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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

bosie n. a bosom; a cuddle clasp to the bosom

Bosie, ‘the bosom’ is defined in the Dictionary of the Scots Language ( as being ‘Gen Sc’, meaning that this would be known to all native Scots speakers. For me personally, however, it has always been associated with the Scots of North East Scotland but that seems only to be the transferred meaning of ‘a cuddle’. 


The first example in DSL does refer to a person’s bosom or breast in the 1842 quotation from J. Ballantine in Whistle Binkie: “Wi’ a shower o’ snaw, Flaiket owre her bozy.” But an 1894 example from Angus shows how the meaning is starting to shift with: “Bairnie, cuddlin’ in my bosie, Bonnie bairnie, sweet an’ rosie.” (Sangs o’ the Heatherland by A. Reid).


Most modern sources in the DSL do come from the Aberdeen area. In 1992 this rather wistful example appeared in the Press and Journal of the 9th May: “I’d settle for bosies noo and again,” said Sandy sadly. “Jist an occasional bosie wid dae me fine…””. Aberdonian author Sheena Blackhall gives us the following from her 1996 collection of short stories Wittgenstein’s Web: “An ma Da says Ma’s a Bad Parent cos she’s aye oot on the randan. [out having a good time] I dinna ken fit [what] the randan is, bit I ay get sweeties an a bosie fin [when] she cams hame.” 


The first mention of ‘cuddle’ in DSL is from 1952 and defines it as ‘baby talk’ and also recorded from 1884 Lanarkshire is the double diminutive ‘bosikie’.


Finally, a last word from Matthew Fitt’s 2000 science fiction novel But n Ben A-Go-Go:  “Grandfaither Klog never bosied or beardied him when he wis wee but gart [made] him staun in foostie cupboards…” 


Scots Word of the Week is written by Pauline Cairns Speitel of Scottish Language Dictionaries