Posted by: episystechpubs | October 23, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Auld Reekie

Good morning! Today I have a few words for you from Scotland. The etymological information is from the unabridged version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

auld old

loch lake

Auld Reekie An old name for Edinburgh. Yes, Reekie as in bad smell because of all of the fires and the lake of raw sewage and dead bodies that sat in the valley below the castle and the city.

  • kilt: (Scottish) a knee-length skirt of pleated tartan cloth, traditionally worn by men as part of Scottish Highland dress. Not to be confused with the slang past tense of the verb to kill, as in, The possum was chargin at me so I kilt it.

philibeg (or filibeg): small kilt (from Scottish Gaelic file-beag, from fileadh kilt + beag little)

rood crucifix (The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the home of the Queen two weeks each summer, and there are ruins of an abbey there that are really cool.)

wynd (rhymes with kind) A narrow winding lane

pend An arch or archway; covered passage

gate Street (from Middle English, from Old Norse gata road, path)

close An alley between two buildings, usually leads to a court or courtyard (Middle English clos, from Old French clos, from Latin clausum enclosure)

A note on closes: Edinburgh today has a few closes you can explore, but during the 1600s there were so many tall buildings crammed together, there were closes everywhere. The town, from the castle to the abbey, was said to resemble a fish skeletonwith the spine down the middle (Royal Mile) and the rib bones on either side (the closes).


Royal Mile in Medieval Edinburgh (rows of buildings and closes between them)

Mary Kings Close is a very well-preserved series of homes and walkways, now underground because after fires and the black plague, the new city was built on top of the old. The buildings were so close together that they created these closes (alleys) between them.

Mary Kings Close (Looking down the old alleyway between two buildings, now underground)

An Edinburgh close today

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory


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