In the picture you can see Onopordum acanthium, otherwise known as Scottish thistle (among other names). I suppose it was the New Year’s celebrations which prompted a question in my mind: why are there so many different words for things from north of the border?
Apart from Scottish, which I suppose is the most general term, we have:
- Scotch: applied to whisky, eggs and bonnets
- Scots: as in the Flying Scotsman
- Scot: as in He’s a Scot.
There’s no use wondering about the term scot-free, however. That has nothing to do with Scotland. It derives from a Middle English word meaning, according to the OED:
A tax or tribute paid by a feudal tenant to his or her lord or ruler in proportion to ability to pay; a similar tax paid to a sheriff or bailiff.
Photo credit: Unknown author. Used under this licence.