Scottish word of the week: Clarty

A clarty reveller at T In The Park. Picture: PA
A clarty reveller at T In The Park. Picture: PA
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A dirty word if ever there was one. There’s an appropriately guttural quality about the word clarty, a firmly colloquial term that describes something or someone caked in mud, spilled ginger and other such stains requiring some robust washing detergent.

Little used in formal texts and literature in previous centuries, clarty has nevertheless been frequently employed as a vivid descriptor of something covered in filth, or else generaly nauseating. Its meaning makes it inherently suitable for a particularly cutting insult.

Its semantic flexibility has given rise to some rather cheeky examples of its use. A nightclub in the west end of Glasgow, Cleopatra, is known locally as Clatty Pats.

A Scotsman article from 2004 offered an intruiging insight into the comings and goings of politicos and priests in a popular bar near Edinburgh Castle, the Ensign Stewart. The pub landlord had confessed that some churchmen regulars were keen on telling jokes that fell below the expected standards of the clergy. The headline read: Pub’s loos are cleaner than its clarty clergy