raven.
- "Burial silver" - the money put aside for the funeral.
- "Cord" - the rope held by close friends and relatives by which the coffin was lowered into the grave. Nowadays the cord is symbolic and does not actually carry the weight of the coffin.
- "Far through" - at death's door.
- "Giant's grave" - the name used to describe the large Neolithic chambered cairns found in various parts of Scotland.
- "Lair" - a burial space reserved for a number of members of a family in a graveyard.
- "Mort kist" - a coffin. The "mort bell" was the ringing of the church bell at a funeral.
- "Mourning letter" - the invitation to a funeral, edged in black (in the days before funeral notices were placed in local newspapers).
- "Pay your respects" - attend a funeral.
- "Wake" - the traditional watch over the corpse before it is buried, supposedly to ensure that evil spirits did not steal it.
Here are some words dealing with parts of the body.
- "Bahookie" - posterior as in "Sit on your bahookie!" Also referred to as "hurdies" or "bumbalerie".
- "Bowly-leggit" - bandy legged.
- "Corrie-fisted" and "skerry-handit" and "skibby" and "southie" all mean left-handed.
- "Fit" - your foot, but try not to "pit yer fit in it" and make a mistake!
- "Gab" - mouth. Someone with the "gift of the gab" is silver tongued and talks a lot.
- "Girse-gawed" - cuts or cracks between the toes.
- "Gutter gaws" - a sore on a foot.
- "Heid" - On its own this is simply "Head" but it often forms part of a longer phrase such as "He's aff his heid" (he's angry) or "He's a heid banger" (he's a wild or crazy person) and "Ye'll get your heid in yer hands and yer teeth tae play wi'" (you're in big trouble!) or "Awa an' bile yer heid" (go away!). Then again, the "Heid bummer" is the boss!
- "Neb" - is your nose but just as in English a nosey person is inquisitive so is someone who is "nebbie". But "nebbie" can also be sharp-tongued.
- "Oxter" is your armpit - "Put the 'pipes under your oxter"
- "Pinkie" - little finger. (I had to check the English dictionary to confirm that this is an ethnic Scots word. It is widely used in Scotland and North America and other parts of the world where Scots have settled).
- "Pirlie-winkie" and "Peerie-winkie" - also words describing the small finger. "Peerie-winkie" can also be used for the small toe.
- "Ragnail" - a hangnail or loose piece of skin at the side of a fingernail.
- "Shank" is a leg and if you use "shanks's pony" you are walking instead of using transport.
- "Spurtle-leggit" - having very thin legs (like a "spurtle" or porridge stick)
- "Tickie-taed" - pigeon-toed.
Here are some of the different ways men and women communicate.
- "Blether" - talk foolishly or too much about nothing
- "Blethering skite" - a person who babbles foolishly
- "Bummle" - speak carelessly or sing badly
- "Clash-ma-claver" - gossip and idle tales
- "Clype on" - tell tales or inform against someone.
- "Crack like a penguin" - talk in a lively way or chatter loudly
- "Gab-gash" - petulant or voluble chatter
- "Gang on like a tume mill" - chatter on without a pause
- "Gibble-gabble" - chatter and tittle-tattle
- "Gleg-gabit" or "Gleg-tongued" - smooth tongued and glib
- "Haiver" - talk in a foolish or trivial way, speak nonsense as in "You're haivering man!"
- "Lagamachie" and "Lamgabblich" - a long-winded discourse
- "Rummlieguts" - a windbag!
- "Sweetie-wife" - a garralous gossipy person
- "Yammer" - talk incoherently
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