Scottish word of week: Aw fur coat, nae knickers

Edinburgh residents shop for fur coats in a city auction house. Picture: TSPL
Edinburgh residents shop for fur coats in a city auction house. Picture: TSPL
Share this article
Have your say

PLAYFUL rivalry exists between neighbouring cities all over the world. New Yorkers jab at Bostonians, Mancunians and Scousers trade jibes, and here in Scotland we have the clash between the residents of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“Aw fur coat an nae knickers” is a popular jibe levelled by Glaswegians in the west at those in Edinburgh in the east.

The insinuation is that while Edinburgh residents appear cultured, dignified and steeped in class, this is purely superficial and that underneath the facade they are no classier than their local rivals.

The suggestion is of a polarised Edinburgh, where high-brow society comes up against the less respectable aspects of urban life.

Also implied in the insult is a reference to the dress worn by the high-class prostitutes that once plied their trade on the Capital’s Danube Street under the employment of famous “Madam” Dora Noyce.

Oddly, there does not seem to be a corresponding jibe going from East to West as there are with other geographical insults.

“Edinburgh-dwellers”, for there is uniquely no accepted collective noun for them, may insult their Glaswegian neighbours for a number of reasons but lack any slogans as succinct and popular as “Aw fur coat an nae knickers”.

The insult seems to be particularly aimed at the stereotypical image of the “genteel ladies of Morningside” whose intent it was to portray themselves as being well-heeled and wealthy but were, in reality, rather middle-class or poor in some cases.

Also contained within this barbed and punchy turn of phrase is a suggestion that those from Edinburgh are pretentious and given to boastfulness without the corresponding achievement, an allegation that this east coast native vehemently denies.