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Scottish word of the week: Sonsie

Actor Ewan McGregor addresses the haggis at a Burns Night in 2002. Picture: Getty

Actor Ewan McGregor addresses the haggis at a Burns Night in 2002. Picture: Getty

  • by EILIDH WALKER
 

With Burns Night being celebrated across Scotland this weekend, it seems appropriate that this week’s word is Sonsie.

For many, sonsie is a word that they know of, but don’t quite understand. It was once widely used in Scotland, but now tends only to be heard when one is addressing a haggis: “Fair fa yir honest sonsie face”.

There are many meanings for the word. It can simply refer to the bringing of luck or good fortune, but it can also describe someone who is jolly, attractive or cheeky. It is believed to have first been used in Scotland in the 18th century, with its official recognised coming in 1725. Burns penned his Address to the Haggis in 1786.

The word itself originates from the Gaelic words sonas, meaning luck, or sona, which means good fortune.

Some may also remember that in the TV series Hamish Macbeth, starring Robert Carlyle, the titular Highland Police Constable had a cat named Sonsie.

 

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