Global Language and World Culture
Scottish proverbs and sayings

Scottish proverbs and sayings

Scottish proverbs and sayings
Scottish proverbs and sayings

Scottish proverbs and sayings, the old and popular wisdom of Scotland and its people, with some typical Scottish words and definitions explained.

Take care of your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves.
Scottish proverbs

The day has eyes, the night has ears.
Scottish proverbs

Give more holiday to your tongue than to your head.
Scottish proverbs

The devil’s boots don’t creak.
Scottish proverbs

There never came ill of good advisement.
Scottish proverbs

They are good that are away.
Scottish proverbs

They talk of my drinking but never my thirst.
Scottish proverbs

Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.
Scottish proverbs

Be happy while you’re living, For you’re a long time dead.
Scottish proverbs

Be slow in choosing a friend, but slower in changing him.
Scottish proverbs

Proverbs of Scotland
Proverbs of Scotland

Better be ill spoken of by one before all than by all before one.
Scottish proverbs

Learn young, learn fair; learn old, learn more.
Scottish proverbs

Little folk are soon angry.
Scottish proverbs

Luck never gives; it only lends.
Scottish proverbs

A man is a lion in his own cause.
Scottish proverbs

A Scottish man is wise behind the hand.

A Scottish mist will wet an Englishman to the skin.

A tale never loses in the telling.
Scottish proverbs

Never draw your dirk when a blow will do it.
Scottish proverbs

Never let your feet run faster than your shoes.
Scottish proverbs

Never marry for money. You can borrow it cheaper.
Scottish proverbs

Get what you can and keep what you have; that’s the way to get rich.
Scottish proverbs

Scottish old wisdom
Scottish old wisdom

What may be done at any time will be done at no time.
Scottish proverbs

When the cup is full, carry it even.
Scottish proverbs

Willful waste makes woeful want.
Scottish proverbs

Egotism is an alphabet of one letter.
Scottish proverbs

Fools look to tomorrow. Wise men use tonight.
Scottish proverbs

Open confession is good for the soul.
Scottish proverbs

Confessed faults are half mended.
Scottish proverbs

Old Scottish Sayings

Ah dinnae ken. – I don’t know.

Ah umnae – I am not.

Am a pure nick – I am not looking my best.

Am pure done in – I am pretty tired.

Auld Lang Syne – old long since” or “old long ago” meaning “days gone by” and when sung at New Years really means “let’s drink to days gone by.

Aye, Right!! – When you answer to something really unbelievable

Black as the Earl of Hell’s Waistcoat! – the colour Black.

Dinnae marry fur money! – It’s cheaper in the long run to borrow money than marry for it.

Dinnae teach yer Granny tae suck eggs! – Stop teaching someone something they already know.

Do yer dinger. – Showing disapproval.

Failing means yer playin! – Trying and failing, but at least you are trying.

Gie it laldy. – Doing something with energy or inappropriateness.

Gonnae no’ dae that! – Don’t do that.

Haste Ye Back! – Return back with speed – said as a farewell.

Haud yer wheesht! – Shut up.

Scottish sayings and proverbs
Scottish sayings and proverbs

Hell slap it intae ye! – It is your own fault.

I’ll gie ye a skelpit lug! – I’ll hit you on the ear.

I’m fair puckled! – I’m out of breath.

I’m going to the pictures – I’m going to the cinema, once known as the picture house

Is the cat deid? – Has the cat died? This means your trousers are too short, similar to “is your budgie/parrot dead?”

It’s a dreich day! – A miserable, cold, wet day in reference to the weather.

It’s a braw bricht moonlit nicht the nicht – It’s a good (or brilliant), bright, moonlight night tonight. Truth is, it’s very rarely used.

Keep the heid! – Keep your head or stay calm.

Lang may yer lum reek! – Literally meaning long may your chimney smoke, this is typically a toast to one’s health, wishing one lives long and healthy.

Ma heid’s mince – My head is mince, meaning I’m a bit confused.

Mony a mickle maks a muckle! – Small amounts of savings soon build up to large amounts.

Noo jist haud on! – Now just hold it, take your time, you’re speaking too fast.

Pure dead brilliant – Amazing.

Scran – food.

She’s away for the messages – She has gone to get the grocery shopping

She’s up tae high doh – She’s stressed and flustered – ‘doh’ being the high musical note

Skinny Malinky Longlegs! -A tall and skinny person.

Speak o’ the Devil! – When someone you are speaking about shows up.

T’ Auld Yin – The old one.

That wid gie yi the boke – That would make you sick

That’s gee-in me the boak – That makes me feel sick

The baw is up on the slates – Game over – the ball is up on someone’s roof

We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns! – Everyone is God’s children, nobody is better, everyone is equal.

Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye! – What is for you will not go by you, meaning, what will be, will be.

Whit dae ye cry thon yin? – What do you call that one?

Yer aff yer heid – You’re off your head – crazy.

Yer a chancer! – You are pushing your luck

Yer lookin a bit peely wally – You look pale or ill

Yer bum’s oot the windae – You are lying or exaggerating.

Yer oot yer face! – You’re extremely intoxicated from the effects of alcohol.

Scottish words and definitions
Scottish words and definitions

Scottish Words and Definitions

Aye: Yes.

Bairn: child

Bampot: Either and idiot or a character of a shady disposition

Belter: extremely good

Blootered: Drunk

Boggin: Disgusting

Boke: Sick

Bonnie: beautiful

Brae: hill

Braw: Good, good-looking, handsome

Canny: Cannot

Clatty: disgusting

Clipe: Tell tale

Crabbit: Grumpy or agitated

Craic: Usually said “good craic” meaning good fun or “what’s the craic” meaning what is happening

Dae: Do

Dafty: Someone who is stupid or an idiot

Dinnae: Don’t

Dreich: a terrific Scottish saying, meaning dull and depressing weather; usually grey and overcast

Drookit: wet

Eejit: Idiot (see ‘Dafty’)

Eh: What or an invitation for someone to respond or agree

Glaikit: Stupid or gullable

Glen: valley

Greet/Greetin: Cry or crying

Hackit: Ugly

Haud: Hold

Haver: Lie

Hoachin: Busy

Hunners: Literally hundreds but usually to describe a large quantity

Jake/Jakey: Someone poor. Used as an adjective, jakey means scummy

Ken: know. “Do you ken what I mean?”

Lad: young boy.

Lassie: girl

Loch: lake

Mad Wae It: Drunk

Mockit: Dirty

Munter: Ugly

Nae: no

Och aye the noo: oh yes, just now. (This phrase is never really used by Scottish people, but it is often used by non-Scottish people attempting to recreate a Scottish accent for reasons best known to themselves)

Patch: Abandon plans, stop

Peely-wally: Not 100%. A bit out of sorts

Puggled: Tired, short of breath

Randan: Causing carnage under the influence

Reekin: Either smelly or drunk

Scran: Food

Scunnered: to be irritated and/or bored with something. “I’m scunnered wae that!”

Skelped/Scudded: Hit

Slàinte mhath: Cheers – here’s to your health. This is a traditional Gaelic toast and is pronounced slan-ge-var.

Sleekit: Sly

Steamin: Drunk

Stoter: Idiot

Swally: Swallow; to have a drink of an alcoholic beverage. “Come in and have a swally!”

Tap: Top

Tattie: Potatoe

Weapon: Dangerous or out of control

Wee: Wee

Whitey: Sick

Winch/Winchin: Kiss

Wopper: Someone embarrassing

Yaldy: Excitement

Yon: That or those

Young Team: Gang of teenagers usually focused aroung council estates/government housing areas

Dictionaries of the Scots Language

Dictionary English Scottish

If you want to find out more about Scotland you can also read:

Scotland history and future

Scotland a great country

Scotland brave and creative

Quotes and aphorisms on Scotland

Scottish proverbs and sayings

Aphorisms and quotes on Scoltand

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