Or, to be more precise, Scandinavian Influence on Southern Lowland Scotch. The Project Gutenberg folks have put online this 1900 work by George Tobias Flom, a fine example of old-style philology, with plenty of examples and appendices and no attempt to appeal to the casual browser. From the Preface:

This work aims primarily at giving a list of Scandinavian loanwords found in Scottish literature. The publications of the Scottish Text Society and Scotch works published by the Early English Text Society have been examined… Norse elements in the Northern dialects of Lowland Scotch, those of Caithness and Insular Scotland, are not represented in this work. My list of loanwords is probably far from complete. A few early Scottish texts I have not been able to examine. These as well as the large number of vernacular writings of the last 150 years will have to be examined before anything like completeness can be arrived at.
I have adopted certain tests of form, meaning, and distribution. With regard to the test of the form of a word great care must be exercised. Old Norse and Old Northumbrian have a great many characteristics in common, and some of these are the very ones in which Old Northumbrian differs from West Saxon. It has, consequently, in not a few cases, been difficult to decide whether a word is a loanword or not…

And here’s his admirable explanation of his use of language names:

There has been considerable confusion in the use of the terms Norse and Danish. Either has been used to include the other, or, again, in a still wider sense, as synonymous with Scandinavian; as, for instance, when we speak of the Danish kingdoms in Dublin, or Norse elements in Anglo-Saxon. Danish is the language of Denmark, Norse the language of Norway. When I use the term Old Danish I mean that dialect of Old Scandinavian, or Old Northern, that developed on Danish soil. By Old Norse I mean the old language of Norway. The one is East Scandinavian, the other West Scandinavian. The term Scandinavian, being rather political than linguistic, is not a good one, but it has the advantage of being clear, and I have used it where the better one, Northern, might lead to confusion with Northern Scotch.

An example from his long list of loan words:
Beck, sb. a rivulet, a brook. Jamieson. O. N. bekkr, O. Sw. bäkker, Norse bekk, O. Dan. bæk, Sw. bäck, a rivulet. In place-names a test of Scand. settlements.
He also has a list of Some Words that are not Scandinavian Loanwords. A very thorough job, if doubtless superseded by later works not available for free on this wonderful internet we call home. (Via wood s lot.)


  1. It’s great to see that the Gutenberg folks have gotten over the conception that “Plain Vanilla” is equivalent to ASCII.

  2. A very useful find. Thanks, LH.

  3. In Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland, Westmoreland and Lancashire thorpe is comparatively rare, while toft is not found at all.
    This isn’t the case – there is at least one “toft” that I can think of – Toft Hill in County Durham.
    Some of the Scottish words listed are still in use in Northern English dialects today:
    Bayt, beck, bigging, (in place names and I would guess not “an independent Sco.” word as suggested; blether, clag, egg (v), garth, kist, lowp, saikless, skaggy,
    From the site: The general character of the Scand. loanwords in Sco. is Norse, not Dan.
    We may conclude that the Scand. elements that had come into O. Eng. in the beginning of the 10th Century were not large. From the middle of the century they came in in large numbers, but the period of most extensive borrowing seems rather to be the last part of the 10th and the first half of the 11th Century. Wall suggests that the Dan. spoken by the Dan. settlers in England was of a more archaic kind than that spoken in Denmark—that this might in many cases account for the archaic character of the loanwords.

    Very interesting. Thanks for that, lh.

  4. The Norse (Vikings) were quite active around the coast of Scotland and had the Jarldom of Orkney there for a while in the far north.
    However, their influence on both Scots Gaelic and Scots English is minimal and seems to be limited mostly to some loan words like uinneag (window) and barn (child) etc. rather than grammatical and syntactical features.
    The Vikings had a strong tendancy to go native everywhere they went and their language didn’t survive contact with the native languages long enough to really impact them . The last traces of Scandanavian disappeared in Normandy about 1150 A.D. but most of the Danish settlers there seem to have been Frenchified within a generation or two (c. 1050 A.D.). After they conquered England, the same thing happened. Within a few generations they were thoroughly assimilated into the native English population of Anglo-Saxons, Danes and Britons.

  5. I cannot resist commenting on Patrick Hall’s comment regarding “Gutenburg folks” having “gotten over…..” Presumably they did so by way of the US of A?

  6. Norse had a bigger impact on Scotland than you would think.I know from my discoveries of Old Norse place names in southern Scotland that they extensively settled this area and that they came originally from Norway-not Anglified Danes etc.There are no traces I can see of early Anglic settlement. The website at gives an explanation. Flom is a great help.
    A few common words from Old Norse
    Acorn, acre, aff, (meaning ‘off’ in Scots), afar, all, arm, baking, (‘bakster’ in Scots) balderdash, bann, bark, bat, berserk, bield, bilge, blemish, blot, blur, brother, burn, burgess, bush, cake, call, clap, cleg, dairy, dale, dance, daughter, day, dawn, deaf, dell, dirt, down, dregs, dub, edge, egg, elder, end, errand, father, filly, finger, firth, flag, flat, flaw, freckle, furlough, gaggle, gain, gale, gap, gate, gill, girn, girth, glimpse, gravy, green, greyhound, groin, gust, half, hare, haste, hawk, hawse, hide (animal hide) hinge, horse, hold, how,(hill in Scots) husband, hustings, ice, ill, kid, kilt, knowledge, kirk, inner, lamb, land, lane, law, ling, mare, maze, mire, mistake, moor, moss, mother, muck, near, neat, (cattle), neighbouring, net, nether, night, nose, North, oaf, outlaw, oak, (aik in Scots), pap, plough, poinding, pound, raft, ransack, rigmarole, rim, row, ruck, rump, rust, sale, shingle, sister, shirt, shiver, skid, skin, skirt, skull, sky, sleet, slop, sloop, smudge, snout, stump, tackle, tatter, thrust, thwart, tike, tit,(little bird), their, them, they, tram, trough, understand, wad, wake, want, weir, welcome, whim, whore, wicket (small gate originally), window, wood.

  7. Iain,
    With all due respect, you’re overdoing it. All of the words you mentioned seem to exist in standard English too. They’re not what you would call “Scotticisms.” Of these, the ones beginning with sk- and sl- are certainly of Norse origin but a good many are Anglo-Saxon e.g. night; wood Anglo-Saxon niht; wudu. “Dance” is from Frankish (a form of Old High German) via French. “Down” is from Anglo-Saxon dune, and probably an early loan from Celtic. “Pound” is from Anglo-Saxon pund and was brought to northern Europe by Roman traders. The original Latin word was libra pundo meaning “a pound by weight.”

  8. Brian,
    I didn’t mention ‘Scotticisms’. I know that these words are in use in England since the Norse introduced them there after 787. Pound in ON (Old Norse) is pund, according to C/V(Cleasby)Vigfusson)and equalled 20 marks which equals 12 pounds. The COD (Concise Oxford Dictionary) states that historically the Scots ‘pound’ equalled 1s 8p. 12x 1s.8p= One Pound. Voila, the Scots ‘pound’ is from the Icelandic pund, which is how it is widely pronounced in Scotland today. Dance is from ON danz, which C/V says possibly came via the Bretons in the 11th c.The word originally came from Latin dansare, according to C/V who state this is certainly not a Teutonic word. Down comes from ON dúnn, down, feathery stuff. Scots ‘wid- wood’ comes from ON við as in við-bjorn, wood bear, við-högg, wood-chopping.Night is ON nátt/nót. If the early Scots tongue came from some variant of Old English as is claimed by many, how are there no credible traces, especially in place names, of what must have been extensive settlements to have a major impact on the old Scots non-Celtic tongue. Fankle is a good ‘Scotticism’ which came from the ON fang, to hold. How do I know. The COD says so-and so does Flom.

  9. These comments are 10+ years old! So my 2 cents. Its not lists that are important but usage. Most of these words are ‘Germanic’ so lists will be similar. But if someone from Surrey (‘Anglo-Saxon’ Standard English) listens to someone speaking the Doric even if the words are ‘Germanic’ in both cases the one will not understand the other. If someone from Aberdeen goes to Denmark and finds Danish comprehensible, while someone from Surrey does the same but finds Danish completely foreign, then there is a case for ‘Norse influence in Scots’ to answer… IMHO.

  10. John N. Landers says

    30th October, 2021
    John N. Landers, descendant of Clan Lamont, in Brazil for 55 years. Grandfather born in Morpeth, Northumberland in the old Danelaw,
    I speak Danish and on re-reading Tam O’Shanter I made a list of Lalland Scots words that I recognized as Danish cognates. There are some very common ones this erudite discussion seems to have missed out on e.g.Kirk = Kirk, Sten = Sten, Bone = Ben (long eeee) and so forth. Also there is a greetin’ bairn = en graedende barn, There must be a missing link with philologists and why do they insist on using the word Scotch, when this is in common usage for whisky? I always thought that Burns wrote in Lalland Scots.

  11. Lars Mathiesen says

    Well, unpacking this sentence: Old Norse and Old Northumbrian have a great many characteristics in common, and some of these are the very ones in which Old Northumbrian differs from West Saxon, it means that when a modern word like kirk looks like Danish kirke and both are descended from a very early loan from Greek into (Proto)-Germanic that we can spell *kirika — then sure it’s not a coincidence but it’s not a borrowing either, it’s because the northern dialects of English didn’t participate in all of the many sound shifts leading from *kirika to modern English church.

    As for “stone,” if the borrowing was in the Viking age Old English had stān and Old Norse (called Danish) had steinn (as still in Norwegian). That Lallands and Danish both arrived at sten 1000 years later is in fact a coincidence, and the same goes for “bone” I would guess.

    The greeting bairn was perfectly cromulent in Middle English, that’s pure shared inheritance with Scandinavian and it just happened that the words were lost in the south. No borrowing there either.

    I think you can trust Professor Flom on this. Or trust me, I’m Danish.

  12. PlasticPaddy says

    @lars, jnl
    Northumbrian was in contact with Norse, but so were other dialects. You might be able to find a cluster of borrowings specifc to the ancestor of Lallands, that were not borrowed in other dialects. For example “scuit” for a drinking vessel made from a piece of hollowed wood may be ex O.N. skúta “small ship”. However, English had skute “small ship”.

  13. Lars Mathiesen says

    @PP. obvíously that may be so, but my point was just that a modern Lallands word looking more like modern Danish than modern Standard English is not evidence in itself of borrowing from Old Norse. You need the sort of research that From did.

    Also it seems that Scotch may be the Ulster Scots name for the language, at least sometimes. I haven’t noticed any tendency of current linguistics to use that name, but I may be living a sheltered life.

  14. John Cowan says

    Eng stone, Scots and Northumbrian stane, Danish sten are all cognates, but the Scots and Danish forms are similar not because Scots and Danish are more closely related than either is to English, nor because Scots has borrowed from Danish, but because it is the English form that has changed: East Midlands Middle English changed long a to long o. Actual borrowings like pain from French or stain from Old Norse didn’t undergo this change, and so are still pronounced with long a.

    Kirk is more complex: in Scotland and the North of England it’s the cognate, but in Southern proper names like Kirkley in Suffolk it’s probably a local Viking Age borrowing: if that had not happened the name would probably be Churchlea.

  15. John Cowan says

    LARS [in perfect English] Good day! My name is Laurence, I’m from the Dane March, and I’m here to help you! [hiding sword behind back]

  16. Lars Mathiesen says

    We aim to please.

  17. David L. Gold says

    In etymological research in general, it may be hard to distinguish (1) forms of substratal origin, (2) borrowings that have been so thoroughly integrated that they look like retentions from the substratum or like native words, (3) wandering words (Wanderwörter), (4) reborrowings (Rückentlehnungen), (5) cognates, (6) false cognates, (7) chance resemblances, (8) etymons, and (9) reflexes.

    I wish I could remember Afrikaans word x, which an Afrikaans etymological dictionary says comes from South African English word y, which an etymological dictionary of South African English says comes from Afrikaans word x.

  18. J.W. Brewer says

    At some point a prescriptivist distinction arose in certain quarters distinguishing the adjectives Scotch, Scottish, and Scots from each other by saying for any given noun or sort of noun, only one of the three could be cromulently used and you had to know which one went where. This meant that if you used either of the other two for a particular noun you were Wrong and probably a Bad Person. The same distinctions carried over to the adjectives used as nouns in contexts where it was clear you meant e.g. “Scots language” or “Scotch whisky” and could thus drop the second word from the phrase. But if you go back far enough in time before that convention had arisen, the words tend to be used more interchangeably.* I had thought the distinction had arisen (at least among self-conscious Scottish types eager to correct the errors of others) by the mid-19th-century, so I am mildly surprised to see Flom’s 1900 publication not conforming to it, but maybe I am wrong about the timeline or maybe Flom was just a devil-may-care fellow who didn’t care what certain other people thought about his word choices.

    *E.g. in 1826 you can find the phrase “A wee drap guid Scots whiskey,” which ignores not only that convention but the separate convention about when to use the “whisky” spelling rather than the “whiskey” one.

  19. David L. Gold says

    This review may be helpful when using Flom 1900:

    Remy, Arthur F. J. 1905. [review of Flom 1900]. Journal of English and Germanic Philology. Vol. V. No. 4. October. Pp. 583-587 (full access is available free of charge at

  20. J.W. Brewer says

    On further reflection, the use of “Scotch” where we would expect “Scots” for the language is probably not just Flom being devil-may-care, because this work appears to have been (or at least be based on) the dissertation that convinced Columbia University to give him a Ph.D., so if the convention among American academics as of 1900 had been that Scots was the Right Name and Scotch the Wrong Name for the language it would have been a risky occasion for him to defy that convention. So that’s some evidence that that convention was not yet formed, or at least not rigid, among that particular group.

  21. “Flom” sounds like one of W.C. Fields’ stage names. “Good day, my dear, Hieronymus Q. Flom at your service…”

  22. Trond Engen says

    A Norwegian-American? I’m pretty sure he must have hailed from Flåm in the district of Sogn, Western Norway.

  23. Just down the road from (Gunnar) Myrdal. (Yes, I know he was Swedish.)

  24. J.W. Brewer says

    Dr. Flom was reportedly born in Utica, Wisconsin, which is roughly 1200 miles SSE of the rather more echt-Northern metropolis of Flin Flon,* which straddles the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border, and has better-than-you-might-expect odds of being known to Americans my age who grew up in the vicinity of Philadelphia. (It’s the hometown of Flyers legend Bobby Clarke.)

    *Quoth wikipedia: “The town’s name is taken from the lead character in a 1905 paperback novel, The Sunless City by J. E. Preston Muddock. Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin piloted a submarine into a bottomless lake where he sailed through a hole lined with gold to enter a strange underground world. A copy of the book was allegedly found and read by prospector Tom Creighton.”

  25. I guess if your name is J. E. Preston Muddock, you have a compulsion to invent names for characters that will make your own seem staid.

  26. David L. Gold says

    @Trond Engen “A Norwegian-American? I’m pretty sure he must have hailed from Flåm in the district of Sogn, Western Norway.”

    He was born in the United States but both his parents were born in Norway ( with links to information about his parents).

  27. Says here “The book is listed in Gutenberg if you’re at all curious,” but Project Gutenberg has no Muddock listings. Bah.

  28. “James Edward Preston Muddock, also known as Joyce Emmerson Preston Muddock”. Ooo-Kay.

  29. Trond Engen says

    Down the railroad, as it were. Flåmsbanen is well worth the ride.

    It strikes me that Gunnar Myrdal’s surname looks Norwegian rather than Swedish, but it’s not. Wikipedia tells that “He took the name Myrdal in 1914 after his ancestors’ farm Myr in the province of Dalarna.”

    Also, while I’m at Wikipedia, Gabriel T. Flom did hail from Flåm.

  30. J.W. Brewer says

    Muddock’s narrative, as dramatized by the National Film Board of Canada:

  31. David Marjanović says

    reborrowings (Rückentlehnungen)

    Also, updated borrowings that undo a recent sound shift. Basque borrowed “paradise” twice, first as baradizu, then as paradisu after so many loanwords with /p/ had come in that /p/ came to be established as a phoneme and after various sound changes and another ton of loans had established the apical s /s̺/ in addition to the laminal z /s̻/. German borrowed “paradise” once, regularly diphthongized the /iː/, resulting in Paradeis, and then changed it back to /iː/ as Paradies due to continued exposure to the Latin original; the -ei- form survives only in a few place names and in Paradeiser, a regional word for tomato(es) that is becoming somewhat rare but has been passed on to FYLOSC as paradajz.

    Joyce Emmerson Preston Muddock

    Four last names in a row, like the infamous Carlsons today.

  32. January First-of-May says

    Also, updated borrowings that undo a recent sound shift.

    This sort of thing is the source of many a doublet. I used to know several nice examples but can’t think of any offhand.

    Four last names in a row

    I’m reminded of the Peanuts strip for July 19, 1997; I’m not actually sure if that list makes more sense as first names or as last names.
    (The original joke was probably “look at those newfangled names”, but at least to me it reads just as well as “she accidentally found the last names and didn’t notice”.)

  33. David Marjanović says

    Some of these, like Justin, aren’t used as last names, so the joke is definitely “look at those newfangled first names”, most of which used to be last names.

  34. David L. Gold says

    Many doublets here:

    French chétif and captif
    Spanish ralo and raro

  35. PlasticPaddy says

    The Wikipedia article lists “lau” as a cognate for “day” words in Welsh. The day part in Difiau is the beginning, not the end. I thought the end might be ex Lleu, but the former form appears to have been *dyw Ieu, so Jove not Lleu.

  36. David Eddyshaw says

    Yup, the Welsh day names are all from Latin (Llun, Mawrth, Mercher, Iau, Gwener, Sadwrn, Sul.) The god names are also still the names of the corresponding planets, e.g.

    Oes bywyd ar Fawrth?

  37. Jen in Edinburgh says

    This page seems to think that it’s a conscious rare use of Joyce as a male name as part of an attempt to sound more interesting – but it’s not underheard of for a man to use a female pen name to write e.g. romantic fiction, even if it’s more common the other way.

  38. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Words which Scots/Northern English share with Scandinavian languages and not with standard English aren’t necessarily easy to pick out of an un-annotated list, either – from a quick look at the list above, southerners clap their hands but don’t clap dogs, they suffer from burns but don’t drink from them, and go through gates but don’t walk on them.

  39. David L. Gold says

    @PlasticPaddy. The staff of Wikipedia will be happy to have your constructive criticism, which you can post either in the Talk or the Sandbox section of its article “Doublets (linguistics).” If you end your post with four unspaced swung dashes, your email address will not appear. I have no connection with Wikipedia.

  40. PlasticPaddy says

    Thanks. I added topic to talk. Mostly I prefer to complain.

  41. it’s not underheard of for a man to use a female pen name

    Or three men.

  42. David L. Gold says

    Joyce occurs as an English male given name, though rarely: Joyce Clyde Hall (1891–1982), an American businessman, founded Hallmark Cards, which makes greeting cards.

  43. And Joyce Cary, who should be better remembered (Mister Johnson, The Horse’s Mouth).

  44. David Marjanović says

    If you end your post with four unspaced swung dashes, your email address will not appear.

    No, no. If you have an account, your IP address will not appear. Instead, if you sign with ~~~~, there’ll be your username with a link to your user page. If you don’t have an account and sign with ~~~~, your IP address will be shown; if you don’t, a bot will come and write “the above unsigned comment was added by [your IP address] on [date]”. Your e-mail address is never shown.

    To the extent that Wikipedia has staff, the staff is not going to see that page or learn it exists unless a major edit war breaks out over it.

  45. David L. Gold says

    @David Marjanović. Thanks for the corrections.

  46. For me the most famous male Joyce is Joyce Kilmer.

  47. David L. Gold says

    The names Joyce Kilmer and Joyce Cary are somewhat different from Joyce Clyde Hall. The full name of the last-mentioned was Joyce Clyde Hall whereas the full names of the others were Alfred Joyce Kilmer and Arthur Joyce Lunel Cary, which they shortened when writing for publication.

  48. I think I’ve posted about this before, but as a Scotch-Irish American (now of a certain age) who writes about the Scotch-Irish, I’m annoyed that the word has been progressively replaced since ca. 1970 by the pseudo-correct exonym “Scots-Irish.”

  49. Kate Bunting says

    I had always supposed it to be an established fact that many Scots and Northern English dialect words were of Scandinavian origin (bairn, fell (mountain), greet (cry) and so on). We visited friends in Norway when I was a child, and I remember seeing a sign in a side street “Barn leker” warning that there might be children playing there. My Yorkshire mother at once said “Oh, there’s a Yorkshire word ‘laiking’ meaning ‘playing’!”

  50. Jen in Edinburgh says

    The first time I arrived in Norway, feeling slightly lost because I’d never been abroad alone before, I was immensely cheered to be immediately faced with an inngang for ganging in and an utgang for ganging oot!

  51. @Kate Bunting: both bairn and laik are of native English stock (from OE bearn and lac, respectively). They just happened to have been preserved both in Scots and the Scandinavian languages but lost in modern English

  52. David Marjanović says

    Same for inngang & utgang – Eingang & Ausgang over here.

    (OHG didn’t allow word-final long consonants. Somehow this turned *inn into *īn, which then developed regularly.)

  53. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Although I feel like I’ve read an idea somewhere that Old Northumbrian and Old, umm, West Saxon? were two separate languages which just happened to later form a common standard – like written Scots and English, I suppose, or Norwegian in the riksmaal days.

    In which case it wouldn’t necessarily be the case that the whole language had a word once and some dialects lost it, but local non-standard forms might have kept words from the former local language which didn’t make it into the central standard.

    Am I just making that up?

  54. J.W. Brewer says

    I am 15-20 years younger than Rodger C. and probably only approx. 10% of my ancestry is Scotch-Irish, but in solidarity with those ancestors, whom I strongly suspect would have found “Scots-Irish” some sort of ridiculous big-city affectation, I continue to say and write “Scotch-Irish” when the occasion arises. I suppose it’s too late to argue for “Person(s) of Orangeness”?

  55. @Jen: I hope you’re not making it up. It’s a very plausible story. I like complicated historical linguistics.

  56. jack morava says

    Perhaps this gives me an excuse to say that I take pride in being the many-times great-grandson of Orangemen, via John Benge: cf my affine .

    [Unlike many, I carry no Cherokee genes; but many contemporary Cherokee carry genes from our line.]

  57. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Scotch-Irish being not a combination, but specifically the Ulster settlers? I wouldn’t have realised that from the name.

    Of course on this side of Sruth na Maoile ‘Irish’ tends to imply Catholic.

  58. David Eddyshaw says

    “Scotch” is simply the English equivalent of the the Scots* word “Scots.” Objecting to the English (or even the Americans) using it is just silly. We’ll soon be calling Peking “Beijing” at that rate.

    The only proper term is, of course, Albanaidd, but I accept that others may have their own linguistic foibles, regrettable though they may be from a purist standpoint. But in this matter, I prefer to lead by example rather than by carping.

    * By which, of course, I mean inglis. But that goes without saying.

  59. jack morava says

    Just as with many ethnicities there are Scotch-Irish and there are Scotch-Irish, but my line seems to have been Protestant.

  60. @Jen in Edinburgh: I’m not sure that equating the Scotch-Irish with specifically the Ulster Scots has ever been anything but a post hoc attempt to explain away perceived inconsistencies of terminology. I’m not aware of anybody I’ve known who considered themselves of Scotch-Irish ancestry who meant the term in that fashion.

  61. David Eddyshaw says

    I’ve always supposed that by “Scotch-Irish”, Americans meant descendants of Cromwell’s settlers (which would make sense, after all.) Was I wrong? What do people mean by it, if not that?

  62. jack morava says

    My impression is that Americans who describe themselves as Scotch-Irish have no sense at all of what it might mean historically. See

    cf borderer medical beliefs: “A cure for homesickness is to sew a good charge of gunpowder on the inside of thy shirt near the neck”

  63. January First-of-May says

    Barn leker

    …This reminds me: back in the late oughties I used to have a huge piece of packaging with boilerplate safety warnings printed in about two dozen languages. I don’t recall a lot of them, but I do recall that some of the Scandinavian languages were very similar, and two of them in particular were almost identical.

    Quoting from memory – so minor errors possible – the texts in the two almost-identical languages ended, respectively, “…on ikke en leke” and “…on ikke legetoj”. The third one, which wasn’t quite the same, ended “…en nagon leksak”.
    I’m guessing (not actually sure) that the “en leke” one was probably Norwegian, which means that the others were likely Danish and Swedish respectively.

  64. inngang

    Have you ever gått in gjennom en grind? Has it survived anywhere in English?

  65. J.W. Brewer says

    @JenInE: The proper parse is “the Scotch kind of folks from Ireland,” which largely (if not exclusively) meant un-Gaelic Protestants who went from Ulster to North America from families whose roots in Ulster might have only been a few generations deep. That the 17th century Protestant incomers to Ulster (who honed there their skills in whiskey-making and in brutal conflict with the indigenes, both of which would subsequently be useful in North America) came from both side of the formal England/Scotland border was a complication not adequately addressed by the terminology.

  66. jack morava says

    @JW Brewer: sounds right to me, thanks!

  67. Jen in Edinburgh says

    That does fit with constructions like African-American and French-Canadian, but the move to a third country throws me off somehow!

  68. @juha:

    Have you ever gått in gjennom en grind? Has it survived anywhere in English?

    Bosworth & Toller record grindel with that sense in OE, but that doesn’t seem to have left any descendants. The OED has grind ‘a gate formed of horizontal bars, which enter at each end into hollows in two upright stakes, or in the adjoining walls’ as an Orkney/Shetlands regionalism, but that’s a direct Scandi borrowing.

  69. I’ve always supposed that by “Scotch-Irish”, Americans meant descendants of Cromwell’s settlers

    Surely you mean James VI/I’s settlers? The English seem to be prone to this confusion.

    “A cure for homesickness is to sew a good charge of gunpowder on the inside of thy shirt near the neck”

    One of those not infrequent instances where Fischer evidently didn’t get the joke.

    That the 17th century Protestant incomers to Ulster … came from both side of the formal England/Scotland border was a complication not adequately addressed by the terminology.

    Very true.

  70. David Eddyshaw says

    The English seem to be prone to this confusion

    Some of my best friends are English …

    However, your point is valid; it was Jimmy 6, not Long Noll:

  71. @JWB &c:

    roxanne dunbar-ortiz has done some very interesting writing on the arc of displacement as imperial recruitment for front-line colonial settlers, from scotland (and the adjoining english march) to ireland to appalachia to the southern plains – basically connecting the lines between ulster-scots and okies. one iteration, focused more on the persistence of okie-ness in 21stC california, is here.

    (my own fragment of scots lineage skipped most of that path, jumping from dumfriesshire (as far as we can tell from their surname) to northern lenapehoking [the part that’s now monmouth county, new jersey] to nundawaonoga [what land agents called the genesee country] and stopping there.)

    and scots writer harry josephine giles’ Travellers’ Lexicon does some parallel work on the role of orkney in the colonization of what’s now called manitoba. i’ve just gotten a copy of her latest, Deep Wheel Orcadia, which i’m very excited to read: it’s a science fiction verse novel in orcadian! (released in a bilingual orcadian/english edition)

  72. J.W. Brewer says

    I would just note that the Scotch-Irish didn’t *all* (or probably even mostly) go to Appalachia and post-Appalachia. For example, I descend in part from the group that washed up in Boston a bit before 1720 and, perhaps being viewed as bumptious rednecks by the respectable Puritans, got sent north to the local frontier region of the day where they founded Londonderry, New Hampshire (and then subsequently Belfast, Maine). And my orange-wearing great-great-grandmother who left Co. Fermanagh as a teenager in the 1840’s (not necessarily a prosperous decade anywhere in Ireland, regardless of your ethnic or denominational affiliation) turned up in reasonably bourgeois-by-then Jefferson Co., New York.

  73. rozele, thank you for the Dunbar-Ortiz piece.

    JWB, yes, the Boston Scotch-Irish largely ended up in northern New England. It was the more numerous Philadelphia (and eventually points south) contingent that moved into Appalachia.

  74. David Marjanović says


    Grid is remarkably similar, but can’t be related, can it?

    …and it can’t be related to German Gitter either, I’m sure…?

  75. Trond Engen says

    According to Bjorvand & Lindeman, it’s from a Gmc. *grindō- f. < *grendō-. In WGmc. there’s a derived form *grendila- m. “bolt, beam”. Thus grind is Grendel’s mother.

    Further related to a Balto-Slavic word for “beam, plank” and tenuously Lat. grunda f. “roof”.

  76. David Marjanović says
  77. @AL & TE:
    Thank you very much!

    Russian also has гряда/’грядка ‘(mountain) ridge/range’, ‘(garden) bed’, ‘bank (of clouds)’.

  78. John Cowan says

    Grid is remarkably similar, but can’t be related, can it?

    It’s a back-formation either from griddle, ult. < L. craticulum < cratis ‘wickerwork’, or from gridiron, which is a doublet of griddle by L/R interchange plus folk etymology. A similar word is andiron < Fr. (l)andier.

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