Scot's Word of the Week - Archive page 1

Use the links below to navigate to the previous Scot's words of the week....

Words found on this page:


meaning angry

This week's word , Beelin, is derived from the word 'boil'. It has two meanings:

  1. very, very angry
  2. A boil or pus filled spot

This is quite a topical word of the week, since many residents of Edinburgh are Beelin at the moment about the disruption and damage to the city caused by the G8 related protests!

Quotes that involve this week's word include:

"Ah never goat ma check fae the broo, ah'm fair beelin, so ah um"
Translation: I didn't receive my unemployment benefit ('broo') cheque and I am very angry about it!

"If ye nock yer maws washin aff the line she will be Beelin"
Translation: If you knock your mother's washing off the clothes line she will be furious.

"a went ta the docter wi a beelin finger"
Translation: I went to the doctor with an infected finger.

A related phrase that we are also adopting this week is an excellent one to use when describing something that you find very annoying and leaves you beelin:

Rips ma knitting!

It literally means, 'rips my knitting'. I don't know the origins of this phrase but perhaps it comes from the idea that if you are knitting and are very angry you are likely to knit very tight stitches which could cause your knitting to rip.

back to top

Mawkit / Mockit (alternate spelling)

meaning Filthy.

This weeks word (pronounced 'mock-it') is a word used to describe anything that is dirty or unclean in some way. For example:

"Your simmit is puir mawkit, so it is."
(Translation - "Your string vest is very dirty")

One character renowned for his mawkit simmet is Rab C Nesbitt the fictional Glaswegian from the TV show of the same name. This programme was a very popular parody of everyday life in Glasgow with a host of eccentric characters. The show was hilarious and very popular north of the border, although it didn't do so well in England where many struggled to understand the strong accents.

Mawkit is one of a whole host of excellent Scot's words for dirty. Other examples are:

  • Manky, Clarty, Foosty (means dusty or mouldy), Smoutie (covered in soot)...
  • Minging ~ Very dirty. Can also be used as a word for ugly (a very ugly person would be called a minger) or bad tasting as in "This food tastes minging".
  • Bowfin/bogging - literally so horrible/dirty it makes you sick.
  • Rank - really really smelly/dirty.

Mawkit may also be used to mean obscene or lewd, but this is not the most common usage of the word.

back to top


meaning wobbly, unstable, shaky or trembling

This lovely little example of the Scots vernacular can be used in a wide range of applications. If something is described as 'Shoogly' it means it's wobbly or unstable. For example:

"Stick a beer mat unner the leg ae that table Shuggie ,it's awfy shoogly"
Translation: Stick a beer mat under the table leg Hugh*, its very wobbly"

To give something a 'Shoogle' is to give it a little nudge or a shake. For example:

"Don't shoogle the ladder!" and "Give me a shoogle if I fall asleep"

In Glasgow the old tram cars were known as the 'Shooglies' because of the bumpy ride, and a final use of this weeks word is in the Scots phrase:

"His jacket's on a shoogly peg"

Which means that the man in question is likely to get fired from his job!

Note: The male name Hugh is abbreviated to Shuggie in Scots (since Hugh looks like Hug, its not a big leap to Shug and then Shuggie). This way of changing men's names is quite common in Scotland, with other examples including Sandy (abbreviation of Alexander) and the very confusing interchangeable use of Ian and John (because Ian is the Gaelic for John).

A jelly is a very shoogly type of food. Next time you are eating jelly, give it a wee shoogle and you will see what we mean!

back to top


meaning ditch, furrow, gutter

This weeks word is the Scots word for a ditch or furrow, and example of which would be the ditch at the edge of a country road. You would not want to drive carelessly and end up parked in the sheugh!

A note about pronunciation....

The pronunciation of this word is complicated, but if you say Sh- as in shoe and add -uff as in Puff you will be close! The key is to get the right sound at the end of the word. This is something that Scots people love to torment foreigners with, but being an immigrant from the foreign lands of Englandshire I can say it perfectly well so it is possible! Its the same sound at the end of the word Loch (meaning land locked lake), where the -ch is a breathy noise (not unlike what the French do when saying words like soleil for example). If you will excuse the nasty description, its the same as if you are trying to get rid of mucus in your throat. You make the same sound, just gentler and on an exhaled breath. Mastery of this key Scots sound will allow you to pronounce many Scots words (like Sheugh) just like the locals! (and not saying 'lock' instead of 'loch' which is how the uninitiated say the word much to the amusement of the Scots people).

Back to the issue at hand!

The primary function of sheughs (or ditches) is to drain the land, but they are also amongst the most valuable landscape and wildlife features on the farm. They are home to many wild plants as well as a range of animals, birds and insects. Sheughs should be managed not only as drainage channels but also as valuable wildlife habitats. This word appears in "The Battle of Sherramuir" by Robert Burns.

back to top


meaning tangled, knotted, in a mess, confused...

"Fankle" originates from the Gaelic word "fang" for a sheepfold (which is a type of knot). It can have a number of meanings but the most common is tangled or knotted. Example of the correct use of the word is:

"Ah wis gonny take the wean fishin, but the nylon's in a pure fankle"
(English Translation: I was going to take my child fishing, but my nylon (fishing line) is too tangled)

As a noun, it can also be a state of confusion or muddle headedness. Its also a great way to describe that feeling you get when you are so stressed that you can't think straight, or if your thoughts are so disorganised that you can't make sense of them. Examples of this are:

"Dinna get yourself into a fankle" (Translation: Don't get yourself into a mess/state of confusion or stress induced panic).

"yer heids in a fankle" (Translation: You are very confused) is another excellent phrase that might use this word.

Some very closely related Scots terms include Fouter, and Guddle. A Fouter is a word for a fiddly or troublesome job, such as sorting out your knitting wool if it's in a fankle. A Fouter can also mean a fidgety person who won't sit still, and to 'Fouter aboot' is to wander around without much aim or direction fiddling with things or doing small tasks as you go along. This is something you might do if your heid's in a fankle. A guddle (at least in my family) is another word for a mess, or to describe the state of being in a mess. To be 'in a guddle' is to be in a mess for example "Your room's in a guddle" (your room is untidy) or "my papers are all in a guddle" (my papers are messed up). It would be accurate to say you are 'in a guddle' if you are trying to fix a right fankle. Another interesting phase is "Dinnae fash yersel!" which is a wonderful way to tell someone to calm down, to not get upset about something, and to generally not get themselves into a fankle over something.

back to top


verb: always used with 'To go' or 'to do' (ones dinger) means to have an outburst of rage or excitement

This weeks vernacular delight is 'dinger' which is always used in conjunction with 'to go' or 'to do' i.e. 'to go yer dinger' or 'to do yer dinger'. It means to have an extreme outburst of rage or excitement, although it usually means the former. For example, when you finally loose your temper and let loose all of your bottled up anger by screaming, stamping your feet or throwing things, it is correct to say you are doing your dinger.

I have been known to do my dinger on the phone whilst trying to deal with a numpty on my bank's deceptively titled 'help' line. Road rage is also a good example of what a person doing their dinger might look like.

back to top


meaning clothes dryer

This word is a peculiar Scot's word common in Ayreshire, but not really anywhere else. It is used to describe the sort of indoor clothes drying contraptions that most grandmothers seem to own. The reasoning behind the formation of this word is simple. A dyke is a low stone wall where you might hang your washing out to dry in the summer months. In inclement weather (which is common in Scotland not only during the winter months) you would hang the clothes indoors, hence 'Winterdyke'.

It turns out that the Winterdyke is an extremely 'green' or environmentally friendly device. It is estimated that 75% of the pollution and energy consumption associated with clothing comes from the laundering of it. If you want to make your weekly laundry a 'greener' process, try using a winterdyke instead of the tumble dryer (but only if you don't mind crispy feeling socks)

back to top


meaning fool (pronounced 'Numb-tea')

Note: Numpty, and the other insults in this entry are not actually offensive. They are most often used in an affectionate or humorous way. The Scots have far better words and phrases for people they truly wish to insult, but none of them can be printed here!

This weeks word is one I can really relate to, I am a numpty most of the time. Numpty is a wonderful Scots word which is used to describe any sort of stupit (stupid) person. A Numpty may well just sit there looking glaiket when you try to explain something to them for the tenth time. You are never more than 3 people removed from the nearest numpty, take a look around you and you are sure to find one!

Some dictionary meanings of Numpty are given below:

  • Someone who (sometimes unwittingly) by speech or action demonstrates a lack of knowledge or misconception of a particular subject or situation to the amusement of others.
  • A good humored admonition, a term of endearment
  • A reckless, absent minded or unwise person
  • "Silly billy", "You big dafty"


"No. That wisnae wit I meant, ya big numpty!" (Translation: 'No that wasn't what I meant you silly fool!')

"That numpty's driving with no lights on!"

"Away an bile yer heid ya numpty,ye dinnae ken whit yer talkin aboot" (Translation 'Get lost! You have no idea what you are talking about!'

Note: "Away an bile yer heid" is a wonderful phrase which can be used whenever you want to tell someone to 'get lost' or 'go away' it literally means 'Go and boil your head'. It is usually the best thing to say to a numpty who is bothering you.

Related Words

The Scots language is full of words for great words for idiots, some of my favourites are below.

  • Tube - A fool, one of limited sagacity Pronounced tchoob
    Example: Away ya tube, ye've goat two odd shoes oan!! (Translation 'Get away (and change) silly, you're wearing odd shoes!')
  • Gomeril - A tube, a stupit person.
  • Bampot - a bampot is a person who is clumsily idiotic.
  • Eeejit - an idiot

For more examples of the Scottish Vernacular, I have found these website to be very useful:

An online English-American dictionary which includes Scots insults
A dictionary of (mostly) modern-day Scots words

back to top

Just for fun

A little peek into the lighter side of life within the Heriot-Watt Waves & Fields group.

Word of the Week: