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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid


YUCK, YUCKER n. a stone or pebble

The evidence for yuck and yucker is sparse in the Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL) but I was reminded of this word, specifically yucker, from my Edinburgh schooldays recently when I was asked if it was Scots.


The word is also remembered by other Edinburghers. One of the questions raised was that of its origins and it was suggested that it could be of gipsy origin. Given that many words from this source are common in Edinburgh this does not seem too far fetched. DSL supports this suggestion with an entry recorded in Watson’s Roxburghshire Word-Book of 1923. Watson recorded many words of gipsy origin as he says in the Supplement to this volume: “An interesting feature of the Roxburghshire vernacular is its borrowing a number of terms from the Gipsy colony long settled at Kirk Yetholm. Long reticent as to their language, the Gipsies by intercourse have now made known quite a number of their words.”


Yuck is recorded in the Summer edition of the Broughton Magazine published in Edinburgh in 1923: “I flang a muckle yuck at the hoodie and gaed on.” I think the firer of this missile was aiming at a crow and not our modern understanding of hoodie.


In 1972 the Hawick News of 7th January cites yuck again in: “The bigger the yuck and the greater the distance, the higher was the reputation of the thrower.” DSL also has attestations from Southern Scotland and the Lothians from 1974 but no examples are given.


However, in my usage it is yucker and I well remember running to my mother after a “big laddie threw a yucker at me”.


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