Local Language


Penicuik is a town it Midlothian
about 10 miles south of he centre of Edinburgh

Thank you to Allan Neil for providing all the words and definitions below.

Allan, aged 70,  is an exile from Penicuik, now living in Lancing, West Sussex,  England.

Allan writes:

Words used in and around Penicuik

"I have been compiling a directory of Penicuik slang.  Not all words are purely Penicuik but all were used by my father and those of his generation aroon' the toon."

Allan Neil, Lancing West Sussex, England:  September 22, 2009 + October 18, 2009


Dictionary of Penicuik Words and Dialect

compiled by Allan Neil


Ah’m urr                                            I am (‘Ye’re no gaun tae the perty!’  ‘Ah’m urr.’)

                                                          See footnote **2 below

Aicht                          num                Eight

Aleevun                     num                Eleven

Anaw                         conj                Also, as well as (abbrev of ‘and all’

Aye, aye?                                         Form of greeting when meeting in the street.


Ba’face                     n                     Over-familiar form off address – Ball-face

Ba’heid                     n                     More offensive than above – Ball-head = Big-head

Ba'heidit                   adj                  Conceited

Bahookie                  n                     Backside, posterior.

Ballop                        n                     Trouser fly

Baucl’t                       adj                  Buckled

eel                             vi                     Fester. (My finger’s beelin’)

Beezum                     n                     Bitch.  Woman of dubious character.

Bide                           vi                     Live, remain, stay

Birl                             vt, vi, n            To spin, or can be a ride, alt to ‘hurl’

Blether                      vi n                  To talk ceaselessly, to chatter.  Aimless chatter.

Blethering skate       n                      A chatterbox

Blooter                      vt                     To defeat completely

Blootered                 adj                  1. Completely defeated.   2. Totally drunk

Boak                          vi                     Retch

Bools                         n                      1. The game played on a bowling green.  2.  Marbles

Box                            n                      Accordion

Breeks                      n                      Trousers

Breenge                   vi                      Dive clumsily into a situation

                                                          "Ye jist breenge in wi'oot thinkin'."

Bunker                      n                      Kitchen work top or draining board

Buroo                        n                      Employment exchange

Bye-kick                    n                     (football term) A goal kick.


Ca’                            vt                    Crank, wheel (as in ca’ yer gir <qv>,) continue.

Ca’ canny                 exc                 Be careful

Chaw                         vi vt                To make jealous, to be jealous of

Chuckies                  n pl                 1. Dentures,  2. White translucent pebbles

Chute                         n                     Playground slide

Claim                         vt                     To pick a fight with

Clap                           vt                     To stroke, esp. a pet.  eg, ‘Gaun clap yer dug.’

It does not mean ‘Give your canine friend a standing ovation'.  It means 'Stroke its fur'.

Clarty                         adj                  Filthy

Cleg                           n                     Horsefly

Clipe                          v, n                 To tell on someone, an informer

Cloot                          n                      A cloth.

Clootie dumpling      n                      Steamed pudding

Cludgie 'n dry            n                      lavatory (outdoor latrine)

Coo                            n                      See 'Koo'

Cowp                         vt                     Overturn

Cry                             vt                     (as opposed to weep),  name

                                                          "What's the bairn's name?"  "He's cried George."

Cuddy                       n                      Horse, particularly a working one

Cundy                       n                      Street drain.  (Same as syver)


Day, the                     n                      Today

Deh ken                     vi                    Don't know.  "What's the time?"  "I deh ken"

Dicht                          vt                     To wipe (eg ‘Dicht yer neb!’

Divvie                        n                      Dividend from ‘the Store’ or ‘Co-op’

Doanert                     adj                   Mentally inept.  Thick

Doo                            n                      Pigeon (Haemin doo – Homing pigeon)

Dooken                     n                      The plant Dock.

Dooken mack          n                      A grub found on root of dock and used in angling

Doon-bye                 conv                Conversational reference to a place both parties
                                                          are aware of. (Ah’m gaun doon-bye later oan.)

Doon the road                                 As above, but frequently refers to a pub.

Dram                          n                    (in a pub) A double whisky

Driech                        adj                 (of weather) Dull, dreary.

Drooch                      adj                  (of weather) Dry

Drook                        vt                     To wet or soak

Drookit                      adj                  Soaked

Dub                            n                     Puddle

Dug                            n                     Dog

Dunt                           n                     Bump or shoulder-charge


Ee                               n                      Eye (pl, een - eyes)


Fit                               n                      Foot

Flit                              vi                     To move house

Flittin’                         n                      A house removal (Minlicht flittin’ – secretive
                                                           house removal to avoid overdue rent.)

Forbye                      conj                 As well as, also

Fourpit                      n                      3 and a half pounds (usually of potatoes)

Fower                       num                 Four

Furrit                         adv                  Forward


Galloot                       n                    Oaf

Gallus                        adj                  Brazen or ‘having bottle’

Galusses                  n                      Braces for holding up trousers

Gaun intae the toon                        Going to Edinburgh.

Gaun up the road                            Going home.

Gies                           v imp              Give me!

Girn                            vi                     To grumble or complain.  Whinge.

Get                             n                      (offensive) Unpleasant person.

Gey                            adj                  Very, exceedingly (It’s gey cauld the day)

Gir                              n                      A metal hoop propelled (ca’ed) by boy with stick.

Gie, giy                      adv                 Very.  (He’s gie glaikit.)

Glaur                          n                      Dirt

Glaikit                        adj                  Stupid, brainless

Gowk                         n                      Foolish or gullible person (See 'Huntigowk' below.

Greet                         vi                     Cry (as in sad)

Gub                            n                      Mouth

Gub                            vt                     To punch in the mouth

Guddle                      vt                     Catch fish with bare hands

Guff                            vi                     To boast stupidly

Guider                       n                      A soapbox on old pram wheels ridden by boys

Gutties                       n                     1. Plimsolls.  2, Vintage golf balls (gutta-percha)


Half                             n                     (in a pub) A single measure of whisky.

Halfnahalf                  n                      (in a pub) A single whisky and half pint of beer.

Haw!                          excl                1. Do you mind!!   2. ‘You there!’ 
                                                          3. A greeting, eg ‘Haw, Jimmy!’

Heedjin                      n                      Boss - (High Heedjin - the Big Boss)

Hen                            n                      Form of address to a lady.  (Hoo’s it gaun, Hen?)

Henner                      n                      A dare. (Ah’ll gie ye a henner. Climb that wa’)

How?                         adv                 Why?  (eg I didnae go tae work the day.’  How?’
                                                          ‘Ah didnae feel weel.’)

Howk                         vt                     To dig.  Eg. Tattie howking (digging potatoes)

Hunkers                    n                      Squatting position (Oan mah hunkers.)

Hunnur                      num                One hundred

Huntigowk !             excl                 'April Fool!'  Compression of 'Hunt the Gowk’

Hurl                          vt                     To throw

Hurl                          n                      A lift on a vehicle or cycle (Gies a hurl oan yer bike)

I  J

Jag                             n                      Injection, inoculation.

Janitor                       n                      (as well as caretaker) School attendance officer.

Jeely-piece               n                      Jam sandwich

Jimmy                       n                      Address to an unfamiliar male ‘Haw Jimmy!’

Jiggin'                       n                      Dancing, Dance Hall

Joab (go for a)        n                      Defecate


Keech                       vi, n                (ch as in loch) to excrete, excrement.

Keek                         vi, n                A quick peek (Dutch kijk)

Keelie                       n                     A Glaswegian

Kerry-mittit               adj                  Left-handed.

Kerry-pawed            adj                  Ditto

Kinna                        adv                 Rather.  (Hoo’s yer steak?  Kinna teuch!)

Kippin’ off                 vi                    To play truant.

Kirby                          n                    Hair grip.  From ‘Kirby Grip’

Kirker                         n                    Churchgoer (applicable to C of S)

Kist                             n                    Chest (applies to human thorax or to wooden box)

Koo                            n                     A cow (may be spelt with a ‘c’, but see Kye

Kye                             n pl                 Plural of koo (coo)


Laldy,                         n                      Scolding.  (get glaur on yer shin an’ ah’ll gie ye laldy

Lavvie                        n                      Lavatory

Leatherin’                  n                      Punishment administered using a belt.

Leave-piece             n                      Schoolchild’s packed lunch

Left fitter                    n                      A Roman Catholic

Lemonade                n                      A fizzy drink, of whatever flavour, eg; 

                                                           Customer:  'Gies a bottle o’ lemonade’.

                                                           Assistant:  ‘Sure, whit flavour?'

Lug                             n                      Ear.

Lum                            n                      Chimney

Lummux                     n                      Clumsy person


Mack                          n                     Maggot, grub.

Manky                        adj                  Dirty, unhygienic

Maukit                        adj                 Graceless, lanky

Messages                 n                     Groceries, especially if collected for another.

Mind                           vt                    Remember.  ‘Do you mind Jim Broon’ means ‘Do

                                                          you remember Jim Broon,’ and not ‘Do you object

                                                          to Jim Broon!’

Mingin’                      adj                   Rotting, stinking.

Morn, the                  n                      Tomorrow

Muckle                      adv                  Very.  See footnote **1 below


Neb                            n                      Nose

Ned                            n                      Thug (especially Glaswegian - a Glesca ned might

Be a Celtic or Rangers supporter)

Neep                          n                      Turnip (particularly a swede)

Numpty                      n                       A dim person.

Nut, Nuh’                                           ( Last letter pronounced as a glottal stop.), No.

Nyaff                          adj                   Cheap or tasteless


Ouze                          n                      Kind of hairy dustballs found under beds or chairs.

Oxter                          n                      Armpit


Pallyally                     n                      Pale ale

Palmies                     n pl                 School punishment, being beaten on the palm with

                                                          the tawse (qv)

Pan loaf                    adj                  An affected 'posh' speech called 'Morningside'
                                                          amongst the citizens of Edinburgh.

                                                          Derives from the two most common forms of bread.
                                                          'Plain loaf' was baked in batches with crusts only on
                                                           the top and bottom.
                                                           'Pan' loaves were baked in individual tins
                                                           and had crusts on all six surfaces.

Pech                          vi                    ('ch' as in 'loch') To pant, to be out of breath

Peals                        adv                 (Bowls term) Equal scores. (Peals efter fower ends)

Pee-the-bed             n                     Dandelion

Peelywally                adj                  Pale, weak

Peenie                       n                    Apron (from pinafore)

Peerie                        n                    Wooden top propelled by string on a stick

Peever                       n                    Hopscotch game

Piece                         n                    Sandwich, lunchbox.

Pish                            n vi                 Urine.  To urinate              

Plook                         n                      Acne spot.  Boil.

Po                              n                      Receptacle found under the bed.  A potty.

Poor-oot                   n                      Largesse - usually small denomination coins,

                                                           thrown from wedding car.

Pound                       n                      Small artificially created area of water, eg Curlin’

                                                           pound, a pond.

Press                        n                      Larder or large cupboard

Puddock                   n                      Frog.

Pump                         vi, n                 Pass rectal wind,  Rectal wind

Q  R

Roane                        n                      Gutter of roof


Saldoans                  n                      Salvation Army

Scaffie                       n                      Street sweeper, Dustman.  Dustbin truck.

Scart                          vt                     To scratch. (Dinnae scart yer plooks, hen.)

Skelf                           n                      A splinter

Scud                          n                      A clip round the ear

Scunner                    v                      Sicken (The lavvie fair scunnered me)

Scut                           vt                     To strike, as a match.

Sees                         v imp               Give me! (Sees a halfnahalf!)  More polite form of


Semmit                      n                    Sleeveless vest - singlet.

Scunner                    vt, n                1. Sicken.  2. An annoying person.

Scunnert                   adj                  Sickened

Shaw                         n                     Leafy part of root vegetable, eg tattie shaws

Sheuchs                   n pl                 (‘ch’ as in loch)  Area between the buttocks.

Shin                           n pl                 Plural of shoe.

Shoogle                    vt, vi               To shake.  To wobble

Shoogly                    adj                  Shaky, unsteady

Shoother                  n                      Shoulder

Shows, the               n coll               Funfair

Shunkie                    n                      Lavatory

Shy                            n, vt                (football term) Throw in from touch.

Sic                             adj                  Such.  See **1 below

Sinn                           adv                 Ago. (Ah went tae the Tattoo ten year sinn.)

Skail                           vt                    Spill
                                                          (usually heard in the past tense
                                                           'Ah've skailt mah pint')

Skelf                           n                    Splinter

Skelp                          vt, n              To smack or thrash.  A smack

Skelpit leatherin’       n                    Punishment administered to the buttocks by hand

Skite                           n, vi              1. A light blow.  2.  To skid.  Example - 'Ye'll get

                                                          a skitit lug – you’ll get a clip on the ear!)

Skitters                      n                     Diarrhoea

Slaister                      vt, n                Lay a substance on thick (eg slaister Brylcreem on

                                                          yer heid), a messy person.

Slater                         n                     Woodlouse

Slider                         n                      Ice cream between two wafers

Slitter                         vi, n                To make a wet mess.  Someone making a wet mess

Smirrin                      n                      Very light drizzly rain

Smout                        n                     Small person

Sneck                        n                     Door latch

Sneg                          v                     To steal

Snoater                     vi, n                To have a runny nose, nasal mucus

Sook in                     vi                     To curry favour.

Soomin'                    adj                   Soaked (corruption of 'Swimming')

Soordook                 n                      The herb wild sorrel

Spyug                        n                     Sparrow

Stookie                      n                    1. Starling.  2. Plaster for broken limb

Stoor                          n                     Dust

Store, the                  n                     Co-operative shop (eg ‘ the Store butcher = Co-op


Stote                          n vt                 Bounce (as a ball)

Stote-up                    n                     (football term) restart by referee dropping ball         

Sugarallie                 n                      Liquorice

Sumph                      n                      Cry-baby    "Awa', ye big sumph!"

Sut, su’                      adv                 So, definitely. (Y’ur nut.  Ah’m ur sut!)

Swither                      vt                     Display hesitation, dither.

Syver                         n                      Street drain.  (Same as Cundy)


Tackets                    n                      Metal studs inserted into soles of boots

Tackety bits             n                      Boots with metal studded soles

Tackety bits             n                      Boots with metal studded soles

Tae                           conj                 Also (Jimmy wiz there tae)

Taes                         n                      Toes  (He wiz oan his taes = he ran away)

Tally Man                  n                      Loan collector.

The Tawse               n                      Leather strap, tongued at one end used in school

                                                          as corporal punishment 

Taiblit                        n                      Hard, very sugary form of fudge.

Tattie                         n                      Potato

Tattie bogle              n                      Ghost.

Tattie-bye                                         (valediction) Good-bye!

Teuch                        adj                  (ch as in loch) Tough.

Teuchter                   n                      Highlander

Thole                         vt                     Stand or abide, usually expressed as a negative
                                                          (Ah cannae thole the man’s face)

Thon                          adv                 Penicuik corruption of ‘Yon, yonder.’

Thoosun                   num                One thousand

Toalie                        n                    Excrement, a turd.

Torn-faced               adj                  Grumpy

Toonie                       n                    Resident of Edinburgh.

Troachle                    n                     Impish child.

Turn an’ ca’                                     (Football term) Change ends and continue the
                                                         game without a half-time interval.

Twa’                           num              Two


Up the Street                                   Town Centre

V  W

Wallies                       n                    (pronounced wah-lies) False teeth

Wallie dug                n                     Ornamental china dog

Wheesht                   excl                Be quiet!  (‘Hud yer wheesht’ means the same)

Whiles                       adv                 Sometimes

Whit fur?                   adv                 Why?

Winchin                     adv                 Courting seriously

X  Y  Z

Yin                              num                One

Yin-fittit                      adj                  Unable to kick a ball with both feet

Yucker                       n                      A large stone or rock


**1       ‘Muckle’ is in common use throughout Scotland as a stand-alone adjective meaning ‘Very big.’  In Penicuik it can be used to give emphasis to another adjective, eg; ‘Thon Jock Black’s sic a muckle big lummux.’

**2       Conversations between two Penicuik bairns.

            (a)  ‘Yer a scunner!”
       “Ah’m urr nuh’”
       “Y’urr suh’”

            (b)  "Yur sut!"            'Yes, you are!'
       "Um nut!"            'I am not!'
       "Yis ur!"              'Yes, you are!'
       "Naw um urny!"   'No, I'm not!'

with acknowledgement to Allan Neil, a native of Penicuik:  24+25 Oct, 2009




Contacting Allan

If you'd like to contact Allan Neil who compiled this dictionary, please email me to let me know, then I'll give you the latest email address that I have for him, and hope that it is still current.

Thank you.   

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  September 22, 2009


Nobody has yet asked  me for Alan's email contact details.

However I have received a couple of replies from people who have read his list of 'Penicuik Words & Dialect'.

The message referred to in Reply 2 (below) arrived a couple of days ago.

I'd be interested to hear your response the two questions that I've asked in connection with it.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  September 29, 2014




I regard the 'Penicuik  Slang' list as belonging to Allan Neil who compiled it.

I don't think it would be appropriate for me to alter the format of his list or to start editing it in any way, or adding to it.

However, if I receive any emails giving me more Penicuik slang or colloquial words or expressions,  I'll add them as 'Replies' on this page. 

In fact, I received the first such reply yesterday.  See Reply 1 below.

Peter Stubbs:  August 13, 2011




John Tavner

Dedham, Essex, England

Thank you to John Tavner for sharing some of his reminiscences of 'Penicuik patter'

John wrote:

Living in Penicuik

"I'm really enjoying the Dictionary of Penicuik Slang, not least because I come from Penicuik.  Well, at any rate, I lived there from when I was four to when I left home in my early- twenties.

The Penicuik slang that sticks in my mind is from when I was at the  primary school ('the Annexe') in Jackson Street and later at the 'big school' in Carlops Road, then known as Penicuik Junior Secondary."


"Anyone who had the temerity to turn up at school in a kilt was 
berated with the chant
'Kilty, Kilty, cauld bum'.

In playground games, if you needed time out to catch your breath, you said 'Bees' or 'Barley bees'.

The most common children's game was 'tig' (the Scottish version of  'tag'). The person doing the tigging was 'het', which might mean 'hot' or 'it', but I'm not sure.

Amazingly, in a Radio 4 interview a  couple of days ago, I heard a Strathclyde Police superintendent use  the phrase 'It's a bit like chain tig'.

Wee boys who spoke out of turn to bigger boys were told to 'shut yir wee puss' ('puss' to rhyme with 'bus')."


"I think the local version of 'who' in Penicuik was 'whae'.  There are  so many variations of 'who' in Scottish dialects that it may be worth adding to your list."


"Broomhill Road in Penicuik (where I lived) was invariably known as  'The English Lane' because of the Episcopal church there.

The bit of grass, stream and woodland on the far side of the Telford  Bridge, as you climb the Peebles Road out of Penicuik, was called  'The Targets" because, I believe, it had been an Army practice range at some time in the distant past.


"In Penicuik, 'puggled' or 'puggelt' meant 'very tired' or 'exhausted'.  In Glasgow, I believe it meant 'drunk'.

Letter 'J'

The letter 'J' was pronounced 'Jye' to rhyme with 'sky' in Penicuik.  There was a local worthy called JJ Hamilton in my time.  |He was always known in council meetings, etc as 'Jye Jye'.


"The annual ratepayers' meeting was known colloquially as the 'Greetin' Meetin'', although I'm sure this expression was not confined to Penicuik.

A common expression in Penicuik was 'like the bars', which apparently meant 'very energetically'. Once, I was on a Boy Scout hike in the  Moorfoot Hills near Penicuik.  One of the boys spotted a hawk.  'Look at him, hoverin' like the bars" he said, in an expression that has stayed with me ever since."

John Tavner, Dedham, Essex:  August 12, 2011




Iain Brennan

Leith, Edinburgh

Thank you to Iain Brennan who wrote:

Penicuik Words

"I believe that most of these words would not have been confined to Penicuik.  I have, in fact, heard and used many of them myself, while growing up in Edinburgh."

Iain Brennan, Leith, Edinburgh:  September 27+ October 1, 2014

Penicuik Words

In fact, when Allan sent his list to me in 2009, he said:

"Not all words are purely Penicuik but all were used by my father and those of his generation aroon' the toon."

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  October 1, 2014


It might be interesting and informative to add a column to the table that Allan has provided, to distinguish between words that were:

(a)  used only or mainly in Penicuik

(b)  also used in Edinburgh

(c)  also used more widely across Scotland or Britain.

Q1.  Do you think that would be a good idea?

Q2.  Can you help by suggesting which category any of the words in Allan's list should be allocated to?

Please email me to let me know.  I look forward to your replies.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  September 29, 2014




Allan Dodds


Thank you to Allan Dodds who wrote:

The Penicuik List

"I recognise many words in the Penicuik List above as being words used by my parents and grandparents, none of whom came from Penicuik.

Also, I recognise the word 'skelf' as being an Aberdeen word for 'splinter'.   In Edinburgh, we called a splinter a 'spail'."

Allan Dodds, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England:  September 30, 2014

Penicuik Words

The comment above is interesting and informative, but it should not be regarded in any way as being a criticism of Allan Neil's list of Penicuik.  Alan's assertion was that the words on his list were used in Penicuik;  he never claimed that they were exclusive to Penicuik.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  October 2, 2014




Bob Henderson

Burdiehouse,  Edinburgh

Thank you to Bob Henderson who wrote:

The Penicuik List

"This is the first time I've looked at this list, and I'd say that, to my knowledge, 90% of these words were in general use in Edinburgh and all over East Lothian and Midlothian.   I can't speak for West Lothian as I did not go to the west of the city in my early years.

 Some of the words sound similar but have different  meanings to me.  e.g.

-  henner = a dare.  This to me was a tumble or forward roll.

cundy = siver.  This to me wasa recess in a wall to step into for safety.

Other words sound different but have similar meanings.  e.g.

-  kerry = left handed  I would have said 'corry'.

I think the easy way to go about this exercise would be to pick out the words that we Edinburghers would not have used."

Bob Henderson, Burdiehouse, Edinburgh:  September 30, 2014

Penicuik Words

The comment above is interesting and informative, but it should not be regarded in any way as being a criticism of Allan Neil's list of Penicuik.  Alan's assertion was that the words on his list were used in Penicuik;  he never claimed that they were exclusive to Penicuik.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  October 2, 2014

(I've now added the note above to the end of Replies 3 and 4.  It may well also be relevant to other replies, but don't intend to add it again.)


Edinburgh Names and Slang

Leith Names

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