Top 5 Friday: Speaking Scottish.

on November 25, 2011 in Scotland, TOP 5 FRIDAY with 21 comments by

TOP 5 FRIDAY is when we each list five of our favorite things, depending on the topic. Feel free to join in via the comments or by posting on your own blog and linking back here. Play along. It’s Friday.

. . . . .

One question I kept getting from friends in America before I got home is, “do you sound Scottish?” and the answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. I can’t do a Scottish accent for the life of me.

But the funny thing is, and I think I’ve told you this before, even though I can’t do a Scottish accent with my mouth, the girl in my brain who tells me everything to write? She has a Scottish accent. [I know. I’m a freak. But I tell myself every story and I just write what I hear. That girl in my head… well, she’s a Scot.]

There are a few terms that I brought back with me- not to be cool and international or anything, but mainly because I like the British/Scottish saying so much.

. . . . .

So here they are…. my TOP 5 ADOPTED SCOTTISH SAYINGS!

1. “I’m pure gutted.”

There really isn’t anything in the American language that expresses the emotion of “gutted.” It’s when things go bad, or not the way you wanted, but you’re not absolutely devastated. It’s when you lose, say, a chili cookoff, after working long and hard on a delicious homemade chili.

And, just for your kicks and giggles Americans, the way it is said is “gah-tted.”

2. “Hi-ya!”

Sure. I could just say “hi,” but “Hi-ya!” is much friendlier, if you ask me. And it’s not like a karate chop – HI-YAAA! It’s more like a nice little greeting – Hi-yuh. My Nash-friends may hate this one, I’ll let you know how it goes.

3. “He is a properย musician, not just the kind that knows the basics of playing an instrument.”

This may be my favorite. I love inserting “proper.” Even calling something a “proper good time” feels like a better explanation of the experience. Just writing about this one is making me smile. [I am such a freak.] [Seriously.]

4. “That soup was absolutely lovely.”

My friend Leigh Ann [American living in Scotland] says that she describes food as “lovely” even when she lives in the USA. I’m not sure. One of the weirdest things about living in another English speaking country is that sometimes you forget which words belong in which country. So pardon me if you are American and “lovely” as a way to describe the look or taste of food is part of your vernacular. But it wasn’t for me [that I can remember, anyways].

5. “I’m knackered.”

There are a few different meanings for this word, and the slimiest characters would use it inappropriately. But all my friends, and most normal Brits, would just use “knackered” to refer to being ridiculously tired. Totally spent. Like, worn out. But something about being “knackered” makes me feel like my body is super exhausted but not my mind. You know what I mean? Of all the terms I’m keeping, this will be the hardest to really adopt. But I’m going for it.

. . . .

This blog post is QUOTATION MARK heavy and I cannot promise you or your grammar teacher that I used them all correctly. Forgive me when necessary.

I miss Scotland.

. . . . .


Do you have a favorite [favourite] British term or two? Or do you have a saying from another country that you’ve adopted into your own?


  1. posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 6:51 AM  |  reply

    I say “hi-ya” all the time. I don’t know why. I know no one from Scotland. So if I ever meet you in person, “Hi-ya, Annie!” it will be.

    (Still waiting on the tickets to go on sale!)

  2. Face
    posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 7:02 AM  |  reply

    Czech favorites:

    Fakt jo!
    Sounds like the F-bomb, but means, “Really?” or “Is that true?” We use it as often as possible.

    Can mean ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘excuse me’, ‘I need your attention’, etc. Just throw in a ‘prosim’ and you’ll get what you want.

    Glad you’re safe & sound at home. Hug the South for me.

  3. Katie
    posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 7:37 AM  |  reply

    When I worked at a London law firm one summer in law school one of my favorite British terms was “peckish” as in hungry. Took me a while to figure out what it meant but I love it. Also loved the “proper” term. One of my important legal duties was learning how to make a “proper” cup of tea for clients.

  4. posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 9:11 AM  |  reply

    I describe things as “lovely” quite often but who knows? Maybe that’s the influence of Jane Austen and her like.

  5. posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 9:18 AM  |  reply

    I’m a “hi-ya” girl, too. No one in my life has vetoed my usage…yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 9:47 AM  |  reply

    ah! I love bringing back fun little phrases. Oh and I use the word lovely all the time to refer to all sorts of things =)
    The phrases I still use from Africa are:
    1. Haibo–like an exclamation can vary from being excited to shock to yikes…all depends on how you say it =)
    2. Eish–means like “oh no…”
    3. Shame–similar to saying “bummer” or “that’s too bad”

    • posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 2:08 PM  |  reply


      LOL Katy, were you in South Africa?

      I’m South African and yes, it’s true. Those are all things we say regularly.

      • posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 9:44 PM  |  reply

        Yes! I lived there for a year and miss it like crazy!! Where do you live in SA?

  7. posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 9:47 AM  |  reply

    I say “brilliant” and “lovely” all the time.

    And when I read Jane Austin, I think in a British accent for weeks.

    I’ve always said I’d sound like Madonna if I moved to the U.K. and all my friends would disown me. I’m such a chameleon.

  8. posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 11:32 AM  |  reply

    I love the British meaning of “brilliant” or “brill.” I definitely picked it up when I lived there. Another favorite was “muppet,” which was basically the opposite of “proper,” from what I understand. I rowed while I was there and usually heard it when referring to rowers, so I’m not sure if it is used in other contexts. “Look at those muppet rowers!” Love it!
    And one more: Love. As in, “Here ya go, Love.” It’s like the Southern “Hon,” but men say it and it’s not at all creepy.

  9. posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 1:33 PM  |  reply

    I love the use of the word “brilliant”; and I am trying to figure out how long I need to live in Scotland until I feel comfortable adopting it. ๐Ÿ™‚ And Sat Nav instead of GPS has already been adopted.

  10. posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 2:25 PM  |  reply

    I love it ๐Ÿ™‚ I say lovely all the time, as a term of endearment “hi lovely!” I brought lots of phrases back from Paris but I don’t use them outloud that often because, well, most people don’t enjoy me randomly speaking French! Apparently that’s kind of pretentious?
    “pas grave” – no big deal (technically “ce n’est pas grave”)
    “on y va!” – let’s go! I usually do this very energetically, like I’m herding cats
    I still find myself thinking about 40% in French on a given day

  11. posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 3:18 PM  |  reply

    My husband says a very South African Scottish thing to say is “Hen” or “Pet” as a term of endearment. Strange because we didn’t hear one person say Hen or Pet to us while there! Ha!

    When we went to Ireland, there were a few things we found interesting.

    Where we’d say “fair enough” they say, “ah, fair play”

    “I’m gasping for a cup of tea” – I’m dying for a cup of tea ๐Ÿ™‚

    “bold” for naughty (children)

    and then “I’m after my keys” (or something like that) means “i’m looking for my keys”

  12. posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 7:15 PM  |  reply

    “ta” = thank you
    “cuppa” = cup of tea
    “luv” = any person, male or female in the vicinity whom you either need to impress or most likely beg a favo(u)r
    “steady on” = calm down, wait a minute
    “reckon” = think… but used by the cool hipsters, no rednecks allowed ๐Ÿ˜‰
    “hey” = like the Canadians say “eh” or others say “oy!” … the Brits add an “h”: “Do you reckon we should go to the party, hey?”

    other than that, drop the “r”s and “t”s and make “th”s become “f”s
    “party” becomes “pah-ee”
    “fifty” becomes “fih-ee”
    “thirty” becomes “fir-ee”
    “thinking” becomes “finkin'”
    you get the drift. London is so fun – the accents crack me up daily ๐Ÿ˜‰

    *miss you xoxox

  13. Logan
    posted on Nov 26, 2011 at 4:53 PM  |  reply

    it LOVE when gordon ramsey (the british tv chef) calls women and little girls “my darling”. it comes out sounds like “daaahling” not to be confused with the southern us darling we all know. ๐Ÿ™‚

    ps- i knew an(american) guy years ago who thought he invented “brilliant”. he heard someone else say it one day and said “oh what, is EVERY one saying brilliant now??!?!” and i wanted to smack him.

  14. posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 1:25 PM  |  reply

    After watching P.S. I Love You for about the 3rd or 4th time I decided that I would do almost anything for a man who would call me “Louhve” which is how I spell Luv, because the Scottish one seems to have a bit more breathy H in the middle than Luv would imply.

    I too say Lovely all the time!

  15. posted on Nov 29, 2011 at 1:23 PM  |  reply

    Three months in the states and the “rubbish bin” shall now forever be the “trash can” – I get ridiculed every time I say it.
    Something which completely didn’t translate stateside was “cheeky” – as in insolent or humorously rude.
    “Gutted” is possibly one of the most useful adjectives!!

  16. Kathy Nace
    posted on Nov 29, 2011 at 10:49 PM  |  reply

    “Scunnered”.I spent a summer in N. Ireland at age 19, and when you were completely consternated, aggravated, or beside yourself, that is what you said. I also loved “An’ would ye like a wee drap o’ tay in her han’?” (the offer of a cup of tea) Then there was, “Shut yer beak or I’ll gie ye a skelp!” I believe this one is self-explanatory!

  17. posted on Nov 30, 2011 at 10:19 AM  |  reply

    The one I like most is using “that” at the end of sentence.

    Great shot, that!

    Incredible view, that!

  18. posted on Nov 30, 2011 at 12:57 PM  |  reply

    I saw “andiamo” all the time, which means “let’s go” in Italian. I also call my cat “bambina” because that’s what my dad calls his cats. Also, if I’m going to swear, it’s going to be in Italian. Their swear words are much more fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Italian dad + summer abroad = really weird Italian-English sayings.

    I also called elevators “lifts” for the longest time when I got back from the UK.

  19. Anna
    posted on Dec 07, 2011 at 2:48 PM  |  reply

    “Dodgy” It maybe more British than Scottish but I love that word. We had a student live with us for a year who was from Great Britain. He told my husband that all the wires behind the tv/Tivo/dvd player were dodgy.

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