Gaelic in modern Scotland
Gaelic in modern Scotland

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Gaelic in modern Scotland

5.3.3 Gaelic loanwords in English

All languages take words from each other. Gaelic borrows from English – after all, almost all Gaelic speakers also speak English – but English has also borrowed from Gaelic over the years. Examples include a number of words for geographical features associated with Scotland such as:

  • ben (beinn)
  • brae (bràigh)
  • corry (coire).
  • glen (gleann)
  • loch (loch).

Words of cultural origin include:

  • caber (from ‘cabar’ – a tree trunk).
  • ceilidh
  • clan (from ‘clann’ – children)
  • galore (‘gu leòr’ – enough)
  • slogan (probably from ‘sluagh-ghairm’ – a war cry)
  • sporran (‘sporan’ – a purse)
  • whisky (from ‘uisge’, short for ‘uisge-beatha’ – water of life)

More speculative suggestions of borrowings from Gaelic to English include:

  • grotty (from ‘grod’ – rotten)
  • smashing (from ‘’S math sin’ - that’s good)
  • shoot (from ‘siuthad’ – go on)
  • twig (from ‘tuig’ – understand)!

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus