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Don’t know nick from neebs? Don’t worry, Everything Edinburgh has your east coast and Scottish lingo down. As well as Scottish words and meanings, we’ve thrown in phonetics and examples so you can try the phrases for yourself and get a feel for them in context. Trigger warning, there are sweary words! Let’s get to grips with some of the popular and peculiar Scottish slang words that your gran used to say and some words you might just hear on your holidays.
Scottish Slang Words Used Every Day
Alright Hen/Pal (Awrite)?
A question asking if you are OK
North American expat in Scotland’s take:
Instead of saying a normal greeting, folks in Scotland just assume everything is fine in your world and sort of demand it of you.
Alright, hen (Scottish word for girl) or pal (Scottish word for friend)?
… instead of
Hi how are you?
Good thanks, and you?
Booty, bum, ass. Opposite of fanny.
Body part or insult.
Sit on yir arse.
This is Bum the Dog which sits in Princes Street Gardens.
He’s not an arse, just a Bum.
Is Everything Edinburgh worth a read? Aye.
A Scottish word for great. Also a man’s name.
That was a Barry laugh.
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Scottish for beautiful, used more by the older generation.
What a bonnie lass (girl).
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It’s a braw day in Auld Reekie.
To steal something.
Chored a glass from Hard Rock Cafe.
Said every basic person.
Clean your trainers (sneakers). You look clarty.
Good, excellent, really positive.
Something can be class or look class.
Wow, Gemma looks class.
Describe something favourably.
That tune is decent.
A gaff is relatively new as the dictionary of Scottish words go.
It means a house party thrown by a kid when their parents are out.
When I was younger this was called an empty.
Here is the Scottish comedian, Kevin Bridges, talking about an empty.
Yes it’s a man’s name and Barbie’s boyfriend but in Fife, on the east coast, it’s also used at the end of a sentence for “you know”?
Traffic was bad on the bridge, ken like?
Edinburgh folks mock Fifers for their use of ken and the additional word ‘like”.
Dirty or disgusting.
*Dips fries into the milkshake*
Going to Waitrose for my messages.
Said no one, ever.
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Yir trews (trousers) are mocket.
Nae bother (Nay Bother)
Alternative to “not a problem at all” or “no worries”.
Nae bother, hen.
Scottish for no.
Is haggis an animal? Naw.
Maybe associated more with the west coast of Scotland? Tell me in the comments below.
To steal or the state of something.
He nicked ma phone!
Check the nick of Ronan.
This is actually pretty hard to define.
Oh! That’s really positive or oh, ouch!
Usually used to describe someone or respond to something.
Ronan faceplants on Victoria Street.
Oft! That’s gonna hurt.
Insults thrown like bullets.
Ronan’s getting pelters in this post.
Scottish word for face but usually said in a negative way.
Wipe that smile off yir puss.
Salt ‘n’ Sauce (Salnsawce)
Condiments of choice on chippy chips in Edinburgh. Alien to the west and rest of Scotland.
You want salnsawce on your chips?
The Scottish word for tired. You can be scunnered, scunnered of something or scunnered of someone.
Ronan is scunnered of Gemma’s pelters.
A shame or calling someone or something a shame.
I can’t make it to the party.
Homework is due Tuesday.
You’re shan, miss. (Gemma worked in an Edinburgh school when this was The word of the season).
Ronan’s steamin and singing karaoke. Again.
Tea and Teatime (Tee-time)
Your tea is your dinner. Teatime is around 5-8pm.
As the saying goes…
In Glasgow they’ll say, do you want some tea?
In Edinburgh, they’ll say, ye would ‘av had your tea then!
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A question asking what are you up to?
What yi upty the night?
Scottish Terms of Endearment
Much of the following Scots slang has dual meaning so while some words are used in a loving manner, they can also be used negatively.
So, if you are wondering how to insult a Scottish person there isn’t a clear answer.
You need to consider the context in which it is said!
Scottish slang for a child/baby.
Tell the bairn to come in for their tea.
This is a Scottish nickname which changes depending on whether you are on the east or west coast of Scotland.
In the west, locals say wean (way-ne), believed to be a contraction of ‘wee yin’, wee meaning small and yin meaning thing?
A term of endearment and/or an insult…depends on context.
Och yer a wee bawbag!
Something good, bad or sore.
Cruel Intentions, The Musical at the Fringe was a belter.
I banged ma heid a belter!
Person who makes a silly decision. Scottish word for idiot.
That Ronan is such an eejit.
Scottish word for Dad or Father.
I am yir Faither ~ Scottish Darth Vader.
Woman or girl. Used endearingly or in a patronising manner.
Mostly used over the Firth in Fife.
Short for neighbour.
Historically a girl’s name.
Today no one in their right mind would call their daughter fanny as spelled out by an Irn Bru advert!
A fanny is similar to an eejit and bawbag but more closely aligned to a fud because it is the name for a woman’s private parts.
Starting to see a theme here? We need to reclaim that bit in-between our legs!
It’s also what our North American friends call a bum.
Now you know why we’re laughing.
Ronan is such a fanny.
A woman’s private parts or a noun.
*Insert name of Prime Minister* is a fud.
Poo. Faeces or an insult.
One of the best words in the Scottish language.
Also one of the funny Scottish words that kids learn first.
Ronan is a jobby.
Scottish slang for crazy.
Ronan is a rocket.
Other Useful Scottish Slang Phrases and Terms
Auld Reekie (Owld Reek-ay)
Edinburgh’s nickname which means ‘old smoky’ from its historic coal fires, although some tour guides and locals say it refers to how smelly the city’s sewage system (or lack of it) used to be.
An event where people fling/throw each other about and call it Scottish country dancing.
Let’s go to the Ghillie Dhu Friday night ceilidh!
At the ceilidh, to ask someone to dance you say:
Then am dancin.
This is not a Scottish word for party, however.
Many Scots don’t actually attend ceilidhs unless they are at a wedding or forced to learn it at school.
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Edinboro! Edinburg! Naw!
If you really want to impress locals, arrive having rehearsed how to say the city’s name.
Say it with me…
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Harry Potter (Hairy Pottur, think Minerva McGonagall)
A character from a series of books by an English author who was spellbound by Scotland.
Did you see the Harry Potter shop in Edinburgh?
Eh, which one?
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Leith (Leeth/Leef depending on class)
Leith, a neighbourhood in Edinburgh by the Shore which features in The Proclaimers song, Sunshine on Leith.
Also the name of The Proclaimers inspired-movie.
While I’m worth my room on this earth
I will be with you
While the Chief, puts sunshine on Leith
I’ll thank Him for His work
And your birth and my birth
Yeah, yeah, yeah
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North American pals! Be ready and be aware that the ‘c’ word is prevalent in Scotland.
Oh ya c…
You’re a c…
It’s a c…
He’s a good c…
I’m a c…
I was c…ed
I c….ed my head
That c… (aggressive)
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