Speaking Scottish

They speak English in Scotland. Just to clarify. There is a native Scottish language: Gaelic. Not to be confused with the native Irish language: Gaelic. Hey, I said don’t be confused! The Irish one is pronounced GAY-lick, while the Scottish one is pronounced like a Bostonian saying “garlic,” and they are as different from each other as Spanish and Portuguese. (Which are not at all the same, for those of you who always try to speak Portuguese to the Spanish-speakers at Disney.)

Though the Scots hold on to their native language by putting it on all signs and having TV and radio programs produced in Gaelic, it seems like very few people still speak it fluently. However, there is a wonderful vernacular to Scottish-English (or perhaps British-English in general) that I just love. Here are a few of the words I picked up that may help you understand the natives during your visit to Scotland.


“Ta” – Thank you

“Wee” – Small or pee. So it is in fact possible to have a “wee wee,” perhaps explaining where we got that phrase.

“Old Wifey” – An old, haggy, hunched granny

“Cuppa” – A cup of tea. Fairly certain that this word would not apply to a cup of coffee.

“Gobsmacked” – Confused or amazed. This is my favorite.

“Squidgey” – Squishy or soft

“Knackered” – Equivalent of pooped; exhausted; I believe it can also mean drunk or wasted

“Chuffed” – Pleased, tinkled pink

“Have a lie-in” – Sleep in

“Pudding” – Dessert, even if that dessert is not actually pudding

“Lorrie” – A semi truck

“Quid” – Quid is to pounds as bucks is to dollars

“Midges” – Tiny gnats that fly in groups and bite like mosquitos… well, not nearly as bad as mosquitos, but still annoying.

“Chemist” – Pharmacist

“Kirkyard” – a graveyard, also called just “kirk”

“Stone” (as a measurement) – Apparently, one stone is about 14 pounds

“Close” – a thin alleyway between buildings, often covered, not big enough to drive through

“Car Park” – A parking lot

“Give Way” – that’s what their Yield signs say. Sounds so polite! Give way, please. Cheerio!


While those terms are more general for the UK, here are a few words that are much more specifically Scottish. You probably won’t hear these used as often, but you may see them on a map, and they are interesting all the same.


“Haar” – a very thick fog (like in the picture!)

“Loch” – lake

“Cairn” – pile of rocks (could be a monument of some sort or ruins of an old building)

“Kreel” – a lobster and crab trap

“Firth” – an inlet of water from the ocean

“Croft” – a small, non-commercial farm

“Hamlet” – a village so small, it doesn’t even have a church


Now that you have some basic phrases, you’ll blend right in with all those Scottish lads and lasses! Cheers!


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