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 Gaelic origin[edit]

Bard
[1] The word's earliest appearance in English is in 15th century Scotland with the meaning "vagabond minstrel". The modern literary meaning, which began in the 17th century, is heavily influenced by the presence of the word in ancient Greek (bardos) and ancient Latin (bardus) writings (e.g. used by the poet Lucan, 1st century AD), which in turn took the word from the Gaulish language.
Ben
[1] From beinn [peiɲ], mountain.
Bodach 
Old man.
Bog
[1] From bog [pok], soft (related to boglach swamp), from Old Irish bocc.[2] 14th century.[3]
Bothan 
A hut, often an illegal drinking den. (cf Bothy)
Caber toss
An athletic event, from the Gaelic word "cabar" which refers to a wooden pole.
Cailleach 
An old woman, a hag, or a particular ancient goddess.
Cairn
[1] From càrn. The word's meaning is much broader in Gaelic, and is also used for certain types of rocky mountains.
Caman
a shinty stick.
Capercaillie
[1] From capall-coille [kʰaʰpəl̪ˠˈkʰɤʎə], meaning "horse of the woods"
Cèilidh 
A 'social gathering' or, more recently, a formal evening of traditional Scottish Social Dancing.
Canntaireachd
oral notation for pipe music.
Clan
[1] From the compound form clann pronounced [ˈkʰl̪ˠãũn̪ˠ], from clann, children or family. Old Irish cland.[2]
Claymore
[1] A large broadsword, from claidheamh mór [ˈkʰl̪ˠajəv ˈmoːɾ], great sword.
Coire
literally a "kettle", meaning a corrie, from the same root.
Crag
[1] From creag [kʲʰɾʲek], a cliff.
Deoch an dorus (various spellings) 
meaning a "drink at the door". Translated as "one for the road", i.e. "one more drink before you leave".
Fear an taighe
an MC (master of ceremonies), Gaelic lit. "the man of the house"
Galore
[1] From gu leor, enough.
Gillie
[1] a type of servant, now usually somebody in charge of fishing and rivers, and also ghillie suit used as a form of camouflage, from gille [ˈkʲiʎə], boy or servant.
Glen
[1] From gleann [klaun̪ˠ], a valley.
Gob
[1] From gob, beak or bill.
Kyle or Kyles 
Straits from Gaelic Caol & Caolais.
Loch
[1] From loch [l̪ˠɔx].
Lochaber axe 
From Loch Abar [l̪ˠɔx ˈapəɾ], Lochaber + axe.
Mackintosh
[1] After Charles Macintosh who invented it. From Mac an Tòisich [ˈmaʰk ən̪ˠ ˈt̪ʰɔːʃɪç], son of the chieftain.
Mod
[1] A Gaelic festival, from mòd [mɔːt̪], assembly, court.
Pet
[4] From peata, tame animal.
Pibroch
[1] From pìobaireachd [ˈpʰiːpɛɾʲəxk], piping.
Pillion
[1] From pillean [ˈpʰiʎan], pack-saddle, cushion.
Plaid
[1] From plaide [ˈpʰl̪ˠatʲə], blanket. Alternatively a Lowland Scots loanword [2], from the past participle of ply, to fold, giving plied then plaid after the Scots pronunciation.
Ptarmigan
[1] From tàrmachan [ˈt̪ʰaːɾməxan]. 16th Century.
Shindig
[1] From sìnteag to skip, or jump around
Slogan
[1] From sluagh-ghairm [ˈs̪l̪ˠuəɣɤɾʲɤm], battle-cry
Smashing
from 's math sin , 'that is good'[5][dubious ]
Sporran
[1] Via sporan [ˈs̪pɔɾan] from Old Irish sboran and ultimately Latin bursa, purse.[6]
Spunk
[1] From spong [s̪pɔŋk], tinder and also sponge. From Early Irish sponge, from Latin spongia, from Greek σπογγιά, a sponge.[2]
Strontium
[1] from Sròn an t-Sìthein [ˈs̪t̪ɾɔːn əɲ ˈtʲʰiːɛɲ] meaning "the point at the fairy hill",[7] name of a mountain, near which the element was discovered.
Tack & Tacksman (a lessee) 
From Scots tak (take) cf. Old Norse taka.
Trousers
[1] from triubhas [ˈt̪ʰɾu.əs̪], via "trews".
Whisky
[1] Short form of whiskybae, from uisge-beatha [ɯʃkʲəˈpɛhə], water of life.

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), Old Irish bróc, from Norse brókr[2]
Hubbub
[1][3] Irish, or Scottish Gaelic ubub [ˈupup], an exclamation of disapproval.
Shanty 
Irish or Scottish Gaelic sean taigh [ʃɛn ˈtʰɤj], an old house
Smidgen 
Irish or Scottish Gaelic smidean [ˈs̪mitʲan], 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 [aːrˠtʲ], a point.
Bothy
[8] A hut, from bothan [ˈpɔhan], a hut, cf. Norse būð, Eng. booth.
Caird
[1] A tinker, from ceaird [kʲʰɛrˠtʲ], the plural of ceàrd, tinkers.
Caber
[1] From cabar [ˈkʰapəɾ], pole.
Cailleach
[1] From cailleach [ˈkʰaʎəx], old woman.
Caman
[1] From caman [ˈkʰaman], shinty stick. Also in use in Scotland the derived camanachd, shinty.
Cateran
[1] From ceatharn [ˈkʲʰɛhərˠn̪ˠ], fighting troop.
Ceilidh
[1] From céilidh [ˈkʲʰeːlɪ], a social gathering.
Clachan
[1] From clachan [ˈkʰl̪ˠaxan], a small settlement.
Clarsach
[1] A harp, from clàrsach [ˈkʰl̪ˠaːrˠs̪əx], a harp.
Corrie
[1] From coire [ˈkʰɤɾʲə], kettle.
Doch-an-doris
[1] Stirrup cup, from deoch an dorais [ˈtʲɔx ən̪ˠ ˈt̪ɔɾɪʃ], drink of the door.
Fillibeg
[1] A kilt, from féileadh beag [ˈfeːləɣ ˈpek], small kilt.
Ingle
[1] From aingeal [ˈãĩŋʲkʲəl̪ˠ], a now obsolete word for fire.
Kyle
[1] From caol [kʰɯːl̪ˠ], narrow.
Lochan
[1] From lochan [ˈl̪ˠxan], a small loch.
Machair
[1] From machair [ˈmaxɪɾʲ], the fertile land behind dunes.
Quaich
[1] From cuach [kʰuəx], a cup.
Skean
[9] From sgian [ˈs̪kʲiən], a knife.
Slughorn 
Also from sluagh-ghairm, but erroneously believed by Thomas Chatterton and Robert Browning to refer (apparently) to some kind of trumpet.[10]
Inch (in the sense of an island)
[1], from Scottish Gaelic innis [ĩːʃ].[11]
Och
[8] Irish and Scottish Gaelic och [ɔx], exclamation of regret. Cf. English agh, Dutch and German ach.
Oe
[8] Grandchild, Irish and Scottish Gaelic ogha [ˈo.ə], grandchild.
Samhain 
Irish and Scottish Gaelic Samhain [ˈs̪ãũ.ɪɲ], November and related to Oidhche Shamhna, Halloween.
Shennachie
[8] Irish and Scottish Gaelic seanchaidh [ˈʃɛn̪ˠɛxɪ], storyteller.
Sassenach
[1] Irish and Scottish Gaelic Sasannach [ˈs̪as̪ən̪ˠəx], An Englishman, a Saxon.
Abthen (or Abthan)[8] 
jurisdiction and territory of pre-Benedictine Scottish monastery, from abdhaine [ˈapɣəɲə], abbacy.
Airie
[8] shieling, from àiridh [ˈaːɾʲɪ], shieling.
Aiten
[8] juniper, from aiteann [ˈaʰtʲən̪ˠ], juniper.
Bourach
[8] A mess, from bùrach [ˈpuːɾəx], a mess.
Car, ker
[8] Left-handed, from cearr [kʲʰaːrˠ], wrong, left.
Crine
[8] To shrink, from crìon [kʰɾʲiən], to shrink.
Crottle
[8] A type of lichen used as a dye, from crotal [ˈkʰɾɔʰt̪əl̪ˠ], lichen.
Golack
[8] An insect, from gobhlag [ˈkoːl̪ˠak], an earwig.
Keelie
[8] A tough urban male, from gille [ˈkʲiːʎə], a lad, a young man.
Ketach
[8] The left hand, from ciotach [ˈkʲʰiʰt̪əx], left-handed.
Sonse
[8] From sonas [ˈs̪ɔnəs̪], happiness, good fortune. Also the related sonsy.
Spleuchan
[8] A pouch, from spliùchan [ˈs̪pluːxan], a pouch, purse.
Toshach
[8] 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 w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av Collins English Dictionary 21st Century Edition Harper Collins (2001) ISBN 0-00-472529-8
  2. ^ a b c d MacBain, A. (1911) An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language
  3. ^ a b Hoad, T.F. (ed) (1986) Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology Oxford ISBN 0-19-283098-8
  4. ^ "Home : Oxford English Dictionary".
  5. ^ [1] BBC
  6. ^ "MacBain's Dictionary - Section 36". www.ceantar.org.
  7. ^ Iain Mac an Tàilleir: Scottish Placenames Archived 2008-05-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ McArthur. T. The Oxford Companion to the English Language Oxford University Press 1992 ISBN 0-19-214183-X
  10. ^ Simpson, J.A. and Weiner E.S.C. The Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition Vol XV
  11. ^ "Dictionary of the Scots Language :: SND :: Inch n." www.dsl.ac.uk.