Your Scottish Slang Scots Word O’ The Day: Bourach

This entry is part 15 of 29 in the series Your Scots Word Of The Day

Fifteenth in a series
(boor·ach) Dialect, chiefly Scot ~n.
1. small hill or mound.
2. disorganized heap or mass (as in “Last went and it turned intae a right bourach“).
3. a crowd or group of people.
4. a small, humble house.
5. a muddle; mess; state of confusion (often in “That room o’ yours is a total bourach. Get in there an’ get it tidied!“).
[editor’s note: I’ve got a bunch more of these. Should I continue?]

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12 responses to “Your Scottish Slang Scots Word O’ The Day: Bourach”

  1. millie o'neil Avatar
    millie o’neil

    as a Scot who left the country many years ago i find myself remembering my family conversations,i often wish some of my siblings were still around to help me remember just how” broad” we were when we spoke ,seeing some of the words in your slang word of the day does just that for me,i recall my teacher in Moray House saying to us one day ..”leave your slang outside the school ”
    we thought we were talking English i guess ,anyways i love to recall my family conversations on people and events it was a beautiful “language” and a word could say so much..thank you for this page .

  2. Milda Boursaw Avatar
    Milda Boursaw

    I love being able to show some of my friends old Scottish words. They read a book with some of them in it, call and ask me what the meaning is…… I give them a site to go to. I miss this old tongue when I go home to Scotland and hear Hiya………….I want our young people to appreciate the colour of our old language….Keep up this wonderful site. Thank You

  3. H R Anderson Avatar
    H R Anderson

    Bourach is not a slang word it is from the Gaelic! In fact I object to the use of the word slang to describe words from the Scots tongues!! It is demeaning and smacks of Colonialism!!

  4. Iain Macmillan Avatar
    Iain Macmillan

    Scots is a language, not slang please get your facts right.

    1. Well said, both. The use of the word ‘slang’ to describe words from Scots or Gaelic is sadly ignorant.

      1. I’ve been repeatedly educated on this very subject, in these very comment sections, but am now prisoner to Google search results! Help! *grin*

        I mean zero, ZERO disrespect to Scots, seeing as how my ancestry hails from those heathered moors.

      2. scots itself is not a slang, but that’s not the impression i got from the description. just like english can have slang words, so can scots. the series is called ‘scottish’ slang and since several languages exist in scotland it’s not inaccurate to say bourach is slang, even if it’s not slang in all contexts. if bourach, for example, were used in an english language sentence, then it would be slang. if used in a scots sentence the it’s classification is usage-dependent. if the series description had instead said that scots was a slang of english, or if bourach was universally a slang word of scots, that would have indeed been problematic. scots is its own language with common ancestry in northumbria and cumbria, and bourach can be used literally but also as slang.

  5. Arthur Galloway. Avatar
    Arthur Galloway.

    Please change your title to “Scottish Word o’ the Day” Scots is a dialect and Gaelic is a language. The term slang is insulting !

  6. KiltedSplendour Avatar

    As someone who has travelled across Eastern Europe, the Slavic languages are very very close to each other, to the extent that Poles understand Croats. No one questions whether they are separate languages or just dialects of a generic Slavic language. So I would argue that Scots is itself a language and calling it a dialect or merely slang is a throwback to Empire and the subjugation of our heritage. Gaelic is definitely a language and so is Scots.

  7. Scots derives from northern Middle English, not modern English (as does Geordie), but developed into its own language once the Northumbrian rulers were expelled from the Lothians, and the Scots court settled at Edinburgh. However, as linguists say “a language is a dialect with its own army and navy” and Scotland has not had either for 313 years.

    1. scots does not ‘derive’ from middle english. it is distinct, but has a common ancestry with middle english. remember that the current border with england was not historically a hard border. northumbrians and picts, for example, often comingled in what is now edinburgh, where nothumbria for a time had a stronghold. furthermore, scots has its own vocabulary depending on where it is spoken. for example, scots shares vocabulary with flemish, dutch and frisian, very much unlike cumbria.

      1. The word “Pict” is from Latin slang – and is actually a bit of an insult because there is absolutely no evidence that all the peoples in northern Britain painted themselves. Lallans (or “Scots” as it is called south of the border) is predominantly rooted in old Saxon languages that no longer exist.

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