Scotland’s language is a mixture of English, Gaelic, Norse and so many others, and it’s still changing!

If you don’t know the difference between being ‘braw’ or being ‘blootered’, never been asked to ‘haud yer wheesht’ or to ‘gie it laldie’, read on for Ginspired Scotland’s guide to some of the essentials:

  Today, the main language spoken in Scotland is English, while Scots and Scottish Gaelic are minority languages. The dialect of English spoken in Scotland is referred to as Scottish English.

  Words like “bairn” and “yin” on the east coast, to “wains” and “wan” on the west.

BTW, If you say ‘Space Ghetto’ in an American accent, it sounds like ‘Spice Girl’ in a Scottish accent. Go on, do it, and see how long it takes for you to stop laughing!

To HAVER – means to babble and speak needlessly. eg ‘wud yae stop yer havering and get oan wi it?’ (would you stop talking and get on with it?)

GLAIKIT – an unflattering description of someone slightly lacking in finer skills. Can be used in conjunction with ‘numpty’ eg ‘you’re a pure glaikit numpty’ ie someone you probably wouldn’t either employ or marry.

BAMPOT – another unflattering term for someone favoured by the stupid gene.

EEJIT- see Bampot

BRAW- beautiful – usually referring to food or a view, or a drink. To compliment a beautiful woman substitute Bonnie, that’ll never go amiss.

PEELY-WALLY – the typically blue tinged appearance of a person who doesn’t see a lot of warm sunshine, or is feeling poorly. Meaning pale, usually of skin.

HAUD YER WHEESHT! – One of those terms which every language should have at least one of! Much less rude than ‘shut up’, it requests the ‘wheeshter’ to conserve (or hold) their breath and so inevitably to stop talking.

STRAMASH- almost self explanatory, as it could never mean calm and orderly now could it? It’s a chaotic, messy, disorderly situation, usually unwanted.

And it gets better and better! Delve more deeply into Scottish utterances region by region, and you’ll find even more to delight and entertain you. Try wrapping these ones around your tonsils and see what comes oot yer moo!

Edinburgh Dialect

Edinburgh forms one of Scotland’s most diverse speech communities where you can hear a range of accents and dialects. Scots has been spoken in the city for hundreds of years and was used in the court and Parliament prior to the Union of Crowns in 1603 and Union of Parliaments in 1707.

•        Embra – Edinburgh

•        Baffies – slippers

•        Barry – fantastic or great

•        Bunker – worktop, kitchen counter

•        Chum – join on a journey (Chumming a friend doon the road)

•        Cludgie – toilet

•        Deek – look at

•        Dinnae – don’t

•        Feart – afraid of

•        Foostie – stale

•        Radge – crazy or uncontrollable (A person can either be a radge, or ‘go radge’)

•        Reeking – drunk

•        Scoobied – clueless (Scooby Doo is rhyming slang for clue)

•        Shan – a shame, or disappointing (A bad day at work could be ‘well shan’)

Argyll Dialect

Argyll Scottish Gaelic

The language native to the Gaels of Scotland, has been spoken in Argyll since the 5th century when Irish Gaelic speakers settled in the area.•        

Slainte! (slan-juh) – Cheers!

•        Madainn mhath (mateen va) – Good morning.

•        Chan eil (chan yayl) – No.

•        Tha (ha) – Yes.

•        Salinte mhath! ( slan-juh va) – Good health.

•        Halo (hello) – Hello.

•        Feasgar math (fesker ma) – Good evening.

•        ‘S e ur beatha (share behe) – You’re welcome.

•        Tha mi duilich (ha mi doolich) – I’m sorry

•        Alba (Albah) – Scotland

•        Ciamar a tha sibh (kemar aha shiv) – How are you?

•        Tapadh leibh (tapa leev) – Thank you

• Tha gu math (ha goo ma) – Fine

. Is math sin (sma shin) – That’s good

North East Dialect


Doric is the Scots dialect spoken in the North-East of Scotland and, as of 2018, has gained the status of the third official language of Scotland, along with English and Scots Gaelic.

•        Far ye gaan? Where are you going? 

•        Fit’s at? What’s that? 

•        Fan ye aff? When are you going? 

•        Foo mony? How many? 

•        Fa’s at? Who is that? 

•        Fit wye nae? Why not?

•        Bosie: hug. Gie’s a bosie! Give me a hug! 

•        Fash: trouble. Dinna fash yersel Don’t trouble yourself 

•        Tricket: Delighted. I’m fair-tricket I’m delighted 

•        Gawaaah!: Get away! Gawaaah! 

•        Yer kiddin! You’re kidding me! 

•        Bonny: beautiful. Sheena is affa bonny. Sheena is very pretty 

Orkney & Shetland Dialect


•        The Scots language 

•        Shetlandic or Shetland dialectics and aftertaste of Norn which has become extinct.

•        Hit’s göd ta lay you doon in your ain calf grund, means ‘it’s good to be home’ 

Central Scotland Dialect

In a sentence: “The wee yin fell right on his bahookie.”   In English: “The little one fell on his bum.”

So now you know your bahookie from yer elbow, you’re good to go. Enjoy exploring more of our fandabbydozy Scottish language!