Scottish word of the week: Clatterbag

PEOPLE clatter into things all the time. Chefs make a clatter in the kitchen with pots and pans; a band practising in the garage produces either music or a load of clatter, depending on your taste; grizzled footballers clatter into the back of their opponents with tackles that are politely described as “agricultural”.

Margrit, Mrs Culfeathers, Doreen and Dolly from The Steamie. Picture: Neil Hanna

What is a clatterbag, though? A clatter is defined as a sharp, loud noise, but it can also refer to gossip and defamatory chatter (it also describes a sharp, painful blow or slap, implying the sometimes hurtful nature of gossip). A clatterbag is, thus, someone who gossips prolifically. There are a few variations to the term: depending on the region, some Scots would say clash instead of clatter, so clatterbag would become clashbag. Clatterbash, clatter-stoup (a stoup is a bucket) and clatter-wallet are other deviations from the comparatively widely-used term.

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Mrs Martin’s Man, a book by St John G Ervine, features a typical example of its use: “‘Strike you,’ she exclaimed. ‘I wouldn’t lay a finger on you, you ould clatterbash you! How dare you go about spreadin’ stories.’”