Scottish words: smirr

We get a lot of rain in Scotland, of all different sorts. I think that smirr is the most annoying kind because when you look out of the window it’s very difficult to see it. It doesn’t really fall like ordinary rain and so it has no sound and if you aren’t careful it’ll fool you into thinking that it’s just another grey, dreich day. But if you venture outside in smirry rain and you aren’t dressed for wet weather – before you know it you’ll be drookit, drenched, right through to your knickers! It reaches places that ordinary rain doesn’t reach.

Smirr seems to be a Scottish phenomenon, my eldest brother has lived in the Netherlands for the whole of his adult life and although it’s damp there too, smirry rain is unknown to them.

In Ian Rankin’s book Black and Blue he describes smirr as being a fine spray-mist, which is a fair description I suppose. I’ve always thought of it as very low transparent cloud. Whatever it is – it’s very wet.

10 thoughts on “Scottish words: smirr

  1. We haven’t had any rain in south Texas for weeks, probably months. Other than that the weather is FINALLY quite pleasant (translate: not stinking hot) but I do miss precipitation!

    • Karen,
      I bet your weather would still be far too hot for me, anything above about 65 F and I’m half dead.
      I wish you could have some of our precipitation. Mind you, I’ve been wishing for rain recently to wash the snow and ice away. But more snow is predicted for later today and the weekend. It’s going to be a white Christmas!

  2. Oh yes – Scotch mist! I thought that a smirr of rain was just a wee pickle of rain, that was almost like a possible threat of more rain to come!

    • Evee,
      Coming from the west of Scotland there was always a lot of smirr but it often lasted the whole day. It actually seems to make you wetter than ordinary rain somehow.

      • I know exactly what you mean Katrina.
        I’m from Gourock, living in Virginia Beach.


        • Norma,
          Gourock always looks so lovely, from the Dumbarton side of the Clyde anyway. I hope that you’re enjoying life in Virginia Beach, I imagine it’s quite different from the west of Scotland. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

  3. I was an Englishman and used the word smirr , he couldn’t understand what I meant , even after I described a smirr to him . Seems to be a Scottish phenomenon !

    • Brian,
      It seems to be Scottish and also in Spain’s Basque country, we just discovered when we were there recently that they call that sort of rain – smirrimirri. Of course they have Celtic influences there too.
      Thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment.

  4. a friend from Dunoon talked about his hike up to Lochgoilhead as “smirry and midgey”.

    The midges, I get. Nasty beasties. I’ve you to thank for undersanding “smirry” which I have experienced when hillwalking.

    • Mark Lawrence,
      It’s strange but when I was younger midges never bothered me at all, then about ten years ago they discovered me and any bites itch for about a week, I hate them. I believe that if your hill walk takes you quite high up then the midges won’t be there.
      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

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