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PEEVERS noun hopscotch

In our digital age children playing street games sadly seems to be consigned to the past. In the Dictionary of the Scots Language ( the first definition is: “The flat stone or counter used in the game of hop-scotch”; it then goes to describe the game: “generally in plural, the game itself”. Then, of course, we have the squares chalked on the pavements and playgrounds which were called ‘peevery beds’.


However, an early example seems to illustrate that ‘peevers’ could also be the name for the chalked squares as shown in J Strang’s Glasgow Clubs of 1856: “The young misses indulged in scoring the flagstones with their peevors, for the purpose of playing at pall-all.” (pall-all being another Scots word for hopscotch). Curiously, peevers seems to have been strictly an all girls game.


The Scotsman of 26th April 1935 shows a stunt by the students during their rag week: “The world Peevers Championship at the foot of Leith Walk at noon.” The Aberdeen Press and Journal of 19th January 1923 reports, a tad tongue in cheek, on a ruling by Glasgow Councillors: “[headline]CHALKING ON PAVEMENT: GLASGOW TO PUT AN END TO PRACTICE Mr O’Hare inquired, amid laughter, how “peever” and other games would be effected.”


Finally, we have a rather sexist example also from the Aberdeen Press and Journal of 19th May 1920: “We are prepared to let them [women] croquet or cricket to hearts’ content, and to let them hold the record for ‘peever’ and jumping ropes.” I wonder what the same reporter would have made of today’s women’s football teams.


Scots Word of the Week is written by Pauline Cairns Speitel of Scottish Language Dictionaries  HYPERLINK "", 9 Coates Crescent, Edinburgh EH3 7AL (0131) 220 1294  HYPERLINK ""