16 June 2019

Scottish Slang: What Does It Mean?


As you know I'm Scottish and here in Scotland, we have a lot of slang words and terms that anyone outside of Scotland often has no idea what the hell it all means. Well, today I'm here to tell you what some of the most common words and phrases here in Scotland mean.

I thought this would just be a fun little post to put together since Scottish slang can sometimes be quite funny, and often people can't even guess what the words or phrases mean.

Common Words

Aye = Yes
Naw = No
Wee = Little
Wean = Child
Bairn = Baby
Auld = Old
Lassie = Girl
Laddie  = Boy
Oot = Out
Haud = Hold
Dae = Do
Gaunnae = Going to
Baw = Ball
Fur = For
Gies = Give me
Greet = Cry
Widnae - Would not
Daein = Doing
Bonnie = Pretty
Heid = Head
Crabbit = Cranky
Glaikit = Stupid
Awfy = Awfully
Ma = My
Steamin' (see also; blootered, half-cut, away wi' it, hammered, plastered) = Drunk
Whiteyed = Threw up so violently you went white
Skelp = Smack/hit
Clype (see also; a grass) = Someone who tells on people
Cooncil = Council
Tap = T-Shirt
Baltic (see also; cauld)  = Cold
Roastin' (see also; boilin') = Hot
Hunners = Hundreds/Loads

Food & Drink

Tattie = Potato
Scran = Food
Juice/Ginger = Soda (ie, coke, Pepsi, fanta)
Neeps = Turnip
'Cooncil Juice' = Tap water
Piece = Sandwhich
Breid = Bread


Common/Famous Phrases


"Och, aye the noo." = "Oh, yes just now."
Explanation: We would rarely say the phrase this way anymore. More likely someone would ask you to do something for them and I'd sigh and say "Aye, the noo." which would mean I'll get to it in a minute.

"Awa an' bile yer heid." = "Away and boil your head."
Explanation: We're not literally telling to boils your head. It is a polite way of saying "get away from me" or less politely "f*ck off" when someone is annoying you.

"Yer aff yer heid." = "You're off your head."
Explanation: Basically if you tell someone their "aff their heid" it means they're crazy or acting a bit nuts.

"Gie it laldy." = Give it some welly.
Explanation: Give it everything, be loud and enthusiastic, give it 100%.

"Whit's fur ye'll no go by ye." = What's for you won't go by you.
Explanation: What's meant for you will happen to you, one way or another. What's meant to be, will be.

"Ah dinnae ken." = "I don't know."
Explanation: Not much explanation needed here.

"Ma heid's loupin'" = "I've got a headache."
Explanation: Usually it means just that, you've got a headache or a migraine etc. Though sometimes if someone is annoying you and your too busy or stressed to be bothered with them you would something like "no the noo, ma heid's loupin". In this context, it means more like "I'm too busy for this, so no, go away."

"Yer daen ma heid in." = "You're doing my head in."
Explanation: You'd say this to someone who is really annoying you.

"Taps aff." = "Tops off."
Explanation: This refers to when it's really hot outside and men take off their tops off. People usually say this as soon a the sun is out because it's meant as a joke because in Scotland 'taps aff' weather is usually as soon as any glimpse of the sun shows up, even if 4 degrees outside.

"Get tae..." = "Get to..."
Explanation: If someone is annoying you, you'd tell them to "get tae" (usually followed but a certain swear starting in f), and it basically means go away, leave me alone that sort of thing!

"Haud yer wheesht" = "Be quiet/Shut up."
Explanation: Pretty simple, if someone says this they want you to shut up.

"Aye right." = "Yes, okay."
Explanation: The literal translation for this one doesn't do the phrase justice, this is one of my favourite phrases. "Aye right" is used when you either a) genuinely can't believe what someone is saying, or b) think someone is talking rubbish. Mostly (especially by me) it's used in the second way.
It can also sometimes be used if you are really annoyed with someone (usually someone being stupid or unbelievably stubborn) and just want to shut them up before it really kicks off, so you hit them with a sharp "Aye. Right."


This post has honestly been one of my favourite I've ever written. I love the Scottish language and even to me it's really fun to see all of the different words and phrases we have and what they mean. I also love that a good 80% of our words and phrases can have multiple meanings that are wildly different, it's pretty cool.

This post barely scratches the surface of Scottish slang language so I'm maybe going to do a part 2 (and 3 and 4 etc) so if there are any specific words or phrases you've heard and want to be explained, or to know the meaning of, let me know and I'll see what I can find out!

PS. The three photos in this post are all in Scotland. The cover photo is the pipe band at the annual Braemar highland games (attended by the queen and members of the royal family) in 2017. The second and third were both taken on a small island in Loch Lomond yesterday!

Do you have any interesting slang words that you use for common items? Did you recognise any of these Scottish ones? Let me know in the comments!

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6 comments

  1. This is a super interesting post! Ive picked up a few bits of Scottish slang from working in a bar so I'm glad to learn a little more x

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  2. This was interesting! My step dad is Scottish so I will have to try some of these when I speak to him ;)

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  3. This is so cool! I know very little about Scotland being from New York, but i might be heading there next year, so I'll keep a lookout for these words

    xx
    Christina Madeleine/ www.thisfashiongirl.com

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  4. This was really interesting. I live in northern England so a fair few of them are the same/ similar to ones used locally and I'd heard most of them but the ones I didn't know I probably would never have guessed X

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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  5. So interesting! Some of my family are Scottish and it can sometimes be so hard to m keep up with conversation. I loved reading this.

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  6. As a fellow Scot, I loved this post! We have some fantastic slang words and it always makes me laugh how inventive we can be with language. I'd love if you did a post on slang that's specific to your area as I think there's loads of differences from city to city so it'd be cool to see what you use!
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

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