Your guide to Scottish slang.

Blog 17 Jun 2016

When visiting Scotland, you may find that some of the local vernacular can be quite challenging. What can make this even more difficult is that this can vary significantly between regions of Scotland, even between Edinburgh & Glasgow.

As Timberbush Tours are always looking to help visitors to our wonderful country, this blog post will help you understand enough of the local slang to get you through daily situations. Don’t be dejected if you don’t catch everything though as there are plenty of those who live here who still don’t understand…

Here are a few examples of interactions that you may experience during your stay…


Q. What is the time?

A. Back a nine.

Translation: It’s near nine o’ clock (anywhere between 8.55 – 9.05)


Q. What’s the weather going to be like today?

A. It’s gonnae be baltic!

Translation: It is going to be very cold today.


Q. Have you seen the waiter?

A. (waiter walks in) Speak o’ the Devil!

Translation: There they are. (Usually said when someone appears just after speaking about them).


Q. (Angrily) I want to make a formal complaint!

A. Okay, keep the heid!

Translation: Please calm down, don’t be upset.


Q. Can I try haggis for the first time?

A. Gie it laldy!

Translation: Do it with gusto.


Q. Do you know where I can get the bus to the airport?

A. Ah dinnae ken.

Translation: I do not know.


Q. Are you okay sir?

A. Am pure done in!

Translation: I am very tired.


Sometimes though you may find yourself in a situation where you may want to blend in with the local population, if so, then here are some phrases to use for conversing.

  • It’s a dreich day.

Translation: It’s not a very nice day weather-wise is it.

  • That fella’s meal was pure honkin, a think the guy went radge aboot it.

Translation: That person’s meal smelt very bad, I don’t think they were too happy about it either.

  • He’s aff his heid

Translation: This man is very daft.

  • It’s fair hotchin in here.

Translation: It is very busy in here.


Now in Scotland we have several slang terms to describe two different types of people – drunks and idiots, though the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Here are a few examples for your repertoire…

Idiot/Stupid: Eejit, Numptie, Dunderheid, Galoot, Glaikit,

Drunk: Mad wi’ it, Steamin, Bladdered, Hammered, Smashed, Blootered.


Although you may feel that this summary should cater to all your Scottish language needs, we have included a list of words that should help you along the way just in case…

Auld – old

Aye – yes/affirmative

Bairn – baby

Bide – wait

Bonnie – beautiful

Coo – cow

Crabbit – bad tempered

Dinnae – don’t

Feart – scared

Hame – hold

Ken – know

Mair – more

Neep - turnip

Piece – sandwich

Reek – smell

Skelp – slap

Tattie – potato

Whit – what

Yin - one


So there you go, a perfect beginner kit into the world of linguistics in Scotland, you’ll sound just like a local in no time… please remember though that not everyone speaks like this though.