Scotland's Dreich Climate and Weather have Produced a Torrent of Words  

Who Said What?

Scotland's dreich climate has produced a torrent of Scots words to describe it: black weet. blashy, blay bye - dreep, drowie, feechie, peuch and plowtery, to name but a few.  Who said what about Scotland’s crappy weather?

DREICH - Dreich - is Scotland's favorite weather word. This Scots word suggest any weather from merely overcast to ferociously damp - but the word always carries a burden of utter joylessness!

Scots is the language of Lowland Scotland and the Northern Isles, one of Scotland's indigenous languages, descended from Northern Old English, greatly influenced by  Norn - old Scandinavian. Scots was once the language of government, spoken by Scottish kings and poets, and it  has its own dialects - Glaswegian, Syrshire, Shetland, Doric, Border Scots among them.

When to school we had a rhyme…which we used to repeat when rain threatened, under the firm belief that raindrops would listen to our prayer, and spend their wrath in another direction: Rain, rain, rattlestain Dinnae rain on me But rain on Johnny Groats house Far ahint at sea
— Picturesque Scotland, Its Romantic Scenes and Historical Associations Described in Lay and Legend, Song and Story, Francis Watt (1849-1927)
SOME SCOTS BAD WEATHER VOCABULARY TO HAVE FUN WITH

Drookit - drenched
Dubs - puddles
Smirr - light rain
Haar - mist from the sea
Snell - bitingly cold wind
Fair jeelit - ice cold
Pish-oot - downpour
Sump - great fall of rain
Gandiegow - heavy shower
Dreep - steady fall of light rain
Attery - stormy
Blenter, Flaff - gusty wind
Tousle - blustery
Llinn - torrent or waterfall
Sclutter, Slaister - messy wetness
Glaur - mud and mire
Plype - sudden heavy shower
Bobantilter - icicle

Bullet stanes - hailstones
Gandiegow - squall
Greetie - showery
Lauchin’ rain” - “laughing rain,” a long shower from a clear sky
Rumballiach - tempestuous.
Spindrift - sea spray whipped up by the wind
Skirl- a wailing strong wind.

A French writer mentions, as proof of Shakespeare’s attention to particulars, his allusion to the climate of Scotland in the words: “Hail, hail, all hail!” —-Thomas Moore Journal, 16 April, 1821

In Wick I have never heard any one greet his neighbour with the usual ‘Fine day’ or ‘Good morning.’ Both come shaking their heads, and both say, ‘Breezy, breezy!’ And such is the atrocious quality of the climate, that the remark is almost invariably justified by the fact.  ——Robert Louis Stevenson, in a letter to his mother the summer of 1868.

So this is your Scotland. It is rather nice, but dampish and Northern and one shrinks a trifle inside one's skin. For these countries one should be amphibian.—-D.H. Lawrence, Letter to Hon. Dorothy Brett, 14 August 1926

So this is your Scotland. It is rather nice, but dampish and Northern and one shrinks a trifle inside one's skin. For these countries one should be amphibian.—-D.H. Lawrence, Letter to Hon. Dorothy Brett, 14 August 1926

Other Scots words for crappy weather
Edinburgh pays cruelly for her high seat in one of the vilest climates under heaven. She is liable to be beaten upon by all the winds that blow, to be drenched with rain, to be buried in cold sea fogs out of the east, and powdered with the snow as it comes flying southward from the Highland hills. The weather is raw and boisterous in winter, shifty and ungenial in summer, and a downright meteorological purgatory in the spring. The delicate die early, and I, as a survivor, among bleak winds and plumping rain, have been sometimes tempted to envy them their fate.
— Robert Louis Stevenson, Edinburgh Picturesque Notes,© 1879

In one very important respect Scotland is physically inferior to most similar countries, and that is in climate. Most of the great Greek ideas came naturally from her sunshine and mild sea breezes. The philosophers were men who sat in the open air under trees, drinking wine. They were encouraged thus to think fruitfully...Scotland's climate has never been temperate enough to produce that ease of mind which suddenly erupts in the world-shattering ideas, nor has it been hard enough, such as that of Scandinavia and Russia, to transform men into ravening wild beasts, like the Viking and other hoards. —-SCOTLAND: THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE, © Donald Cowie, 1973 by A.S. Barnes and Company, Cranbury, NJ and London: Thomas Yoseloff Ltd., London ISBN 0-498-01169-0 

A frosty bicycle parked at Findhorn Eco Village - any need to lock it up?

A frosty bicycle parked at Findhorn Eco Village - any need to lock it up?

We found this old abandoned guest house - now a gust house destroyed by the wind - on the way to Wick.

We found this old abandoned guest house - now a gust house destroyed by the wind - on the way to Wick.

A Scottish mist may wet an Englishman to the skin - that is, ‘small mischiefs in the beginning, if not seasonably prevented, may prove very dangerous. —-Thomas Fuller, History of the Worthies of England, 1662

Some Highland witches are said to control the weather. They are called Storm Witches and are capable of raising great hurricanes and snow storms, or of calming the waves at will. Such a witch lived at Scourie, and made a good living by selling favorable winds to mariners, few of whom would set sail without first consulting her. She would stand on a rock above Scourie Bay, pointing her staff in the direction of the wind she wanted to invoke. Then she would chant a geasan (a Gaelic spell) and the tempest would commence - or cease, according to her wish. —-SCOTLAND Myths and Legends, by Beryl Beare, © Parragon. London 1996, ISBN 0-94778-294-x 

A still-in-use trinkie, natural rock swimming pool, near Wick in Caithness, on the cold North Sea

A still-in-use trinkie, natural rock swimming pool, near Wick in Caithness, on the cold North Sea

The Moray microclimate - Nairn's Sunshine Coast

The Moray microclimate - Nairn's Sunshine Coast

The Moray microclimate - Nairn's Sunshine Coast

The climate is strangely un-Scottish, due to some geographical freak. There can be continuous days of sunshine in the early spring, and the soft fruits grow as lushly as in California and with better flavor. the place names are poetically beautiful, from New Pitsligo to Fyvie and from Strichen to the Muir of Fowlis. Craigellachie, Fochabers, Dufftown and the original Dallas compete with Keig and Clatt and Waterton and Echt.

Not only the climate but also the people are outlandish even for Scotland...They are not at all Scottish, these descendants of Vikings, and, lacking both "Celtic" and Saxon blood, they display red hair predominantly and sea-blue eyes...they can frequently go mad with frustration in a regimented world. (Just as their forefathers went suitably berserk.) —-SCOTLAND: THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE, © Donald Cowie, 1973 by A.S. Barnes and Company, Cranbury, NJ and London: Thomas Yoseloff Ltd., London ISBN 0-498-01169-0 

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