Scottish phrases and tips to learn before you visit

Here in Scotland, we speak English. If you are visiting Stuckgowan Lodges from large countries such as the USA, you might assume we all speak with the same ‘British’ accent that you hear on Downton Abbey. If so, then you are in for a big surprise! Accents and dialects change seemingly every few miles in the UK, and this is certainly the case here in Scotland. Not only that, the Scottish phrases and words that are used vary from place to place.

We thought we’d put together a cheat sheet for visitors to Scotland looking to get a head start on some of the most common Scottish phrases you might hear around our properties at Loch Lomond and Loch Tay when you first arrive.

Scottish phrases


When you meet someone in the UK, instead of saying “hello” they might say, “you alright?”. They’re not asking for your medical history, so a “yes, you?” would be a perfectly fine reply before heading into conversation. In Scotland, you’re more likely to hear “awright?” as a different way of asking the same question.

Similarly, “howzitgoan?” is our short-hand version of asking “how’s it going?” and again, we’re not looking for any answer other than “fine, you?”. 

A smiling boy raises the Scottish banner at a beach.

Taps aff

If you visit our beautiful lodges in the summertime, you might hear people describe the sunny days as “taps aff weather”. This means that it is so hot, the men are taking their “tops off” and going barechested! You’ll often find the t-shirts thrown over their shoulders because taps aff weather can sometimes only last for an hour or so before it decidedly becomes taps back on weather!


When talking to someone you don’t know, for example in a shop or train, you might be called “pal”. This is a generic term meaning friend, and can be used for both men and women. 

Gonnae no dae that

If you are doing something and somebody says to you, ‘gonnae no dae that”, it means please stop what you are doing. It became a popular phrase across Scotland after sketch show Chewin’ The Fat popularised it in the early 2000s. 

Make sure to take a look at the video, because it will prepare you for the next phrase:


Okay, this one might take some time to get your head around. Often in Scotland, “how” means “why”. But not always. Sometimes “how” means “how” and “why” means “why”. But if someone asks you “how?” they might be asking you “why”.

Has that cleared things up? Hmmm. Let’s try again.

For example, if you ask someone to close the door, they might ask “how?”. Of course, they know how to close a door and don’t need a guide on that. They are really asking “why should I close the door?”, as in, “how come I should close the door?”. 

So if you ask someone to do something and they say “how”…there’s a chance they mean “why”. 

A girl reading a book in front of a Scottish saltire flag.

Other things to know before visiting Scotland

So those are some of the phrases you might hear when you first get to Scotland. If you really want to be super prepared, here are some additional tips and advice to help you hit the ground running.

We love moaning about the weather

Just like the rest of the UK, if you are stuck for something to say in polite conversation, comment on how good/bad (delete as appropriate) the weather is and we’ll chat to you for hours about it.

The unicorn is our national animal

Scotland is the only country in the world which has a mythical creature as our national animal. We also have a lion on our coat of arms. Although we don’t have wild lions roaming Scotland, you can get up close to some at Blair Drummond Safari Park, not too far from Loch Lomond. 

We don’t like it when people try to do our accent

Just…gonnae no dae that.

Irn-Bru is life

Whilst whisky is our national drink, our unofficial national drink is definitely Irn-Bru. It competes directly with the likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi and often outsells them. The flavour is hard to describe – you’ll just have to buy a can and try one!

We’re friendly folk and love to chat

So when you visit, with these Scottish phrases and tips you’ll be well set to enjoy your break and get a feel for the Scottish way of life. Scottish people tend to be friendly and helpful and usually up for a chat, so once you have settled into your holiday accommodation at Loch Lomond or Loch Tay, get out there and explore our beautiful country! Click here to contact us and find out more about staying in our lodges in Scotland.