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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid




FASH v. trouble, vex, annoy, anger, inconvenience


Fash has altered little in meaning over the centuries and is found in northern English dialects as well as Scots. It is often used in negative phrases like 'dinna fash yersel' (don't trouble yourself), and appeared in a comment in the Scotsman in 2003 on the possibility of labelling groceries in Scots:


"Dinna fash, Scottish supermarkets could have signs saying tatties, neeps, sybies, kail and cebbok".


Fash is recorded in Scottish sources from the sixteenth century onwards and is borrowed from the medieval French verb 'fascher'. In Ninian Winzet's sixteenth-century religious writings, Certane Tractates, we are told that


"Heretikis ar euir desyrous of nouelteis, and fascheit of antiquitie"


and in the State Papers and Miscellaneous Correspondence of Thomas, Earl of Melrose (1613), we may learn that the


"Lord of Scone ... is fasched with affaires which ar ... weightie to him".



A related word is fasherie, used of trouble, annoyance or unnecessary ornamentation. The Glasgow Burgh Records of 1662 note the


"great truble and fasharie that is amongst neighboures for want of copper monye".


In more recent times, though, the word seems to be restricted to occasional use in poetic literature (though please correct us if we're wrong) as in Ellie McDonald's The Gangan Fuit (1991):


"Tae win awa, tae courie doun, tae courie doun, aiblins tae dream aye that's the fasherie".


Fash itself is often used in Scots poetry. Hugh MacDiarmid included it in a comment on language and identity in A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle (1926):


"And let the lesson be ( to be yersel's, Ye needna fash gin it's to be ocht else".


But I leave you with these wise words from one of Neil Munro's early twentieth-century short stories, published in the anthology Erchie and Jimmy Swan (1993):


"The thing is to have your galluses right, and then ye needna fash about your dignity".



This week's Scots word was written by Dr Maggie Scott for Dictionaries of the Scots Language.

This week's word is spoken by Dauvit Horsbrough, an academic from Aberdeenshire, now living in Angus.

First published 26th February 2007.