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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid



SOSS n., v., int.

According to the Dictionaries of the Scots Language, this word can mean anything from a sloppy mess and “... a wet, soggy or unpalatable mess of food” to “a state of dirt and disorder, a muddle, chaos, confusion”. And these are only two of the many definitions.

In The Dialect of Banffshire (1866), for example, Walter Gregor recorded that an unfortunate housewife


“keeps hir hoose in a sod soss”.


The word is still in use. This appeared in Robbie Shepherd’s Doric Column in the Press and Journal in August 2020:


“Lettin me lowse in the kitchen wid be akin tae a bull in a china shop bit michty, I’m a buddin commis-chef efter lookin in on Celebrity Masterchef the ither wikk on TV an seein the kirns an soss at Judy Murray pit on the plate, the rice cowpit oot as gin it cam stracht oot o the tin”.


A little earlier, another report from the Press and Journal (in January 2017) shows that NHS cancellations are not just a result of the pandemic:


“At’s the facts sae I’ll say nae mair ivnoo on that bit haud tae mair general thochts an the nurses are nae the only eens that maun be frustratit at the soss creatit bi Grampian NHS fa I read hid been warn’t a three eer syne that patients were bein pitten at risk on the failure tae haud on tae experience’t staff an here we are wi mair nor a hunner operations cancell’t in the last month or twa.”


This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel. Visit DSL Online at