If you’re thinking that the way people speak in Scotland can't be that different from the way they speak in England—it’s the same words, just pronounced differently, right?—well, neeb, how wrong you are.
Sure, English has been Scotland's main language since the early 1700s, but the ancient Celtic language of Gaelic is also still alive and well, as is Scots. While there's long been a debate over whether Scots is a language or a dialect, the UK government officially classifies it as a "regional language." So if you're planning a trip to Scotland, you'd be well advised to learn a few words of it—especially if you'll be spending any time in the Lowlands. And what better place to start than with a handful of slightly naughty terms. So have a swatch below to learn a few Scots insults.
Bawhair is used to determine a very short distance; literally meaning the width of a pubic hair. “That was a bawhair away man!"
To boak is to throw up, or to be very close to throwing up. “Cut that oot you, that’s giein me the boak.”
We all know someone who is clarty (also said as clatty), which is a person of questionable personal hygiene. “He’s a clatty basturt.”
Dobber is a slang word for penis, but more commonly used as an insult. “Shut it, ya dobber.”
Gallus is a way to define that fine line between confidence and arrogance, or something that is otherwise bold or daring. Gallus is often misused as a general term of endearment for literally anything. “Aye I took her out for dinner on Saturday. She’s gallus, man.”
A glaikit is someone who is gullible and/or lacks common sense. “She’s alright, but a bit glaikit."
Heid-the-baw is another word for an idiot. The Scots language is, in fact, full of words for all sorts of specific kinds of iditots, like ...
One step up from a heid-the-baw, a bampot is an unhinged idiot.
A diddy is a spineless idiot.
A fandan is a pretentious idiot.
A radge is a dangerous idiot.
Yep, a walloper is another word for an idiot.
The adjective hackit, meaning haggard or ugly, is most often used in reference to a woman. “Don’t listen to that hackit old bint.”
A jobbie is basically the equivalent of the word turd (not to mention a plague on the existence of anyone named Robbie, as this author can attest).
Ken, meaning to know, is used freely as punctuation, especially in Dundee and on the east coast of Scotland. “Ken whit ah mean, ken? Aye, ah ken.”
Lecky is electricity—though is usually used in reference to a utility bill, not the actual thing. “There’s me having to put a tenner in that lecky again because you’ll no turn yer telly off!”
If something is mawkit, it's disgusting and/or covered in dirt. “C’mere lassie, yer mawkit.”
Neebs are what you call your friends. The word is derived from neebur (derived itself from neighbor). “Aye, nae danger neebs, catch you the morn.”
When you're scunnert, you are fed up, bored, and/or done with life; derived from scunnered. “Aye I’m working tae 5, scunnert wae it neebs.”
Sleekit describes something—or someone—who is sneaky or disingenuous. “Aw they politicians ur sleekit basturts hen, if any ae them shook my hand ah’d count ma fingers eftir it.”
A swatch is a brief look. “That’s gallus man, gies a swatch.”
Teuchter is a general term used by Glaswegian people to refer to Scottish people who don’t share their accent; most widely in reference to those from the Highlands and northern areas. “Wit even is your voice, ya teuchter diddy.”
Weegie is the term the rest of Scotland uses to refer to the type of people who say the above. “Wit even is your voice, ya weegie.”
Wheesht is the equivalent of "shut up." “Gies peace man, wheesht.”
To whitey is to vomit—literally this time—and usually due to alcohol consumption. “Here I’m being thrown out, the bouncer just caught me whiteying in the toilet and he’s no happy.”
Far from an insult, yaldi an expression of pure happiness or joy. “Monday is a holiday? Yaldi!"