I'm trying to find a Scottish colloquial idiom that means that people talk too much (especially in a gossipping, hot air, or inconsequential way). Perhaps this might be along lines of the English 'more babbling than a brook in flood'.

I'm ideally after an idiom, not a single word.

  • 3
    When you say a "Scottish colloquial idiom" do you mean an idiom in English at originates in Scotland or are you after a Scots idiom? Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 9:46
  • Does your 'idiom' tag preclude single-word answers? Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 11:36
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    My mother always used "could talk the hind legs off a donkey, but that link shows it was from Irish Gaelic, but she was from the Scottish Gaelic culture so it maybe can just pass as Scottish?
    – Ken Y-N
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 6:56
  • 1
    "Haud yer wheest" = shut up you're talking too much
    – pjc50
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 8:43

4 Answers 4


If patter wis water you'd droon. Translation: “If your conversation was water you would drown. Meaning: You talk too much.

From Guide To Scottish Sayings

  • 4
    From the same source: Don’t pronounce your Ts. Any self-respecting Scot would never dream of uttering (u-erring) a “T” in the middle of a word. See “butter” (bu-er) and “water” (Wa-er). Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 14:23
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    Self-respecting Scot who pronounces his Ts, not like those uncouth Glasgow-area glottal-stoppers. However, if uttering a phrase in the Scottish language, I do adopt a Glasgow-like accent and wa-uer my pa-uer.
    – Ken Y-N
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 6:51
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    Ken, as a non-native speaker of English, I'm wondering if there's a feeling among Scots from further up north than Glasgow that Glasgowers might be too influenced by "English English"? Also, it would be lovely to be able to hear the phrase spoken in both ways!
    – Sixtyfive
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 10:22
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    This reminds me of the Hungarian saying "if laziness were painful, you'd be screaming". Not at all the same meaning, of course, but same construction.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 14:30

I suggest blether. From Collins

Scottish a variant spelling of blather

which in turn gives

If someone is blathering on about something, they are talking for a long time about something that you consider boring or unimportant.

Additionally Collins has

idle talk; gossip

  • This is the correct word. Also see scotsman.com/news/scottish-word-of-the-week-blether-1567604 for an enhanced discussion.
    – Anton
    Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 22:36
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    I use that as a less uncouth version of "shooting the shit" - "having a good old blether down the pub with my pals", for instance. It's never had negative connotations for me.
    – Ken Y-N
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 6:59
  • @KenY-N but "shooting the shit" isn't a Scottish idiom. Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 21:27

I'm used to clatter as a noun, meaning racket, loud noise. But I found this in the full Oxford English Dictionary1 definition for the verb...

Verb: clatter 3a (intransitive)
To talk rapidly and noisily; to talk idly; to chatter, prattle, babble.
In modern Scottish, to tattle, talk scandal.

Given that reference to"modern Scottish", I can't explain why the most recent cited use is...

1816 W. Scott, Antiquary - Ye may be sure it was clattered about in the kitchen.

1 In fact, I found clatter in close proximity to tittle-tattle by searching Google Books for texts containing both those terms, which turned up Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland : historical, traditionary, & imaginative : with a glossary. But I couldn't get at the actual definition there, so I went to the full OED instead.


There's also to haver, to palaver, to talk nonsense, to go on and on about something.


  • 1
    Saw "to haver", knew instantly what the YouTube link was :)
    – GuruBob
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 22:06

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