20 Scottish Stereotypes (And Whether They’re True!)

Even a country as magnificent and historic as Scotland can’t avoid being stereotyped.

Is it true that Scottish people detest the English? Are they all raging drunks that get into brawls at pubs? And is it true that Scottish men wear no underwear underneath their kilts?

Keep reading to discover whether these Scottish stereotypes are fact or fiction!

1. Scotland is full of drunkards

Drunk scots
Only 17% of Scottish adults don’t drink alcohol – but does that mean the rest of them are drunkards?

Just like their English neighbors, Scottish people are known to enjoy knocking back a few pints (or more!) at the pub. However, that’s not just unique to Scotland!

Virtually everywhere in Britain, you’ll find that drinking is a big part of the culture. Does that make Scotland a nation of drunks? Is it true that Scots can chug whiskey like it’s water?

Although this stereotype is rooted in a grain of truth (Scots love to drink!), it’s for the most part an exaggeration. Most Scottish people drink socially but do not have a serious dependence!

2. There are lots of redheads

Scottish redheads
You’ll find more ginger-haired people in Great Britain than anywhere else in the world.

Even though only 2% of the world’s population has red hair, gingers make up approximately 13% of Scotland’s population! So yes, there’s definitely some truth to this stereotype, even though red hair is not the dominant hair color like many people believe.

Fascinatingly, Edinburgh is the ‘world capital’ for the red-hair gene. Roughly 40% of people carry the gene for ginger hair! The prevalence of this gene has to do with the cloudy climate that Great Britain is known for.

Having ginger hair, and therefore, fair skin, makes it easier for the human body to absorb Vitamin D from sunlight. Who knew?!

3. Everyone believes in the Loch Ness Monster

Loch ness
Loch Ness is the largest freshwater lake in Britain – and some people think it’s home to a terrifying sea creature.

One of Scotland’s most well-known legends involves ‘Nessie,’ the sea monster that apparently resides in Loch Ness. The creature supposedly looks halfway between a sea serpent and a dragon, and some people insist that they’ve seen it lurking in this vast lake. But what do Scottish people think?

Turns out most of them think it’s just a mythical creature like a unicorn or a mermaid! More than anything, Scottish people love pretending they believe in Nessie just to amuse foreigners.

4. Men wear kilts all the time

Scottish man wears kilt
Repeat after me: a kilt is not a skirt!

Is anything more Scottish than a kilt? These tartan garments originated in the 16th century and were typically worn by men in the Highlands. Back then, they were worn every day, but what about now?

Kilts are still a special part of Scottish heritage, but they’re actually not worn frequently anymore. They’re typically reserved for special occasions like weddings, ceilidhs (traditional dancing parties), and sometimes football games for a show of patriotism.

And a word of advice: do not call a kilt a skirt unless you want to offend a Scotsman!

5. Men don’t wear underwear under their kilts!

Scottish men performing with kilts
Scottish men are tired of being asked what’s under their kilts – so let’s answer this, once and for all: are they going commando under there or not?!

To be honest, Scots are still in debate about this one! Unless you’re dancing or competing in sports (in which case, please put away those ‘jewels,’ sir!), the question of whether or not to wear underwear is up in the air.

Funnily enough, the term ‘True Scotsman’ emerged out of this amusing debate. According to this hilarious rule, only a man that goes commando under his kilt can be considered a ‘True Scotsman.’

Is this enough motivation to ditch the undergarments? Not quite. Truth is, a lot of men prefer some protection from those cold winds! In the most recent survey conducted, it was reported that only 38% of men wear absolutely no underwear beneath their kilt.

6. Scottish people take clans very seriously

Handmade welcome plaques for sale with various clans and their tartans. Ciaid Mile Failte means welcome in Gaelic
Tracing your heritage back to one of the old Scottish clans is pretty darn fun, but modern Scots don’t take it as seriously as they used to. And considering all the battle and bloodshed… err, yeah, that’s definitely for the best!

One of the most prevalent Scottish stereotypes is of the clan-obsessed Scot brawling with people from ‘rival’ clans. Thankfully, this stereotype is fiction, not fact!

In the 21st century, most Scottish people don’t really care about which clan they’re descended from or who their ancestors’ enemies were. Those who do care simply find it amusing – but no one is interested in dredging up centuries-old feuds! Why fight when we can just have a good time?!

7. Bagpipe music is everywhere

Bagpipe music
According to the stereotype, you can’t escape the sound of bagpipes when you’re in Scotland! True or false?

Ahh, there’s nothing like the sound of bagpipes! This Scottish woodwind instrument always brings to mind the rolling green hills of the Highlands, and not to mention, burly men in kilts. Even though bagpipes are the heart and soul of traditional Scottish music, they’re not as ubiquitous as people think.

These days, bagpipes are usually only played during special occasions or in touristy locations such as Edinburgh. For a unique experience with this special Scottish instrument, attend a ceilidh and dance the night away!

8. Everyone lives in a castle or cottage

Scottish cottage
Do most Scottish people live in a place like this? Is there such thing as an apartment in Scotland? And do they even have electricity?

Mainstream movies about Scotland usually take place in a historical period. For that reason, there’s a common stereotype that Scottish people either live in castles or cottages. Some foreigners are even surprised to hear that the Scottish Highlands has electricity!

So let’s put this one to rest: Scotland has modern housing just like the rest of the world! There are, indeed, high-rise apartments. Their old buildings may be deeply treasured, but Scottish cities have all the modern comforts you could possibly desire.

9. Scots deep-fry everything

Deep-fried Scottish grub
Deep-fried pizza, anyone? / Credit: Jason

Deep-fried pizza, deep-fried Mars Bars… Scotland is well-known for its greasy, deep-fried delicacies. Is it true that the typical Scottish diet is packed with deep-fried everything? Thankfully, no!

However, Scots do have a great time winding up foreigners and pretending that’s all they eat. Come to think of it, that’s probably why this stereotype is so pervasive!

10. They eat haggis every day

Scotland's national food, Haggis
Is Haggis truly a staple in the Scottish diet?

Haggis is Scotland’s national dish, and Scots have a great time taking the mickey out of foreigners and pretending haggis is an animal. But despite what those cheeky Scots say, haggis is not a wild creature that they chase around the Highlands. It’s actually a savory pudding made of oatmeal, spices, and sheep organs.

As delicious as this unusual delicacy is, it’s virtually unheard of for a Scot to eat haggis every day. At most, the average Scot eats haggis weekly – though believe it or not, a survey found about 40% of them don’t even like haggis!

11. They practically worship Irn Bru

Irn Bru
Sorry, Coca-Cola. You’ll always be second-place to Irn Bru in Scotland / Credit: Khaybe

This orange fizzy drink is all the rage in Scotland. It’s the nation’s undisputed favorite soda, and neither Coca-Cola nor Pepsi can take its gold crown. In fact, Irn Bru is so popular that Scots think it’s just as part of their national identity as haggis and whiskey.

Of course, no population is a monolith, so not everyone drinks this sugary carbonated drink – but for the most part, the stereotype is true. Irn Bru has held firm over the nation’s heart and stomach since 1901!

12. Their accents are nearly impossible to understand

Friends chatting with each other
If all else fails, just politely ask a Scot to repeat themself if you don’t understand them.

Let’s clear something up: not every Scottish accent is the same! Just like everywhere else in the world, many dialects exist within Scotland. Some of them don’t even sound all that similar. With this in mind, this stereotype is mostly untrue – but it really depends on where you’re going.

An Edinburgh accent is pretty easy to understand for the average person, but a Glaswegian accent may be a bit of a struggle for some. That said, if you’re fluent in English, you should be able to understand (most of) them with no problem!

13. Scots are miserly and cheap

Save pennies
Is it true that Scottish people are penny-pinchers?

Most stereotypes are rooted in some nugget of truth, but this one is flat-out false. There’s no evidence to suggest that Scots are more frugal or ‘stingy’ than people from other countries. This stereotype is so bizarre that no one is too sure of its origins.

Some theorize that it was because Scottish merchants that emigrated to Poland were tough negotiators. Others think it might have surfaced during a financial crisis in the 1700s when Scots had to be careful with their money. All we know for sure is that this stereotype is completely untrue.

14. Scots are angry and aggressive

Angry Scottish man
The English are stereotyped as being super polite, but Scots are apparently mean and aggressive.

Anyone who’s visited England will tell you that not all English people are timid and overly polite. So it goes without saying – Scottish people are not an aggressive or angry population!

While it’s true that Scots are very direct and passionate, it’s rarely mean or nasty. In fact, Scotland is frequently regarded as one of the most welcoming countries in the world.

That said, Scottish insults are absolutely hilarious. Next time you’re in a row with someone, try calling them a ‘walloper’ or a ‘numpty’!

15. Scots are superstitious

Black cat
Many of the world’s most famous superstitions originated in Scotland.

It’s no surprise that a country full of magic, mysticism, and folklore has its superstitions. Scottish people are definitely not as superstitious as they used to be, but many surprising traditions still remain today.

For example, at midnight on New Year’s Day (known as ‘Hogmanay’ in Scotland), it’s believed that the first person to walk through your door should be a tall and dark-haired man carrying whiskey, salt, coal, shortbread, and a black bun. If you’re visited by a man meeting this description, then a year of good fortune is all yours.

16. Scots are pessimistic

Half full or empty glass
Glass half-full or half-empty? According to the stereotype, Scots would say the latter!

Scots are well-known for their self-deprecating senses of humor, but are they a pessimistic population? Are they as miserable and negative as the stereotype would have you believe? Not more so than other Brits!

Scots certainly don’t shy away from saying what’s on their minds, but more often than not, their pessimism is meant as a joke. They love dark humor, and those who aren’t used to it can easily misinterpret it.

17. The weather is terrible

Grey scottish weather
It might be a little grey sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t gorgeous.

The idea that Scotland is always gloomy, wet, and grey is a total misconception. You may get some grey days here and there, but this stereotype is way exaggerated. According to the stats, Scotland has 208 sunny days on average per year. That’s most days!

Of course, rain is inevitable in Britain, especially in the Fall. If you’re visiting, keep in mind that areas in East Scotland like Edinburgh are much drier than areas in the West, like Glasgow. While it’s not exactly Miami, Scotland is still far more sunny and temperate than most people think.

18. Scotland is stuck in the past

Stunning castle in Scotland
With so many stunning photos like this, it’s no wonder people don’t realize there’s more to Scotland than its past.

Scotland’s rich and fascinating history is one of the many reasons that people love it here so much – but have they caught up with the rest of the modern world? The answer to this is a resounding yes, absolutely.

Scotland is not all about castles, battles, and clans; in fact, Scottish people rarely talk about this aspect of their culture unless they’re talking to tourists.

However, a city like Glasgow is about as modern as it gets. Not only is it popular with musicians and young people, it’s also home to one of the best art universities in the world.

19. They don’t like English people

Scotland vs. English - friends or foe?
Scotland and England – is it bad blood or just good banter?

Don’t be too surprised if you hear a Scot making fun of an English person; there’s a lot of banter and teasing that happens between the two nations.

That said, it’s not a cause for concern. Scotland and England enjoy making fun of each other – just like old, cheeky friends. It’s usually friendly and rarely serious, so this stereotype is mostly false.

20. Edinburgh and Glasgow are bitter rivals

Glasgow
The feud between Edinburgh and Glasgow began in the 17th century when two bakers fought over which city could make better bread.

Another rivalry, and this one’s between the Scottish cities Edinburgh and Glasgow! Is there any truth to it? Are these two cities truly in opposition? Well, actually… yes, a little. But on the bright side, it’s not as bitter as rumor makes it sound.

People from Glasgow and Edinburgh have a grand ol’ time arguing about why their city is better than the other. According to Glaswegians, Edinburgh is too ‘snobby’ and stiff. Ask someone from Edinburgh, and they might say Glasgow is less ‘sophisticated’ and meant for a younger, rowdier crowd.

In reality though, these two cities are breath-taking and exceptional in very unique ways. They’re too different to compare, so let’s just say they’re both winners.

Conclusion

Just like every other country and culture, Scotland is full of nuance and complexity. In some ways, it’s exactly as you expect, and in others, it’s even better than you imagined.

Did any of these debunked or confirmed stereotypes surprise you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Leave a Comment