Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Boorach and Ropach

After my posts about the “dreich” weather and my mentioning of “keich”, I thought I’d write about two other Scots words which were part of my childhood and which I still use although no-one else in the family does.

Boorach  -  boo – rach  (ch as in loch)

Rather than getting my brain cells working I (ab)use the Caledonian Mercury and append an extract from their article on “Boorach”

Boorach means mess, a state of great untidiness or confusion – like guddle but more so.

A good example of a boorach is the kitchen of an enthusiastic but disorganised cook who leaves the kitchen sink and cooker hob piled high with every single pan and utensil in the place and the worktops a sea of half-spilt packets and bottles and dirty plates.

A boorach can also be applied to a scheme, often one involving several people, that might have started out as well-intentioned but got horribly complicated and ended up in an almighty muddle. Several official schemes turn out to be boorachs.

Someone who is doing something in a very incompetent way can be said to be making a boorach of the task. For example, a novice knitter trying to knit a sweater might be said to be making a boorach of it, as might an inefficient person trying to device (sic) a complex timetable.”

Ropach   -  raw – pach  (ch as in loch)

Unfortunately I can’t find anyone who has written about ropach and so I need to engage my brain .… slowly.

Ropach means untidy but is very different from boorach.  Let me confuse you by using an example from boorach above.

“For example, a novice knitter trying to knit a sweater might be said to be making a boorach of it.”

But the sweater which has been knitted poorly might be said to be ropach.

A more likely use would be if I were in a rush and I put on a shirt and tie badly.  If I hadn’t tucked the shirt in properly so that some bits were in and others out of my trousers, one might say that my shirt was ropach – meaning I have dressed untidily or even that I was looking ropach.


There you have it, your Scots lesson for the day and I’m delighted to know that you will introduce “boorach” and “ropach” into your vocabulary.


  1. One of my favourites from childhood was the way in which "barrie" (not sure about the spelling) meaning "good" would become "barrie deeky" (again am unsure of spelling, this is oral tradition only) if something was very, very good. As in "Jings pal that a barrie deekie guider ye've got" (our guiders being little go-karts assembled from a pram chassis and wheels begged off the "scaffie" (binman) and various bits of wood and rope. Ah the memories of more simple days long gone.

  2. I've never heard of "barrie" or "deeky" but "scaffie" I'm very familiar with.

    There must be lots of words like this that we have forgotten about.

  3. How enlightening, Calum.

    In future, when I hear people talking boorachs I should know exactly what they mean.

  4. My mum used to use the word 'boorach' regularly. Ropach, however is new to me. I'll try it out on my kids who are capable of creating both regularly!