View site in Scots
Flickr YouTube

Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

FYKIE adjective over-fussy, fastidious

In the Dictionary of the Scots Language ( HYPERLINK "http://www.dsl.ac.uk" www.dsl.ac.uk) is defined firstly as, “of, persons fidgety” it then goes on to cover our modern meaning of, “fussy, fastidious over trifles, particular, difficult to please” and the earliest example of this comes from John Galt’s The Howdie (1833): “He was fiky, and made more work about trifles that didna just please him.”  James Anderson, writing under the pseudonym Fergus Mackenzie in his Cruise Sketches written in 1893 describes his cat thus: “Oy, just a fikey mannie; he was aye a partiiklar cat.” Anyone who has ever had a pet cat knows that they are all fykie. And in this 1943 Example W S Forsyth’s 1943 Guff o’ Waur  I wish I knew what drink he is describing: “For slockin’ the thirst, for a fykie inside,… Nae water can beat it ava.”

 

Fykie cats and innards notwithstanding fykie folk have been with us for a long time as shown in this headline example from the Glasgow Saturday Post, and Paisley and Renfrewshire Reformer of 16 February 1861: “FYKIE FOLK. It is a glorious privilege that of grumblers, and many thanks are due to the Editors of our Dailies, who, being no doubt scrimp of matter at times that might prove edifying or amusing, permit the discontented public to grumble in their columns…” 

 

Work can also be fykie as this jobbing gardener replied to a prospective employer in the Aberdeen Press and Journal of 20th July 1907: “No, I’m nae gryte hand at the heow [hoe] Gey fykie jobbie.”

 

The origins are unclear but it appears to come from Old Norse ‘fikja’ or an early Swedish word ‘fikja’ ‘to move briskly.

 

Scots Word of the Week is written by Pauline Cairns Speitel of Scottish Language Dictionaries  HYPERLINK "http://www.scotsdictionaries.org.uk" www.scotsdictionaries.org.uk,  HYPERLINK "mailto:mail@scotsdictionaries.org.uk" mail@scotsdictionaries.org.uk.