Picturing Scotland can conjure up images of rolling green golf courses, tartan kilts, bagpipes or haggis. Scotland is known for all these cultural hallmarks, as well as their unique dialect stemming from English, Scots, and Gaelic. These are the three most common languages spoken in Scotland. Since I arriving in January, I have come to learn and love new lingo.

Glasgow sits between the famous Loch Lomond and Edinburgh, about an hour away from each. This semester, I am an exchange student at the University of Glasgow. Established in 1451, it’s the fourth oldest university in the United Kingdom and is a Russell Group university (similar to the Ivy League). I’m halfway through my time here and have learned a great deal of new words and pronunciations.

For any American interested in visiting Scotland, here is a compilation of commonly used Scottish words that might help to make your transition a little easier. While there are many more, here are some of the most common words:

  1. Wee = small
  2. Aye = yes
  3. Class = great (“That’s class” translates to “That’s cool”).
  4. Mate = friend
  5. “Haud yer wheesht!” = Be quiet!
  6. Wheesht = “Shush!”
  7. Alba = Gaelic word for Scotland
  8. Caledonia = Latin word for Scotland (Caledonian can be used to describe something that is Scottish).
  9. “Getting your messages” = picking up groceries
  10. Peely-wally = This means pale white, but used as “You look sickly.”
  11. Lift = elevator
  12. Petrol = gas
  13. Bogging = disgusting
  14. Taps aff = hot weather (Example: “It’s taps aff out!” – Expression comes from “Tops off” for sunbathing).
  15. Chips = French fries
  16. Crisps = potato chips
  17. Bird = girl
  18. Birded up = got a girlfriend
  19. Lassie = girl
  20. Bonnie lass = pretty girl
  21. Hen = girl (Hen means “girl” in an endearing way. I have heard it typically used by older women in the way Southern grandmothers would say “sweetheart”).
  22. Bairn = child
  23. Did ye, aye? = This is a sarcastic way of asking, “Oh sure. Did you really?”
  24. Mingin = repulsive
  25. Craic/What’s the craic?= [pronounced “crack”] means either fun or gossip; Irish origin.
  26. Ah = I
  27. Ken = to know
  28. Ah dinnae ken = I don’t know
  29. Bruv = the Scottish equivalent of “Bro”
  30. Cannae = cannot
  31. Dug = Dog
  32. Edi = Edinburgh (Like how people shorten Tuscaloosa to T-Town)
  33. Int it no = isn’t it?
  34. Kelpie = Scottish legendary mythical creature that looks like a horse
  35. Knackered = tired
  36. Scran = food
  37. Barras = market (This comes from how people used to bring their wares in wheelbarrows to sell at the market).
  38. Sweets = candy
  39. Haggis, neeps n tatties = This is the traditional Burns night supper! Haggis is sheep organs cooked inside of a sheep stomach. Neeps is turnips. Tatties is potatoes. All this is typically served with gravy–and is delicious!
  40. Burns Night = January 25th is the celebration of Scots poet Robert Burns. There is a celebratory ceilidh.
  41. Ceilidh = Folk dance in a social hall; More common than you might think on a university campus. I see a lot of them as fundraisers put on by student clubs.
  42. Auld = old (“Auld Lang Syne” was written by Robert Burns in Scots).
  43. Tartan = the proper word for plaid. Each Scottish clan is identified by their own family tartan.
  44. Sweltering = very warm out
  45. Mòran taing = “Many thanks” in Gaelic
  46. Glaswegian = a person from Glasgow

I hope this list helps you understand the locals a little better if you come to Scotland. I cannot recommend Glasgow enough and hope you get the chance to see it!