Although English is the first language in Scotland, many Scottish people use slang and phrases derived from the ancient Scots and Gaelic languages handed down the generations. This gives the Scots dialect an individual twist which you will not find in any other English speaking country.
From everyday phrases, compliments and even insults, Scottish slang is poetic and oftentimes hilarious! Just sit in any busy pub in Scotland and you will hear weird and wonderful language that will have you in stitches.
Here is a beginner’s guide to Scottish slang and phrases.
The word "Bonnie" means a beautiful and good-humoured person normally referring to ladies i.e "Shes a bonnie lass!". The root of the word can be traced back to the French word "bonne".
This means fine, good looking, or pleasant. It can be used when referring to a person (such as "He's a braw looking man!") or even when referring to the weather (such as “It's a braw day, outside the day!").
Bold, daring, cheeky person bordering on arrogant. Derived from the Latin word for cockerel or rooster. We all know gallus people – those that act cheeky and arrogant. An example phrase would be "The way she spoke to the teacher was gallus".
GIE IT LALDY!
This is a common phrase you might hear at any football or rugby match in Scotland. It means give it your best shot. For example "That lad's giving it laldy!" would mean someone's trying very hard.
LANG MAY YER LUM REEK
As an Edinburgh native, I've heard this term many hundreds of times. It's a phrase you would say to someone to wish them a long and happy life. It means may they have smoke in their chimney (lum) for many years. The term is commonly used at Hogmanay, Christmas, or during toasts.
PURE DEAD BRILLIANT
Meaning something is excellent or the best. For example "That meal was pure dead brilliant man!"
The ultimate seal of approval in Scotland, tidy means something is beautiful and that you approve of it. Can be used when referring to a person (i.e. "They're pure tidy!) or pretty much anything else (i.e. "That scran was pure tidy!).
BODY PARTS AND EVERYDAY OBJECTS
This is means items of clothing or an outfit. For example "That lad's got braw claes" would mean that person has nice clothes.
A term used mostly in the West Coast of Scotland which means mouth. However, it is not a polite phrase. For example “Ah warned ye tae shut yer geggie” would mean "I warned you to shut your mouth".
A variation of the word "specs". Means spectacles or glasses.
This is the Scottish word for head and can be used in a variety of phrases.
For example the Scottish phrase "keep the heid!" means keep calm under pressure. On the other hand, the phrase "heid the baw" refers to an irritating, dim-witted or idiotic person.
The Scottish word for ears and used in common phrases such as "I’ll gie ye a skelpit lug!" meaning "I'll hit you on your ears".
Scottish term for plastic soled shoes like plimsoles. Children would use these for Physical education in school.
Meaning foolish or idiotic person. The word derives from the word barm which is the foam found on the top of fermented liquids.
Dafty is Scottish slang for an idiot or simply acting foolish. For example "Oi you dafty! Get back here!".
Eejit is a slang word meaning "idiot" that originated in Ireland. It means the person is a simpleton or foolish person who is not in full control of their mental faculties. For example "Dinnae mind him, he's just an eejit!".
A pretentious or arrogant person.
Get tae is basically telling someone to get lost or to leave your general area. For example "If you think I'm gonnae dae that you can get tae f@#k!"
A word used by lowlander Scots to describe their highland cousins, in particular Gaelic speaking Highlanders. Like most such slang, it can be seen as derogatory but is often seen as amusing.
Meaning to be in a state of inebriation. For example "Once the pubs reopen, I am going to get well and truly blootered!".
OOT YER NUT
Drunk to the point of losing your faculties or blacking out. "I'm oot my nut right now!".
This phrase means drunk or inebriated.