They’ve given us kilts; they’ve given us bagpipes. Haggis? You can choose to take it or leave it, but thanks to our northern numpties (q.v.), the Brits can offer our own item of exotic culinary fare. I thought they might have given us windbag (I mean, look at the image above), but that was just false speculation on my part. No, they’re smart, witty, left-wing and eloquent, and they’ve given the world Sean Connery and an accent sexy enough to stir anyone’s loins — even if we can’t understand a word they’re saying. Och aye the noo: we’re talking about the Scots, who right now are giving their British compatriots nothing but sweaty palms and heart palpitations as we await the results of their historic referendum on Thursday … Will they stay, or will they go?
But how many people know that they have also given us glamour, golf and gumption? Those are just three of a number of words that find their origins in the Scottish Highlands (or Lowlands): more such words are listed below, with their back-stories. Whereas some seem to wear their Highland homeland easily on their sleeves (such as caddy, clan, gloaming and wee), there are a few surprises in there. Who knew, for example, that we had the Scots to thank for pony, blatant and raid? My favorite discovery is that glamour, with its early Scottish meaning of magic, derives from the word grammar. Aye, that’s bonnie.
blackmail: a tribute levied by freebooting Scottish chieftans or Border Reivers who ran protection rackets against Scottish farmers
blatant: perhaps an alternative of the Scottish blatand, meaning bleating, associated with blatter Continue reading