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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

laldie, gie something laldy

The Dictionary of the Scots Language ( defines laldie as follows: “A thrashing, a punishment, a drubbing, generally in phrases to get or gie laldie also figurative of any vigorous or energetic action.” Although DSL sometimes uses rather quaint language – when was the last time we heard of someone getting a drubbing? – more or less all the senses of laldie are covered by the definition.


Punishment is neatly covered by the following from 1912 in a Verse by George Cunningham: “Ye’ll get laldy owre the bum.” Ouch. W D Cocker in his Further Poems of 1935 exemplifies a thrashing when describing Samson’s encounter with the Philistines: “He focht alane for Israel against the Philistine, An’ fairly gied them laldie wi’ the jaw-bane o a cuddie.”


Giving someone or something laldie is the most common phrase known to us today and used when describing something done enthusiastically or vigorously, but sometimes not necessarily well which is perhaps the implication given by Irvine Welsh in his short story from Marabou Stork Nightmares (1995): “Ah mind ay ma Ma givin it laldy wi this yin. She sang it to me on my birthday.” William McIlvanney supplies a succinct figurative use in his 1983 novel The Papers of Tony Veitch: “... I’m on my way to the chiropodist’s. Ma feet are givin’ me laldy. ...”


Finally, in the twenty-first century The Herald from 19th May 2000 supplies us with: “William Bruce, a staunch Scottish nationalist, took his own piper with him to the Antarctic. There is a famous photograph of Piper Gilbert Kerr, giving it laldy.”


The origin, as with many of our words, is obscure. DSL suggests it is perhaps a child’s word but this implies no one, at the time they were compiling, really had any idea of it source.


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