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It’s a cliché, but not one without some truth behind it: people here love talking about the weather! Whether it’s rain, sunshine or snow, weather is always a good small talk topic.

As always though, people in Scotland have their own ways of talking about these things, which may be confusing if you’ve never heard them before.

To help you out we’ve thrown together a list of weather words and phrases we think you’ll find useful. Take a look, and hopefully you’ll be gabbing on about how dreich it is (talking about how gloomy it is) soon enough!

Baltic

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64
Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54

Have you ever been so cold that the word cold just wasn’t enough? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Baltic is a word people often use to describe freezing cold weather. Don’t be surprised if you hear this one a lot in the winter!

Example conversation:

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: Jeezo, it’s proper baltic!       Geez, it’s totally freezing.
B: Ken! And no even winter yet.   I know! And it’s not even winter yet.

Blowing a Gale

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64
Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54

Dealing with the wind is something you’ll know well if you live in Scotland. But sometimes it’s more than just a bit windy outside. When you feel like the wind is particularly strong you might want to say it’s “blowing a gale”. 

Example conversation:

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: It’s blowing a gale oot there th’day!It’s very windy out there today!
B: Oh, I’ll take a jaicket then.Oh, I’ll take a jacket then.

Caud/Cauld

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64
Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54

Living with the cold is another thing you’ll be used to if you’re in Scotland. Being so far north, it’s no surprise that it gets quite chilly, especially in the winter. 

While the word cold might be familiar to you then, what you might not know is the way that some people in Scotland say and write it. Cauld, or caud, which are both pronounced with an “aww” sound similar to “saw” or “paw” instead of an “oh” sound in the middle, simply mean cold!

Example conversation:

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: It’s gey cauld oot the morning.It’s very cold outside this morning.
B: Aye, glad I’m aw wrapped up!Yeah, I’m glad I’m all wrapped up (in clothes)!

Dreich

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64
Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54

Despite the pictures you may have seen of stunning Highland views, complete with entirely blue skies, unfortunately Scotland has more than its fair share of grey days too. Fortunately, we have the vocabulary to cover it! 

On days when it’s overcast, grey, and a little bit gloomy, you might hear people describing the weather is “dreich”. This doesn’t mean that it’s windy or rainy (though it might be those things as well), just that it’s grey and a bit miserable.

Example conversation:

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: How’s it looking out there?How does it look outside?
B: It’s awfy dreich to be honest.It’s awfully (very) grey to be honest.

Drookit

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64
Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54

If it’s drookit where you are, then you know it must be a really bad day weather wise. This word describes rain which soaks or drenches people on the street, and feels like it is a little bit inescapable! Definitely stay home if you can on drookit days.

Example conversation:

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: Aw man, iIt’s proper drookit th’day.Oh no, it’s an extremely rainy day today.
B: A’ll no be going tae the shops just now then!I won’t go to the shops just now then!

Haar

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64
Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54

If you live near the sea for any amount of time you’re sure to experience haar. This word describes the sea fog which occasionally rolls into coastal places. A day with haar is likely to be cold and wet, and if you head outside you might not be able to see much further than your own arms!

Example conversation:

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: There’s a right haar hanging aboot toon th’day.There’s a strong sea fog in the town today.
B: Gie it a few hours and it’ll burn aff.Give it a few hours and it’ll burn off.

Jeelit

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64

Still looking for more words for cold weather? Introducing…jeelit! This word, like baltic, means freezing, and is used to describe the kinds of days which feel punishingly chilly.

Example conversation:

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: It’s fair jeelit oot.It’s really freezing out.
B: Is it aye? Best wrap up then!Is it? We’d better wrap up (in lots of clothes) then!

Pure and Fair

Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64
Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54
Speaker: Robert – lives in Lanarkshire, age group 55-64
Speaker: Jennifer – lives in Midlothian (grew up in Ayrshire), age group 45-54

Here’s a bonus pair of words for you. These two don’t describe weather itself, but it’s likely that you might hear them when people are talking about weather. You may have even noticed them in our example conversations! That’s because these words mean “very” or “really”, and are used to emphasise the strength of something. For example, if it’s scorching you know it must be hot, but if it’s pure scorching, or fair scorching, then you know it must be seriously hot!

Example conversation:

Scottish ExampleSimple English
A: It’s a pure belter of a day like!It’s a really amazing day!
B: Aye, a fair scorcher for sure.Yeah, it’s really hot, definitely.

This is the end of our Weather Starter Pack. The words above all are pretty common and we hope will be helpful when making small talk in Scotland. 

For more Starter Packs click here.


STOP!

The next page contains some strong language and words that might not be suitable for kids. If you’d like to know more please click through, otherwise we hope you have enjoyed this Starter Pack and learnt plenty from it.