Edinburgh sayings: A to Z of Edinburgh slang words and phrases you will ‘ken’ if you're from here

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Edinburgh has a language of all its own – or at least that’s how it must seem to outsiders.

In the city’s posher suburbs such as Morningside and Stockbridge, the natives pride themselves on their flawless diction and restrained vocabulary. But while the more refined areas of Edinburgh channel the spirit of Muriel Spark’s Miss Jean Brodie, it’s the likes of Leith and Dalry where you will hear the more interesting slang.

Leith, in particular, is a hotbed for hilarious words and phrases, with the work of locally-born Trainspotting writer Irvine Welsh key in bringing the old port’s language to the fore.

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

Irvine Welsh's classic novel Trainspotting, which was later turned into a film, was almost entirely written in Edinburgh (or more accurately Leith) slangIrvine Welsh's classic novel Trainspotting, which was later turned into a film, was almost entirely written in Edinburgh (or more accurately Leith) slang
Irvine Welsh's classic novel Trainspotting, which was later turned into a film, was almost entirely written in Edinburgh (or more accurately Leith) slang

Many Edinburgh words have their origins in the Roma language, which was traditionally spoken by travelling people in southern Scotland. However, there are certain Edinburgh words and phrases you’re unlikely to hear elsewhere in Scotland.

Some are a little choice for these pages – to say the least – but we’ve compiled a few here for your amusement:

An Edinburgh glossary

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

Barry - fantastic or great

Bog - toilet

Bolt – go away, or get lost

Boost – same as above, to tell someone to vacate your space (‘boost, ya goblin’ is a phrase that seemingly originated in Portobello, but is now used as far afield as Oslo)

Bunker - worktop, kitchen counter

Cheesin: happy

Chore: To steal something

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

Deek - look at

Dinnae - don’t

Embra - Edinburgh

Feart - afraid of

Foostie - stale

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

Hud-oan - wait, as in wait for me

Haud yer weesht - be quiet

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

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

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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