Sunday, 9 December 2007

Scottish words for rain

Inspired by sandwriter's recent post on soggy Ayrshire winters, and being reminded of the chat a few years ago about the number of words the Inuit have for snow ( it started on the publication of Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow , where the main character was an expert on snow and apparently described nine Inuit words for snow), I thought I'd have a go at a little rain experiment.

When the debate on the Inuit snow thing was ongoing, I remember feeling very inadequate. It was one of those cases where indigenous people seemed to be more in tune with the natural world than we urbanized gas-guzzlers - it affected them more, so they had a more plentiful vocabulary to describe it. But recently, I realised that we Scots have a not inconsiderable number of words for rain and the act of raining. After reading sandwriter talk about her experience of her first winter in the soggy Ayrshire countryside I thought I'd have a go at listing all the words I know of in current use to describe the plentiful rain that we endure here in Scotland.

Quite often we describe the action, rather than the quality of the rain itself, so we have lots and lots of verbs. Right, here we go:

the rain itself can be: damp, wet, smirr, spots, drizzle, shower, rain, downpour, torrential, cataract,

the action can be: pelting, spitting, coming down in stair-rods, raining cats and dogs, pouring, teeming, driving, bucketing, chucking it down, throwing it down, tipping it down, horizontal, lashing,

and one can be drenched, drookit, saturated, soaked, wringing wet, by rain

I make that 28 different unique words and phrases for rain and its effects. And that's without going into the delights of sleet and hail, mist and haar.

I'll add to the list as thoughts occur to me (or as I get soaked, drenched or saturated by the damn stuff!) And if anyone can think of any words - British or not, let me know. Maybe we could start a celebratory dictionary of rain!


reasonable robinson said...

Hi Daisy, its years since I've been to Ayr.As a kid I went up/down the electric brae, over to Culzean ? Castle.

Born on the 25th Jan too....cue twilight zone music!!

Puddock said...

The Electric Brae! That brings back memories - that lovely drive along the high cliff road with the view of Culzean and the drive down (up?) the Brae and switching off the car engine and coming to a stop. Happy days!

Anonymous said...

Ireland, August 08

A Few Drops
Cats And Dogs
Well the heavens Opened
Grand Soft Day
Easing Off
Bucketing Down
Down For The Day
Scattered Outbreaks
Thundery Showers
Patchy Rain
That Will Keep The Dust Down
Pissing Down
That's A Day For The Ducks
No Drying Out Today
Coming Down
That's Lifting The Slates

Anonymous said...

don't forget 'dreich'!!!

a perfect description of the prevailing weather here and one that combines rain/wetness with cold, overcast sky and generally miserableness....

Iain White said...

Hi all,
I said on my blog that I had read somewhere that the Scots had 26 words for rain.. I found your site again! And 34words too.
One I managed to remember was stoatin' which I don't think you listed
Iain White
Scot Free lll

Anonymous said...

My old gran used to say " yur no goin' oot in that - it's bouncin' aff the slabs'