List of English words of Scottish Gaelic origin

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.

Word of Gaelic origin

Airt : Point of the compass, from àird point of the compass. Bard : From bàrd a low ranking poet. Ben : From beinn mountain. Bog : From bog soft (related to boglach swamp), from Old Irish bocc. 14th century. Bothy : A hut, from bothan a hut. Bunny : From bun a now obsolete word for a rabbit warren. Caird : A tinker, from ceaird the plural of ceàrd, tinkers. Caber : From cabar pole. Cailleach : From cailleach old woman. Cairn : From càirn the plural of càrn. Cairngorm : From An Càrn Gorm after Cairn Gorm, a mountain in the area where these stones are found. Caman : From caman shinty stick. Also in use in Scotland the derived camanachd, shinty. Capercaillie : From capall-coille (). Cateran : From ceatharn fighting troop. Ceilidh : From céilidh a social gathering. Clachan : From clachan a small settlemet. Clan : From the compound form clann (from clann, children or family. Old Irish cland. Clarsach : A harp, from clàrsach a harp. Claymore : A large broadsword, from claidheamh mór great sword. Corrie : From coire kettle. Dig : see Twig. Craig : From creag a cliff. Doch-an-doris : Stirrup cup, from deoch an dorais drink of the door. Drambuie : A scotch whisky liqueur, from drama buidheach drink that satisfies. Fillibeg : A kilt, from féileadh beag small kilt. Ghillie : a type of servant, from gille boy or servant. Glayva : A type of liqueur, from glé mhath very good Glen : From gleann a valley. Glengarry bonnet : From Gleanna Garadh Glengarry. Ingle : From aingeal a now obsolete word for fire. Kyle : From caol narrow. Loch : From loch (). Lochaber axe : From Loch Abar Lochaber + axe. Lochan : From lochan a small loch. Machair : From machair the fertile land behind dunes. Mackintosh : After Charles Macintosh who invented it. From Mac an Tòisich son of the chieftain. Mod : A Gaelic festival, from mòd assembly, court. Pibroch : From pìobaireachd piping. Pillion : From pillean pack-saddle, cushion. Plaid : From plaide blanket. Alternatively a Lowland Scots loanword , from the past participle of ply, to fold, giving plied then plaid after the Scots pronunciation. Ptarmigan : From tàrmachan (). 16th Century. Quaich : From cuach a cup. Skean : From sgian a knife. Slogan : From sluagh-ghairm battle-cry Slughorn : Also from sluagh-ghairm, but erroneously believed by Thomas Chatterton and Robert Browning to refer (apparently) to some kind of trumpet. Sporran : From sporan purse. Spunk : From spong tinder and also sponge. From Early Irish sponge, from Latin spongia, from Greek σπογγιά, a sponge. Strontium : from Sròn an t-Sìthein name of a mountain, near which the element was discovered. Trousers : from triubhas via "trews". Twig : to understand, catch on, from tuig understand. Whisky : Short form of whiskybae, from uisge-beatha water of life.

Words of Gaelic or Irish origin

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. Brat : A disagreeable or spoiled child, Irish, or Scottish Gaelic brat mantle, from Old Irish bratt, cloth. Brogue : An accent, Irish, or Scottish Gaelic bròg shoe (of a particular kind worn by Irish and Gaelic peasants), Early Irish bróc, from Norse brókr Hubbub : Irish, or Scottish Gaelic ubub an exclamation of disapproval. Inch : Irish, or Scottish Gaelic innis an island. Och : Irish, or Scottish Gaelic och exclamation of regret. Oe : Grandchild, Irish, or Scottish Gaelic ogha grandchild. Pet : Irish, or Scottish Gaelic peata a spoilt child. Samhain : Irish, or Scottish Gaelic Samhain November and related to Oidhche Shamhna, Halloween. Shennachie : Irish, or Scottish Gaelic seannachaidh storyteller. Sassenach : Irish, or Scottish Gaelic Sassanach a Saxon. Smidgen : Irish, or Scottish Gaelic smidean a very small bit (connected to Irish smidirín, smithereen), from smid, syllable or a small bit. Strath : Irish, or Scottish Gaelic srath a wide valley.

Words popularly believed to be Gaelic

Smashin(g) : From 's math sin "that is good". Alternatively an extension of English smash. Snazzy : Possibly from snasail elegant or neat. Perhaps a U.S. colloquial blend of snappy and jazzy.

Words mostly used in Lowland Scots

Because of the wide overlap of Scottish English and Lowland Scots, it can be difficult to ascertain of 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. Abthen (or Abthan) : jurisdiction and territory of pre-Benedictine Scottish monastery , from abdhaine abbacy. Airie : shieling, from àiridh shieling. Aiten : juniper, from aiteann juniper. Car, ker : Left-handed, from cearr wrong, left. Bourach : A mess, from bùrach a mess. Crine : To shrink, from crìon to shrink. Crottle : A type of lichen used as a dye, from crìon lichen. Golack : An insect, from gobhlag an earwig. Keelie : A tough urban male, from ciotach left-handed. Ketach : The left hand, from crìon to shrink. Sonse : From sonas happiness, good fortune. Also the related sonsy. Spleuchan : A pouch, from spliùchan a pouch, purse. Toshach : Head of a clan, from toiseach beginning, front.

Place-name terminology

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


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