Fantoosh sitooteries and more: new Scottish entries in the March 2019 update

Fantoosh sitooteries and more: new Scottish entries in the March 2019 update

Submissions to 2017’s Free the Word appeal continue to be a great source of regional words and senses for the OED. The March release includes a number of newly-added Scottish items, with more to come. Here are a few of our favourites.

It’s often lamented these days that there isn’t a good word for a romantic partner you live with but are not married to: partner can be too easily confused with ‘business partner’, girlfriend/boyfriend can feel odd after the age of 20, and cohabitee doesn’t sound very affectionate. Scots have long had the solution, in bidie-in. The verb bide is now archaic in many varieties of English, surviving mainly in the phrase to bide one’s time, meaning ‘to await one’s opportunity’. But in Scots, bide continues to be used to mean ‘to live, stay’ (as in this example from Frederic Lindsay’s 1983 novel Brond: ‘Ah’ve bided here all my days’), and has given rise to bide-in and its diminutive bidie-in, both meaning ‘a person who lives with his or her partner in a non-marital relationship; a cohabiting partner’. Both are first recorded in 1916, predating the synonymous live-in, which dates from 1977 in this sense (use of live-in as an adjective in the ‘cohabiting’ sense is slightly earlier, recorded in 1967 in an article from the Chicago Tribune: ‘Julie has just shed her live-in boy friend’). Both bide-in and bidie-in also have an edge over live-in, in that neither share live-in’s earlier sense of ‘a domestic employee who is resident in an employer’s house’—thus potentially allowing for more romance, and less built-in confusion over the division of household chores.

Turning bide-in into the more common bidie-in is a pattern very common in Scots, which has a long history of creating new forms of words by adding the diminutive suffix –ie, as in laddie, wifie, mannie, and so onIn the March release, you can find several more words of this type. One is bosie (from bosom), which originally had the sense ‘a person’s bosom’, and later developed the sense ‘a cuddle’ (as in ‘Gie’s a bosie!’). Another is the verb coorie (from cower),which originally meant ‘to crouch, stoop, or keep low, especially for protection’, but soon developed a much more positive sense of ‘to snuggle, nestle’. If you visit Scotland, you’re bound to see at least one guest house or cottage called Coorie Doon (i.e. ‘Snuggle Down’). But not all the added diminutives are cute and cosy. Scots are wary of anyone who is a bit too full of their own importance, and if you exhibit this characteristic you might (especially in the north-east) find yourself described as bigsie, like the frog in John M. Caie’s 1934 Doric poem The Puddock (‘The bigsy wee cratur’ was feelin’ that prood’), just before his loud boasting fatally catches the attention of a nearby heron.

A little of that same wariness of affectation can be seen in another Scottish addition in this release—fantoosh. This word is recorded from the 1920s and is likely to have been borrowed from French by Scottish soldiers during the First World War. The French slang word fantoche describes a military uniform that doesn’t conform to the usual regulations, but is instead eccentric or fantastical. It’s the perfect word, then, to describe anything fancy, showy, or flashy. Scots fantoosh isoften used disparagingly, implying ostentation or pretentiousness (as in this example from a 1936 article in the Scots Magazine:  ‘Ony sensible body wad be only too pleased if I washed their windows for naething, but jist because ye think yersel’ fantoosh, I’m no’ guid enough’). Of course, that’s not always the case. In her 2016 essay ‘Names and Dialectology’ in The Oxford Handbook of Names and Naming, Margaret Scott notes the use of regional terms in the names of canny businesses seeking to emphasize their local identity (we’ve touched on this phenomenon earlier with those Coorie Doon guest houses), including Fantoosh Fish in Glasgow and Fantoosh Flooring in Newport-on-Tay in her list of Scots examples. In both of those cases, fantoosh is used in its most positive sense of ‘stylish and sophisticated’.

Thinking of all things stylish and sophisticated, what, we ask you, could be more fantoosh than a sitooterie? There’s something just generally pleasing about the word, another new Scottish addition in this release. While it might initially sound exotic, it’s made up of simple elements: sit, oot (a Scots variant of out), and the suffix -erie, all added together to form the sense ‘a place in which to sit out’. Originally, from at least the 1920s, this was a secluded area, such as an alcove or recess, within a building, where people could sit apart from others (this example in a Motherwell Times article from 1933 paints a very genteel picture: ‘My partner and I sat in a “sitooterie” to partake of tea’). By the 1990s this original sense had become rare, and the word developed its now usual sense of an area where people can sit outside or a structure such as a conservatory or gazebo (as illustrated in this 2016 example from an article in the Scottish Daily Mail: ‘The gardens are a real feature of the property with lawns, a ‘sitooterie’ and thoughtfully planted borders’).

Of course, it’s not all tea and gazebos…

There is a long and colourful tradition of insults in Scottish culture. Scots poets in the 16th century took part in flytings—public contests where they traded tirades of abusive verse. It’s still true that there is no shortage of Scottish words available to choose from if you want to label someone an idiot, and the March release includes a wide variety of such insults. If you’re looking for an alternative way to address the numpty in your life, perhaps bam[, bampot, bamstick, bawbag, roaster, or tube might prove the very dab. 

Be warned though—injudicious use of these terms may (at best!) result in a warning to shut your geggie (another new addition, for which our earliest evidence appears in this lovely courtroom exchange in William Miller’s short story ‘Andy’s Trial’  in Scottish Short Stories 1985: ‘“Good fur you, wee Andy!” shouted his grandmother. The judge looked over his specs. “Mah dear wumman,” he said patiently, “will ye kindly shut yer geggie?”’).

Another new addition, and another word you might want to use with care, is Weegiea colloquial abbreviation of Glaswegian. Itis first recorded (with the spelling Weedjie) in Irvine Welsh’s 1993 novel Trainspotting, in which the Edinburgh characters are not very complimentary about their Glaswegian compatriots: one character decides that arguing about working-class hardship is ‘pointless wi Weedjies’ because ‘Ah’ve never met one Weedjie whae didnae think that they are the only genuinely suffering proletarians in Scotland, Western Europe, the World.’ The negative connotations of the word have lingered, and although it is sometimes used as a self-designation—‘I’m a working-class Weedgie who grew up in a scheme,’ wrote the Glasgow writer and critic Willy Maley in 1999—many examples are slightly dismissive or mocking uses by non-Glaswegians, as in this comment about Glasgow city planning in the Aberdeen newspaper The Press and Journal from 2005: ‘Early weegie attempts to reach orbit by building high-rise flats tall enough have now been abandoned.’ Conclusion: Glaswegians can call themselves Weegies, but if you’re an outsider, proceed with caution. 

We hope you liked this selection: for more Scottish words and phrases added in this update why not take a keek at baff, bauchle, bealach, bowf, coupon, eeksie-peeksie, hee-haw, and rooked. We’ll be back with comments on the next batch of Scottish additions – if we haven’t got our jotters by then.

Here you can find a full list of the Scottish additions in this update, and words to which new Scottish senses have been added:

– baff, n.2

– baffie, n.

– bam, n.2

– bampot, n.

– bamstick, n.

– bauchle, n.

– bawbag, n.

– bealach, n.

– bide-in, n.

– bidie-in, n.

– bigsie, adj.

– black-affronted, adj.

– bosie, n.1

– bowf, n. and adj.

– bowfing, adj.

– coorie, v.

– coupon, n.

– dab, n.1

– eeksie-peeksie, adj.

– fantoosh, adj.

– geggie, n.2

– grass, v.

– hee-haw, n.

– jotter, n.

– roaster, n.

– rooked, adj.

– side, n.3

– sitooterie, n.

– sitten, adj.

– sprag, n.2

– spret, v.

– sprit, n.4

– spruggie, n.

– sprunt, v.2

– sprunting, n.2

– title, v.

– titter, v.1

– tittie, n.2

– tittie-billie, adv. and n.

– titulation, n.

– titup, adj. and n.

– tube, n.

– Weegie, n. and adj.

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