Wir Ain Leed

Idioms

Idioms are distinctive expressions peculiar to a language whose meaning is not always determinable from their individual words. Scots is especially rich in such expressions.

A bonnie fechter. An intrepid fighter, a game chicken.
A cadger's curse. A worthless thing.
A fiddler's biddin. A last-minute invitation.
A kent face. An acquaintance.
A’ll big nae saundy-mills wi ye. I’ll not be friendly to you.
A new tout on an auld horn. Old hat.
A tee'd baw. Cut an dry, all sewn up.
A thocht shame tae be seen wi him. I was ashamed to be seen with him.
A tongue that would clip cloots. Talk the hind legs off a donkey.
A tulchan. A stuffed shirt.
A wad liefer dae this as that. I would rather do this than that.
A'll gar ye claw whaur it's no yeukie. I'll give you what for.
A'll see day aboot wi ye. I'll be even with you.
A'm no that faur ben wi him. I'm not so familiar with him.
Abuin yer feet. Beyond one's means.
Aff the fang. Not in the mood, out of humour.
Aff the gleg. Off the mark.
Ahint the haund. In arrears, after the event.
Are you takkin me on? Are you pulling my leg?
As weel suin as syne. The sooner the better.
Atween the wind an the waw. In the horns of a dilemma.
Auld claes an parritch. One's daily routine.
Auld in the horn. Astute.
Aw ae oo. All the same, birds of a feather.
Aw yer pith. With all one's energy.
Awa tae fremd. Gone away from home.
Awbody's body. A sycophant, a sail trimmer.
Aye til the fore. Still be around (alive).
Be at ae wird. Stick to one's story.
Be at the knag and the widdie. Be at loggerheads.
Be at twa. Be at variance.
Be daein wi't. Be content with it.
Be in the wey o. Be in the habit of.
Beck an bou. Curry favour.
Better suin as syne. Better sooner than later.
Birl the wilkies. Turn somersault.
Bou yer hoch. Sit down.
By his wey o't. According to him.
Cadgers is aye crackin on creuk saidles. Always talking shop.
Cauf kintra. Native district.
Caukin the claith afore the wab be in the luim. Counting your chickens before they are hatched.
Caw cannie. Proceed carefully.
Caw the crack. To chat.
Chowk for jowl. Cheek by jowl.
Cleek in wi. Associate with.
Cock the wee finger. Have a tipple (drink).
Come (back) wi the blind cairier. Return only after a long time.
Cowp somebody's hurl. Upset someone's plans.
Crap an ruit. Root and branch.
Creash the luif. To pay, tip or bribe.
Crouse in the craw. Confident in speech.
Cry parley-fummle. Ask for a truce.
Cuttin afore the pynt. Counting your chickens before they are hatched.
Dance yer lane. Jump for joy.
Dee a fair strae deith. Die a natural death.
Doun the stank. Down the drain.
Dree yer weird. suffer one's fate.
Droun the miller. Put the millers eye out.
Faw oot (up)on. Loose ones temper with.
Feel black affrontit. Feel deeply ashamed.
First come, first serred. First come is first served.
Flee laich. To act with prudence and caution, be unambitious.
Flee laich an flee lang. Keep your ambitions within bounds.
Gae til the bent. Abscond.
Gang an whistle on yer thoum. Go and chase yourself.
Gang ance eerant. Go for that alone (specially for that purpose).
Gang doun the brae. To deteriorate in health or circumstances.
Gang hale-heidit for. Be absolutely engrossed in.
Gang the messages. Do the shopping
Gang til the gate. Be ruined.
Gat the bree o't. Bore the brunt of it.
Gaupin like a raw gorb. Gaping like an unfledged bird.
Get intae. Get familiar with.
Get laldie. Get a beating.
Get on the crack wi. Start a conversation with.
Get yokit til. Get started with/married to.
Gie's yer crack. Give me your news.
Glack yer mittens. Grease one's palm.
Guid gear in smaw bouk. Much in little.
Hae an ee til. Have a liking for.
Hae ither towe on ane’s rock. Have other fish to fry.
Hae yer ain adae. Have one's hands full.
Hae nae brou o this. Have no liking for this.
Haud yer wheesht. Be silent.
Haud the cuddie reekin. Keep the pot boiling.
Haud tryst. Keep one's word.
Haund for nieve. Hand in hand, side by side, abreast.
He haes a crap for aw corn. All is fish that comes to his net.
He kens the laid frae the croun o the causey. He knows how many beans make five.
He kens whilk side his bannock’s buttert on. He knows which side his bread is buttered on.
He’s no the berry (nor yet the buss it growed on). He’s not the clean potato.
He stummles at strae an lowps ower a linn. He finds difficulties only where he wants to.
He’s waur til watter nor til corn. He’s fonder of drink than food.
He wad skin a loose for the tauch. No source of gain is beneath his miserly attention.
He winna rive his faither’s bunnet. He’ll never fill his father’s shoes.
Hing the lugs. To be crestfallen, to mope.
Hingin in the brecham. Pulling one's weight.
His/her breid's baken. He's/she's arrived, made the grade.
His mither canna see daylicht til him. He’s his mother’s blue-eyed boy.
Keep something for a sair fit. Keep something for a rainy day.
Ilka body disna hae the like o that. Not everyone has that sort of thing.
Ilka hicht haes its howe. Every height has it's hollow.
Ill comes upo waur's back. It never rains it pours.
In room o. In place of.
In the wey o. To be in the habit of.
It winna pottie. It won't wash.
It'll cost ye a bonnie penny. It'll cost you a lot.
It's a gey while nou. It's a fairly long time ago now.
It's a tee'd baw. It's all cut and dry/It's all sewn up.
It's drappin suit. Walls have ears.
It's mony a needless preen ye hae pitten in. You needn't have taken so much trouble to dress up.
It's weel wared on him. It serves him right.
Jock Tamson's Tavern
Jock Tamson's bairns. The children of Adam, common humanity. People united by a common sentiment, interest or purpose.
Jouk an lat the jaw gang by. Lie low until it blows over.
Juist aw the like o thae things. Just all that sort of thing.
Kaim somebody's hair backarts. To annoy or tease someone.
Kist o whistles. A pipe organ.
Lad o pairts. Talented youth.
Lat his ain wand ding him. Let him be hoist by his own petard.
Lat licht. Let it be known, disclose a fact.
Lat sit. Leave alone or leave off
Lat that flee stick til the waw. Drop a particularly embarrassing subject.
Lat the bairns fend for thairsels. Let the children look after themselves.
Lay something in saut for. Have a rod in pickle for. Get revenge.
Leein like a horse cowper. Lying pathologically.
Lief is me on ... I am fond of ...
Like a hen on a het girdle. Like a cat on hot bricks.
Like a set mill. At a standstill.
Like a slung-stane. Like a bolt from the blue.
Like yer meat. Well-fed looking.
Like wha but him. As bold as brass.
Made up wi. Pleased with.
Mak a kirk or a mill o't. Make or mar, make what you will of it.
Mak saut tae yer kail. Earn a living.
Mak wey o anesel. Commit suicide.
Mebbe ay an mebbe umhum. Perhaps yes and perhaps doubtful.
Mony wirds, muckle drouth. Much talking makes one thirsty.
Muckle guid mey it dae ye. Much good may it do you.
Nae faurer gane nor ... As recently as ...
Nae great cowp. No great shakes.
Naither eechie nor ochie. Neither one thing or another.
Naither tae dance nor haud the caunle. To sit on the sidelines.
No able for. Having no appetite, incapable of.
No sae deif as he lats on. Not as deaf as he pretends.
No see daylicht til. Be blind to one’s faults.
O that ilk. Of the same name.
On the heid o. Occupied with.
Oot o thocht. Beyond belief.
Pit his gas at a peep. Put in his place, snubbed, rebuffed.
Pit on a sair face. Look sorry for oneself.
Pit oot yer ee. Put one's nose out of joint.
Pith o hemp. Hangman's rope.
Pease brose an pianaes. A state of genteel poverty.
Play Jock Needle Jock Preen. Play fast and loose.
Plunk the schuil. Play truant.
Raise the tuin. Start the tune.
Rax somebody's craig. Hang someone.
Redd yer crap. Get it off your chest.
Rin wuid. Act with reckless abandon.
Sae black's a slae. As black as a sloe.
Sae boss's a baurel. As empty as a barrel.
Sae broun's a berry. As brown as a berry.
Sae cantie as a sou amang glaur. As happy as a pig in the mud.
Sae fou as a piper. As drunk as a piper.
Sae plain as parritch. As clean as crystal.
Sae teuch's a widdie. As tough as a withy.
Sae eith as kiss ma luif. As easy as winking.
Saut somebody's brose/kail. Have a rod in pickle for. Get revenge.
Set doun the barrae. Failed in business.
She's better nor she's bonnie. She's better than she's pretty.
She's her mither's t'ae ee. She's the apple of her (mother's) eye.
Smaw fowk. People of humble rank, the little guys.
Smilin like a bylt haddie. Smiling like a boiled haddock.
Souk in wi. Ingratiate oneself with.
Speak pan-laif. Talk with an affected English accent.
Staund like a stoukie. Rooted to the spot (lit. stand like a plaster cast).
Staund yont. Keep one's distance.
Steek yer hert. Harden one's heart.
Tae hae a guid conceit o yersel. To have a good opinion of one's self.
Tak a notion o. Develop a liking for.
Tak a rise oot o. Make fun off.
Tak a tellin. Heed a warning.
Tak yer wird again. Change one's tune.
Tak ower the coals. Call to account.
Tak something ill oot. Be upset about something.
Tak tent. To pay attention.
Tak the bit an the buffet. To swallow one's pride.
Tak the dorts /dods. To sulk.
Tak the hert. Affect deeply.
Tak the lend o. Make a fool of.
Tak the rue. Feel remorse, have second thoughts.
Thare’s a flae in ma hose. I’m in trouble.
That liddit his mill. That shut him up.
That’ll no set the heather alicht. That won’t set the Thames on fire.
That pat the branks on him. That cut him down to size/shut him up.
That'll niver craw in yer crap. You’ll never taste or smell that.
That's gey naur the bit. That's nearly right.
The common five-aichts. The average man, the hoi-polloi.
The Deil’s gane ower Jock Wabster. The fat’s in the fire. All hell has broken loose.
The stang o the trump. The life and soul of the affair.
Thare wis naither tap, tail nor main til't. I couldn't make head nor tail of it.
Thare's a drap in the hoose. Walls have ears.
Thare's a whaup in the raip. There's a snag.
Thare's ma thoum on that. Let shake hands on it.
Think anesel nae sheep's shank. Consider oneself of no small beer.
This side o time. In this world.
Trail the poke. Beg.
Trail the weeng. Have an illicit love affair.
Turn the crack. Change the subject.
Tyne the heid. Lose one's temper.
Tyne time on. Waste time on.
Up tae. Equal to, able for.
Up tae hie doh. In a state of extremely agitated excitement.
Wairm the lugs. Beat the ears.
Wauk yer wits. Sharpen one's wits.
We niver dee'd o winter yet. We'll survive.
Weel tae. Well on time.
Weemen's kittle cattle. Women are capricious creatures.
Whan it comes til the bit. When the crunch comes.
Whan it comes up ma back. When it occurs to me.
Whit ails ye at ... What do you dislike about ...
Whit's yer will? What did you say?
Win awa. Die/leave
Win ower. Fall asleep.
Ye coud hae bund me wi strae. You could have knocked me down with a feather.
Ye cut lang whangs aff ither fowk’s laither. You make very free with other people’s property.
Ye are feart for the day ye niver seen. You are worrying unnecessarily.
Ye needna fash yer thoum. You needn't bother your head.
Ye shape shuin by yer ain shauchelt feet. You judge others by yourself.
Ye wad wheedle a laverock frae the lift. You could charm the birds from the trees.
Yer breid’s bakkit. Ye can hing up yer girdle. You have achieved all you aimed at.
Yer mynd’s aye chasin mice. Your wits are wool-gathering.
Yer tongue gangs like a lamm’s tail. You are never done talking.

 

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