Measgaichte / Miscellaneous

Rev. Angus MacDonald
? [date copied and sent in: September 1970]
  • [NOTES: the list comes ‘From the late Rev. Angus MacDonald D.D., of Killearn’s unpublished history of South Uist’. According to a note attached to the list, it was typed and sent in by Rev. Somerled MacMillan of Paisley in September 1970.]
South Uist Words, Phrases, and Expressions
[buaidh]Gun bhuaidh ort! – May you not be victorious. This is an old saying, a survival from ancient times.
[clach]Air a’ chloich dhuibh. – On the black stone. This was either the Black Stone of Iona, where others were sworn, or that of Isla where delinquents were arraigned before the Lord of the Isles, or wherever that potentate might dispense justice.
[bàs]Bàs gun Sagart duit! – Death without the benefit of Clergy.
sclànrachda battle of words. ‘Trod’. It may be a form of the Scottish “Sclander”.
[bàn]Gun bhàin gun deargadh. ‘Bàn’ is the left hand of the furrow in ploughing, distinguished from ‘dearg’, the red or right hand side. ‘Bàn’ is empty or waste, as an unploughed field. ‘Deargadh’ is making an impression. “Cha do dhearg mi air.” – “I have made no impression on him.” Dearg mheàirleach – a very thief. Air an dearg chaoch – stark mad.
[sion]Chan eil sion. – There is nothing. It may be from ‘sian’, the beard of barley.
[tòrradh]this is the word used for a funeral in Benbecula. It means heaping on, making a mound over the grave by way of protection. Graves were so protected from wolves in the days of old.
tùireadhlamenting the dead. MacVurich has ‘Toruimhe’ in his account of the funeral of John, Lord of the Isles, in 1380, translated by Macbain “waking”.
bracluiga very dirty woman.
eilitriomthe bier for the dead. It is also called ‘eislig’ by the older people.
ruigheadhstretching the body.
[biadh]Gun bhiadh gun bhrat – without food or clothes.
[moch]Bho mhoch gu dubh – from early to late.
[sùil]Dìreach air a shùil – straight shooting.
dìleumhandicap for a horse.
spearrachhandicap for a sheep.
[sad]Sad aic’ e. – Throw it to her.
[làmh]Mo làmh-sa gu bheil. – My hand for it.
sadhanachbig sturdy fellow.
goruisga witless woman.
grianuisga useless person.
stallthe site on which the house is built.
cainealhelping a neighbour in time of harvest.
cairbhistpersonal servant to a landlord.
[bun]’S e bun a bh’ann. – So what happened.
[ear]Thoir fo’n ear. – Pay attention, literally, take from the East. Light comes from the East.
[geall]An geall na’s fhiach e. – Betting for what he is worth.
coileachadhbeating the stream for trout in November.
[baile]Air do bhaile – in spite of you.
sadhanacha big lusty fellow.
sgioltavery fine. From the Danish ‘skjold’, a shield.
buamastairan ill-natured, rude man.
[nàire]Mo nàire, ’s mo shìoladh, ’s mo leaghadh! – Lit. My shame, my sinking, my melting!
gòdailjargon, ‘goileam’.
cruinnethe world. Cruinne-Cé – the whole world (lit. this world).
acarsaidanchorage, from O.N. ‘akkeris-saeti’.
trithirthree men, from the Norse ‘thrir’, now obsolete. It is used by MacCodrum “Meirg air [something missing?]
[beatha]’S e làn di do bheatha. – You are very welcome.
[leum]Thug e dudar leum as. – He jumped up.
[nàir]Mo nàir ort! – Shame on you! Mo-Nàir was a Celtic goddess, frequently met in Irish literature.
agaladhconfession. In the Confessional box – éisdeachd.
[taghta]Taghta math – excellent.
[ruig]Cha ruig thu leas. – You need not.
[brath]Chuir e brath a-stigh chon a righ. – sent a message, etc.
[buine-fala]Is is buine-fala as docha leam a chunnaic mi riamh.
[luath]Cho luath ’s a rugadh tu. – As fast as you were born.
lasagraichloud weeping. ‘Lasag’.
[bas]Bhuail i na basan. – She struck her hands.
[allt]Chan fhac’ iad allt dheth. – They never saw a knuckle of him.
[rann]Ceithir ranna ruadh an domhuinn. – The 4 points of the Compass.
[cridhe]Chan eil a chridh’ agad. – You must not.
caibhilthe mouth of a stream where trout are caught.
eòlanoil for the black lamp.
[spatadh]Tha mi air mo spatadh leis an fhuachd. – I am perishing with the cold.
[bàs]Bàs a’ chin-adhairt. – dying in bed.
[gearradh]Cha d’fhuair mi gearradh dheth. – I never got a bit of it.
O Hioruidh!This exclamation is equivalent to saying “Save us!” The King of Norway is known in Irish literature and tradition as “Righ na h-ioruaidhe” or King of Tioruidh.
[stém]Cha dean mi stém dheth. – I can make nothing of it.
[mithalamh]A Mhic na mithalamh! – Thou Son of misfortune!
[cnàimh]Ge b’oil le cnaimh ruadh na h-amhaich agam. – In spite of the red bone of my neck.
[molachd]Mac na molachd! – Son of curses.
gugurlacha big-bellied fellow.
gainmhainthe smallest thing, from ‘gaineamh’, sand.
cuirma feast. MacCodrum has ‘cuilm’. Dioscorides says that the ancestors of the Britons drank a strong liquor made of barley which they call ‘curmi’. So the word has come down to our time and whisky now so called is an ancient beverage.
blineassoft sawder.
sraonte fosgailtewide open.
ciorachana man who does woman’s work.
air muradhat large on pleasure bent.
blaud(blabhd or blad) a wide mouth.
[fiteadh]Cha robh e fiteadh ann. – He was very expeditious.
gròigbad tradesman.
speiltaking a turn at anything.
spìdeinpitch and toss.
obair-ghréisfancy needlework.
coileagsandbank on which bent grows.
cnàmhalacha big bony man.
staghana man with his head back and stomach forward is said to have a ‘staghan’.
gothadha stiff thrust forward of the head.
[beinn]“Eabhal Mhòr is Trac-an triubhais, / Dà bheinn is àirde an dà Uidhist; / C’àit’ an d’fhàg thu Hecla bhuidhe? / Faodaidh i bhi cuide riutha.”
strobanaddled. “Take one of these eggs,” said a Free Kirk student to his guest, “they were born in Lochcarron.”
cùngaireantools. “Is e trian ceàirde cùngairean.” “Alastair mac Hànna ag ràdh nach deanamaide spàinean. Dheanamaide spàinean nam biodh na cùngairean againn.” (“Tools are a third of craftmanship.” “Alastair Mac Hanna saying we would not make spoons; we would make spoons if we had the tools.”)
troganslightly elevated.
[bòinich]Bhòinich e orm. – He beseeched me.
[biadh]A bhiadh ’s aodach! – Food and clothing.
[lon-chraois]’S ann ort a tha’n lon-chraois. – keen to gobble up. Mayfly, water spider, water demon.
biatachda little feast. Martin calls it ‘ocean feast’.
sifeira tall thin man.
geadhachailodds and ends.
brothnach air shearrachhelter-skelter.
cròdhadhhousing of cattle in winter.
[poca-saic]Eiridh a phoca-shaic.
[leum]Leum a’ bhradain – the salmon jump, which is horizontal. Men try it but always fail.
[traoit]Chan eil traoit. – Not a rag. ‘Stic’ has the same meaning.
[balg]A’ deanamh balg ri gréin – basking in the sunshine.
glut-lìonadhpacking the wall with earth.
baoghalharm, used also to mean fart.
daormana little contemptible fellow.
easbuchdoor snip.
cluaimhinndoor latch.
muthanimp. “Cuir do mhuthan air do bhois ’s cacaidh e orra.” (oirre?)
speachsharp-tongued person.
[leud]Leud na ròine – the 48th part of an inch.
[leud]Leud na boise – the breadth of the hand.
[uisge]Suas an t-uisge – hoisted on the crest of the wave of prosperity.
[gearradh]An d’fhuair thu dad? Cha d’fhuair gearradh.
[driog]An d’fhuair thu diar? Cha d’fhuair driog.
[caiteag]An d’fhuair thu biadh? Cha d’fhuair caiteag.
[priobadh]An d’fhuair thu cadal? Cha d’fhuair priobadh.
[loiceadh]An d’fhuair thu cadal? Cha d’fhuair loiceadh.
[ceapaire]Ceapaire saileach – butter spread on bread with the thumb, done before the age of knives.
slimeira fawning sycophant.
deisealwhen a child is like [sic] to choke with anything the mother slaps him on the back and cries ‘deiseal’.
tuathalgoing wrong.
drollsecuring a door. Door bar.
spatoghaa well-dressed man, a ‘swell’.
tulacha dwelling-house. The name goes back to the underground dwellin [sic] [in] prehistoric times.
[fiadh]Dol a fiadh  – grown wild.
stol-phòsdamarriage stool, at the altar.
Bunachabacsome unknown place outside Uist.
falach-feadhide and seek.
turturdull noise.
eigeira poor mean man.
imidealpoor sumph.
[tionnaradh]Gun tionnaradh – constantly.
[latha]Fad mhìnn shuaimhneach an latha – all day long.
trusadhbringing the sheep to the fank.
[brosgul]Dh’ith e chuid de bhon(n)ach a’ bhrosguil. – He ate his share of the flattery bannock.
[cìre]Cnàmh a cìre – chewing her cud.
ablachcarrion; Irish, applied to a worthless fellow.
grignea small gathering huddled together.
[dalladh]Chan fhaca mi dalladh dheth. – [I] never saw a shadow of him.
utarasturning things upside down.
[dorus]An dorus sraointe fosgailte – the door wide open.
gruitheamcurds. Word used in Hugh Macdonald’s MS.
clàbhaista noisy conversation, everyone talking at once.
butarscionnbeyond redemption, topsy-turvy.
cleabailawkward gait.
[spatadh]Theab e mo spatadh. – He nearly dispatched me.
[fìrinn]Tulasgan na tul-fhìrinn – the downright truth.
siada hero.
[sgot]Chan eil sgot aige. – He is quite drunk.
rag-mheàrlacha great thief.
paisstriking with the open hand.
sgailcto strike hard.
[rathad]Chan eil rath na rathad air. – no other way of it.
[crogan]Blas a’ chrogain – the taste of the chamber pot.
[ig]Ig, aige, na uaithe – to it, at it, or from it.
stanntasedate, steadfast. Chan eil stannadh air.
[port]Puirt dhrabasta – obscene tunes.
[garbh-innse]Garbh-innse nan uisgeachan – the tale after the flood?
botaraised bit of turf.
A bhuinneag!a term of familiarity.
[leabhar]A leabhra tha. – by the Book it is.
fiath-nan-iandead calm.
proitseacha gallant looking young man. ‘Protch’ is the word used in Uist for brooch. The young man would have been ornamented with a shoulder brooch. The Chief of the Gunns was known as Am Bràisteach Mór.
[side]Side nan seachd sian – this is a common expression in Uist to describe very wild weather. Literally it means “the weather of the 7 storms or blasts”.
[breacadh]Is mise fhuair mo bhreacadh. – It was I that got the dressing, or dusting. Is feairde brà breacadh gun a bristeadh. – The quern is the better of being picked without breaking it.
[trustar]Trustar nan seachd sitigean. – the filthy fellow of the 7 dunghills.
[stoirm]Stoirm dhearg bhristeadh nan tighean – the red storm to break the houses.
[builleach]Builleach bonn siar – altogether.
[Aodh]Ag eigheach air Aodh – this is what the Uist people say when a man is sea-sick and vomiting.
rannaghalrigmarole, harangue.
spuacarlacha big boy.
barrana slovenly covering of a woman’s head worn like an Arab’s headgear.
[creach]Latha do chreiche – the day of your ruin. Sgeula nan creach – bad news, plundered, left bare. The ‘creach’ was the spoil of the forage. “Sgeula nan creach, dh’eug Fear Boiraidh,” said Donnchadh Dearg, the parish fool on hearing of the death of John Maclean of Borera in 1821. Togail na creiche was lifting the cows. Creach nan ceudan – a big forage. Tha mi air mo chreachadh. – I am ruined. Tha mi air mo spùileadh. Mo chreach! is a common exclamation in Perthshire.
[ranna]Ceithir ranna ruadh an t-saoghail – the 4 quarters of the globe, East, West, North, South, the airts.
iomadala hanger on.
monothurloud rumbling report.
sgimileira parasite.
deoch-sgleapdrinking at another’s expense.
[for]Cha tug e for. – He heed(ed) not.
[abhsadh]Cha tug e abhsadh. – He heed(ed) not.
The different stages or degrees of drunkenness:
1. Beothachadh.
2. Blàthachadh.
3. Frogan.
4. Gu math aige.
5. Eadar a’ chluas ’s an adhairc.
6. An daorach.
7. An dallanach.
taistealacha strong stout fellow. In Ossian parlance, a champion. It appears in “Cath Fionntraigh”.
sp;arr[sic] a hen roost.
spirisa hen roost.
airidha hen roost.
laosbaganbrogues made by the people of their own leather and sewn with thongs. I have never heard of this word out of Benbecula. I have seen in North Uist a man wearing what were known as ‘brògan tionndaidh’.
The different names given to the Devil in Uist:
1. An Diabhulfrom the Latin ‘Diabolus’.
2. Am Fear a th’air an t-slabhruidhthe man hung on a chain.
3. Am Fear Mórthe Big Man.
4. An t-annspioradthe Evil Spirit.
5. Am Fear Millidhthe destroyer.
6. Am Fear nach fhiachthe worthless fellow.
7. An Nàmhaidthe Enemy.
8. An Riabhachthe Brindled One.
A Mhic a’ Riabhaich!
A Mhic ’s a dhalta!
A Mhic-an-t-Saoghail!
Spriolag ort!
Droch-còmhdhail ort!
Marbhaisg ort!
Mollachd Phàdruig ort!
Buaidh is piseach ort!
Bàs gun sagart dhuit!
Gun sgath am Fear Mór thu!
Mhic an Diabhuil!
Mhic a’ choin!
A thrustair nan seachd sitigean!
O Mhuire, Mhuire!
Cho seòlta ri Iamhar!
Gun toir am Fear Mór leis thu!
[meal]Gu meal ’s gun caith thu e. – May you enjoy it and wear it. This is said when a man puts on a new suit.
[meal]Gu meal thu do naidheachd. – May you enjoy your news.
[innseadh]Ga innseadh dha fhein – telling it to himself. This refers to any loss sustained by an individual.
[gille]Gille cas fliuch – the wet foot lad. A servant that carried his master on his back across every fordable water they came to. The saying is now applied to one who makes himself useful.
[cornfield]In the cornfield: sguab, adag, gearr-choc, coit, sgrù(th)an, mulan, cruach.
gath-tìtethe double rope tied to the ‘strathair’, or saddle, from which the girth.
botrachanwooden crupper.
eiseachanropes tying the crupper to the saddle.
smeachanstrap round the neck of the horse.
stròineinstrap across the nose of the horse.
meilleagrope tied round the lower jaw of horse.
fiollag-dìleuma shackle.
spearracha fetter for sheep, tied in front and hind legs.
deubhanna fetter tying two horses together.
cnotagthe hollow of the stone where pot barley is made.
foireichemallet for striking the corn and taking the husk off.
Ath – The Kiln
feadana small opening at the back of the kiln through which the wind blows for winnowing.
tìreadhdrying corn for the mill.
sornthe platform of the kiln.
sorragthe cauldron.
ceallachwhere the fire is.
ciù(i)leanthe sticks for the ‘brat’, or covering.
staoigthe straw under the seed.
sùistethe flail.
buailteanthe flail.
magharfishing with bait.
dorghachline fishing.
liunn-tàthhot mortar, cement, made with shells.
A bhobuigis a common Benbecula term of endearment used by a senior to a junior and meaning ‘my good fellow’.
obair-ri-shùl[sic] a useless performance.
[obair]Obair is ath-obair – idle repetition of labour.
[sùil]Bha sùil agam ris. – I was expecting him.
[dùrd]Cha duirt e dùrd. – He never said a syllable.
[geilleadh]Cha dean e chùis, a Dhomhnaill Oig, feumar geilleadh. – It won’t do, Donald Og, we must submit.
[note]From the late Rev. Angus Macdonald D.D, of Killearn’s unpublished history of South Uist.

^ Return To Top ^