Ever wondered what a ‘rowie’ was, or what ‘shoogle’ meant? Well, wonder no more – here’s a guide to many of the lovely Scottish words that feature in my books.

This is a wee glossary I did for the American edition of Flesh House to help those not lucky enough to have been born (or live) in the North East of Scotland. And as there’s a large number of unfortunate people like that in the world, here’s a copy of it for their delectation and delight.

If there’s any term you’re still puzzling over, drop me a message and I’ll add it in here.

Police Ranks

  • CC – Chief Constable
  • DCC – Deputy Chief Constable
  • ACC – Assistant Chief Constable
  • DCS – Detective Chief Superintendent
  • DS – Detective Superintendent
  • DCI – Detective Chief Inspector
  • DI – Detective Inspector
  • DS – Detective Sergeant
  • DC – Detective Constable
  • PC – Police Constable
  • WPC – Woman Police Constable (now an outmoded and sexist term, so don’t call anyone that, OK?)
  • FLo – Family Liaison Officer

Officers who join CID are given the prefix ‘Detective’ but that only means they get to wear cheap suits (machine washable clothes are a boon when there’s every chance you’re going to finish the day with someone else’s sick all over you), rather than a uniform. A Detective Sergeant can’t boss a Sergeant around. Not unless they want a thick ear.

Police Acromyms

It’s no surprise that the police, like every other organisation, love their acronyms. Sometimes it’s just shorthand, sometimes it’s so members of the public don’t know what’s being said about them. Because, let’s face it, sometimes members of the public do phenomenally stupid things, and they tend to get all upset if someone points that out to them.

  • CID – Criminal Investigation Department
  • FAO – First Attending Officer: the first police officer to arrive at a crime scene.
  • FHQ – Force Headquarters
  • HOLMES – Home Office Large and Major Enquiry System
  • IB – Identification Bureau (basically our version of CSI) now obsolete and replaced with:
  • SEB – Scenes Examination Branch
  • SIO – Senior Investigating Officer
  • BINGO – Books In Never Goes Out (someone who can always be relied upon to do no sodding work at all, especially if it’s cold or wet out)

General Acromyms

Stuff that’s probably clear to most of us in the UK, but might not be quite so clear for other folk…

  • A&E – Accident and Emergency
  • AFC – Aberdeen Football Club
  • ARI – Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
  • BDSM – Bondage Domination and Sadomasochism
  • CCTV – Close Circuit Television
  • NHS – National Health Service
  • OAP – Old Age Pensioner

Braw Scottish words and Aberdonianisms

These are the kind of words you should be trying to squeeze into every day.

  • Bap – a soft bread roll (not to be confused with a Glasgow roll, a softie, or a butterie)
  • Butterie – see Rowie
  • Buttie – anything between two slices of bread, or more commonly in a bap. Chips are a traditional Scottish favourite, as is bacon, fried eggs (making it a ‘booby-traped buttie’), fish fingers, or if you want your taste buds to experience true delight and joy: a hot steak pie. Trust me, you’ll love it. One thing though: ALWAYS butter both sides.
  • Braw – good, as in, “Oh aye, that’s a braw wee cat!”
  • Chunter – to drone on in a monotonous fashion. Let’s face it, we’ve all been in meeting where some neep’s just chuntered away for ages till everyone’s falling asleep.
  • Clarted – covered/smeared/befilthed as in, “Oooh, he fell right into the septic tank, and now he’s all clarted with sharn…”
  • Cloot – cloth, sometimes handkerchief: “I’m that hungry, I could eat a scabby dog through a snotty cloot.”
  • Doric – the local dialect of the north east of Scotland. If you want to really get a feel for it, go buy something by some of its finest exponents, Scotland The What.
  • Fighting Suit – a suit that you can wear and not worry about if you get into a fight. A suit that’s not expensive, but hard-wearing and preferably machine washable. If you’re in CID, you need a good fighting suit.
  • Fish Supper – not as you might expect, a late meal involving fish (though it can be) this is what we call ‘fish and chips’ up here in God’s country. Anything with chips, bought from a chip shop is a supper: mealie pudding supper, mock-chop supper, salad supper… And when we say ‘fish’ we mean haddock. None of your cod here, thank you very much. And the coating should be thin and crispy, not so thick you can use it to batter someone to death with it (ooh, look: a pun!)
  • Mealie Pudding – a wee sausage made with oatmeal, onions, and some other stuff you probably shouldn’t ask too much about.
  • Piece – like a buttie, but usually with a cold filling as in ‘a jammy piece’ (a jam sandwich).
  • Rowie – the Scottish answer to the Croissant, only with lard and loads of salt. Looks like a small golden cowpat, lasts longer in your cupboard than a Twinkie, and will survive the apocalypse. Lovely toasted with a slather of butter.
  • Sharny – Dirty/shitty as in ‘sharny dubs’ (shitty mud) or “kiss my sharny arse”.
  • Shoogle – to move something back and forth, as in, “Will you stop shoogling about in your seat? You look like you’ve got an itchy bumhole!”
  • Spaver – the zip on one’s trousers. “Aye, aye, George, you’ve left your spaver down and the Pope’s sticking his head out.”
  • Teuchter – someone from the countryside. It used to mean someone who worked on the land, but now anyone who’s not a townie can be pointed at and called one. And I say that as someone who is now officially teuchterised.