I had intended doing a book post tonight but if I want to get any actual reading done – which I do – it’ll just have to be a quick Scottish words post.
While I was painting the other day I had the TV on in the background, just for the company, if you can call it that. It was an old episode of the original Upstairs Downstairs and World War I was just about to be declared. Young men were worried that they might miss the whole ‘show’ if they didn’t join up.
Good old Mr Hudson, the Scottish butler was exasperated by everything and he said “Everything’s tapsalteerie today,” meaning everything’s upside down. I don’t know if it was because I was just listening to it but it came to me that the word must derive from topsail and so it originally meant that the topsail was at the bottom or certainly not where it should be on a ship if all is well.
Nobody else seems to have put this forward as a possibility of the derivation. What do you think? Do you have any other theories?