Scotland is a nation rich in traditions, customs and homespun words of wisdom! With our at-a-glance guide to Scottish sayings, you’ll soon feel at home.
Pronounced crack, is a Scots word for news or gossip. So if anyone asks you ‘What’s the craic?’ you can tell them you’re coming to Bonnie Scotland for summer school in the beautiful capital, affectionately nicknamed ‘Auld Reekie’.
Literally translated as ‘Old Smokey’, this nickname references the days when Edinburgh’s tenements were heated with coal, and chimneys filled the air with black smoke. Happily, Edinburgh today ranks among the cleanest cities in Europe.
Lang may yer lum reek
Staying on the topic of smoke, Lang may yer lum reek is a popular Scots Hogmanay blessing. Although the literal translation is ‘long may your chimney smoke’ the implied wish is that you will never be without fuel for the fire. At Hogmanay it’s traditional to visit the homes of families and friends (known as first footing since you’re among the first guests of the New Year) and share this blessing, and guests may even bring a piece of coal as a symbol of your future prosperity!
Auld Lang Syne
Perhaps the most famous Scots phrase of all, Auld Lang Syne is sung at Hogmanay and on special occasions to reaffirm friendships and settle grudges. The title means ‘a long time ago’, and the Burns favourite urges us to leave the past in the past and behave kindly to one another.
Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye
As you can tell, Scots like to impart some pearls of homespun wisdom wherever possible, and this one is a favourite that most Scots have heard from their grandparents at one time or another. It translates as ‘What’s for you will not pass you by’ and is intended to offer comfort when an opportunity doesn’t work out.
Of course, readers of this blog have too much gumption to miss out on all the great opportunities that summer studies abroad has to offer. Loosely translated as intelligence or common sense, to have gumption is to recognise a good thing when you see it.
Glaikit, on the other hand, refers to stupidity or ignorance: “Och, he’s a bit glaikit.”
If you heard someone calling you glaikit, chances are you’d also end up being a bit crabbit, or grumpy.
A visit to Scotland is more likely to leave you feeling braw (great) than crabbit, but for many Scots the dreich weather is cause for complaint. Recently topping a list of favourite Scots expressions, dreich describes weather that is grey and wet. Thankfully, the days are long and the summers warm, but if the weather is dreich you can at least rely on a warm welcome.
In Scotland, that warm welcome usually includes a blether (meaning a pleasant conversation) and – if you’re lucky – a wee nip of whisky, our national drink.
Gie it laldy
Whether you’re studying, exploring, relaxing or partying, our advice for your summer in Edinburgh is to gie it laldy. Literally, give it all you have, and Scotland will reward you with an unforgettable experience.
Haste ye back