Word of the day – dreich

dreich, adjective = cold, wet, dismal, dull, bleak, misearable, dreary, overcast, drizzling

Origin: from Middle English dreig, drih (enduring), possibly from Old English drēog. Related to the Old Norse drjugr – lasting.

Examples of usage: It’s gey dreich the day (It’s very dismal today). Which it was, in Brighton at least.

It can also mean lang, borin and uninterestin. In the auld days, whan services in the kirk gaed on for oors and oors, ye micht hae fund the sermons a bittie dreich.
It can also mean long, boring and uninteresting. In the old day, when services in the church went on for hours and hours, you might have found the sermons a bit boring.

This is one of the many wonderful Scots words for describing the weather. It doesn’t always rain in Scotland, but you certainly have plenty of opportunities to use this word. On all but one of my many holidays in Scotland it has rained every day or most days. The only rainless holiday was a wonderful trip to the Inner and Outer Hebrides in September 1996.

A few other Scots weather words include: mochie – warm and damp; rumballiach – tempestuous; gandiegow – a squall or heavy shower, and smirr – light rain. The idea that Eskimos (Inuit) have many words for snow is a myth, but the Scots certainly have many words and phrases to describe wet stuff falling from the sky.


This entry was posted in Language, Scots, Words and phrases.

9 Responses to Word of the day – dreich

  1. Thomas Maska says:

    What is the Init word for snow?

  2. Thomas Maska says:


  3. Simon says:

    The Inuit word for snow is aput (ᐊᐳᑦ), according to the Nunavut Living Dictionary.

    There’s more information about this topic on Wikipedia

  4. Justin says:

    And how is dreich pronounced?

  5. Simon says:

    /dri:x/ – the x is like the ch in loch and the rest rhymes with tree.

  6. Justin says:

    Thanks much! (And I know how to read IPA 😉 )

    I’ve loved your (main) Omniglot site for years now. Scripts and writing systems have been one of my favourite hobbies since I was a kid.

  7. Heming says:

    Well, Inuit may not have a hundred words for snow, but Norwegian does have a few – and so does English, if you’re creative and tolerant. Sleet is wet snow, right? Sleet can be “sludd”, “slaps” or “slett” in Norwegian, depending on where it falls and just how wet it is…

    By the way the norse word “drjugr” still exists in modern Norwegian, written “drøy” in bokmål and “dryg” in nynorsk. It still means “long-lasting”, and its verb form “å drøye” or “å dryga” means “to take a long time”! Ain’t it a drag…

  8. Andrew Swan says:

    My wife a brazilian could not believe there was such a thing as raining and snowing (sleet) and was even more amazed we have a word for it!! But she loves “driech”. Which is why I´m here I was looking for the spelling as Sao Paulo is driech today.

    Incidently don´t the Inuit have seventeen words for snow?

  9. Diana says:

    Ех ungua leonem cognoscimus, ех auribus asinum

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