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Edinburgh-isms: 10 Funny Scottish Sayings and Phrases You Will Hear When Visiting Edinburgh

Nothing ruins an Edinburgh vacation quite as much as getting lost in translation. That is because here in Scotland, English can sometimes sound like an entirely different language altogether. So to help you make the most of your holidays in Edinburgh, we have put together this helpful guide to getting to grips with the local lingo. Here are 10 funny Scottish sayings and phrases you will more than likely encounter during your stay with us.

1. Ah Right Pal?

Sun breaking through the clouds above Edinburgh Castle and Old TownFirst 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?”

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.

3. That you?

Guys enjoying a round of beers and a plate of chips at the local pubAfter finishing a delicious meal at the MP’s Bistro, 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.

4. Nay 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 “nay bother”. Or in other words, “it was no problem”.

5. Going For Your Messages?

Rooftops of the buildings in Edinburgh's Old TownWhile 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 your more traditional parts of the city.

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.

7. Black As The Earl of Hell’s Waistcoat

St Giles Cathedral light up in the dead of nightThis 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.

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.

9. Your Scratcher

A sign pointing to ScotlandAfter 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).

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 tells you what a beautiful lass you are. Like we mentioned earlier, we Scots are a friendly, accommodating and hospitable bunch.

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.

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