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In the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) this is defined as “a small amount, especially of alcohol”. Growing up, I thought this term was peculiar to my family, particularly to an auntie, who, when asked if she would like a top-up, would reply:


“Oh just a wee sensation, then”.



In the same spirit, this is the earliest example in DSL (from J Fullarton Miller’s 1955 short story published in Streets of Stone, 1985):


“He heard the clink of glasses and Jess saying, ‘No much for me, Joe — just a wee sensation’”.


It’s perhaps an expression that could confuse the uninitiated, for example this report from the Scotsman (April 1993):


“A first-time visitor to Lewis last week … fell foul of the islanders’ delicate phrasing when offering whisky. Asked: ‘And: would you care for a wee sensation?’ He replied: ‘I'd love one. But is there any chance of a drink first?’”



More recently, at a concert reported in the North Star of March 2017 the band leader:


“...found her carefully encouraged crowd ready to sing along lustily. Or possibly it had something to do with an interval ‘wee sensation’!”.



I thought it was a relatively modern term but not at all, as this example from the snappily named Peterhead Sentinel and General Advertiser for the Buchan District of April 1906 shows:


“‘Ye’re surely nae gyaun tae indulge in speeritious liquors, Lowrie,’ said she, braw sharp kin’. ‘O, jista wee sensation tae celibrate the occasion, an’ sweel the styoo [dust] oot o’ oor throats,’ replied Lowrie”.


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