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On Mothering Sunday many mothers look forward to a visit from their grandweans as well as a visit from their grown-up weans.

Grandweans first appear in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) in D E Brown’s 1897 Clydeside Litterateurs:


“Till grand-weans and great-grand-weans, clap and applaud”.


However, DSL does not record the object of their applause.


Our next citation comes from the Herald of September 1992:


“The Use of Language and That: A rare example of verbal talent overheard on a North Sea ferry. A Scottish granny is admonishing her half-German grandwean: ‘Gretchen! If ye dinnae stoap that you'll get yer heid in your hauns to play wi’.’”



A later example perhaps reflects the feelings of some grandparents. Grandwean visits can be exhausting - as in this from History on your Doorstep: The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum (1993):


“My mother said I like to see my grandweans but I like to see them going away”.



While looking for other examples many were found, among them the following from the Motherwell Times of May 1960:


“Gilchrist’s beat music band, composed mostly of young lads from the scheme, gave the grandads and grannies an insight into what their teenage grandweans enjoy”.



Gregor Steele wrote a poem for DSL in 2021, called When Scotty said “Scunner”, in which our word also appears:


“And the words wull pass tae ma wean’s wean’s wean, And their wean’s grandwean’s wean’s grandwean…”


I hope many grandweans were enjoying the company of their grannies and grandads last Sunday.



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