Threap has a long pedigree. Its root is from Old English þréapian, to rebuke, and Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) records various meanings in Scots: “to argue, dispute, quarrel”, “to assert, insist, maintain obstinately”, to “nag at, be insistent, importune, urge some action upon”.

There’s a vivid depiction of quarrelsomeness from John Carruthers’ A Man Beset (1927): “That auld threapin’ bubblyjock Targelvie.”

DSL also gives an example of a meaning some may argue is typically Scottish, “to beat down a price, haggle for a reduction in charge”. It comes from John Wilson (Christopher North) in Noctes Ambrosianae (1827): “I wad hate to dine wi' him at a tavern — for he wad aye be for threepin doun the bill.”.

More recently, the word featured in The National (March 2018) in an article which still resonates today: “Dr Andra Mackillop … telt me at the picket line: “This threap owre pensions is yet mair pruif that the structures o oor public services are being dung doon. University high heid yins consider their ain staff as nae mair nor financial liabilities, an students as piñata fu o siller tae be dunted at will”.

Threap is still very much in use, as this example (meaning “to harp on in general, keep talking endlessly about”) shows. Keeks Mc’s poem A Great Breetish Simmer (2023) depicts a typical family holiday: “The wather, which locals threap wis glorious til theday, is chilpy, gowsterie an gray makkin a mockery o aa the haliday-makkers in thair breekums and vests ‘makkin the maist o it’”.

Scots Word of the Week is written by Pauline Cairns Speitel. Visit DSL Online at