English might be Scotland’s official language, but the country also has distinct dialects and regional nuances. They include Scottish Gaelic (spoken mainly in the Highlands and made famous by Outlander) and Scots, the umbrella term for several dialects within the language (which is also officially recognized). And understanding Scottish slang? That’s a whole other ballgame. Here are 20 sayings that only a true Scot will understand.
1. I’m Going to Get My Messages
You’d be forgiven for thinking this means “following up on your correspondence,” but in Scotland, getting your messages means “to go grocery shopping.”
2. Gie It a Shoogle
To gie (give) something a shoogle means to give it a wobble or a shake. Shoogle also gives us the wonderful he’s on a shoogly peg, meaning, “he might not last much longer in a job/relationship/situation.”
3. Let’s Coorie In
Coorie is a Scots word meaning “to snuggle,” so when you say “let’s coorie in,” you’re suggesting a cuddle session.
4. It’s a Dreich Day
Never has a word so perfectly described what has come to be known as traditionally Scottish weather. Dreich means “dreary, cheerless, bleak,” and a dreich day is the kind of day when you don’t want to leave the house. Bonus points for combining with coorie: “It’s too dreich outside, let’s just coorie in.”
5. It’s Drookit Out!
Drookit turns up the dial from wet to soaking.
Peelie-wally is another way to describe being really pale (a consequence of all those dreich days!). The term can also be used to tell someone they seem ill: “You’re looking a bit peelie-wally … are you OK?”
To be puggled is to be exhausted: “I’m fair puggled after running for that bus.”
8. Gie it Laldy
To do something with vigor or enthusiasm. Someone giving it their all on the dance floor might be described as gie-ing it laldy.
9. That’s Minging
If something is minging, it’s disgusting or unpleasant. Minging can run the gamut from smells to tastes to places or even people: “He smelled minging.”
10. Haud Yer Wheesht
Haud yer wheesht is the Scots way to tell someone to be quiet. This can relate to toning down the volume, or to keeping a secret.
11. He Cliped on Me
12. Whit’s Fur Ye’ll No Go by Ye
This phrase literally translates to “what’s for you won’t go by you,” suggesting that some things are best left to the fates.
13. It Wis Hoachin’
Hoachin’ means “to be overrun” with something, so the word can be used to describe a place that’s really busy: “Yon bar was houchin’ like’” (“that bar was really busy”).
14. He Got Skelped
To skelp someone is to hit or slap them: “He didnay hud his wheesht so he got skelped.”
15. Keep the Heid
Ever heard of “keep calm and carry on”? This is the Scottish equivalent. It can also be used when someone is about to lose their temper.
16. Huad On
Haud on is the Scots way of saying “hold on” or “take your time.” It can also be used as a reproach: “Haud on now!”
17. Gie It a Dook
18. Ah Dinnae Ken
19. Oot on the Randan
This is Scotland’s equivalent of going “out out.” Being oot on the randan usually involves alcohol and can sometimes result in mischievous behaviour.