View site in Scots

Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid




BAFFIES  n  slippers


These comfortable items have been gaining linguistic ground over the course of the last century. The Transactions of the Scottish Dialects Committee (1914) give three references to ‘baffs’ which they define as


“Old loose slippers”,


“Coarse slippers used by women in the house”




“Large loose slippers, used also to describe animals’ feet. ‘What baffs o’ paws the cat has’”.


The printed version of the Scottish National Dictionary has nothing further to say on the matter apart from a brief addition in the first Supplement recording the use of the diminutive ‘baffie’ in Angus and Fife in 1975 and of the participial adjective ‘baffied’ in the sense of wearing baffies, from the Sunday Post (1956). When we get to the New Supplement online, however, there is no shortage of colourful quotations. In the Scotsman (1991), we read:


“Quick as a flash she slips on her baffies skites up the close stairs to her neighbour’s and chaps at the door”.


The Daily Record (1997) speculates on:


“a shoe-in for the Tories and Norma Major’s baffies might yet be under the Number 10 table”.


David Kay’s show at the Edinburgh Festival in 2003 is described in Scotland on Sunday as


“more like a one-bar electric fire gently warming a pensioner’s baffies than a comedy inferno”.


Terpsichoreal feats are described in the Daily Mail (2003):


“There were moments when they made the Red Arrows display team look like a squad of clumsy oafs, as students traced perfect figures of eight around and between each other, their feet flying across the floor like Darcey Bussell in feather baffies”.


More prosaic is this offering from the Sunday Mail (2004):


“Shuffle into the kitchen in my baffies this morning to discover Sammy [the dog] has six eggs, two of Louis’ school socks and a wooden spoon in her basket.”



This Scots Word of the Week was written by Chris Robinson of Scottish Language Dictionaries.

This week's Word is spoken by Avril Nicol.


First published 21st May 2012.