Edinburgh-isms: 10 Funny Scottish Phrases You’ll Hear in Edinburgh

Funny Scottish Sayings

No-one wants to get lost in translation on their holidays. And here in Scotland, English can sometimes sound like an entirely different language altogether. So to help you make the most of your time here, we have put together this helpful guide to getting to grips with our jokes and local lingo. Here are ten funny Scottish sayings and phrases you will more than likely encounter during your stay with us.

1. Ah Right Pal?

First things first, let us start with an everyday greeting. We Scots have long been famed for our friendly people and exceptional hospitality. So the most common greeting you will hear on the streets of Edinburgh has to be, “Ah right pal?” Loosely translated, it means, “how are you friend?” or “is everything alright?”

Man sitting outdoors and waving to someone

2. This Is Rank!

From one extreme to the next, “rank” is another word to describe something disgusting, vile or hideous. So if something is said to be rank, we recommend steering clear of it.

Woman giving something the thumbs down

3. That you?

After finishing a delicious meal, your waiter will more than likely ask you if “that’s you?” In other words, “is that you finished with your meal?” You may also hear the phrase after a person has completed a specific action or transaction for you. For example, after purchasing tickets to a show, the ticket seller may exclaim, “that’s you”. Which pretty much means the transaction is complete and you have everything you need to continue with the rest of your day.

Guys enjoying a round of beers and a plate of chips at the local pub

4. Nae Bother

Once you have finished eating your meal or purchasing your tickets, and you wish to thank the person who assisted you, they will often respond to your gratitude with “nae bother”. Or in other words, “it was no problem”.

Man in checked shirt making an OK symbol

5. Going For Your Messages?

While our first four funny Scottish sayings are not too difficult to understand given the right context, the next few require just a wee bit of imagination. Like “Going for your messages”. Which has nothing to do with collecting the post or listening to your messages, and everything to do with going to the shop to pick up your groceries. While it might be a bit archaic nowadays, it is not uncommon in more traditional parts of the city.

Basket of groceries on a shop counter

6. Lang May Yer Lum Reek

Loosely translated to, “Long may your chimney smoke,” this odd expression has nothing to do with telling you off for smelling foul (or dare we say it, rank). It is in fact a well-wishing desire for you to live long and stay well.

Old style chimney pots on a roof in Edinburgh

7. Black As The Earl of Hell’s Waistcoat

This delightfully rich and descriptive phrase is so much more colourful than its intended meaning – “pitch black”. It is one of our favourite funny Scottish sayings and a true testament to our rich literary past.

Pitch black sky over Edinburgh street at night

8. Mony A Mickle Maks A Muckle

Not to be outdone by the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat, “mony a mickle maks a muckle” is an old wise saying that means small savings add up. And when you think about it, it all makes perfect cents.

Pile of coins on a table

9. Your Scratcher

After a long day touring the city and visiting Edinburgh’s many beautiful and historic attractions, there is nothing better than the thought of curling up in your scratcher (a.k.a. your bed).

A double bed in Parliament House Hotel

10. Wee, Lass And Laddie

And finally, “wee” “lass” and “laddie” are not funny Scottish sayings or terms of endearment you only hear on the telly. We use them every day. So do not be surprised if someone asks you to take a wee seat, or points to that lassie over there. It’s just the way we talk!

Looking down Edinburgh's Princes Street from Calton Hill

Now that you are an expert in Edinburgh-isms, why not put our funny Scottish sayings and phrases to the test and visit our wee city for yourself? And since we know that mony a mickle maks a muckle, and holidays make yer lum reek lang, we have a range of special offers, affordable accommodation and comfy scratchers right here in the heart of Edinburgh.