One of the most popular topics of conversation in Scotland.
Scots, like the rest of the UK, talk a lot about the weather. This hardly surprising - as the hoary old joke so accurately says "If you don't like the weather in Scotland, wait half an hour and it will change". On a "dreich" (wet, dismal) day there may not be a blink of sun and on others it may be "mochie" (warm and damp) and on still others a "simmer cowt" (a heat haze). Of course rain is often a feature ranging from a thunder "plump" (down-pour of rain) making everyone "drookit" (drenched) and producing lots of "dubs" (puddles) and will go into a "burn" (small stream or brook). There may be a more gentle "smirr" (light rain) or there may be an East Coast "haar" (mist from the sea). In winter time, when there are "wreaths" (drifts of snow) and the "snell" (bitingly cold) wind makes everone "fair jeelit" (cold as ice) at least the children can enjoy skiting (sliding) on the ice in a "hunker-slide" (sliding in a crouched position).
It is not always "rainin' auld wives and pipe staples" (heavy rain) or a "pish-oot" (a down-pour) with a "sump" (a great fall of rain). Then again there can be a "thunder-plump" (sudden thunder shower) or a "gandiegow" (heavy shower). Of course, sometimes the weather is just "plowtery" (showery) with a "smirr" (very light rain) or a "dreep" (steady fall of light rain) or a "dribble" (drizzle). Along with the rain it can be "attery" (stormy) with a "blenter" or "flaff" (gusty wind) . The "tousle" (blustery) wind can often feel "snell" (biting). All this wind and rain can produce a "linn" (a torrent or waterfall) and can make us all "droukit" (drenched) and "draggled" (bedraggled) and feel "dowie" (dismal) as we trudge through the "glaur" (mud/mire) or a "sclutter" or "slaister" (messy wetness). The rain may create a "stank" (small stagnant water) while in Glasgow the "stank" is the storm drain in the street. In Perth, the storm drain is called a "condie" (derived, it is said, from the French "conduire"). Then again it may just be "grulie" (unsettled) or even "leesome" (fine) with a "pirl" (gentle breeze). And after the next "plype" (sudden heavy shower) there may even be a "watergow" (a fragmentary rainbow!).
A wide range of weather types are included below.
- "Auld wives and pike staves" - raining cats and dogs.
- "Banff bailies" - snowy white clouds on the horizon which are considered to be omens of bad weather. (Banff is a town on the north coast of Aberdeenshire).
- "Bobantilter" - an icicle
- "Bullet stanes" - hailstones.
- "Feeding storm" - a storm which adds more snow to that which is already lying on the ground.
- "Gab o' May" - stormy weather at the start of May.
- "Gandiegow" - a squall or heavy shower.
- "Goat's hair" - cirrus clouds.
- "Gowk's storm" - a storm in springtime which arrives at the same time as the "gowk" or cuckoo
- "Greetie" - showery. The normal meaning of "Greet" is to cry.
- "Haar" - an east coast mist which swirls inland. There are occasions when you cannot see Edinburgh Castle from the street below because of the "haar".
- "Lauchin' rain" - literally, "laughing rain" is a long shower of rain from an apparently clear sky.
- "Liddesdale drow" - a wetting drizzle, no doubt often experienced in this area of southern Scotland.
- "Pirr" - a gentle puff of wind.
- "Rumballiach" - tempestuous.
- "Snell" - bitingly cold.
- "Spindrift" - spray whipped up by the wind.
- "Skirl" - high pitched sound of strong wind.
- "Sough" - a murmur of wind.
Here are a few Scots words about being warm. Since there were so few such words (!) there are also words about being cold too...
- "Birsle" - to warm thoroughly.
- "Cauldrife" - pronounced 'cawldrif' it means likely to feel cold. A "cauldrife craitur" is someone who has a cold manner and shows indifference.
- "Chitter" - to shiver with the cold. A "chitterin' bite" is a snack or sweet after a swim and is supposed to prevent catching a cold.
- "Cosie" - warm and comfortable and well wrapped up. Hence a "tea cosie", the cover for a pot of tea.
- "Glaise" - a warm at the fire.
- "Mochie" - warm humid weather. The word is from the Norse 'mugga' meaning mist.
- "Perished wi' the cauld" - freezing.
- "Roastit" or "sweltrie"- uncomfortably hot.
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