Edinburgh words: 23 hilarious bits of slang you will hear in Edinburgh, including shan, radge and steamboats

As anyone who has spent much time in Edinburgh will know, the natives often have a unique way with words.
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Take a stoll into some of the city’s more affluent areas, such as Stockbridge and Morningside, and you’ll find the well-heeled natives pride themselves on their flawless diction and restrained vocabulary.

But while the more refined areas of Auld Reekie channel the spirit of Muriel Spark’s Miss Jean Brodie, it’s the likes of Gorgie, Gilmerton, Niddrie and Sighthill where the language is at its most colourful.

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Leith, in particular, is a hotbed for hilarious words and phrases, many of them brought into the mainstream in Trainspotting, the cult novel by local writer Irvine Welsh.

Irvine Welsh's cult novel Trainspotting, which was made into a hit film by Danny Boyle, is full of hilarious Edinburgh slang.Irvine Welsh's cult novel Trainspotting, which was made into a hit film by Danny Boyle, is full of hilarious Edinburgh slang.
Irvine Welsh's cult novel Trainspotting, which was made into a hit film by Danny Boyle, is full of hilarious Edinburgh slang.

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

A few of the words you’ll see in our glossary and used in other parts of the countrty, but a fair few are unique to the Capital.

Some are a little choice for a family pubication – to say the least – but we’ve collected a few here:

An Edinburgh glossary

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

Barry - fantastic or great

Bog - toilet

Bolt – go away

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

Hud-oan - wait, as in wait for me

Haud yer weesht - be quiet

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

Foostie - stale

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

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

'Steamboats' – 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’)