I'm looking for a specific phrase that I didn't manage to catch in a phone call with my estate agent, a Scottish lady.

The conversation topic was me informing her that my ex has moved out of the property that we rented, and that I would be handling all the communication from that point onwards. She politely said she was sorry, and when I said I was not, she commented on the fact that it happened fairly frequently in the past that I taught my ex was dealing with a household issue which was in fact not being handled, I agreed, and she used an idiom of which I only caught some words:

Everybody has at some point (...) bought a T-shirt (...) and ended up (?) wearing the badge.

From the context, my understanding is that the meaning was along the lines of:

We have all at entered deals before which turned out to be much different/worse than what we bargained for.

(my relationship with my ex, in which he was supposed to handle the household but did not put any effort into it)

Since her job is neither to teach me English nor to give me relationship advice, I let it go, but I can't get the idiom out of my head since. Unfortunately, my English friends didn't get far with the clues I can remember, and said they were not too familiar with Scottish expressions.

Acknowledging the possibility that I heard some of the words wrong due to her accent and speed, but assuming that I interpreted it correctly from the context, can anybody think of a Scottish idiom with the meaning as described, similar to what I heard (in particular, words "T-shirt" and "badge" stood out)?

  • I don't use this particular SE site often, so if anybody thinks I provided too mcuh context, please do edit it out. I tried to keep it as short as possible while leaving in everything that might be a clue to the idiom I'm looking for.
    – penelope
    Oct 11, 2018 at 18:52
  • 1
    Are you sure it is an idiomatic expression, and not just a specific sentence used by the lady on that occasion.
    – user 66974
    Oct 11, 2018 at 18:57
  • Just because she comes from Scotland, it doesn't mean she peppers her speech with Scotticisms. Oct 11, 2018 at 19:35
  • I've asked everyone I know, and neither of them had heard of it, either. So far the consensus seems to be "she BSed it on the spot". We'll see how this develops.
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 11, 2018 at 19:46

1 Answer 1


I think it's simply a reference to "been there, done that, bought the T-shirt".

Definitely not Scots slang.

  • Tattie, the OP emphasised that the expression included the word "badge", in which case it definitely might be a Scots regional variation. Oct 11, 2018 at 22:51
  • 2
    I have heard the term 'worn the badge' added to the t-shirt phrase a few times, so it may be a Scots regional variant. That said, as a native I can say it's certainly not common and is at best a colloquialism. All I can conclude is that the OP would not make a credible witness in court as they can neither provide an accurate account of the conversation nor, as admitted, fully understand the accent. I think the OP should have concluded with "Ah dinnae ken".
    – Tattie
    Oct 12, 2018 at 22:21
  • Doubt I'll be back to comment further, only popped in as @RegDwight is an acquaintance of mine
    – Tattie
    Oct 12, 2018 at 22:22
  • 1
    or should I say @RegDwignt ;)
    – Tattie
    Oct 12, 2018 at 22:26

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