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bride is sune buskit, an a short horse sune wispit: A good
looking bride needs little in the way of adornment, and a small
horse is soon groomed ie A slight task is soon finished.
canna sell the cou an sup the milk:
Equivalent of not being able to have one's cake and eat it.
A' ae oo:
All the same. To be birds of a feather. ( see ablow
A gowk at
Yule'll no be bricht at Beltane: Literally this means that a
person who is a fool at Christmas will not be wise in May ie you
cannot change a person's inherited character.
A green Yule maks a fat kirkyaird: A mild Christmas fills the
A'm no a scone o that bakin: Not one of that sort.
Originally the expression was - Ae scone o a bakin is eneuch: It is
unreasonable to expect two gratuities out of one thing.
A mile o Don's
warth twa o Dee; except for saumon, stane an tree: An
Aberdeenshire saying expressing the difference in the value of the
terrain surrounding the two rivers. The banks of the Don are very
fertile whereas Deeside tends to be more wilderness and forest.
A puir man is
fain o little: A poor man is pleased with little
out o ane's bicker: A cut in one's income or
A tod nivver
sped better nor whan he gaed his ain errand: Every man is
most zealous when working for his own interest.
A tung that
wad clip clouts: Said of an interminable talker
A wife is wyce eneuch that kens her guid man's breeks frae
her ain kirtle: It is a wise wife who leaves her husband in
sheep wull smit a hale hirsel: Scots version of - It only
takes one rotten apple to spoil the barrell
Aince awa, aye
awa: Once away, always away. Once a person has gone away
from home for a while, there is always a feeling that it will not
take too much to persuade them to leave again.
As bare as the birk at Yule Een : In
As daft as a yett
on a windy day: said of a scatter-brained person
Aw Stewarts arna
sib ti the King: A retort to name-droppers; spoken when people
boast of some great person of their name but obviously not related.
Aw the wit i the
warld's no in ae pow: All the wit in the world is not in one
Aye reddin the fire: Always stirring up trouble
Aye stickin his graip in his neibour's midden:
(said) Of a meddlesom tittle-tattling person
Bannocks ar better nor nae kin o
breid: Half a loaf is better than no bread. A little is better than nothing at all.
Better a wee buss than nae beild: Any port in a storm; Robert
Burns took this saying for his motto.
Byde weill, betyde weill : Everything comes
to him who waits.
Cairryin saut ti Dysart an puddins ti
Tranent: Carrying out a redundant task - Scottish version of carrying
coals to Newcastle.
shears: lit Chalk is not a pair of scissors. There is a great
difference between merely marking out on a cloth a desired pattern from
actually cutting it. ie Planning to do something is not the same as
actually doing it.
Daffin an want o
wit maks auld wyfes donnart: There's no fool like an old fool (
another Scots version is - Ye're as daft as ye ar days auld )
Dinna bow ti bawtie
(dog), lest he bite: Familiarity breeds contempt
awa the cog whan the cou flings: Do not give up at the first
misfortune - try, try again.
Dinna scaud yir mou
wi ither fowk's kail: Don't poke your nose into other peoples
business - it will only end up hurting you.
the doo or ye hae the doocot: Do not get married until you
have a house to go to.
Droun the miller: Put too much water in whisky.
Flee laich, flee
lang: Do not be over ambitious.
Gae ti bed wi
the lamb an rise wi the laverock: Early to bed, early to
manís gaun doun the brae, ilka ane gies him a jundie: On
hitting a man when he is down.
Glib i the tung is aye glaikit at the hert:
Don't trust those who are silver tongued, as it betrays a deceitful
Gut nae fish till ye get
them: Scottish equivalent of - Don't count your chickens until they
by the tail: A 18th
century proverb - Never give up hold on to what is secure; A bird in
the hand etc. (Taggie is a tag-tailed cow)
He/She haes a
tung that wad clip clouts: He/She would talk the hind legs
off a donkey
He haes aw his
back teeth: There are no flies on him.
He left his
siller in his ither pouch: Said of people who try to get out
of paying their fair share.
He nivver rides
the day he saiddles: He never keeps his promise
- He that wull ti Cupar, maun ti Cupar: If
someone is determined on a course of action there is no stopping him /
- He reives the
kirk ti theik the quire: literally, he steals from the church
to roof the choir or robs Peter to pay Paul.
- He winna rive his faither's bunnet: He will never fill his father's shoes.
- He's awfie big
ahint the door: He is very brave when there is no occasion for
- He's in wi the
tack: Part and parcel of the concern, inextricably involved in
- He's weill warth
sorrow that coffs it wi his ain siller: He deserves all that
is coming to him
- Ilka cock craws
crousest on his ain midden: Persons act more confidently in familiar
Ilka man wears his belt his ain gate:
An apology for a manís acting differently from others. Quoted by Robert
Burns in a letter to George Thomson, 1 September 1793.
It's an ill burd that files its
ain nest: It takes a truly bad person to harm his own
kith and kin.
- It's a hard warld
that winna gie us a bit and a brat: According to James Kelly a
Scottish Proverb collector this means - If a man be industrious and
honest, he can hardly miss food and raiment. Robert Burns in his poem
'To Dr Blacklock' wrote - 'They maun hae brose and brats o duddies.'
- It's guid
ti hae yir cog out whan it rains kail: Make the most of your
- It taks a lang spune ti sup wi a Fifer: If you associate with a Fifer be
on your guard, they are a smart bunch.
- Keek i the
stoup, wis nevvir a guid fella: Said of one who looks into
the pot to see if the drink is nearly finished rather than drinking
up and ordering more when his glass is empty.
- Keep aye something fir a sair fit / leg:
Save for a rainy day
- Keep yir ain
fish-guts ti yir ain sea-maws: Charity begins at home
- Lat him tak a
spring on his ain fiddle: Said of a foolish or an
unreasonable person, as if to say ' For the present we will allow
him to have his own way.' Sir Walter Scott's character from 'Rob
Roy', Bailie Nicol Jarvie, quotes the proverb with great bitterness
when he warns his opponent that his triumph will come before long :
' A weel, aweel, sir, you're welcome to a tune on yir ain fiddle;
but see if I dinna gar ye dance till't afore it's dune.'
- Lat his ain wand
ding him: Let him stew in his own juice
- Lat the kirk
staun i the kirk yaird: Let everything be in its proper
- Lat the tow
gang wi the bucket: Give up; get rid of something
impatiently; cut one's losses.
Law's costly - tak a pint an gree: Settle out of
- Like a
slung-stane: Like a bolt from the blue
- Monie haws,
monie snaws: A piece of long range weather forecasting
supposedly connecting a large harvest of berries with a bad winter
to follow. With global warming it doesn't seem to work!
- Muckle wad aye
hae mair: Those who have a lot always want more
miscaw a Gordon i the raws o Strathbogie: Never speak badly
of somebody on their home territory. The Gordons were the ruling
clan in Strathbogie.
- Nivver tak a
forehaimmer fir ti brak an egg whan ye can dae't wi a penknife:
To crack a nut with a sledge-hammer is the equivalent saying in
- Pint stowps hae
lang lugs: Drink leads to unguarded talk.
- Play carle wi
me agane gin ye daur: Do not argue with me. Often said by
parents to children.
- Raise nae mair deils nor ye can lig:
Don't bite off more than you can chew.
- Raither spyle yir
baur nor tine yir fier: Do not tell jokes at the expense of a
friend, as their friendship is worth more than a laugh
- Scotsmen ar aye wyce ahint the haun: Wise
after the event.
- Scotsmen aye
reckon frae an ill oor: A proverb that comments on the less
positive side of the Scottish character as it is said that Scots tend
to calculate things in relation to date of some mishap or date. Whit a
daft notion bit awbodie weill kens at Scotland haes haed nae luck
sinsyne the daith o Alexander the Thurd!
- Seek yir saw whaur ye got yir sair: Seek
redress from the person who wronged you.
- Set a stout hert
ti a stey brae: Face
a hard task with courage and determination. The saying is recorded in
Alexander Montgomerie's 'The Cherry and the Slae', first published in
1597 as ' So gets ay, that sets ay, stout stomackis to the brae.'
- Shak yir ain
mats at yir ain back door: Attend to your own life and let
others attend to theirs. In other words - Kep yir neb out o ither
She leukit at the
mune, but lichtit i the midden: an old proverb applied to
women who boast before marriage that they will find a fine match,
but who afterwards end up marrying ordinary men.
the cradle, an barefit i the stubble: Applied to people
who dress inappropriately.
Sic as ye gie, sic wull ye get: You only get out of
life what you put in.
nae questions an ye'll be telt nae lees: If you do not ask
questions, you will not be told any lies.
- Tak awa Aiberdeen
an twal mile roun an far ar ye?: Aberdonians tend to think
that the North of Scotland, indeed all of Scotland, would be much
poorer without the Granite City. As an Aberdonian, I, of course,
Tak the bit an the buffet: Take the bad with the
- Tak the bree wi
the barm: Take the rough with the smooth
That wull be whan the deil's blinn, an he's no bleer-eed yit:
That will never happen.
A success at the outset, cut and dry from the start.
- That's abune
yir thoum: Said to a person who is about to do something of
which he/she is thought to be incapable.
- The cassin o the Wanchancie Covenant: The
repeal of the unlucky Union (auld anti 1707 Union toast).
The cou thatís furst up aye gets
the furst o the dew: A version of the English proverb
- Itís the early bird that catches the worm. This saying is used as
an incentive to be up and working early.
- The mither nivver haed a sang bit her
dochter haed a verse o't : Like mother, like daughter.
- The soutar's bairns ar aye the warst
shod: Some people assist others and neglect their own affairs.
- The stang o the
trump: The best of the bunch
- There's aye some water whaur the stirkie drouns:
No smoke without fire
- There's no ane o
them to mend anither: One is as bad as the other
- There's owre
monie nicks in his horn for that: He is too long in the tooth
fremmit fiers that canna be fasht: They are strange friends who
can't be bothered to give you a helping hand.
- Ti cowp the kirn/creels/craw:
To upset the apple cart
- Ti fell twa dugs wi the ae
bane/stane: To kill two birds with one stone
- Ti keep a calm souch:
To hold one's tongue - good advise that my mother passed on to me, which I
usually ignore to my own cost.
- Ti tak the bree wi the barm:
To take the rough with the smooth
Waes the wife that wants the tung, but weills the man that
gets her: The wife who is quiet will have many troubles, but lucky
is the man who marries her - i.e. silence is golden.
- We nivver dee'd o winter yit: We'll survive.
- Wha daur bell
the cat?: A question supposedly asked by an experienced mouse
when another suggested that they put a bell on the cat's neck, to warn
of its approach. The saying is well known from Scottish history - at
the time of James III, the Scottish nobles proposed to met at Stirling
and take Spence, the King's favourite, and hang him. However the
wordly wise Lord Gray is said to have asked "Wha daur bell the cat?"
The Earl of Angus undertook the task, accomplished it, and thereafter
was known as Archibald Bell-the-Cat.
- Whit fowk
disna ken; disna anger them: Ignorance is bliss
- Wi his back at
the wa: At bay
- Ye canna
gether berries aff a whin buss: Don't expect favours from
- Ye canna pit
an auld heid on yung shouthers: It is impossible to give young
prople the wisdom of their elders.
Ye cuid hae bund me wi a strae:
equivalent in English - You could knock me down with a feather.
- Ye cum o the McTaks,
but no o the McGies: Spoken of those more eager to receive
than to give.
- Ye hae a guid Scots tung in yir heid: You
can speak up for yourself.
- Ye kin mak
naither tap, tail nor main o't: Head nor tail
- Ye nivver dee'd
o winter yit: You'll survive all your difficulties
- Ye rin fir the
spurtle whan the pat's bilin owre: You are too late in
taking precautions - similiar to the English saying about closing
the stable door after the horse has bolted.
- Ye'll get yir heid in yir hauns an yir
lugs ti pley wi: You will get a humiliating rebuke.
- Ye'll hae the
hauf o the gate an aw the glaur: You will have half of the
road and all of the mud. Said in jest when we make someone walk on the
outside of a footpath.
- Ye're as lang
in tunin yir pipes as anither wad pley a spring: You take as
long in preparing to do something as another would be in performing
- Ye're cawkin
the claith ere the wab be i the loom: You are chalking the
cloth before the yarn is on the loom. Another version of counting your
chickens before they are hatched.
- Ye're no sae
puir as ye peep: Said of someone who is always pleading
- Ye wad think ye haed bin brocht up in a
byre: Said of one who habitually leaves doors open.
Yir een's no marrows: literally Your eyes don't
match. ie You are not seeing properly.