Explore your world
'Floating Heads' in Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow
'Floating Heads' in Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow | © Rick Harris /Flickr

30 Phrases and Words You'll Hear in Scotland

Picture of Tori Chalmers
Updated: 15 March 2018

The Scots are notorious for having a way with words. Let’s be honest – there is nothing more braw than the sing-songy tones of a Scottish voice. Although the accents change dramatically depending on the region, the people of Scotland always say it like it is. So, haud yer wheesht and have a wee gander at some words and phrases common among the lads and lassies of Scotland.

Get tae

Get tae translates as ‘get to [insert f-word here]’ but some may just simply utter ‘get tae’ and the point will still be quite clear. This is a popular Scots saying that can be used when a person is irritated and would like the other person to leave. Additionally, it can also be used in a sarcastic manner if the person in question can hardly believe their eyes.

Wur tearin’ the tartan

Those who can be seen ‘tearin’ the tartan’ are engrossed in riveting conversation. In other words, they are having a right old blether.


Blether is a grand Scottish word that simply means to chat away. The act of talking, speaking, and gossiping would all be considered blethering.


Shan means unfair. If someone were to cut in front of the queue or a bacon roll only had half a piece of bacon inside, then it would be fair to describe the scenario as being ‘well shan.’


The word radge is used appropriately when referring to someone who is a tad rambunctious or loopy. For instance, ‘he’s a radge’ would suggest that he is as mad as a hatter. Similarly, ‘that’s well radge’ is used if something is utterly crazy or even unfair.

Haud yer wheesht

‘Haud yer wheesht’ means to ‘be quiet’ or ‘shut up’. It is good to haud yer wheesht when seeing a play, in court, or in any other scenario that calls for the sweet sound of silence.


Braw is a classic Scottish slang word. Oor Wullie, in the iconic Scots comic strip, frequently uses this word. It means brilliant, great, fantastic, and all things nice. Someone may have braw banter or the view may be braw.


Ah, tidy. The Scots love this word. Tidy means beautiful, stunning, delicious, fantastic, outstanding, lovely, pretty, bonnie – the list goes on and on. This word can be used when referring to good food: ‘that’s well tidy scran’ or a beautiful woman: ‘that lass is pure tidy’.


Scran is a popular Scottish word for food. If food taste delicious, then some may describe it as ‘well tidy scran’.


If someone is testing your patience with words that hold no meaning, then that person may be a balloon. This implies that the person in question is ‘full of air’ and has thoughts of no real substance.


If someone is looking a wee bit peely-wally, then it may be a good plan to visit the doctor. The word peely-wally means pale and can be used if someone doesn’t have much of a tan or if they look as white as a sheet and are not feeling 100%.


If a person were to chore your stuff, then this would be bad news. To chore something means to steal, nick, or nab anything that belongs to someone else.


Typically, a chum is a friend or close acquaintance. To the Scots, it also means to accompany someone somewhere. For instance, if you would like a friend to go with you to get some good food, the phrase ‘will you chum me to get some well tidy scran?’ would be appropriate.


Messages in Scotland are not necessarily cryptic words of wisdom hidden in a bottle. Instead, messages are supermarket or grocery items. ‘Will you chum me to get the messages?’ means ‘will you accompany me to the supermarket to grab some food?’.


In England, the word rubbish or bin is used to describe the device where you dispose of unwanted waste and recyclable items. The Scots favour the word bucket for such a contraption.

Fizzy juice

A fizzy drink or fizzy juice is a carbonated drink that Americans refer to as a soda.

Aye right

‘Aye right’ is a great phrase and is used when expressing feelings of sheer disbelief. It suggests that the person or matter in question may not be entirely accurate or believable.

Yer heid’s full o’ mince

It is not ideal to have a heid full o’ mince, as it implies that the words that come out of a person’s mouth are, quite frankly, nonsensical.


If a person is totally reeking, then they are generally in a state of extreme intoxication due to an excessive amount of alcohol.


To go ‘out on the skite’ means to go on a night out filled with fun festivities at clubs, pubs, bars, or parties. Many people are reeking after a night oot on the skite.


The word munter does not have the most endearing of meanings. It is used to refer to a person who may not exude the socially constructed definition of beauty.

Skedaddle aff

To skedaddle somewhere means to scurry away or venture to another place. Skedaddle aff can be used as a way to say ‘on you go’ or ‘leave me alone’.


It is no lie that Scotland can experience all four weather seasons in one day. For the days that are drab and grey, dreich is a braw word.

Yon’s a right chancer

A chancer is a person who takes risks and is typically a wee bit cheeky; they may not be too trustworthy. For instance, ‘watch out for that one, yon’s a right chancer’.


The word bampot can be applied to someone who doesn’t necessarily make the wisest of choices in life. Bampots tend to be unstable in nature and are not always the most likable of folk. However, it should be noted that some bampots can be rather amusing.

Mony a mickle maks a muckle

There is a lot of truth in the saying ‘mony a mickle maks a muckle’, which means that, at the end of the day, small amounts of money add up and eventually lead to a pretty penny.


If something is rank, then it is absolutely disgusting and vile. It is probably best to steer clear from anything that is rank.


Ah, beware of those who like to spraff. If someone is spraffing across town, then they are gossiping a load of rubbish to people left, right, and centre.


In Scotland, the word pie does not necessarily mean a delicious type of food. If a person ‘pies you’, they ignore you and your chat. Pie-ing someone is pretty shan.

Pure barry

If something is pure barry, then it is generally utterly wonderful and fantastic.