THE Scottish vernacular contains a whole host of phrases designed to keep others quiet, but ‘wheesht’ may be one of the most interesting.
First used in the 14th century, ‘wheesht’ has the handy bonus of being very adaptable. It can be used as a verb, a noun, and an interjection as in asking someone to ‘haud their wheesht’.
Ironically, the word itself comes from adding more sounds to the original and widely-used command to ‘shh’, which acts as the root for the Scots word. It also features in English as ‘whisht’, but has fallen out of favour compared to its Scots counterpart.
Despite its demise south of the border, ‘wheesht’ has been noted by many scholars and etymologists to have a couple of key advantages over its fellow commands for silence.
It is more dramatic and direct than a simple ‘shh’, and thanks to the wonders of a Scottish accent, it’s a much better alternative to ‘shut up’ that always seems to get results.