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The Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) defines peenie as “Scots reduced form of English pinafore, especially as worn by a child”. It has since come to mean any apron.

My grannie’s peenie was of a type also described in DSL as a “woman’s (wrapover) apron”. It was an overall which, on washing days (because of the heat), she wore with just her underwear.


With Halloween in mind, the witch in Thomas Clark’s Scots translation of The Tinderbox (2020, Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales in Scots) has a peenie with magical properties.


“Dinna fash ma braw laddie … ye’ll hae ma peenie wi ye. Jist sit it doon on the flair and pit the dug on tap o it. Then open the kist and tak oot aw the copper pieces ye can cairry. Weel… unless ye’d prefer sillar, that is.”


By extension, one can have (or be) a pain in the peenie - meaning a pain in the stomach - which can be caused by anything from acute appendicitis to a person to be avoided for whatever reason. In the Dundee Courier of November 2020, a writer observes:


“However safe anyone says it is, I’m wary of eating the flesh [of yew berries], just in case something horrid has leeched out of the stone and gives me a pain in the peenie. Now, that’s a fine old-fashioned Scottish saying which I doubt you’ll hear echoing round the hi-tech walls of Ninewells Hospital”.


I hope our readers suffer no pains in their peenies.


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