Lang may yer lum reek! and other Scottish-isms

I put a challenge to author Cathie Dunn (Highland Arms) to collect some Scottish phrases I could use to amaze my friends at parties.  She went sleuthing and came up with some dandy Scottish conversation stoppers.  Feel free to pick a few and try them out for yourself.  Let me know how far you get. 🙂

Scottish Phrases you might hear in places (Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Scottish Borders)…

I’m no in very gid fettle the day. (I’m not feeling well today.)

Is she no a braw lookin bird.  (Isn’t she a nice looking woman!)

Have ye seen the bairn?  (Have you seen the child?)

When are ye gan hame? (When are you going home?)

I forgot te let ye ken. (I forgot to tell you.)

You wearin your old baffies the day? (Are you wearing your old slippers today?)

Pit yer simmit in the washin machine. (Put your vest into the washing machine.)

Watch an no fa doon that open cunndy. (Watch you don’t fall down that open drain.)

Git me a pun o mince when yer oot. (Get me a pound of mince when you’re out.)

Awa wi ye! (You are kidding me!)

See yer wearing yer bits the day. (I see you’re wearing your boots today.)

Its awfy cauld the day. (It’s really cold today.)

Nice troosers yer wearin. (Nice trousers you’re wearing.)

Pit yer hon there! (Shake my hand!)

Livin above the brush. (An unmarried couple.)

Ah seen it wi ma ane een. (I saw it with my own eyes.)

Fancy a burl in ma car? (Would you like to go for a drive?)

What aboot havin a burl roond the dance flair? (Do you want to dance?)

Fancy gonn fur a donnder? (Do you want to go for a walk?)

I’ve goot a sair heed. (I have a headache.)

She pockled the money. (She stole the money.)

Gees wane o thame! (Can I have one of them?)

Have ye goot any fid in the hoose? (Do you have any food in the house?)

That is reekin! (That smells!)

That’s an auld hoose. (That house is old.)

They stiy in a single end. (They stay in a semi detached house.)

Lang may yer lum reek! (Live long and happily!)

1Highland Arms is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Betrayed by her brother’s lies, Catriona MacKenzie is banished from her Edinburgh home to her godmother’s remote manor in the Highlands. While her father ponders her fate, Catriona’s insatiable curiosity leads her straight into trouble–and into the arms of a notorious Highlander.

Five years after an ill-fated Jacobite rebellion, Rory Cameron works as a smuggler to raise money for the cause–until Catriona uncovers a plot against him and exposes his activities. Now Rory is faced with a decision that could save their lives or destroy them both.

Cathie on the web: • Blog: • Twitter: @cathiedunn

38 thoughts on “Lang may yer lum reek! and other Scottish-isms”

  1. Fit like? 😉

    Fab to see the list posted, Suzanne. Had such fun collating it. Anyone from managers to cleaners in our office were racking their brains. Thanks so much!

    Oh, and… lang may yer lum reek… xx


  2. Hoo’s yersel hen/s ?(How are you tonight, ladies?) Yes, this is interesting Cathie!
    Weel, see heer noo ah fink a’ ken em’ a’. Readin’s fur improvin’ but a wise man gits learnin frae them that hae nane tae themsels.
    (Well, it’s like this. I believe I know all of them. Reading betters you and you can learn something from everybody in this world.
    Dae ye think ah cam up the Clyde in a banana boat? (Are you casting aspersions on my intelligence?)
    Err…I don’t quite speak like this all the time, you know…but maybe another time?


  3. Love it! No wonder I couldn’t understand anyone in the Highlands when I visited over thirty years ago! LOL. From now on I’m calling my slippers baffies. 🙂
    Love the picture of the gent in the kilt.

    thanks for a fun blog.


  4. My husband is of Scottish descent, but I’m sure he wouldn’t understand any of these phrases! I’d love to visit someday, but it looks like I’ll have to take a crash course on the language before I go! Thanks for posting!


  5. Love it!!! I smiled the whole read! Can’t wait to plot my story there and I know just who to ask when me brain feels up to par.


  6. You are incorrect in your interpretation of “Lang may your lum reek. Lum means chimney & reek means smell. What you are wishing someone is that they will always be able to have enough fuel for your fire to keep you & your family warm. I lived in a single end for the first 15 years of my life. A single end is a one roomed flat, in a tenement building. Which the whole family lived in. There would probably be a very small scullery attached which would have a cooker a cold water sink & a coal bunker. You would share a wc on the landing below with neighbours. A semi-detached house would only belong to a middle class / managerial class.


  7. Whit a braw site ye huv here.
    A wis gonnae add awa bial yer heid.

    A saying my gran used was; Awa oot wi ye, behave yer sel an if ye brek yer leg dinnae cum runnin tae me or al gie ye a skep!
    (I’ll leave to you to work out the meaning) lol

    As it’s Hugmanae a’l just say;
    Lang may yer lum reek wi anither man’s coal.

    All the best for 2014


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