Shetland words to know
The dialect of Shetland and Orkney has been greatly influenced by the islands’ history.
Once a land of the Picts, the language used by these people has been lost, especially after the Vikings arrived in the islands during the 9th Century. The Vikings took their own language, Old Norse, and Shetland and Orkney became part of Scandinavia from 875AD to 1472AD. During this time the language was used most commonly around the islands slowly changed from Old Norse to Norn.
“Most English speakers shouldn’t have any problems understanding what Shetlanders say, but we have compiled a list of some more unusual words below you may hear when visiting the islands!”
Shetland and Orkney became part of Scotland in the 15th century and Norn began to be used less and less, dying out by the 18th Century. In the present day the Scots language is spoken in Shetland and Orkney, but there are a smattering of words (some used in both island groups) heavily influenced by Norn.
Most English speakers shouldn’t have any problems understanding what Shetlanders say, but we have compiled a list of some more unusual words below you may hear when visiting the islands!
|Airt||direction of wind|
|Blether||gossip / talk|
|Blyde||happy / glad|
|Broo||(top of) slope|
|Coop||turn over, upside down|
|dan or den||then|
|dee or du||you|
|Dook||dook dip (in water)|
|Dreich||dreary (mainly in relation to weather)|
|dy or dine||your or yours|
|Fant||to be very hungry, to famish.|
|Peerie||small / little|
|Pleep||whine or complain|
|Simmer Dim||the twilight of a Shetland summer evening|
|Spaegie||muscle soreness caused by over exertion|
|Trow||a mischievous fairy|
|Twa||two; a few|
|Unkan||strange / unfamiliar|
|Wheesht||a call for silence|
|wir||our or were or we are|
Orkney and Shetland enthusiast, family man, loves walks, likes animals, terrible at sports, dire taste in music, great taste in films and tv, eats a little too much for his own good.