List of English words of Scottish Gaelic origin

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This is a list of English words borrowed from Scottish Gaelic. Some of these are common in Scottish English and Scots but less so in other varieties of English.

Words of Scottish or Irish Gaelic origin[edit]

The following words are of Goidelic origin but it cannot be ascertained whether the source language was Old Irish or one of the modern Goidelic languages.

Brogue
[1] An accent, Irish, or Scottish Gaelic bròg [pɾɔːk], shoe (of a particular kind worn by Irish and Gaelic peasants), Early Irish bróc, from Norse brókr[2]
Hubbub
[1][3] Irish, or Scottish Gaelic ubub [upup], an exclamation of disapproval.
Shanty 
Irish, or Scottish Gaelic sean taigh [ʃan tī], an old house
Smidgen 
Irish, or Scottish Gaelic smidean [s̪mitʲan], a very small bit (connected to Irish smidirín, smithereen), from smid, syllable or a small bit.[citation needed]
Strath
[1] Irish, or Scottish Gaelic srath [s̪t̪ɾah], a wide valley.

Gaelic words mostly used in Lowland Scots[edit]

Corrie

Because of the wide overlap of Scottish English and Lowland Scots, it can be difficult to ascertain if a word should be considered Lowland Scots or Scottish English. These words tend to be more closely associated with Lowland Scots but can occur in Scottish English too.

Airt
[1] Point of the compass, from àird, Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [aːrˠtʲ], a point.
Bothy
[4] A hut, from bothan [pɔhan], a hut, cf.Norse būð, Eng. booth.
Caird
[1] A tinker, from ceaird [kʲlˠ̪ɛrˠtʲ], the plural of ceàrd, tinkers.
Caber
[1] From cabar [kʰapəɾ], pole.
Cailleach
[1] From cailleach [kʰaʎəx], old woman.
Caman
[1] From caman [kʰaman], shinty stick. Also in use in Scotland the derived camanachd, shinty.
Cateran
[1] From ceatharn [kʲʰɛhərˠn], fighting troop.
Ceilidh
[1] From céilidh [kʲʰeːli], a social gathering.
Clachan
[1] From clachan [kʰlˠ̪axan], a small settlement.
Clarsach
[1] A harp, from clàrsach [kʰlˠ̪aːrˠs̪əx], a harp.
Corrie
[1] From coire [kʰɤɾʲə], kettle.
Doch-an-doris
[1] Stirrup cup, from deoch an dorais [tʲɔx ən̪ˠ t̪ɔɾəʃ], drink of the door.
Fillibeg
[1] A kilt, from féileadh beag [feːləɣ pek], small kilt.
Ingle
[1] From aingeal [aiŋʲɡʲəlˠ̪], a now obsolete word for fire.
Kyle
[1] From caol [kʰɯːlˠ̪], narrow.
Lochan
[1] From lochan [lˠ̪ɔxan], a small loch.
Machair
[1] From machair [maxəɾʲ], the fertile land behind dunes.
Quaich
[1] From cuach [kʰuəx], a cup.
Skean
[5] From sgian [s̪kʲian], a knife.
Slughorn 
Also from sluagh-ghairm, but erroneously believed by Thomas Chatterton and Robert Browning to refer (apparently) to some kind of trumpet.[6]
Inch
[1] And island, from Irish and Scottish Gaelic innis [ˈiɲiʃ].
Och
[4] Irish and Scottish Gaelic och [ɔx], exclamation of regret. Cf. English agh, Dutch and German ach.
Oe
[4] Grandchild, Irish and Scottish Gaelic ogha [oə], grandchild.
Samhain 
Irish and Scottish Gaelic Samhain [s̪auɛɲ], November and related to Oidhche Shamhna, Halloween.
Shennachie
[4] Irish and Scottish Gaelic seannachaidh [ʃɛn̪ˠəxi], storyteller.
Sassenach
[1] Irish and Scottish Gaelic Sasannach [s̪as̪ən̪ˠəx], An Englishman, a Saxon.
Abthen (or Abthan[4]
jurisdiction and territory of pre-Benedictine Scottish monastery, from abdhaine [ˈapɣəɲə], abbacy.
Airie
[4] shieling, from àiridh [ˈaːɾʲi], shieling.
Aiten
[4] juniper, from aiteann [ˈaʰtʲən̪ˠ], juniper.
Bourach
[4] A mess, from bùrach [ˈpuːɾəx], a mess.
Car, ker
[4] Left-handed, from cearr [kʲʰaːrˠ], wrong, left.
Crine
[4] To shrink, from crìon [kʰɾʲiən], to shrink.
Crottle
[4] A type of lichen used as a dye, from crìon [kʰɾɔʰt̪əlˠ̪], lichen.
Golack
[4] An insect, from gobhlag [ˈkoːlˠ̪ak], an earwig.
Keelie
[4] A tough urban male, from gille [ˈkʲiːʎə], a lad, a young man.
Ketach
[4] The left hand, from ciotach [ˈkʲʰiʰt̪əx], left-handed.
Sonse
[4] From sonas [s̪ɔnəs̪], happiness, good fortune. Also the related sonsy.
Spleuchan
[4] A pouch, from spliùchan [ˈs̪pljuːxan], a pouch, purse.
Toshach
[4] Head of a clan, from toiseach [ˈt̪ʰɔʃəx], beginning, front.

Place-name terminology[edit]

There are numerous additional place-name elements in Scotland which are derived from Gaelic, but the majority of these has not entered the English or Scots language as productive nouns and often remain opaque to the average Scot. A few examples of such elements are:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Collins English Dictionary 21st Century Edition Harper Collins (2001) ISBN 0-00-472529-8
  2. ^ MacBain, A. (1911) An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language
  3. ^ Hoad, T.F. (ed) (1986) Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology Oxford ISBN 0-19-283098-8
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Robinson, M. (ed) The Concise Scots Dictionary Chambers 1985 ISBN 0-08-028491-4
  5. ^ McArthur. T. The Oxford Companion to the English Language Oxford University Press 1992 ISBN 0-19-214183-X
  6. ^ Simpson, J.A. and Weiner E.S.C. The Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition Vol XV