A history of Scottish words: Edinburgh

Robert Carlyle as Begbie in Trainspotting, which is set in Edinburgh

Robert Carlyle as Begbie in Trainspotting, which is set in Edinburgh

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EDINBURGH is a city of contrasts and differences, and that extends to the dialect of its residents. Just as the Old and New Towns radically differ in style, so do the accents and vocabularies of the city’s residents.

In upper-crust areas such as Stockbridge and Morningside, residents pride themselves on their flawless diction and restrained vocabulary. While the more refined areas of Edinburgh channel the spirit of Miss Jean Brodie, it’s the likes of Leith and Tollcross that offer the more interesting slang.

Ewan McGregor in a scene from the film Trainspotting being chased in street

Ewan McGregor in a scene from the film Trainspotting being chased in street

Leith in particular is a hotbed for interesting words and phrases, with the work of Irvine Welsh key in bringing the area’s language to the fore.

The likes of Trainspotting and Filth are written almost entirely in Welsh’s Leith dialect, with some exciting and interesting turns of phrase used along the way.

Many Edinburgh words have their origins in the Roma language, traditionally spoken by travelling people in southern Scotland.

Some of the sayings are a little choice for these pages, but we’ve collected a few here:

Views of Edinburgh taken from Calton Hill  Picture: Steven Scott taylor / J P License

Views of Edinburgh taken from Calton Hill Picture: Steven Scott taylor / J P License

An Edinburgh glossary

Embra - Edinburgh

Baffies - slippers

Bampot - mad; idiot

Calton Hill.

Calton Hill.

Barry - fantastic or great

Bunker - worktop, kitchen counter

Cheesing: happy

Chum - join on a journey (Chumming a friend doon the road)

Cludgie - toilet

Deek - look at

Dinnae - don’t

Feart - afraid of

Foostie - stale

Gadgie: usually used to describe a man or boy who engages in loutish behaviour.

Radge - crazy or uncontrollable (A person can either be a radge, or ‘go radge’)

Reeking - drunk

Scoobied - clueless (Scooby Doo is rhyming slang for clue)

Shan - a shame, or disappointing (A bad day at work could be ‘well shan’)

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