Nicknames of Edinburgh

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Surgeons' Hall - one of the Greek Revival buildings that earned Edinburgh the nickname "Athens of the North"

Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is known by a number of nicknames and colloquial names.

It is commonly known as "Auld Reekie", a name thought to originate from a distinctive mix of sewage stench and smoke/smog in the Old Town of Edinburgh. The old town was a highly populated area occupying a narrow stretch of land along the Royal Mile. With little plumbing, the large amounts of sewage and waste was thrown onto the streets and allowed to run down the hill to the Nor Loch, which served as a cess pool; causing obvious stench.[1] The smoke came from wood and coal fires used for cooking and heating. Due to the concentration of people, the amount of smoke caused frequent smog. It has been said, 'back then all cities smelt bad, but Edinburgh smelt worse than most'.[2]

In the 19th century Edinburgh was called '"Modern Athens" and "the Athens of the North". The former term has fallen into disuse, but the latter still occurs in promotional tourist literature. The city has also been known by several Latin names, such as Aneda or Edina. The adjectival form of the latter, Edinensis, can often be seen inscribed on educational buildings.[3][4]

The Scots poets Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns used the city's Latin name, Edina in their poems. Ben Jonson described it as "Britaine's other eye",[5] and Sir Walter Scott referred to it as "yon Empress of the North".[6] Robert Louis Stevenson, also a son of the city, wrote, "Edinburgh is what Paris ought to be".

The colloquial pronunciation "Embra" or "Embro" has also been used,[7] as in Robert Garioch's Embro to the Ploy.[8]


  1. ^ Andrew Abbott (20 September 2016). New Town (Television). United Kingdom: BBC. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Grässe, J. G. Th. (1909) [1861]. "A". Orbis latinus; oder, Verzeichnis der wichtigsten lateinischen orts- und ländernamen (in German) (2nd ed.). Berlin: Schmidt. OCLC 1301238 |url= missing title (help) – via Columbia University. 
  4. ^ "Pharmaceutical Latin Abbreviations". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  5. ^ The Cambridge Companion to Ben Jonson. Retrieved 17 April 2007.
  6. ^ Marmion A Tale of Flodden Field by Walter Scott. Retrieved 17 April 2007.
  7. ^ "Embro, Embro - the hidden history of Edinburgh in its music". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  8. ^ "Makars Literary Tour | Robert Garioch". Retrieved 2009-07-08.