Sharing Scots words

Whether you live or teach in urban or rural Scotland, people from every walk of life have their own store of Scots words which they are usually only too glad to share.

A secondary teacher in Fife who asked pupils to collect words from their families did not anticipate the huge volume of expressive Scots language which poured in from parents and grandparents. Although they knew a few of their own, the pupils suddenly they had at their disposal a much richer vocabulary for their creative writing. They gathered in even more from other teachers and the school’s auxiliary staff.

It’s often reported that many parents are unsure of whether schools should be teaching Scots at all but thinking about Scots words at home is a great opportunity for parents and children to share learning. Mrs Jane Miller was so impressed with the Scots language work her son Gary was doing at Nethermains Primary School in Denny that she sat down and wrote out a nine-hundred-word Scots-English dictionary of her own.

  PDF file: Jane Miller's Scots Dictionary (50 KB)

A Word fae the Weans

Pupils at St Ninian’s Primary School in Stirling have been collecting Scots words from all over Scotland. With the full support of headteacher Elaine Wylie, their project ‘A Word fae the Weans’ has gathered over 15,000 words and they’re still looking for more. To find out about how to contribute,contact

St Ninian’s pupils have also been asking other children, parents, teachers and colleagues to adopt a Scots word and agree to use it more in their own speech. They even invited MSPs to sponsor great Scots words like stramash, heeligoleerie and clootie dumplin.

Tapping into adults’ knowledge of the language can increase our children’s Scots vocabulary and improve reading and creative writing skills. And it is an excellent learning activity which brings together home, school and the wider community.