21 Edinburgh slang words that only locals will probably understand

Edinburgh is a city of contrasts and differences, and that extends to the dialect of the locals.

In more afluent areas such as Stockbridge and Morningside, the natives pride themselves on their flawless diction and restrained vocabulary. While the more refined areas of Edinburgh channel the spirit of Miss Jean Brodie, it’s the likes of Leith and Tollcross that offer the more interesting slang.

Leith, in particular, is a hotbed for interesting words and phrases, with the work of local author Irvine Welsh key in bringing the area’s language to the fore.

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The cult classic novel Trainspotting was written almost entirely in Welsh’s Leith dialect, with some exciting and interesting turns of phrase used along the way.

Trainspotting's Frances Begbie, played in Danny Boyle's film by Robert Carlyle, loved to use Edinburgh slang.

Many Edinburgh words have their origins in the Roma language, traditionally spoken by travelling people in southern Scotland.

Some of the sayings are a little choice for these pages, but we’ve collected a few here:

An Edinburgh glossary

Bampot - mad; idiot. Is often shortened to just ‘bam’.

Barry - fantastic or great

Bunker - worktop, kitchen counter

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Cheesin: happy

Chore: To steal something

Chum - join on a journey (Chumming a friend doon the road)

Cludgie - toilet

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Deek - look at

Dinnae - don’t

Embra - Edinburgh

Hud-oan - wait, as in wait for me

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Ken - Know. ('I ken what you mean')

Feart - afraid of

Foostie - stale

Gadgie: usually used to describe a man or boy who engages in loutish behaviour.

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Nash: Hurry up

Radge - crazy or uncontrollable (A person can either be a radge, ‘go radge’, or do something radge)

Reekin’ - drunk

Steamin’ - see above

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Scoobied - clueless (Scooby Doo is rhyming slang for clue)

Shan - a shame, or disappointing (A bad day at work could be ‘well shan’). Can also mean unkind (‘that was shan saying that to him’)

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