Scots / Northumbrian Words

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Afeard:  afraid 


Afore:  before


Aqua Vitae:  whisky


Bairn:  a babe


Bannock:  unleavened, round, flat loaf made of oat or barley meal


Barmekin:  defensive stone wall surrounding a peel tower along the Borders


Bastle house:  a fortified farmhouse


Beacon:  part of a network of signal fires situated on towers and hillsides that warned of approaching raiders 


Benefit of clergy:  blessing of the Church


Bide:  stay


Bill:  charge or complaint


Blethering:  incessant, foolish talk


Blood feud:  a lengthy conflict between families involving a cycle of retaliatory killings or injury


Bollock dagger:  a kind of dagger carried by the Border Reivers


Braw:  fine, beautiful, attractive, grand, admirable


Brae:  a hill


Breeks:  breeches


Broken man:  man who was declared an outlaw and whose family would not stand surety for him


Bucking tubs:  tubs used to soak clothes in lye or urine to remove stains


Burgonet:  an open helmet, usually having a peak and hinged cheek pieces


Burn:  stream


Cannot see the daylight till him:  basically he's Betty's "blue eyed" boy and can do no wrong


Canny:  pleasant, nice, good judgment


Clype:  tattletale


Dale:  valley


Day of Truce:  when opposing wardens met to dispense justice and resolve differences


Docking the dell:  having sex with a woman


Drowning hole: cheap and quick means of execution in any river


Fash:  worry


Fechting:  fighting


Fell:  hill


Gallowsbreid:  one who deserves to hang


Garderobe:  bathroom


Gibbetted:  left hanging on the gallows (gibbet) for public viewing


Gob:  mouth


Greeting:  crying


Handfast:  trial marriage or betrothal binding for one year, after which each party could decide to  stay together or part


Happin:  mayhap, perhaps, maybe


Harebell: Scottish Bluebell


Haud:  HOLD


Haud yer wheesht:  be silent


Heath:  an area of open, uncultivated land


Heid:  head


Heidsman:  head of the family


Hobbler:  Border horse


Hot trod:  legal raid in retribution for an offense


Ideot:  idiot


Jack:  a sleeveless tunic worn for protection, made of thick quilted material, sometimes with pieces of metal sown between the layers of cloth


Jedburgh axe:  an axe with a distinctive cutting edge


Keek:  peek


Kye:  cow


Latch:  a small, light crossbow


Lea:  an open area of grassy or arable land


Lug:  ear


March:  Border district between England and Scotland; each district was divided into three Marches: the East, Middle, and West


Midden: dunghill


Neb:  nose


Outlander:  one from outside the Borders


peel tower:  fortified tower house


pend:  undercroft


plaid:  a blanket


Plucking her plum tree:  taking a woman's virginity


Put to the horn:  declared an outlaw and could be hung on sight


Red hand:  basically caught with the goods or in the act 


Scumfishing:  the practice of stacking straw against the entryway of a peel tower and setting it afire in order to smoke the inhabitants out into the open


Shedding her shanks:  having sex with a woman


Shieling:  hut


Skelp:  slap


Skelp in the lugs:  slap across the ears


Surety:  to take responsibility for someone’s appearance or debts at the Day of Truce


Swive:  to have sexual intercourse


Tawse:  a leather strap divided at the end into two or more lashes


Trip step:  an uneven step built into the turnpike intended to unbalance attackers storming the tower


Turnpike:  a circular staircase used to access upper floors in a tower


Undercroft:  basement or ground floor


Wagging a wand in the water:  a waste of time


Wame:  stomach


Wean:  wee one or child


Widdie:  gallows or gibbet


Yett:  hinged iron gate


     

    

**Photograph by Muskhi Brichta