Scottish words: wersh

You might have noticed in an earlier blogpost that I described some white wine as being wersh.

Wersh means – very sour and at the same time dry. So drinking something which is wersh has the opposite effect from what you would want.

It draws your mouth in and generally makes you screw your face up; not nice. It certainly does nothing for a thirst.

Apparently, some people use the word wersh to mean something which is edible but has no taste. I’ve never heard it used in that way, but it might be a regional difference.

24 thoughts on “Scottish words: wersh

    • Evee,
      My husband had to ask me what it meant, just a few years ago. He is Scottish but his Granny was English so his mother didn’t learn the words and so he doesn’t know so many. It was used a lot in my family home. A disappointing orange was always described as ‘wersh’.

        • neil,
          My mother was always using the word ‘wersh’ but my husband hadn’t ever heard the word until I used it, that’s probably because his mother’s mother was English. I think we should use as many Scots words as we can in normal conversation, to make sure they don’t die out. I’ll bow to your superior knowledge on the Campo Viejo!
          Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

        • I wonder if it’s a Lowland word? I’m from Ayrshire and have used it all my life. Soor plooms were always sour but some apples and drinks are wersh. It’s a particular kind of sour that you can’t explain in English words.

          • Isobel,
            Wersh is a difficult one to explain. To me it means sour but also dry, sort of drawing the inside of the mouth, as you say, there is just no English equivalent.

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  2. I ended up here after googling “wersh”. I used it yesterday in a Glasgow eatery to describe the house Rioja and was met with baffled looks from the staff – all Scots – who had never heard of it. I love the word, as it sounds and feels like what it expresses (dry/sour). They opened a fresh bottle, which was better, but Iceland in Myarhill have Campo Viejo this week at 8 quid a bottle which is much nicer… đŸ™‚

  3. Brought up in Glasgow in the 60’s. The word “Wersh was used all the time as a synonym for sour-things like rhubarb

    • Henry,
      Snap, although we moved to Dumbarton mid 60s. In my family it was oranges that were usually described as being wersh. It’s a good word.
      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

    • Coming up from Ayrshire to live in Erskine, I get mixed responses with wersh. No-one, but no-one has heard of pruch or shuch. Holding posts in fences are stobs south of Ayr and stabs north. 12 miles can make a difference in wordage in Scotland, methinks!

      • I used to work in Hertford and one day had to take the train to London. After I’d asked for my ticket at the ticket office the man working there said, “Dumbarton Central to Queen Street, is it?” It turned out he had worked in the West of Scotland and said every town on the north bank of the River Clyde had slightly different pronunciations compared to each other.
        The same is apparently true of towns in Lancashire like Rochdale, Bury and Bolton.

        • Jack,
          I don’t think you really notice the slightly different accents when you have grown up in an area, but I know I can distinguish between a Kirkcaldy and a Dunfermline Fife accent and those towns aren’t very far from each other.

  4. I’m from the East Neuk of Fife and wersh is a word I have always known and used although my pronunciation would be ‘weersh’

    • Elspeth Rodger,
      That’s interesting about the pronunciation, I live in Fife but have never heard anyone using the word wersh here, presumably that’s the Fife dialect.


    • Christine,
      That’s interesting, obviously the dialect or maybe just pronunciation is different there from where I grew up north of Glasgow.


  5. You say tomato, I say tomaeto ….. I just love the Scots dialect and am saddened at its disuse. However, 12 miles can make a difference in the pronunciation or even use of some Scots words. I regularly use words I’ve used all my life and my parents and grandparents before me that are nowhere to be found in the Scots Dictionary.

    • Isobel,
      We should all try to use Scots words whenever we can as it’s a ‘use it or lose it’ situation. I know that in Northern Irish schools they actually teach Ulster Scots, but to me it’s all just Scots.

      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

  6. Our family is mostly from Fife. I googled wersh after tasting a fresh lemon drink I made for my sick wife. My dad often used the word wersh to describe the taste of something like a lemon

    • Bill Morris,
      Yes, in my family it was usually oranges that were described as being wersh, but I suppose it might be anything that could be improved with a bit of sugar.
      Thanks for dropping by.

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