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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Lorne sausage n. square-shaped sausage meat

Lorne sausage, otherwise known as square sausage, sliced or slicing sausage is a traditional Scottish delicacy usually eaten at breakfast. Ex pats pine for it in the same way they do for Scotland’s other national drink. It is made from uncased, uncooked, fresh beef sausage and cut in slices from a large block approximately 10 cm square.

 

There have been many suggestions as to why it is called Lorne sausage; one explanation given by Laura Mason and Catherine Brown in Traditional Foods of Scotland is: “This became associated in Glasgow with the comedian Tommy Lorne, a popular music-hall performer for the decades between the world wars who often made rude jokes about the Glasgow square sausage describing them as ‘doormats’” (1999). 

This explanation is also given by the Herald: “Many Scots, especially in the west, eschew link sausages for the square variety. Lorne sausage was named after Glasgow comedian Tommy Lorne who joked that Glasgow square sausage was akin to a doormat” (16 November 2002). 

 

Our research, some of which is published in the Dictionary of the Scots Language (dsl.ac.uk), shows that this type of sausage is not confined to the West but is known throughout the country from Orkney down to Roxburgh. 

 

Wider research uncovers an advertisement in the Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs from A. Blair & Co (butcher) which shows: “Lorne sausages 6d [sixpence] per lb [pound]”. This dates from 13 February 1896 which makes it seem unlikely that the sausage was named after the comedian who was only born in December 1890. What seems a more likely explanation is that it is named after the district of Lorne which now lies in the Argyll and Bute council area. 

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