Here’s a bumper collection of Scots words, phrases and expressions I’ve been posting on Facebook since my last blog.
As a wee treat, over the next couple of weekends, I’m recalling those peculiarly Scottish children’s games, ones from both the school playground and the great outdoors.
What inspired the kids’ games was walking on Southwick Hill, near my home, which has some cracking slopes and reminded me of games of best/dead man falls from my childhood. I played that game with my brothers and every other kid in our neighbourhood in Dreghorn, Ayrshire, for hours on end.
Our slope of choice was known as Half-Cut Hill and was simply a giant mound of earth left over when the builders putting up the New Town houses for families like us who had moved from Glasgow. It seemed much more exotic than that tho!
This was a game in which the weans were inspired by the endless war movies shown on the box in the 60s and 70s, and those boys’ comics such as the Victor and Commando that were essential reading in our house. And as it required nothing more than your imagination, the ability to fall brilliantly and a bit of grass, it was one everyone could play.
Best/dead man falls In this game, the executioner stands at the bottom of the hill. Participants at the top of the hill request their form of execution; eg: grenade, machine gun, cannon. The executioner fires, then the wean thrown him or herself down the hill in dramatic fashion. The best man’s fall wins!
Kiss, cuddle or torture This was simply a game of chases involving boys and girls, usually in the school playground. When caught, the boy would offer the girl a choice: kiss, cuddle or torture. IMHO a game for sadists/masochists – I hated it!
Beds (or peever as it was known to our parents and grandparents) Essentially a game of hopscotch, beds involved a chalked-out grid on the pavement with numbered boxes and a tin or big stone that had to be moved from box to box while the participant hopped. Simple fun!
Het n: the person who is ‘it’ during a game, usually of chases. Eg: Right, Senga, you’re het – everybody, RUN!
Wabbit adj: tired, worn out, lacking energy. Eg: These summer days are lovely but they fair leave me feeling awfy wabbit by teatime
Flittin’ v: to move house. Eg: Them next door must be flittin’, there’s a big van ootside and their couch is in the garden
Nicky Tam’s n: a peculiar style of tying string below the knee to keep your trousers above your shoes or boots, particularly favoured by farm workers. Eg: Oor Boab went out withoot his Nicky Tam’s and got coo shit all ower his breeks
Shiricking (or shericking) n: a particularly vocal telling-off. Eg: I bet Andy Murray got a right shiricking aff his mammy after his tame surrender to Nadal yesterday
Stank n: a drain, specifically those in the street. Eg: It’s bloody typical – I dropped my keys as I got out the car and they fell right down a stank
Stooshie n: an altercation, a commotion, fuss. Eg: Let’s hope today’s strikes cause more than a stooshie in Downing Street
Numpty n: stupid or foolish person, idiot. Eg: You’re such a numpty, why can’t you take a bloody telling?
Redd v: to clear a mess, sort out. Eg: I’ve been putting it off but it’s time to redd out that cupboard, it’s a shambles
Jeely piece n: a jam sandwich (piece is colloquial Scots for a sandwich. Eg: You cannae fling pieces oot a 20-storey flat …
Toorie n: a hat or cap, usually woollen. Eg: The legends that were Fran and Anna aye wore their toories at a jaunty angle
Hansel v: to give a good luck gift. Eg: My mother would always hansel a new purse or wallet for someone by placing a coin inside it for good luck
Smirr n: very light rain, the sort that soaks you to the skin while hardly appearing to fall at all. Eg: I didnae bother with a coat cos it was only a bit of smirr but I’m like a droont rat noo
Dauner v: to wander, stroll, walk in an aimless fashion. Eg: I’ve got heehaw on today, I’m gonnae take a wee dauner round the shops
Foostie adj: mouldy, putrid. Eg: Don’t eat that cheese, it’s aw foostie round the edges
Skelf n: a splinter; also colloquially used to describe a skinny person. Eg: My finger is loupin*, I’ve got a bloody skelf stuck in it
Howk v: to dig out, excavate. Eg: You’d better howk thay weeds oot afore they’re the only thing left in the gairden
NB: Farms used to employ ‘tattie howkers’ for the potato crops, many of whom came from Ireland for the regular summer work
Jotter n: exercise book, particularly for school children. Eg: Mum, have we any old wallpaper left so I can cover my new jotter?
NB: “To get your jotters” is also a colloquial expression for being sacked
Bawbee n: money (derived from the old Scots coin that eventually became a halfpenny and immortalised in the song Coulter’s Candy). Eg: Ally bally, ally bally bee, sittin’ on your mammy’s knee, greetin’ for a wee bawbee, tae buy some Coulter’s candy
Bahookie n: backside, bum. Eg: Watch ye don’t skite on that floor or ye’ll go on yer bahookie
Mockit adj: filthy, dirty. Eg: The ktichen floor is totally mockit after the pups trailed their dirty paws aw ower it
Snash n: backchat, cheek, abuse. Eg: Don’t gie me any mair o’ yer snash, I’ve had it up to here wi’ ye
Bidie-in n: live-in partner, common-law wife/husband. Eg: Aye, thon yin’s his bidie-in, the pair o’ them are shameless so they are
Skliff v: to strike with a glancing blow; to walk without lifting your feet. Eg: Debbie nearly went on her bahookie when Abbie, running at full pelt, skliffed her as she hared past
Cuddy n: horse (usually a small, working one but generally used to mean any horse). Eg: The mutts were on their best behaviour when we passed a field full of cuddies this morning
The expression ‘skoosh case’ which means something that is very easy. Eg: I thought training Alfie would be a skoosh case but that wee bandit is helluva thrawn
Steamie n: public laundry. Eg: The hoose is like a steamie wi’ aw that holiday washing hinging up
Humph n: hump. Eg: Get aff ma back, yer like a humph
The expression ‘yer arse in parsley’ which is usually given as a response of disbelief to someone’s claim or statement. Eg: You’ve been chosen for the Olympics, Senga? Och, yer arse in parsley
Chanty* wrassler n: an unreliable person; a chancer. Eg: See you an’ aw yer big talk, yer nothin’ but a chanty wrassler
NB: a chanty is a chamberpot. Other than that I have absolutely no clue as to how this expression came about!
Courie in v: to snuggle, cuddle. Eg: Kate has spent the weekend trying to persuade Alfie the puppy to come for a courie in but he is having none of it
Slitter v: to drop food down one’s self. Eg: Och what a mess you’ve made – you’ve slittered yer dinner aw doon yer shirt
Puggie n: kitty, bank in a card game, fruit machine. Eg: Gie the weans aw yer smash* so they can go play the puggies on the pier
*Smash is small change
The expression ‘pass remarkable‘ which means to be critical or judgmental of a person. Eg: You’re helluva pass remarkable for someone wi’ big lugs and a face like a well-skelpt arse
Lug n: ear. Eg: That wean’s got some set o’ lugs on him, like a taxi wi’ its doors open
Sheugh n: ditch, trench, gutter (also slang for butt crack!) Eg: They were oot hiking when Boab slipped into a sheugh and had to hirple all the way home
Hirple v: to walk with a limp, to hobble. Eg: Kate was hirpling after a tough walk along the pebbles on Shoreham Beach today
Breeks n: trousers. Eg: The wean tore a hole in the erse o’ his breeks when he went skiting down the hill on his bogey
*Loupin’ adj: sore, painful