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Scottish word of the week: Deoch-an-doris

The parting dram, a deoch-an-doris, to be offered to guests before they leave. Picture: TSPL

The parting dram, a deoch-an-doris, to be offered to guests before they leave. Picture: TSPL

  • by SEAN MURPHY
 

Everyone has uttered the term ‘one for the road’ at at least one point in their lives, and the word of the week, (technically it’s three words if you’re being pedantic) references the tradition and ceremony the Scots have made of this term.

Deoch-an-doris which literally translates as ‘Drink of the door’ is the Scots term for the practice of providing one last drink for their guest before they would leave for the long journey home.

Traditionally, this would entail the pouring of a parting dram, more often than not in a stirrup cup (literally a small cup given when the departing parties feet were in the stirrups of their horse), or small quaich, and a toast.

Nowadays though, you’re more likely to hear “Deoch-an-doris?” as a slurred question in a local pub, through which an over inebriated regular might chance his arm to gain one more drink before he is kicked out to go home and sleep it off.

Some people might even be familiar with this wonderful song sung by the great Sir Harry Lauder, that sums up the tradition perfectly.

There’s a good old Scottish custom

That has stood the taste of time

It’s a custom that’s been carried out

In every land and clime

Where brother Scots forgather

Its aye the usual thing

Just before we say goodnicht,

We fill our cups and sing ......

Just a wee deoch an doris,

Just a wee dram that’s a’

Just a wee deoch an doris,

Before we gang awa’

There’s a wee-wee wifie waiting

In a wee but and ben

If you can say it’s a braw bricht moon licht nicht

Well you’re a’ richt, ye ken.

Most though, would prefer to hear their drinking companions suggest a ‘clochan dichter’. Apparently, this being a suggestion of a drink before the drink for the road!

 

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