DREICH was revealed as the ‘most iconic’ Scots word this month, as part of a poll led by the Scottish Book Trust.

I’ve been living in Scotland for the best part of three years now and the story got me thinking about my favourite Scots words and phrases I’ve come across since crossing the border.

Yes, for those of you who don’t know, I am English. Some here might call me a sassenach or an outlander – and that’s just the ones who are being polite.

I have loved every minute (well, almost) of living in this vibrant and welcoming country. Moving here, along with getting married, has been the best decision of my life.

But one of the biggest challenges I faced on my arrival, particularly as a journalist, was understanding not only the accents in the west of Scotland but the unique language used in this corner of the world.

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However, after a few phone conversations spent squinting and struggling with how to say Howwood for several weeks, I began to grow fond of many words and phrases – and there are some absolute belters.

First of all, I have to agree with everyone who took part in the poll, as dreich is a fantastic word. I believe this is because it is incredibly illustrative.

It sounds like what it means – dull and blunt – and it’s even got a bit of that phlegmy ‘ch’ sound, which gives off the sense of a soggy, and, quite frankly, ‘bleh’ day.

Another one I love, and many of you from the likes of Johnstone and Renfrew will treasure this one too, is ‘oor wee toon.’

It’s cosy, it’s cute and it always says to me that people love the place they’re from or live in. This country is well-known for its pride and this shines through in this gem of a phrase.

There was a brilliant one I came across last week which, somehow, I had managed to avoid, and that is peely-wally. You don’t even need to know what it means to love it but, again, it’s so reflective of what it means. It can be used to describe someone who looks ill or pale, and it does have a bit of a sickly sound to it, doesn’t it?

Other ones I’ve grown to love are ‘glaikit’ – another which came up in the poll – as well as ‘blether’ and ‘get tae.’ I’ll not put the bad language on the end of that one in this column but boy is that a mighty satisfying thing to say to someone or something which is getting right on your nerves.

As you might imagine, though, there are words I’m not so fond of and will quite happily stick my Anglo nose up at.

One of them is ‘amn’t,’ Now, this might not be something everyone says but my Scots husband came out with it a few months ago and I was horrified. It is a Scottish/Irish way of saying ‘am I not?’ or ‘aren’t I?’

I’m all for illustrative words but this is just grammatically incorrect, as is the way people say ‘the bed needs changed’ or ‘this needs done’. No, it needs to be done or it needs doing.

And don’t get me started on people saying the letter J like ‘jai.’ It’s ‘jay,’ okay?
But I’ll keep my moan fairly brief or someone might just ‘gie me a skelpit lug’ (I had to look that one up).

Even I – a woman from Cheshire, who is pretty much devoid of any real accent – can be found saying ‘wee’ or ‘aye’ every now and again.

This nation is, slowly but surely, adopting me.

The Scots language is one of the things which makes this place so special and it should always be treasured.

And, for those of you who are disgusted by the idea of a sassenach commenting on your precious dictionary, please don’t hurt me. I promise to keep learning...