Some Wee Scottish Phrases

Hello, Friends.

And Happy Tuesday!

As an American studying in Scotland, I love discovering the endless depths that the Scottish verbal repertoire has to offer. From greetings, to babies, to insults, sometimes the Scots just say it best.

 Find below a few of my most recent favourite words/phrases.




Wee, quite simply, means small. But in ordinary use, it has about a million uses. One often uses it when asking for something. It makes you feel a bit less assertive if demand "A wee glass of water." Can also be used to describe cute things (the wee puppy!), to express affection (ah, wee lass), and to soften harsh Scottish sarcasm (he's a wee idiot, inne?). Really, any sentence is bettered with the use of wee.



a child or baby

This is the incredibly cute Scottish way of identifying children and babies. You don't have a one year old you. You have a "wee bairn." And, spoiler: wee bairn's with wee Scottish accents melt my wee heart. 



exhausted and/or unwell

Have you stayed up too late writing a paper? Are you a bit fragile after a night on the town? Did you eat something funny? You may be feeling a bit Wabbit (pronounced wah-bit). I learned this one from a local priest who says Sundays always leave him feeling "a bit wabbit." And I knew instinctively exactly what he meant.



dreary, rainy, gloomy

Most often you will hear this word used to reference a "dreich day," which implies that sort of heavy, moody weather that makes you want to curl up, drink tea, and maybe cry about your exes. It's not like a pleasant rainy day, but a dementors-have-descended-upon-this-town sort of day. As it happens, people can be dreich too.



means...literally anything

Cheers is the correct response to any question, statement, greeting, or farewell. You are literally always safe saying cheers. It can be an expression of thanks, a greeting, or an end to a conversation. People really do say it all the time.

The most common use would be in an exchange something like this:

Barista: Here's your coffee.

You: Thanks. Cheers.

Barista: Cheers.

You: Cheers.

Everyone else in the coffee shop from a panicked social reflex: CHEERS.

neep heed.jpg

Ack! Ya neep heed!

*tsking noise*

(turnip head = idiot)

This is how you address a fool (or, rather, a turnip head, as pictured above). Like, say, someone who thinks Kilts are skirts (they're not, you neep heed). It ought to be noted that the Ack! And tsking noise are key to communicating your total and utter disdain. Otherwise, a Scot might think you were fondly insulting them (a well ingrained habit).

 So there you are! A few of my favourite Scottish phrases/words.

I'm sure if any of my actual Scottish friends find this, they will laugh at me.

That's okay.

I'm a wee neep heed. 

Joy Clarkson