Scottish Slang to Include in Your Vocabulary

A Beginners Course in Scottish Slang

She is a bonny lass, do you ken her?

She is a pretty girl, do you know her?

She is looking peely wally, and gie ye that.

She is looking unwell and tired, and I’ll give you that.

The Gaelic language is full of words that are charming and interesting to use in our everyday vernacular. You may have grown up with these familiar phrases or heard them on the popular series, Outlander. If you are knowledgeable or new to the Scottish slang and dialect, the following words are fun to add to your vocabulary!

Common Scottish Slang and Gaelic Words

The word "Gaelic" defined in a dictionary

This list curated from Wilderness Scotland, Merriam Webster, and Mental Floss will give you a glimpse into the Scottish Gaelic dialect.

Aye isn’t just for pirates. The Scottish Gaelic word is often used as an exclamation, meaning yes and pronounced “eye.” 

Wee is another much-used word, meaning small. Can describe an object (a wee sip of whisky) or a small child (the wee ones were playing in the yard).

Ye, this one is pretty simple, a shortened version of you.

Ken, as used above, means to know someone or something.

Faff used to describe taking time to sort something out or to get something done.

Scran refers to food. (Is there enough scran for the whole family?)

Blether, meaning a long-winded chat, is perfect for the Scotts – have you ever had a short conversation with someone of Gaelic descent? 

Haver, on the other hand, is chatting foolishly and without a point.

Barry is a great word, meaning great!

Lass/Lad (Lassie/Laddie) refers to girls and boys, respectively. Other regional words include Loon for a northern boy and Quine: for a northern girl.

Scotts Love Talking Weather

A cyclist riding in the rain in the Scottish Highlands

Crackin’, used in other ways to mean good, also means a warm and sunny day.

Roastin’ is, as it sounds, very hot. And to the Scotts, that is anything over 18 degrees C (64.4 F). 

Mingin’, Boggin’, and Clarty are dirty muddy, not nice weather days.

Dreich describes a much seen overcast, drizzling, grey day.

Nippy is another common word for cold throughout the world. (It is a bit nippy out today. Better bundle up!)

Drookit, a fun one to say, is when it is soaking wet outside.

Traits of Appearance and Personality

A group of friends taking a break from driving in Scotland, laughing and using Scottish slang

Sassenach, every Outlander fan (Clare Fraser moniker) is familiar with this word. It translates to an outlander or foreigner, and also specifically to the English. 

Braw and Bonnie both mean beautiful or pretty. You definitely will look braw or bonnie in our clothing!

Clarty/Clatty  reserved for someone lacking in personal hygiene

Hackit generally refers to a woman who is not attractive, hag-like.

Willie is not your uncle’s name but applies to someone of an unfriendly nature. 

Gallus, how many Celts do you know who are confident but bordering on arrogant? Up for anything type of people, such as Clare and Jamie Fraser from Outlander!

Ablach is an insignificant person. The Dictionary of the Scots Language states that this word’s interesting origin refers to “a body not necessarily dead but maimed or reduced to a pitiable condition.” 

Gurk characterizes a stout well-built person. This might be our new favorite word!

Bodach is not a compliment, as it is a coarse older man.

Mawkit is one covered in dirt and filth.

Drinks All Around!

People doing a "cheers" with glasses of Scottish whisky

Druthy will get you to go to the pub, as it is someone thirsty. Our flasks will keep you from being druthy!

Dram used as a particular measure of whisky (pour me a dram, will ye). Leave it to the Scottish people to have words centered on their whisky!

Bonailie is the parting drink. Have you ever seen a Scottish or Irish person trying to leave the pub? A few bonailies may occur in the long goodbyes!

Whitey not a nice word, but vomit from overindulgence in alcohol.

Boak, another way to say vomiting or being very close to it.

Swally quite simply is booze or beverage.

A Wee Bit Dirty

Wellington boots covered in mud

Bawhair is a short distance. It comes from the word for the width of a pubic hair. Pretty sure I have ever needed nor knew there was a name for that!

Dobber, slang for men’s bits, but hurled as an insult. “Shut it, ya dobber.”

Curple is the buttocks. Now you have a word to rhyme with purple!

So Many Idiots!

Glaikit is a gullible, no common sense idiot.

Bampot is an unhinged idiot.

Diddy is a spineless idiot.

Fandan is a pretentious idiot.

Radge is a dangerous idiot.

Walloper is a plain old idiot.

This and That of Scottish Slang

A man holding a Scottish flag

Gubbed is not a food delivery service but means tired.

Lecky is a chopped off version of electricity; though usually meaning the bill, not the actual volts.

Dinghied abandoning, ignoring, or leaving someone or something. Similar to ditching. 

Scunnert is when you are fed up, bored, done with life, derived from scunnered. Over it, as the kids would say.

Sleekit is a sneaky bastard.

Swatch is a quick look. 

Teuchter, a general term used by Glaswegian people, refers to Scottish people who don’t share their accent, most widely about those from the Highlands and northern areas. “Wit even is your voice, and ya teuchter diddy.”

Weegie: The rest of Scotland refers to the type of people who say the above. “Wit even is your voice, ya weegie.”

Wheesht is to tell someone to shut up. 

Yaldi, an expression of pure happiness or joy. Yipee, yeehaw!

Collieshangie describes a dispute, row, quarrel.

Nashgab is vicious gossip. 

Carfuffle is when things are in disarray or disturbed.

Beflum using flattering to deceive or for your gain.

Neebs is your friend, derived from neebur (based on neighbor).  

Traditions Come Alive

Three people clinking Scottish whisky together

All of our family traditions are rooted in oral history. Having a little understanding of Scottish slang and phrases helps connect you to your Gaelic heritage. As you browse through our offerings, you can almost hear the words spoken by your ancestors! 

Alba gu bràth!

Scotland forever!

regions in scotland, scottish heritage, Scottish phrases, Scottish words
Haggis: A True Scottish Delicacy
Burns Night, A Scottish Tradition

Related Articles

Fellow Scotsman? Check out some of our products!