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I was reminded of this phrase when it was used by a colleague who was surprised to learn that it’s Scots. It has a place in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL), with the rather terse definition, “too ready to comment”. Although pass-remarkable is usually used disparagingly, this is not always the case. In 1986 a contributor to the DSL sent the following:


“I hope you’ll excuse me being pass-remarkable, but I do like your hair-cut”.


Apart from the above, other examples in the DSL paint a picture of individuals who are always too ready to pass an opinion, as in this from the Scotsman of January 2004:


“She was modelled on my granny in Paisley and her friends, who were very funny unintentionally — very pass-remarkable as they say in Glasgay”.


The phrase is still with us and still refers to women of a certain age, as in the following from the Edinburgh Evening News of April 2019:


“There are some benefits. Age does bring a degree of hard-earned wisdom and a clearer sense of perspective. … And older women are expected to be grumpy and pass-remarkable, so freeing you to complain as loudly as you like in Marks & Spencer”.


Finally, this comment in the National of December 2020 on the events of last year:


“When you aren’t spending your every waking hour trying to work out how to deal with an unprecedented global pandemic, it is easy to point the finger. The opinionated and the pass-remarkable, the hot-takers and the confidence tricksters, the bloviators, bullshit-merchants, press-releasers and the opinion formers have had rich pickings this year”.


This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel, Dictionaries of the Scots Language