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20 Words from Scotland


  1. Blatant
    The word ‘blatant’ was first used in the sixteenth century by Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queen to describe a monster, and by the seventeenth century it was generally used to mean ‘clamorous’ or ‘noisy in a vulgar way’. From the nineteenth century, the word started being used to mean ‘obvious’. Some sources suggest that Spenser may have used ‘blatant’ as a variation on the Scots word ‘blatand’ (meaning ‘bleating’).

  2. Caddie
    Caddie’ is the Scottish form of the French word ‘cadet’. It took on its meaning as a ‘golfer’s assistant’ in the nineteenth century.

  3. Canny
    The word ‘canny’ is a Scottish formation of the verb ‘can’ (i.e. ‘know how to’) and is used to describe someone who is ‘knowing’ or ‘shrewd’. It dates back to the seventeenth century.

  4. Clan
    Clan’ derives from the Gaelic word ‘clann’, which means ‘family, stock, offspring’.

  5. Cosy
    The word ‘cosy’ (or ‘cozy’ if you’re American!) is an adaptation of the word ‘colsie’ which existed in eighteenth century Scottish dialect. ‘Colsie’ possibly has Scandinavian roots.

  6. Firth
    Firth’ is a Scottish word for the ‘estuary of a river’. It comes from the Old Norse word ‘fjörðr’ – which is also where the word ‘fjord’ derives from.

  7. Glamour
    Glamour’ is an eighteenth-century Scottish word meaning ‘magic’ or ‘enchantment’. It is a variation of the word ‘grammarye’ – click here to read our blog post on the word ‘grammar’!

  8. Golf
    The word ‘golf’ comes from the sixteenth-century Scottish word ‘gouf’.

  9. Gumption
    This Scottish word first came into use in the eighteenth century, and is still used today. It started being used in the nineteenth century to describe a quality attributed to someone who showed ‘initiative’.

  10. Laddie
    This Scottish term of endearment to describe a boy or young man first started being used in the sixteenth century.

  11. Lassie
    Lassie’, on the other hand, wasn’t first recorded until the eighteenth century.

  12. Loch
    Loch’ is a Gaelic word which means ‘lake’.

  13. Minging
    The word ‘minging’, meaning ‘bad smelling’ or ‘unpleasant’, possibly comes from the Scots dialect word ‘ming’ which refers to excrement.

  14. Pernickety
    Pernickety’ comes from the Scottish word ‘pernicky’.

  15. Plaid
    This Scottish word, first used in the sixteenth century, is perhaps related to the Gaelic ‘plaide’ which means ‘blanket’.

  16. Raid
    Raid’ was first used in the fifteenth century as a Scottish word for a ‘military expedition’, and comes from ‘rade’ meaning ‘a riding, a journey’.

  17. Rampage
    This word was first used in eighteenth-century Scottish as a verb meaning ‘rush wildly’ (usually in reference to animals).

  18. Tweed
    This material was originally produced in Scotland. Its name came about as a misreading of the word ‘tweel’ (‘twill’), possibly due to an association with the River Tweed.

  19. Wee
    The word ‘wee’ is used in Scotland as a synonym for ‘little’.

  20. Wraith
    The word ‘wraith’ means ‘ghost’ and was first used in sixteenth-century Scottish.

Why not practise spelling these words by clicking here?

Have a good week!

Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary and Oxford English Dictionary


18 Sep 2014
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