I am compiling a glossary of words and terms to include with the series. Some of these words and phrases are Gaelic. Some are French. Some are English but have fallen out of use or need explaining for non-UK citizens. Some are simply English words as used by Scots. Please contact me if you spot any errors or would like to contribute!
The Glossary Terms
A nighean – maiden, girl
Aboot – about
Abyss – vat of hot wax used in candle making
Afeart – afraid
American War of Independence – what Great Britain calls the American Revolutionary War.
And you’ll let me – if you’ll let me
Apoplexy – stroke
Atepomarus – Celtic deity associated with horses.
Awa’ – away
Aye – yes
Bairn – child
Bampot – higher degree of idiocy than numpty
Bannock – round, flat cake made of oats, typically unleavened
Barrister – lawyer entitled to practice as an advocate, particularly in the higher courts
Bawbag – scrotum
Bawdy House – brothel
Beastie, Mannie, etc – Scots seem fond of diminutive nicknames
Bed Curtains – curtains hung from the bed canopy
Bedchamber – same as bedroom
Bell – call a stag makes when he is rutting
Bergamot – oily extract from the Seville orange tree used to scent soaps and flavor tea
Bizzum – difficult or irritating woman
Blackguard – person who behaves in a dishonorable or contemptible way
Blether – talk idly
Bollocks – testicles
Bonnie (Bonny) – attractive, beautiful, pretty
Brae – hill
Braw – fine, brave
Brawling – fighting
Breeks – breeches or britches cut off just below the knee
Burn – stream
Burr – dialect with a rolling r
Caithness – Northeastern most county of Scotland
Canny – having good judgment, also can mean pleasant or nice
Carter – person who drove carriages
Chemisette – similar to a camisole, worn to be visible beneath an open-necked gown
Cheviot – breed of sheep prized for their wool
Chivalry – code of conduct adhered to by noblemen since medieval times
Chuck Farthing – popular children’s rhyme
Clootie Dumpling – dessert pudding made with flour, breadcrumbs, dried fruit, suet, sugar and spice with some milk to bind it, and sometimes golden syrup.
Clotheid – clot head, idiot
Corbies – crows
Couldnae – couldn’t
Countess – wife of an Earl
Crabbit – bad tempered
Crofter – person who occupies and works a small landholding known as a croft, paying rent to the landlord of the croft.
Cuff – to hit someone with an open hand
Culloden – last battle of the 45 Rising in which hundreds of Jacobites were slaughtered.
Daft – crazy
Didnae – didn’t
Dinnae – don’t
Dirk – long dagger carried by Highland warriors
Dobber – slang for penis, akin to calling someone a dick
Dodgy – unsavory or dangerous
Doon – down
Doublet – man’s short, close-fitting jacket
Dreekit – soaking wet
Duke – British hereditary title
Dunrobin Castle – centuries old home of the dukes and earls of Sutherland located on the shore of the Murray Firth just northeast of Golspie
Earl – British nobleman ranking above a viscount and below a marquess
Factor – manager of a large estate
Fashed – worried, dinnae fash yourself – don’t worry about it
Fletching – feathers on an arrow
Gangway – walkway from ship to shore
General Clinton – highest-ranking officer in the British Army during the American Revolution.
General Washington – highest-ranking officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He authorized a plot to kidnap Prince William IV. It failed.
Get a bit of our own back – get revenge
Gie – give
Girth – strap used to keep the saddle in place
Gomeril – idiot
Goodwife – same as wife
Gorse – yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family, the leaves of which are modified to form spines.
Gowans – daisies
Gralloch – ancient prayer of thanks
Guinea – roughly one pound, a handsome sum at the time
Hasnae – hasn’t
Havenae – haven’t
Heid – head
Heiland Charge – battlefield shock tactic in which thousands of warriors would simply run at the enemy screaming. It required a high degree of courage and commitment on the part of the warriors. They often charged in clan clusters. It was very effective, unless used in the face of cannon.
Hessian Boots – tall leather boots fashioned after those worn by Hessian soldiers
Higgledy-piggledy – randomly
Highlander – person who lives in the Highlands of Scotland generally distinguished as the area of Scotland north of the Grampian Mountains.
Is ought amiss – is something wrong
Jacobite Rising – in 1745, Charles Edward Stuart and his supporters attempted to regain the British throne for the House of Stuart. The ultimate failure of the rising led to the dismantling of the clan system in Scotland.
Je ne sais pas – I don’t know
Je t’aime, ma petite – I love you, sweetheart.
Keep – fortified tower usually built in the Middle Ages
Ken – to know, to understand
Kerch – it was customary for married women in Scotland to cover their hair with kerchief or mop hat
Kerfuffled – disturbed, confused
King George III – during his reign, King George III experienced several bouts of what appeared to be madness. While he was incapacitated, his son was made Prince Regent. This is why this particular period in history is called the Regency Era.
Knave – dishonest or unscrupulous man
Livery – uniform for male servants of the house, usually footmen
Loon – teenage boy
Lucy’s Spaniel – Hercules was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, King Charles II having been credited with the breed’s popularity.
Magistrate – like a judge
Mayhap – maybe or perhaps
Midshipman – officer cadet or most junior commissioned officer in the Royal Navy.
Mingin’ – smelly
Mon cher – sweetheart
Mon dieu – my god
Nae – no
Nance – effeminate
Neeps – turnips
No mind – never mind
Nock, draw, loose – act of notching the arrow on the bowstring, drawing the bowstring back, and letting the arrow loose.
Nounou – French term for nanny
Numpty – idiot
Oot – out
Painted Miniature – miniature portrait executed in gouache or watercolor on vellum or ivory popular until the development of photography.
Patrick Sellar – Lady Sutherland’s factor, a ruthless figure in the 19th Century Highland Clearings
Peely-Wally – looking unwell
Peerage – class of people in Great Britain holding hereditary or honorary title.
Pelisse Jacket – A pelisse was originally a short fur lined or fur trimmed jacket that was usually worn hanging loose over the left shoulder of hussar light cavalry soldiers, ostensibly to prevent sword cuts. The name was also applied to a fashionable style of woman’s coat worn in the early 19th century.
Philibeg – (filibeg) small kilt, as opposed to the great kilt.
Plaid – often meaning the wool tartan cloth draped over the shoulder, useful as a cloak or shelter from the elements.
Post the banns or Call the banns – to announce one’s intention to marry by posting it with the church giving anyone ample opportunity to put forward a reason why the marriage may not be lawful.
Pretty Little Pocket Book – popular children’s book of the time
Privy – out House, outdoor toilet
Privy Closet – indoor toilet
Public House – tavern
Qu’ est-que c’est? – what is it?
Queue – hairstyle in which a man’s long hair is gathered into a ponytail or braid. Men often braided their long hair to keep it out of their eyes when working or fighting
Rammie – fight
Red Deer – one of the largest deer species common to Scotland
Redcoat – slang for a British soldier, neither trusted nor appreciated in the Highlands
Reticule – woman’s small handbag
Scairt – afraid
Shift – undergarment like a slip
Shilling – British coin equal to one twentieth of a pound or twelve pence
Sir John Cope – British General who figured early in the ’45 Rising and suffered a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Prestonpans
Skeps – coiled hemp beehives
Sleekit – sly
Sporran – small pouch worn around the waist so as to hang in front of the kilt as part of men’s Scottish Highland dress
Stone – unit of measuring weight roughly equivalent to 14 pounds
Sutherland – county bordering Caithness to the west.
Sweeting – term of endearment, like sweetheart
Tartan – woolen cloth woven in one of several patterns of plaid
Tatties – potatoes
Tawsing – disciplining, usually with a leather strap.
That’ll do – shepherd’s call for the herding dogs to return
Thatched Roof – roof made with straw, rushes, or heather
The noo – now
Ton père veut parler avec vous – your father would speak with you
Tot – shot of whiskey
Vennel – narrow alley between houses
Vien – hurry
Viscount – British noble man ranking above a baron and below an Earl
Waistcoat – vest worn over a man’s shirt and under his jacket
Wean – baby
Wee – small
Wheesht – used as hush, or calm down, or there, there now
White Hart – a rare genetic anomaly in the red deer species, not albino, a white hart is an all white stag.
Wi’ – with
Willie – penis
Willnae – won’t
Willow bark tea – used as aspirin
Yaffin’ – talking