Scots: more words for rain than Eskimos for snow

rainIt is often claimed that “Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow”, but I wondered whether this is true or if there were more Scottish words for rain. First, the truth about the Eskimo or Inuit:

David Robson, New Scientist 2896, December 18 2012, Are there really 50 Eskimo words for snow?
“Yet Igor Krupnik, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Washington DC believes that Boas was careful to include only words representing meaningful distinctions. Taking the same care with their own work, Krupnik and others have now charted the vocabulary of about 10 Inuit and Yupik dialects and conclude that there are indeed many more words for snow than in English (SIKU: Knowing Our Ice, 2010). Central Siberian Yupik has 40 such terms, whereas the Inuit dialect spoken in Nunavik, Quebec, has at least 53

So there are up to 50 words. But how many words have we got in Scotland for rain? I’ve compiled the following list many of which I do not know so I’ve marked those I personally use with a *star.
Aftak (an easing or lull in a storm or rain)
Aitran (piercing cold, persistent rain)
Ask, Yask (a variant of ask, a fine rain, drizzle)
Baffin (Buffeting? The drenching and buffeting one gets when exposed to a storm)
*Beating down (heavy sidewards rain)
Bleeter, Bleatery (A passing storm of wind or rain)
Bowder (a great squall, blast, a heavy storm of wind and rain)
*Bucketing down (fills buckets)
*Buffeting (blustery wind usually with rain)
*Coming on to rain (looking like rain)
*Dab (A fine rain, a drizzle)
Dag, dagg (light drizzly, more or less steady rain Orkney)
Daggle (to fall in torrents)
*Damp (fine rain)
*Dash ‘a dash of rain” (a sudden fall of rain)
*Deluge (a sudden heavy fall)
Dish (to rain heavily)
*Downpour (A period of heavy rain)
*Dreach ‘a dreach day’ (Gaelic a day that is gloomy with rain)
*Drenching ‘a drenching’ (getting soak with rain)
Driv (light drizzly, more or less steady rain Orkney)
*Driving rain (heavy rain blown sidewards by wind)
*Drizzle – fine continuous rain
*Drookit (absolutely drenched.)
*Drumming down (usually said when in a tent or tin roof)
Either (to rain slightly)
Fiss – drizzle
Flooding (heavy rain leaving surface water)
*Flurry (a wave of rain)
Fluther, fludders (in great days it run in fludders)
*Fog (fine droplets wetting surfaces)
Fyag (A slight or find show of rain)
Goselet (A soaking, drenching, downpour of rain)
*Haar (an east coast mist which swirls inland)
Hagger (to drizzle, rain gently)
*Hammering (usually very heavy vertical rain – so loud it is the main thing that can be heared)
Hooring (wind screen wipers on full)
*Horizontal rain (goes sideswards more than down)
Huther – light intermittent rain
Kaavie (heavy driving rain)
Krammy (close, find drizzly)

M8 in the Rain

M8 in the Rain

*Lashing (rain bounces of ground)
Lum (to fall in a downpour)
*Mist (a type of fog)
Murr (a find rain or drizzle)
Musk (occaisional light rain-showers)
Pani (the form of rain)
Peas souper (English term in use in Scotland)
Peeggirin (A storming shower)
*Peeing down (alt pissing down)
Pelsh, Pilsh – a drenching shower
*Pelting down (throwing it down)
*Pissing down – really falling down
*Pitter-patter (the sound of moderate rain)
Planet (a heavy, but localised shower of rain)
Pleuran (rained)
Plum shower (a sudden fall of rain)
*Pouring (a lot of rain)
Raff (a sharp shower of rain)
*Rain (Rain)
*Raining cats and dog
Rav (light drizzly, more or less steady rain Orkney)
Risk – fine rain
Rog (portending rain)
Roost (Orkney: Fine rain, drizzle, fine hazy mist)
rugg (light drizzly, more or less steady rain Orkney)
Rus (a fine rain accompanied by high wind)
*Saturated (absolutely drenched.)
Schiting, Skite (to rain slightly)
*Scotch mist (heavy fog or low lying cloud that soaks)
Scow. Scrow (a squally shower of rain, a wind and rain storm)
*Weather for ducks (so much rain puddles form everywhere)
*Set in for the day (adj: continuous rain)
Skudding down (skud:-a slight sudden shower  OR  mist, rain, snow, or spray driven by the wind)
*Sheets ‘sheets of rain’, the rain can be seen to come in “sheets”
*Shower (a period of rain)
*Sleat (rain with snow)
*Sleek ‘a sleeky day’ (a day in which there falls a considerable quantity of rain)
Smirr (a fine rain drizzle)
Smizzle (to rain lightly thinly)
*Smog  (pollution + fog)
Smue (Thick drizzling rain or smoke)
Smuggy (thing fine drizzling rain)
Sneesl (To rain, hail or snow lightly)
*Soaking ‘a soaking’ (heavy rain usually unexpected)
*Soft rain (light)
*Spindrift (spray whipped up by the wind)
*Spit (to spit – small individual drops)
Spitter, spither (a slight shower of rain or snow)
*Spitting – (light quantity of rain but enough to be be felt)
Spotting (similar to spitting)
*Sprinkling (enough to show on the ground but no more)
*Squall (a small storm of rain)
Stair rods (heavy individual streaks of rain)
*Storm (a period of wind, usually with rain)
Stotting (Stot is a common Scots and Geordie verb meaning “bounce” … rain stotting off a pavement)
Sump (A sudden heavy fall of rain, a deluge)
*Thrashing down (heavy rain)
*Throwing it down (Pelting down)
*Torrent (a big downpour)
*Torrential rain (mostly vertical in torrent usually warm)
Uar – A waterspout, a heavy fall of rain
Umplist (a sudden outburst of wind and rain)
Uplowsin (shetland –  heaving rain)
Vega – rain
*Weather for ducks (so much rain puddles form everywhere)
*wet ‘it’s wet’
*wringing wet (absolutely drenched.)
Yillen (A shower of rain, a drizzle, especially with wind)
That’s over 100 words of which I use about 50.
I’ve used as a definition for “rain” any water coming out the sky in droplets that wet surfaces, which includes words such as fog (Scotch mist is really a light rain – often used jokingly – but if not its rain with mist which is often low lying cloud)
Linguistic Note
Scotland has a mixture of words from English, Norse, Gaelic and some from the British empire (torrential?). The main source for the Scots was the Dictionary of the Scots Language and that prompted me to add a lot of other words.


A couple of extra words have been suggested:
Smog, Pea-souper
But I’ve never heard anyone around here use Smog or Pea-souper. I’ll have to check with an older generation who might remember when there were coal fires.
Stotting – Stot is a common Scots and Geordie verb meaning “bounce” … rain stotting off a pavement.
Added Skudding down

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