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.

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