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Probably originally a shortening of ‘ginger beer’, ginger became the general name for any fizzy drink, see The Herald (February 1993):


“We asked the nice waitress what kind of ginger it was. ‘Fresh ginger’, she said. We said that we assumed it was a fresh bottle of ginger, but was it cream soda, limeade, Irn Bru or what?”.


Ginger makes a relatively late appearance in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language and our first example comes from James Kelman’s The Bus Conductor Hines (1984):


“Christ sake man, transistor radios playing, drinking bottles of ginger, the place stowed out with folk chatting”.



Fizzy drinks were, of course, called ginger before 1984. An earlier occurrence is found in the Barrhead News of August 1909:


“Barrhead and Paisley people, who ‘holiday’ at home, are wondering what they’ll do without the races at St James’s Park. Try a taste of the scenery … and a drink of ginger at the Peesweep next weekend”.



However, drinking ginger is not generally associated with fine dining. And here is confirmation from the Herald (July 1998):


“You do not equate the French with TV dinners, microwaves, bottles of ginger and fish suppers”.



More recently, ginger features in Gregor Steele’s poem for young children Up Ma Jouk (Scots Hoose 2021), in a Scots version of A Few of My Favourite Things:


“Smairt wireless heidphones that dinnae cost muckle,

A Micky Moose watch wi a braw siller buckle,

Twa cans o ginger ma wee braither shook,

These are the things that Ah keep up ma jouk.”



This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel.

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