Your Scottish Slang Scots Word O’ The Day: Gallus

Fourteenth in a series
gallus
(ga·luss) Dialect, chiefly Scot ~adj.
1. self-confident, daring, cheeky.
2. stylish, impressive (esp. Glasgow “He’s pure gallus, by the way“).
3. Orig. derogatory, meaning wild; a rascal; deserving to be hanged (from the gallows).

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Doug
Husband & father with youngins; Presbyterian; Will devops for boardgames; Dadjoke Enthusiast; Longtime WordPress user; The failure mode of “clever” is...

15 Comments

  1. […] weeks ago I had the ironic pleasure of seeing three very hip bands in a very unhip locale. This gallus trifecta of Scottish indie rock was almost too good to be true: Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad […]

  2. […] a helpful explanation and I found myself wallowing in nostalgia over childhood words like besom and gallus, and have been able to prove to my husband that the word mauchit, which I often apply to my […]

  3. Linda Dove (nee Duguid)
    Linda Dove (nee Duguid)

    thansk for not only a trip down memory lane but laughs…many thanks – these were words I heard growing up, used daily, and still discussed over dinner with the family.

  4. I think it much more likely that “gallus” is from the French word “gallante” meaning fashionable.

    • wellimjustnottellingyou
      wellimjustnottellingyou

      Gallus is from ”gallows” – to describe a low person in the mob who yelled and shouted humourous or abusive remarks when viewing public hangings.

  5. Scots is a language, not a “dialect”!

  6. Interestingly enough, ” gallus ” is Latin for cock, a male hen. Could this perhaps be linked to the cocky nature of a person, usually male, who is described as gallus in Central Scotland?

  7. Slang words? These words are part of the Scots leid. Be it Lallans, Doric or other dialects commonly used in all parts of Scotland today. To call them slang is to ignore a unique cultural language which is also being taught and learned by thousands of Scots at present. Very disrespectful.

  8. Gallus almost exactly translates as bling, with the same implied suggestion of cheap bad taste.

  9. These comments are pure dead gallus

    • Where I come from (a Scottish farming community in Eastern Ontario), a gallus was an upright rack on the front or back of a hay wagon.

  10. Don’t agree gallus is someone with class. A standout individual.

  11. I’m an Englishman who moved to Glasgow aged 16, this was one of the first incomprehensible slang words i encountered. A lot of Scot’s slang seem to be derived fom the auld alliance with France. Ashet (assiette Fr Plate), ‘Fash (fache Fr angry), Menoge (works savings scheme) (Fr financial “management”, Bonnie (Fr Bon good/nice).

    “Gallus” was described to me as “looking good, feeling dominant, & dressed to pull/kill” I’m reminded of the French national symbol the cock (Lat Gallus/ Fr “Gauloise”). So I think “cock o’ the walk”/ like an 18th century strutting French dandy is the correct interpretation?

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