Scottish word of the week: Shoogle

How many of us have a piece of shoogly furniture at home? Few are the tables and chairs in households across the country that don’t succumb to this uniquely Scottish wobble.

This key might need a shoogle before it'll turn. Picture: TSPL
This key might need a shoogle before it'll turn. Picture: TSPL

To call something shoogly is to describe an object that is shaky or unsteady. Though household furniture that has seen better days is frequently labelled as such, shoogly can easily describe the state of old bicycles, rickety footbridges, or, more loosely, a city centre stag do.

The term derives from a Middle English term, shoggle, which has much the same meaning.

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Though the contemporary English equivalent of the word is to shake, shoogle implies a gentler action; you wouldn’t really shoogle a can of deoderant, nor would you shoogle someone awake if you needed them to be up urgently (though you can certainly shoogle someone to sleep).

Since shoogling involves movement, you can also ask someone to shoogle along to make a bit of extra space on a park bench.

Meanwhile, someone on a shoogly peg is on the brink of getting a telling off of some kind, whether from an employer, parent or partner. Someone can also be shoogled by a disturbing state of affairs, as illustrated in a Scotsman headline in 2009 that read: Village a-shoogle at omission from Google.