Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Don’t know nick from neebs? Don’t worry; Everything Edinburgh has your East Coast and Scottish lingo down. In addition to Scottish words and meanings, we’ve thrown in phonetics and examples so you can try the phrases for yourself and get a feel for them in context.

Trigger warning: There are sweary words; this article is supposed to be lighthearted and created for education and entertainment.

Now, let’s learn some popular and peculiar Scottish slang words that your grandmother used to say and some words you might hear on your holidays (vacation).

Join my free Scotland Facebook group to ask questions about your trip to Scotland.

Scottish Words Used Every Day 

Alright Hen/Pal (Awrite)?

Scots take:

A question asking if you are OK

North American expat in Scotland’s take:

Instead of saying a standard greeting, folks in Scotland just assume everything is fine in your world and demand it of you.

Alright, hen (Scottish word for girl) or pal (Scottish word for friend)?


… instead of

Hi, how are you?

Good thanks, and you?

Colington Tunnel Mural People Group Print Edinburgh_

Arse (Ahrs)

Booty, bum, ass. Opposite of fanny.

Body part or insult.

Sit on yir arse. 

This is Bum the Dog, which sits in Princes Street Gardens.

He’s not an arse, just a Bum.Bum dog statue

Aye (Eye)


Is Everything Edinburgh worth a read? Aye. 

Dugald Stewart Calton Hill Edinburgh

Barry (Bah-ray)

A Scottish word for great. Also, a man’s name.

That was a Barry laugh.

Performers on Royal Mile Edinburgh Festival Fringe_

Bonnie (Bohn-ay)

Scottish for beautiful, used more by the older generation.

What a bonnie lass (girl).

Fancy taking the family to Edinburgh? Here’s our kid-friendly guide.


Something nice.

It’s a braw day in Auld Reekie.

Arthurs Seat Edinburgh Walk Park

Chore (Ch-ore)

To steal something.

Chored a glass from Hard Rock Cafe.

Said every basic person.

Waverley Mall Edinburgh Shopping

Clarty (Clahr-tay)


Clean your trainers (sneakers). You look clarty.

Class (Class) 

Good, excellent, really positive.

Something can be class or look class.

Wow, Gemma looks class.

Meadows Park Cherry Blossom Gemma pink hat

Decent (Dees-int)

Describe something favourably.

That tune is decent. 

Silent Adventure Disco Tour Edinburgh_

Gaff (Gah-f)

A gaff is relatively new as the dictionary of Scottish words go.

It means a house party thrown by a kid when their parents are out.

When I was younger, this was called an empty.

Here is the Scottish comedian Kevin Bridges talking about an empty.

Ken (Ken)

Yes, it’s a man’s name and Barbie’s boyfriend, but in Fife, on the East Coast, it’s also used at the end of a sentence for “you know”?

Traffic was bad on the bridge, ken like?

Edinburgh folks mock Fifers for their use of ken and the additional word ‘like”.

Queensferry Crossing bridge (on the right) over the Firth of Forth with the older Forth Road bridge (on the left) and with the iconic Forth Rail Bridge. Edinburgh. Transport

Manky (Mahn-ki)

Dirty or disgusting.

*Dips fries into the milkshake*

You’re manky!

Messages (Mess-aj-ays)

Food shop.

Going to Waitrose for my messages.

Said no one, ever.

Read next | Definitive Edinburgh restaurant guide.

Edinburgh. shopping trolley full of groceries along a supermarket aisle. Irn bru. Food

Mocket (Maw-kit)


Yir trews (trousers) are mocket.

Nae bother (Nay Bother) 

Alternative to “not a problem at all” or “no worries”.

Nae bother, hen.

Naw (Gnaw)

Scottish for no.

Is haggis an animal? Naw.

Maybe associated more with the west coast of Scotland? Tell me in the comments below.


To steal or the state of something.

He nicked ma phone!

Check the nick of Ronan.

Oft! (Ohh-ft) 

This is actually pretty hard to define.

Oh! That’s really positive, or oh, ouch!

Usually used to describe someone or respond to something.

Ronan faceplants on Victoria Street. 

Oft! That’s gonna hurt.

Pelters (Pelt-urs)

Insults thrown like bullets.

Ronan’s getting pelters in this post.

Puss (Puhs)

The Scottish word for the face is usually said negatively.

Wipe that smile off yir puss.

Salt ‘n’ Sauce (Salnsawce)

Condiments of choice on chippy chips in Edinburgh. Alien to the west and rest of Scotland.

You want salnsawce on your chips?


The Scottish word for tired. You can be scunnered, scunnered of something or scunnered of someone.

Ronan is scunnered of Gemma’s pelters.

Shan (Shahn)

A shame or calling someone or something a shame.

I can’t make it to the party. 

That’s shan.

Homework is due Tuesday.

You’re shan, miss. (Gemma worked in an Edinburgh school when this was The word of the season).

Steamin (Steam-in)


Ronan’s steamin and singing karaoke. Again. 

Tea and Teatime (Tee-time)

Your tea is your dinner. Teatime is around 5-8pm.

As the saying goes…

In Glasgow, they’ll say, do you want some tea?

In Edinburgh, they’ll say, ye would ‘av had your tea then!

Upty (Up-tae)

A question asking: what are you up to?

What yi upty the night?

Royal Mile Edinburgh Piper

Scottish Terms of Endearment

Much of the following Scots slang has dual meanings, so while some words are used lovingly, they can also be used negatively.

So, if you are wondering how to insult a Scottish person, there isn’t a clear answer.

You need to consider the context in which it is said!

Chessels Court Ivy Heart Royal Mile Edinburgh

Bairn (Bay-rn)

Scottish slang for a child/baby.

Tell the bairn to come in for their tea.

This Scottish nickname changes depending on whether you are on the east or west coast of Scotland.

In the West, locals say wean (way-ne), believed to be a contraction of ‘wee yin’, wee meaning small and yin meaning thing.

Street Art Baby Police Hat Edinburgh

Bawbag (Baw-bahg)

A term of endearment and an insult…depends on context.

Och yer a wee bawbag!

Greyfriars Bobby Statue Edinburgh

Belter (Belt-er)

Something good, bad or sore.

Cruel Intentions, The Musical at the Fringe was a belter.

I banged ma heid a belter!

Eejit (Eeej-it)

A person who makes a silly decision.

The Scottish word for idiot.

That Ronan is such an eejit.

Faither (Fay-thir)

The Scottish word for Dad or Father.

I am yir Faither ~ Scottish Darth Vader.  


Woman or girl. Used endearingly or in a patronising manner.

Alright, hen?

Rain. Edinburgh. Pub

Neebs (Nee-bs) 

Mainly used over the Firth in Fife.

Short for neighbour.

Alright, neebs?

Forth Rail Bridge. Sunset. Night

Scottish Insults 

Fanny (fan-ay)

Historically, a girl’s name.

Today, no one in their right mind would call their daughter fanny as spelled out by an Irn Bru advert!

A fanny is similar to an eejit and bawbag but more closely aligned to a fud because it is the name for a woman’s private parts.

Starting to see a theme here? We need to reclaim that bit in between our legs!

It’s also what our North American friends call a bum.

Now you know why we’re laughing.

Ronan is such a fanny.

Fud (Fu-ud)

A woman’s private parts or a noun.

*Insert name of Prime Minister* is a fud.

Jobby (Job-eh)

Poo. Faeces or an insult.

One of the best words in the Scottish language.

It’s also one of the funny Scottish words that kids learn first.

Ronan is a jobby.

Rocket (Rocket)

Scottish word for crazy.

Ronan is a rocket.

Other Useful Scottish Phrases and Terms

Auld Reekie (Owld Reek-ay) 

Edinburgh’s nickname means ‘old smoky’ from its historic coal fires, although some tour guides and locals say it refers to how smelly the city’s sewage system (or lack thereof) used to be.

Free things to do in Edinburgh Humes Royal Mile Edinburgh

Ceilidh (Kay-lee)

It is an event where people fling/throw each other about and call it Scottish country dancing.

Let’s go to the Ghillie Dhu for Friday night’s Ceilidh!

At the ceilidh, to ask someone to dance, you say:

Ye dancin’?

Ye askin’? 

Am askin!

Then am dancin.

This is not a Scottish word for party, however.

Many Scots don’t actually attend ceilidhs unless they are at a wedding or forced to learn it at school.

Scottish couple at ceilidh men in kilts

Edinburgh (Edin-bruh)

Edinboro! Edinburg! Naw!

If you really want to impress locals, arrive having rehearsed how to say the city’s name.

Say it with me…


You may also like our Edinburgh gifts guide.

Scotts Monument with piper_

Harry Potter (Hairy Pottur, think Minerva McGonagall)

A character from a series of books by an English author who Scotland spellbound.

Did you see the Harry Potter shop in Edinburgh?

Eh, which one?

Don’t miss these virtual tours of Edinburgh – Potter locations!

Harry Potter Train

Leith (Leeth/Leef) 

Leith, a neighbourhood in Edinburgh by the Shore features in The Proclaimers song, Sunshine on Leith.

Also, the name of The Proclaimers inspired-movie.

While I’m worth my room on this earth

I will be with you

While the Chief puts sunshine on Leith

I’ll thank Him for His work

And your birth and my birth

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Wondering where to stay in Edinburgh? Here are the best areas


North American pals! Be ready and be aware that the ‘c’ word is prevalent in Scotland.

Oh ya c…

Ohsa c…

You’re a c…

It’s a c…

He’s a good c…

I’m a c…

I was c…ed

I c….ed my head

That c… (aggressive)

Fun Edinburgh Gifts

  • Edinburgh colour in book US/UK
  • Gruesome Guide to Edinburgh (Horrible Histories) US/UK
  • IrnBru candle in a glass bottle with soy wax
  • Brewdog candle in beer bottle
  • Edinburgh gifts for Edinburgh fans
Edinburgh gifts

source: https://everythingedinburgh.com/

By Lala