‘Dreich’ has been revealed as the winner of the Scottish Book Trust’s search for the most iconic Scots word.
The national charity transforming lives through reading and writing, recently held a vote to find the nation’s best word.
The online Dictionary of the Scots Language records usage of dreich from as early as 1420, revealing the word has survived – and indeed thrives – in the vocabulary of Scots in Scotland and around the globe.
‘Dreich’ was closely followed by ‘glaikit’, while newcomers to the list include ‘scunnered’ and ‘shoogle’ coming in third and fourth place respectively. A total number of 1,895 votes were cast.
The iconic Scots word vote was launched as part of Book Week Scotland, a week-long celebration of reading and writing. This year’s theme was conversation, and the public were encouraged to submit their favourite Scots in order to prompt discussion around well-loved and well-used words.
Iconic Scots Word Vote – top ten final results
- Dreich – 259 votes
- Glaikit – 225 votes
- Scunnered – 199 votes
- Shoogle – 125 votes
- Wheest – 114 votes
- Fankle – 93 votes
- Outwith – 80 votes
- Braw – 77 votes
- Beastie – 76 votes
- Bumfle – 59 votes
Dreich originally meant ‘enduring’ or ‘slow, tedious’ but over time these meanings gave way to ‘dreary, hard to bear’ and from there to ‘dull, gloomy’. The word has also stood the test of time as it was highlighted as the nation’s favourite Scots word in 2013, when it also topped a YouGov poll for Burns Night.
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: ‘We were overwhelmed by the many submissions for our iconic Scots words vote – it’s certainly a subject close to people’s hearts. Dreich is such an evocative word with the ability to sum up the Scottish weather, or mood, perfectly. It’s also a word that is very well used here in Scotland and beyond.
‘Thank you to everyone who took part in the vote. It’s fantastic to see the vibrant conversation around Scots language.’
Rhona Alcorn, CEO of the Scots Language Dictionary, said: ‘Once again, dreich has been chosen as the most iconic Scots word, with glaikit taking the silver medal. Dreich has been part of the core vocabulary of Scots for hundreds of years so it is especially fitting that one of its primary meanings is “enduring, persistent”’.'”
Tying in with A Year of Conversation and the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the public were invited to submit iconic Scots words through the charity’s social media channels and website. A panel of Scots language experts whittled down the many submissions into a shortlist of twenty words, which were then voted for by the public via Scottish Book Trust’s social media and website.
The Gaelic Book Council also ran their own poll on social media to discover the country’s favourite Gaelic word, using the hashtag #facal. Two trends emerged from the longlist: firstly, people were likely to choose words connected to nature e.g. ‘fairge’ (‘wave’) and ‘muir’ (‘ocean’); secondly, words with the ending ‘ag’ were also popular e.g. ‘piseag’ (‘kitten’) and ‘srùpag’ (‘small sip’). Gaelic Book Trust staff narrowed the submissions down to shortlist of ten and the public was invited to vote for their favourite. ‘Cailleach-oidhche’, the Gaelic word for ‘owl’ which translates literally as ‘old woman of the night’ topped the poll.