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Shetland Idioms By John J Graham

A collection of Shetland idioms compiled by John J Graham. Some of these expressions appear in his Dictionary but many do not.

John Graham writes:  Idioms are clusters of words which have, over a period of time, cohered into a meaning different from that of the individual words.  They have strong metaphorical content and add greatly to the vitality and immediacy of the language.  Examples from Shetlandic are:

  A'm seen da day! At one time I would have taken that task
  Aa my mindin As long as I can remember. Yon hoose is been yonder aa my mindin.
  Aetin da bread o idlesaet Lolling around doing nothing
  Aff a leg an on a leg Moving from one leg to another
  An aa As well. He cam an aa.
  Apo da amp In a state of watchfulness
(Also) Apon a amp  
  Apon a stowen dunt Without warning
  As for dat! What did you expect!
  At doon-drappin At the point of exhaustion
(Also) At da doon-drappin  
  Athin cry-rekk Nearby
  Back an fore Now and again. He göd ta da fishin back an fore.
  Back o After. Back o Hallomas
(a) Bairn at shö hed An illegitimate child
  Been apo der fit Been on the move
  Böst ta be Must be
  Böst til a been Must have been
(a) Braa start Quite a while
  Cam eence a aerrent Came to visit with a specific object in mind
  Cam in apo da flör Came in
  Cam in mind o Remembered
  Cassen awa Lost, generally at sea
  Cast aff Take off, as clothes; eliminate stitches, as in knitting
  Cast by Discard
  Cast on Add extra stitches in knitting
  Cast oot Quarrel
  Cast up Taunt by raking up the past
  Come aboot Take a new tack in sailing; pacify
  Come at Befall. Come dee wis, naething’ll come at dee.
  Come awa To grow. Yon girss is fairly come awa efter da frost.
  Come awa in Invitation to come into a house;
(Also)  Come dee wis in  
  Come dee wis Come this way
  Comin ta Approaching. Hit wis comin ta nine afore I wan hame.
(a) Cryin at da hert Hysterics
  Da heicht o da day Noontide
  Da laek a dat! Such a thing! (Said of something outrageous)
  Da laek o dat! Anything as odd as that!
  Da waar o it (Feeling) worse as a result
  Da wye at Because. I hed ta geng alang da wye at I hedna been for a start.
  Dat wye A lot. He roars dat wye when you grip him.
(a) Day for himsel A day set aside wholly for a task
  Dere’s a odds! What’s the difference!
  Doon apon it Depressed
  Draa doon der broos To resent; hesitate [or his/her broos, etc]
  Draa on Pull on, as trousers
  Draa up Approach. He wis draain up for Christmas.
  Du cam o da kind! Your forebears were noted for this sort of thing
  Du’s no blate! (ironic comment on an over-confident person)
  Du’s no fey yet! You’re still game to tackle this sort of  thing
  Dy skyimp is wylcom! (retort to a sarcastic remark)
  Faa aff or faa ower Doze. Da bairn wis jöst faan aff.
  Faa afore Occur to. Hit faas afore me at du’s been here afore.
  Faa apon Come across. I wis faan apon wir aald yowe ida hill.
  Faa awa To abate, to moderate, as wind. Da wind wis faan awa ida darkenin.
  Faa by Collapse. I doot he’ll faa by afore da nicht is oot.
  Faa sindry Fall apart, disintegrate
  Faa tö To commence giving birth. I doot shö’ll faa tö afore nicht.
  (At da) Faain fit Well advanced in pregnancy
  (On a) Fastin hert Without breaking fast. He göd oot on his fastin hert.
  Fin his breeks a burden Find a task too difficult
  Fine day a wadder A fine day
  Fire lyin in coll-slock Fire completely out
  Geng dee wis Go your ways ’; go
  Geng near To fit e.g. Yon jacket’ll never geng near dee - That jacket will be much too small for you.
  Gien da lang gaet Died (past participle)
  Gien ta da lent Grown fast
  Git aff o me/ dee/ wis, etc Get undressed
  Git your fit apo da neck o da wark Make a good start to a job
  (I) göd me lent I sprawled
  (Is) Gotten a lass/laad Is courting
  Gyaan ta da weemen Courting
  Gyaan ta mak wye Going to break (as a rope)
  Haand’s turn Small amount of work. He wis hardly done a haand’s turn.
  Hadd aff 1) Keep away 2) Hold child to do toilet
Hadd dee tongue!
Be quiet!
  Hadd oot a langer Prevent from getting bored
(a) Hard tweet A hard struggle
  Hardly ever aff o da go Hardly ever inactive
  Hardly won athin da door Hardly entered
  He jöst lowsed It started to rain heavily
  He’s hed him a nicht He’s made a right carry-on
  He’s him a day It’s a bad day
  (Dey) Hed dem a fun They enjoyed themselves
  (A’m) Hed me a day o’m I’ve had a difficult day
  Her/him abön aa! Her/him of all people!
  Hit wis a mercy It was fortunate
  Hit wis come awa ( ill day) It had become  (...a bad day)
[NB: ‘hit’ and ‘it’ are both used. Any of the above might be heard using ‘it’.]
  I hear dee Ironic remark suggesting that I’m not believing you
  I hed I me mind I thought; I surmised
  Ill-best ane Best of a poor bunch
  In pör hoger In extreme poverty
  Infant bairn Child
  It admires me I am amazed
  It’ll never odds It won’t make a difference
  It’s a mercy It’s a good thing
[NB: ‘hit’ and ‘it’ are both used. Any of the above might be heard using ‘hit’.]
  Jöst weel back Just got back
  Kinda weety wye Rather wet
  Kinda wye Somewhat
  Laek ta glaep you As if to eat you. If you questioned him he was laek ta glaep you.
  (I) Laid me owre (I) Lay down to rest
  Laid on    Planned. We wir laid on ta meet.
  Laid up Ill and unable to work
  Lay by To put away
(Also) Laid by Exhausted. I wis fairly laid by wi kerryin paets aa moarnin.
  Less an dule Alas (Lament)
  Lichtit til him Got on to him
  (A) Little ago Recently
  Look alang da door Call along
  Lyin in saat Waiting for punishment
  Made a wark 1)Made a fuss  2) Fussed ower, as of a child
  Mak apo me Get ready.  I’ll awa an mak apo me.
  Mak maen Moan
  Mak on Pretend
  Mak up Plan to do something
  Mak wye Come apart, break. Yon rop is gyaan ta mak wye.
  Mak wye for Head for
  Mooth a maet Morsel
  My jewel at du is My dear
  Na, dat abön aa! You don’t tell me!
  Na, dat in traath! “    “    “
  Nae faer o wis Have no doubts about our doing it
  Never aff o da go Always on the move
  Never ant Pay no attention (also never leet)
  Never say clowe Don’t reveal anything
  Never wan Never managed to go/come
  (A) Nicht o’m An extremely bad night
  No datn ill, No sae ill Not so bad
  Noo an sae Neither one thing nor another
  Oot o yun As a result. Oot o yun we set wis doon an sheeksed.
  Owre weel aff Reasonably comfortable
  (We) Pat apo wis (We) Got dressed
  Peerie start Short period of time
  Pinned ta da door (Said of a building) Completely full. Da hall wis pinned ta da door.
  Pit a ply apon Fatten, as sheep
  Playin da kyittums Frolicking, as lambs
  Sae be dat! That is so!
  Seein at Since (meaning because) Seein at du canna win.
  Sent airrants Shopping given to others
  Set at To sit and relax. We hed wir denner an dan set wis at.
  Set da door ta da back Open/opened the door fully
  Set me hert apon Concentrate/d fully on
  (I) Set me ta da fire (I) Stay/ed at home
  Set on Encourage/d. I set him on ta howe da tatties.
  Set wis aff for Setter Set off on a journey
  Set up Develop, as a shower
  Shuttin ta da lent Growing. He’s fairly shuttin ta da lent.
  Stack apon him Broke down, as car
  Taen til Noted; notorious
  Tak aboot To secure, as crops in yard
  Tak aff Take aback. I wis fairly taen aff whin he cam in.
  Tak at Go ahead. So, tak at an we’ll be feenished afore dark.
  Tak ill wi Take badly with
  Tak in for Speak in support of
  Tak on Take the consequences; celebrate; work hard; lament
  Tak up Increase, as wind
  Tak up Look after. Yon’s a heavy burden ta tak up yon bairns.
  Takkin aff Making fun of
  Tane fornenst da tidder One against the other
  Tell no me! That’s exactly as I foretold!
  Took a swaander Staggered
  True tale! Affirmation ('That’s correct.')
  Up in his/her cuddy In high spirits
  What shö laeks! Do as she pleases for all I care!
  Whatna day o’m! Such a day!
  Win trowe Arrive. Lat wis ken whin du wins trowe.
  Wir neebor man Our neighbour ( male)
  Yockit horns Grappled
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