5 June 2023

Essential Scottish Words - Get to know Scotland’s key phrases & language

Here’s a handy rundown of some essential Scottish dictionary words to help you pass as a local!

A musician plays on the street as people walk by

How well do you know your Scots language?

Do you know the difference between a loch and a lake? Have you ever been called peelie-wally? Maybe you got offered a piece for lunch. 

The Scottish language is full of beautiful and whimsical phrases. Ahead of your trip to Scotland for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships - here’s a handy rundown of some essential Scottish dictionary words to help you pass as a local!

8 Scottish words to know before you arrive in Scotland


If you ‘ken’ something it means you ‘know’ something. 

The Scottish word has become more than just a word for knowing, and sometimes is used in replace of ‘right’ and ‘yes’. Its mostly heard on a the north and east sides of Scotland. 

Used in a phrase:

“I didnae ken that cyclists could do backflips on a bike


Got back from a soaking wet road ride? Did you have a crash on your mountain bike? Then you might be looking a wee bit ‘peelie-wally’

We Scots are very proud of the fact we can make looking unwell sound so upbeat!

Used in a phrase:

“You’re looking awfa peelie-wally after that bike ride’


You really don’t want to be ‘minging’ because it probably means you’re smelling quite bad!

It can be used to describe how people smell, but also used in to describe something disgusting.

Used in a phrase:

“Go take a shower! You smell minging after that ride!”


If it's in bread and if it has a filling of salad and/or meat, in Scotland it's known as a piece. 

AKA the Scottish word for a sandwich. 

Used in a phrase:

“Feeling like I'm about to bonk on the bike! I need a piece.”


A jam piece is a popular dish across Scotland!


A loch is the Scots word for a lake / body of water.

One of Scotland’s most famous loch’s, Loch Lomond, will be the starting location for the Women Elite and Men Under 23 Road Races.

Used in a phrase:

“I cannae wait to watch the Women’s Road Race from the shores of Loch Lomond”


To haver is the Scots way of saying to talk foolishly.

It can famously be heard in The Proclaimers song ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ with the line “And if I haver, yeah I know I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be the man who’s havering to you.”

Used in a phrase:

“Stop your havering and get on with your cycle.”


Bonnie is the Scottish word for beautiful and pretty. 

It is a word that has become ingrained in Scottish culture, heard in songs, movies, poems and everyday chat!

Used in a phrase:

“Scotland’s looking awfa bonnie this afternoon”


Braw is the Scots way of saying something is good/quality. 

Sometimes used alongside the word ‘class’, braw is often heard to describe something being great. 

Used in a phrase:

“Getting out of Glasgow for a cycle in Loch Lomond is braw!”


Visiting Glasgow and across Scotland for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships

From stunning mountain views and world class trails, to breathtaking cityscapes and coastal villages - Scotland has something for everyone. 

Currently planning your trip to Scotland in time for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships? You can find out more about the Host Regions of the Championships on our website, and learn more about all you need to know about of trip in our Visiting the Championships section