Scottish word of the day: Messages

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WE’RE aware some of you might be reading this and wondering why we’ve chosen what seems to be a fairly ordinary word, but ‘messages’ has long been used in Scots dialect to mean groceries or shopping.

The word is synonymous with a time when large shopping malls and stores such were rare, and most people - normally women - would tend to get their daily groceries from smaller shops.

The phrase used was, in most cases, ‘go the messages’, although it was used less frequently as a noun to refer to the shopping that people had bought that day.

It’s believed that the phrase itself originates from either messenger boys with their large bags - naturally, the daily shopping was carried in a large, sturdy bag - or from the bags themselves. In some cases, messenger boys would deliver the ‘messages’ to people unable to manage it themselves, using a bike and the aforementioned sturdy bags.

The English equivalent is ‘to run an errand’ which, although slightly different in meaning, encompasses the same action. These days, ‘going the messages’ has largely fallen out of use, mostly due to the fact that shopping has been revamped, with online shopping and chain stores like Tesco providing everything under one roof.

In terms of etymological origins, the word most likely stems from the Latin ‘mittere’, meaning ‘to send’.