Categories > Guides and Tips
- Do maintain eye contact.
- Do be overly polite.
- Do enjoy a drink with a Scot.
- Do practise a few Scottish slang words.
- Do celebrate with us - don’t be a killjoy.
- Do show some interest in our history.
- Do respect our customs and superstitions.
- Do stop asking questions about our money.
- Do remember that we’re not English.
- Don’t make us speak in our ‘accent’.
- Don’t say Nessie doesn’t exist.
- Don’t call refer to us as a “Scotch/Scotchman”.
- Don’t assume we’re all stingy.
- Don’t assume it always rains here.
- Don’t ever call a kilt a skirt.
- Don’t forget to put on your guise for Halloween.
- Don’t cut in queues.
- Don’t be late.
- Don’t talk about politics or religion.
- Don’t presume we know everyone.
Whether you believe it or not, Scottish people aren’t so hard to deal with. You’ll easily befriend a Scot once you get used to our quirks.
Although we have our own individual traits, we share some common likes and, aye, pet peeves. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you navigate your friendships with our folk.
Do maintain eye contact.
Most Scots like looking a person directly in the eye when they are talking as it is respectful in every given conversation.
Do be overly polite.
It’s a norm for people in Scotland to say please, thank you and sorry in any possible circumstance. Sometimes, we might accidentally bump into someone and still apologise even if it wasn’t technically our fault.
If you’re asking for any help, make sure to start the conversation with an ‘excuse me’ or ‘sorry to bother you’ so you’ll be given a warmer response.
This is especially important if you’re interacting with any Scot for the first time because acting casually immediately won’t earn you any good favour from us. Not all locals are as stiff but it’s better to wait for a Scot to warm up to you before being too friendly.
Do enjoy a drink with a Scot.
By now, it’s common knowledge that Scots love drinking alcohol with the country being one of the highest number of consumers in the world according to WHO. But don’t assume that we’re all alcoholics, okay?
We simply like having some drinks, especially with this sporadic weather, with our family, friends or new people.
Do practise a few Scottish slang words.
Whether you’re from Scotland or not, it’s good to learn some slang when interacting with any Scot – they’d appreciate it!
Here are some common terms or phrases will impress the heck out of your Scottish mate:
- Aye – Yes
- Braw – good looking
- Bonny – pretty or attractive
- Cheeky – impudent or saucy
- Dreich – dull or gloomy weather
- Failing means yer playin! – it’s taking part that counts
- Gonnae – short for ‘going to’
- Jings – wow
- Nae Bother – no problem or it’s okay
- Nae Danger – no chance
- Pure – very or extremely
- Pure dead brilliant – very good
- Steaming – drunk
- Wee – small or little
Do celebrate with us – don’t be a killjoy.
We never run out of reasons to come together! In whatever city in Scotland, there’s bound to be a festive celebration in every season so if you happen to stumble upon one, participate and see what happens.
For example, there’s Burns Night, celebrated every January 25 in memory of famous Scottish author Robert Burns.
It’s a Scottish tradition that has been practised since 1801 that’s usually done with a big and hearty feast. Guests even recite the poems and songs by Burns while having a glass of whisky in hand.
Do show some interest in our history.
Whether it’s iconic battles, mysterious legends or famous scientific innovations, Scotland (what is so famous about Scotland?) is full of interesting stories of the past that have been passed down from one generation to the next.
Most Scots love a good story to the point that we hold festivals about this throughout the year.
Do respect our customs and superstitions.
Admittedly, we have a few odd traditions but it’s crucial to not speak anything out of turn about it. For example, if you’re spending New Year’s or Hogmanay in Scotland, you might see the ‘first foot’ tradition firsthand (no pun intended).
This is usually done at midnight as a way to earn a good fortune for the rest of the year.
The person who should put the ‘first foot’ inside the household must be a dark-haired and tall male that’s holding symbolic gifts namely coal, silver coin, black bun, salt and whisky, all representing good fortune for the home.
Oh, FYI, it can’t be a blonde or redhead because many consider them as bad luck.
Rather than make snide remarks or offensive comments, it’s best to stay on the side and watch how this practice is done – that’s more than enough for us.
Do stop asking questions about our money.
In case you haven’t noticed, Scottish and English money look different even if it’s technically the same currency. We know it’s a wee bit strange but you don’t need to tell us straight about it because it’ll only put us off.
Also avoid speculating whether or not it’s ‘real’ money just because it looks different from a common pound.
Do remember that we’re not English.
The Scots and the English have a long connection that we’ve both been allies and rivals throughout a few lifetimes. But some people make the mistake of thinking we’re one and the same.
Scots and English are two entirely different groups of people so assuming one for the other would surely make us flinch, despite how our countries are situated close to each other.
Don’t make us speak in our ‘accent’.
We might have mentioned previously that we have a hard accent but it gets a wee bit annoying when someone blatantly asks us to say a few things just to hear it.
If you tell any of us to say words like ‘purple’ or ‘burger’ just for a few laughs, you might not like what happens after.
Don’t say Nessie doesn’t exist.
Every Scot believes that Nessie can be found on our local loch. Some even say that Saint Columba saw the huge – but really shy – beast.
Lots of people even visit Loch Ness for this exact reason – so telling us otherwise is only going to put you in a bad light. Please keep that thought to yourself.
Don’t call refer to us as a “Scotch/Scotchman”.
No, we are not “Scotch”. That’s a type of whisky that’s popular here – and we even produce it locally. Your best bet is to call us “Scottish”.
You can even call us ‘Scots’, but ensure that you use it correctly or someone might roll their eyes at you – don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Don’t assume we’re all stingy.
We admit that Scots are often stereotyped as thrifty since we tend to be very careful about how we spend our money. But this is far from the truth!
In fact, many Scots are nervous to be called a ‘miser’ to the point that they argue about who foots the bill.
Don’t assume it always rains here.
Although the weather in Scotland is unpredictable for the most part, it doesn’t rain all the time here so that claim is baseless. Actually, our climate is so fickle that it’s like you can experience the different seasons in one day – literally!
Don’t ever call a kilt a skirt.
Although the kilt looks similar to an actual skirt, it’s best to hold your tongue, especially if you speak to any man wearing it. Trust us, most – if not all – of them would feel offended by this because it’s a direct question of their manhood.
Bear in mind that Scottish people love wearing their tartan kilts like a badge of honour and it’s been that way since the 16th century so speaking anything relating to it is like stepping on our beloved tradition.
Don’t forget to put on your guise for Halloween.
Scots love a good spooky story, especially during Halloween. We take this event seriously as we often dress up for the occasion – we call it ‘guising’.
It’s a traditional practice where we wear ‘disguises’ – or costumes if you’d like to call it that – so we can slip past supernatural beings and not gain their ire.
We even offer food to different people at this time of the year as a way to appease the spirits who may be wandering during this time.
Don’t cut in queues.
Nothing makes a Scot’s blood boil more than seeing someone cutting in line, especially if there’s a long queue.
Don’t be late.
Scots are very punctual, especially in more formal settings. Showing up early proves that you are respect our time.
On the off chance that you are running late for a planned meeting, let that person know as soon as you can so they won’t feel offended by having to wait too long for you.
Don’t talk about politics or religion.
We know politics or religion are common topics for small talk in some countries but in Scotland, it’s a sensitive subject.
Unless they ask you first, refrain from making comments about current events because the mood will surely turn sour after that. You also wouldn’t want to enter a full-on debate with a Scot – trust us, it won’t be a pretty sight!
Don’t presume we know everyone.
We know Scotland’s a wee country compared to our neighbours but it doesn’t mean we know everyone.
But we do admit that several Scottish names are common across the country. Nine times out of ten, there’s a Scot who knows a Jamie or a Craig but again, they might not even mean the same person.