Scottish words: stoor, oose and glaur

Yesterday I decided that I just had to do something about the state of my husband’s ‘study’. When we were looking for a house last time we moved he said that he really had to have a study so that he would have somewhere to do school work but mainly to get away from the kids and get down to some writing. So he got a study, quite a big room, and over the years he has filled it with ‘stuff’. He was supposed to clean it out in the summer of 2010, it didn’t happen! Then again in summer 2011 and I did say to him that it was just as well that the desk is right at the door as I couldn’t get any further into the room, so I couldn’t even open the window. His solution to that problem was that he went in and squashed all the things that were lying about the floor into a pile in the middle of the room. So there was a feature ’roundabout’ to be negotiated around.

Being a typical Scottish man he isn’t into cleaning and a whole year can quite easily go by without him wielding the Hoover and expecting him to use a duster would just be asking for trouble. So this is where the stoor, oose and glaur come in. It’s what you get if you don’t dust and vacuum clean.

stoor is dust and general muck, and rhymes with sure.
oose is dust which is so thick it’s positively furry and dust bunny-ish, it rhymes with moose.
glaur is dirt, and it rhymes with for.

The other phrase which comes to mind – and I’m not at all sure if this is a Scottish one is:

You could stir it with a stick.

Maybe someone could tell me if that phrase is used elsewhere. It’s very commonly used in Scotland when a person is appalled at the state of their own house. You could stir ma hoose wi’ a stick!

So anyway, that’s why I went a wee bit mental yesterday and just got stuck into it all. The recycle paper bin is nearly full of such things as lecture notes from 1971-1978 and many books and bits of scientific equipment are making their way to a school science department.

Why there was an AA card (Automobile Association not Al Anon!) from 1981 amongst the piles of detritus on the desk is a mystery never to be solved. We moved here in 1988!

I’m about two thirds of the way through it all now and I can see most of the carpet! I blame myself for being too easy going.

My husband says that I need a right good skelpin’ for saying things like this about him and his study. I’d just like to see him try!

20 thoughts on “Scottish words: stoor, oose and glaur

  1. Oh, I know all about stirring my hoose wi’ a stick! Love your website which I discovered when I was looking up Penny Plain by O Douglas. I stay in Peebles/Priorsford and was trying to pinpoint The Rigs!

    I’ll be back to read more here in due course.
    Take care, and don’t let the stoor get ye doon! I don’t!

    • Evee,
      Thanks for visiting ‘Pining’. I’m very good at ignoring the stoor and housework but eventually I snap!

      I haven’t managed to get to Peebles yet, when we came up from England in the summer it was dark whem we were in that area so no point in stopping off. I did manage to buy a couple of O Douglas books in a shop in Haworth, they’re not easy to come by. Lucky you, living there!

    • Will someone please tell the QI Elves that stoor means dust and not stair. They stated on QI that a “stoor sucker” was a stair vacuum cleaner !!!

      • L Pavey,
        As it happens I did see that episode and they even have the word stoor in their backdrop bit. It’s really weird as ‘stoor’ is also a Scandinavian word for dust, so you would think that Toksvig could get it right.

  2. I have always used the words oose and stoor when describing the stuff i find under the bed but even after all these years every time i use the words no won person , including my girls believe such words exsists.thanks for your input,it restores my faith in my memory I am 80and still drive coach,s in australia,B.G.

    • Bobby Greig,
      Thanks for dropping by. It’s great to know that good old Scottish words are still in use, even on the other side of the world. There’s obviously nothing wrong with your memory, underneath the bed is the worst place for gathering oose and stoor. I hope you can continue to drive for years to come.


  3. Hi. My mom brought these delightful terms from Clyde Bank and used them often,
    .Good memories!

    • Ian Drummond Struthers,
      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment, I like to think that these Scots words are being used much further afield. I grew up in Dumbarton – a town close to Clydebank. Of course Clydebank was very badly bombed during WW2 and even as a child I always felt that it had never quite recovered from that.


  4. Use oose out here In Australia – no one knows what I mean but no other word is exactly right. Fun to know it is scots and not just my family!

    • Meg Irvine,
      It’s great to know that oose is being used in Australia. I suppose nowadays some people call oose ‘dust bunnies’ but that somehow doesn’t hit the spot! Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

  5. Thank you. That was most helpful and confirmed what my sister and i had been mulling over. We had reached the conclusion that oose was light and fibrous while stoor consisted of minute particles which rose into the air when disturbed. But what word, I wondered, diid we use for stuff that was tacky or moist. Of course–glaur. . It covered ones’ wellieis and the garden was full of it. I have just seen a faint line of it where the skirting meets the floor in the hall and there’s bound to be some on the cooker too.
    This information has been relayed to New Zealand today as the word oose cropped up iin a Skype conversation with my NZ son who diligently wrote it all down along with stramash and fankle.
    A phrase I frequently have in mind these days is ‘ I canna get oot o’the bit’. Possibly precedes remarks about stirring with a stick..

    • Eda,
      I always think of glaur as muck and mud – and clabber too, and in the west of Scotland we used ‘clarty’ for something or someone who was really dirty.
      I love that phrase ‘cannae get oot o’the bit’ and also ‘I have a hoose you could stir wi’ a stick’. Somehow it just says it all!
      I had an idea that ‘the bit’ referred to a horse’s bit meaning the work was endless but I could be completely wrong about that.
      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

      • Hello again. Just discovered this:
        the bit, according to Chambers Concise (1996), ones place of residence or employment
        Cant get out of bit -‘ unable to make progress , stuck’ a state we know only too well.

        • Eda Soar,
          Yes I still hear people saying ‘I cannae get oot the bit’ and I often think it to myself. I always thought that the ‘bit’ is a horse’s bit as that’s what they have in their mouth whenever they’re working. But maybe Chambers is right about it although I’ve never heard of a ‘bit’ as being a residence or place of employment.

          • Aye ‘bit’ is used commonly, well in West Lothian to mean ‘place’ or even ‘house’ eg ‘We’re gaun ti ma sisters bit fur wur xmas dinner. We hud them at oor bit last year’ Maybe not used by this generation though.

          • Gayle Rae,
            Bit is definitely not used in the west to mean house or place to stay, but I wonder if it originally came from the ‘but’ of but’n’ben, such as the holiday home that the Broons had – or vice versa. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

  6. Hi Katrina,
    I grew up Clydebank, and bit was used commonly to refer to a house. “We’ll meet at my bit” “come over to my bit after the pub closes”, “We we’re James’s bit till his maw came hame”
    I grew up in the 70s and 80s but wouldn’t be surprised if that’s still in common use. (Been overseas since ‘94)

    • Joe McInally,
      That’s interesting, I grew up in Dumbarton but we didn’t use the word ‘bit’ in that way, but I would have known what it meant if someone had said it to me, whereas in Fife where I now live bit(s) means boots.

  7. My mom always talked about her grandmother talking about getting the oose from under the beds. I am glad to confirm what it means. Granny was apparently a very stern, tight fisted Scottish worm who emigrated to Canada. So here in Canada some of us have oose under our beds.

    • Elaine,
      Your granny sounds very similar to my maternal granny although I have to say that being tight fisted is not a normal Scottish trait. I think it was a Scottish comic of the 1900s who promoted that as part of his act – and it stuck!

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