Adjective & noun. Early 17th century.
[from Latin Caledonia, Caledonia, Roman name of part of northern Britain, later applied to Scotland or the Scottish Highlands, + -AN.]
A(1) adjective. Of or pertaining to ancient Caledonia;
Scottish, of the Scottish Highlands,
(now jocular or literary excluding in names of existing institutions etc.). E17
A(2) adjective. GEOLOGY. Designating or pertaining to an episode of
mountain-building in NW Europe in the Palaeozoic era. E20
B noun. A native or inhabitant of ancient Caledonia;
a Scotsman, a Scottish Highlander, (now jocular or literary). M18
|Caber is a Scottish word - who'd have thought?|
(photo by Steve HDC)
Unsurprising Words of Scottish Origin:
As a child, I thought that Ben Nevis was the guy that either first discovered Ben Nevis, or first climbed it or something.
But no; ben is simply the Scottish word for 'mountain peak', and Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the British Isles.
It's not just Ireland that has lots of bogs - as one Scottish tourist site boasts: "Scotland grows world-class bogs."
In keeping with this lofty accolade, Scotland, through Scots and Irish Gaelic, brings us the word bog too.
'Tossing the caber' is a regular feature of the Scottish Highland Games, in which burly 'tossers' must throw a 'caber' (from Scots Gaelic meaning 'pole'),
a wooden beam approximately 20ft (6m) in length and weighing around 175lbs (79kg). Contrary to popular belief,
the contestant is not scored by how far he tosses the caber, but rather how straight it is after he flips it.
Scotland is famous for its clans, and clan is a famously Scottish word, meaning 'offspring, family.'
Modern golf originated in Scotland, and so did the word, as did the golf-related terms caddie and links.
If you ever get the opportunity to visit the Scottish lochs (lakes), do not pass up the opportunity.
While you might not see the Loch Ness Monster (although you'll probably think you caught a glimpse of something),
you will be treated to some of the most breathtaking and eerily beautiful sights in Britain.
It rains a lot in Scotland, so they need macs; Mackintosh is a Scottish name, and the guy that invented
the mackintosh was Charles Mackintosh, a Scot. Therefore, you just don't get more Scottish than this.
It's impossible to go to Scotland without someone calling you 'pet' and,
although I don't have any figures for actual pet ownership in Scotland,
the word is theirs (possibly shared with the northern reaches of England).
A Sassenach is what I am to a Scot - an English person. It's derived from the word Saxon and,
although I never know if it's supposed to be derogatory or not, I rather like it.
Tweed is a coarse Scottish fabric and, while it may be favoured by English toffs, it's Scottish through-and-through.
Ah! When it comes to whisky, you can't beat a good old bottle of scotch (or so I'm told - personally I can't stand the stuff).
The Scottish and Irish can battle this one out after-hours, as the word whisky is a variant of the delicious-sounding usquebaugh,
which originates from the term 'water of life' in Scottish and Irish Gaelic.
|But then so is is ghillie, as in ghillie suit|
(photo from U.S.A.M.C)
Surprising Words of Scottish Origin:
No, it's not that letters of blackmail are 'black' in character. Rather, this word originates from some rather enterprising
Scottish clan chiefs who ran protection rackets on the border with England, collecting 'black' taxes from villages to protect them
from being plundered. By themselves.
You know those furry-looking green suits that snipers wear? They're ghillie suits, and the word originates in Scotland.
I don't know why that's surprising, but it is.
Scotland might not seem glamorous, but glamorous is undoubtedly Scottish,
originally meaning 'enchantment, magic'.
Gob is British slang for 'mouth', and it's Scots Gaelic for mouth too.
As of yet, nobody has had the gumption to figure out where gumption came from, other than Scotland ...
... nor pernickety ...
... whereas that beautiful word minging (as in 'Urgh! Her face is well minging, innit!' - read in a London accent),
is thought to originate with the 1970s Scottish dialect word ming, meaning 'excrement'.
Raid is a Scottish variant on the word road, roads no doubt being useful
for the conducting of raids when certain English villages didn't pay their dues.
(see blackmail above)
Slogan is from the Scots Gaelic sluagh-ghairm, meaning 'army shout',
something that's surprising and interesting in equal measure.
Oh the irony! Scottish men are famous for wearing kilts, and yet the word trousers is of Scottish origin.
However, it may be a little less surprising in that it's remarkably easy to say trousers in a Scottish accent - it's just troo-zuhs with a trilled r.
Easy, even for someone as atrociously bad at accents as me.
Are you from Scotland?
Do you have any favourite Caledonian constructions, words or phrases?
Do leave a wee comment in the box below, laddie.