Tag Archives: Word of the Week

Word of the Week

Hogmanay (hog’ma-nay):

The last day of the year, when children traditionally went from house to house asking for presents. It also refers to a small cake given to children on New Year’s day.  More recently it has become a raucous New Year’s Eve party in many Scottish cities.

Usage:  The traditional Hogmanay includes “first footing,” welcoming a tall, dark stranger at the stroke of midnight. First-footers should bring a gift such as uisge beatha “water of life” (Scotch, it’s a drink, not a nationality *snort*), a lump of coal, or a bannock, a simple oat cake. This tradition reaches back to the Viking era, when the blond, blue-eyed Vikings brought only bad luck to whomever they visited. Today groups of friends gather and visit other friends. Whichever party you join this year, look out for the accent on the final syllable of today’s word.

Suggested Usage:
If you would like to add a bit of innovation in your end-of-the-year greetings, try “Merry Christmas and a Happy Hogmanay!” for a change. If you go to the Hogmanay street party in Edinburgh or Glasgow, though, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to hear you.

The sense of “Hogmanay” corresponds to that of Old French aguillanneufau gui l’an neuf! “(kiss) under the New Year’s mistletoe.” Others speculated that “hogmanay” itself comes either from the Anglo-Saxon haleg monath “holy month” or Gaelic oge maidne “new morning.” “the last day of the year, new year’s gift.” In modern French dialects it survives as “aiguilan,” “guilané,” and “guilanneau” but in Normandy it is “hoguignettes” or “hoguinané,” whence it probably invaded Scottish English. The French term survives today in the phrase au gui l’an neuf! “(kiss) under the New Year’s mistletoe.” Others speculated that “hogmanay” itself comes either from the Anglo-Saxon haleg monath “holy month” or Gaelic oge maidne “new morning.”

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Word of the Week

lucky bag:barbie-lucky-bag

A bag containing sweets and a cheap toy or gift, as bought by children from sweetie shops.  The point is, the purchaser doesn’t know exactly what is in the bag until it is opened, and the term is often used to disparage something the speaker doesn’t think much of:

“That’s some mobile phone you’ve got there;  get it in a lucky bag, did ya?”

* I suppose the American term for this is Crackerjack box.

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Word of the Week

Scheduled from last Saturday…


Another word for well off, rich or has money, this is also a descriptive term meaning full of the cold, having a runny nose, sore head etc:  Aw ya poor soul, ye’re loaded.  Away hame tae yer bed wi’ a hot lemsip.”

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Word of the Week


To miss yourself is not to somehow become aware of the absence of your body, but to fail to experience something enjoyable through not being in the right place at the right time: “Ye missed yerself not comin’ on Saturday … it was a right good night.”  (i.e. you missed out.)

If you are angry with someone and you are telling a third party exactly what you will do when you catch the offender, you might say Ah’ll no miss him or, in its fuller form, I’ll no miss him an’ hit the wa‘.

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* * * * * * *

In Memoriam: Dr. L. M.,  M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
5 Mar 1957 — 28 Oct 2008
He will be missed.

Word of the Week


For some reason the name of this traditional filling for pies or accompaniment (ground beef) for totties has been borrowed by the dialect for a variety of reasons.

It can mean nonsense or deliberate untruthfulness: “That’s pure mince you’re talking.”  “Do they expect us to believe this mince?”  Another meaning is anything nasty or dirty:  “What’s this mince on the sleeve of ma coat?”

It is taken as a measure of density, whether of the brain or another substance:  “The guy’s as thick as mince.”  Some people refer to a pint of Guinness as a pint of mince.  A person who seems very quiet or downcast, may be told they are sitting there like a pun (pound) of mince.”

To sicken someone’s mince is to spoil something for him or deflate him:  “It didnae half sicken his mince when he didnae get that bonus.”

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My First Ever Poll

The Question of the Century…

The poll will be open till midnight Tuesday MST.  The results are anonymous, so vote how you feel.

Word of the Week


The phrase at the back of can mean two things:  The most common is in reference to time, where the back of an hour is the period just after it.  “Ah’m meeting them at the back of four.”  There is no set length to this period but it would probably not extend past twenty minutes:  “Ye were meant to be here at the back of nine and it’s half-nine already.”

The other use is to mean behind:  “She left her motor at the back of Woolies.”

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Word of the Week


A shy is a throw-in in a game of football:
“The big donkey’s last shot was that far off the mark it went out for a shy on the other side.”

To shy the ball is to use it in a throw-in:

“He shied it right inty the goalmouth.”   Hear it.

Word of the Week


Used to introduce the subject of remarks that immediately follow:
“See that wummin doon the stair? Talk aboot ignorant!”

This is a useful device for people who like to break in a subject gradually rather than breenge straight to the point:
“See that guy wi’ the baseball hat? See his dug? See where it does its business? Shouldny be allowed.”

See if is used to introduce a question seeking information:
“See if Ah ask yer pal fur a len a his lawnmower, with he gie it tae me?”
“See if Ah’ve tae tell you again, Ah’ll tan yer arse.”

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Word of the Week


This can mean bin: “The bucket is all that’s good for.”

To bucket something is to throw it out, reject it as not good enough: “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t just bucket this essay?”

A bucket can also mean a large amount of alcohol: “You must’ve had a right bucket last night to end up in a state like this.” Someone who regularly drinks heavily may have it said of him that he takes a good bucket.

If the weather is said to be bucketing it down (or bucketing down) it’s forcefully inclement; like the sky is pouring down buckets of water (on Scotland, typically).

If something or someone has kicked the bucket it means it has died or the gadget no longer works: “Would ye look at that! My radio just kicked the bucket.”

If someone asks, “What’s wrong with his bucket?” Rather than enquiring about the state and upkeep of his garden and household instruments he means what’s wrong with his dour face. Dour (rhyming with moor) means gloomy or sullen. This question is usually taken to be rhetorical.

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