No-one wants to hear the sound of a splorroch but a huam is another matter, at least if you had lived in Scotland 100 years ago or more.

Long forgotten words to describe the countryside have been uncovered and included in a new dictionary of words compiled during academic’s research in the Cairngorms. 

Dictionary author Amanda Thomson said: “These words reveal so much about our history, natural history, and our changing ways of life - they are indicative of the depth, richness and variety of the Scots language and its unique relationship to nature and the Scottish landscapes of Lowlands, Highlands and islands.” 

The visual artist and lecturer at Glasgow School of Art was researching a PhD about the landscape by speaking to foresters and ecologists in the Abernethy Forest in the Cairngorms when she began to notice unfamiliar words they were using.

At the same time, she found a 19th-century Scottish dictionary in an Edinburgh bookshop.

“I came across the word timmer breeks – timmer is timber and breeks is an old Scots word for trousers and timmer breeks together means coffin,” she said.

“The more I started to look at these dictionaries I was coming across these really interesting definitions – phrases I had never used. 

“A lot of the words had a real poetry to them and that’s what made me collect them. There is a word huam, which means the moan of an owl in the warm days of summer, or splorroch which is the sound made by walking in wet mud.”

A Scots Dictionary of Nature, which is published by Saraband, is a reminder of how easily the beauty of language and its connection with nature can be lost. 

In 2007, the Oxford Junior Dictionary ditched 40 words it said children no longer used. Acorn, otter, bluebell and willow were replaced with blog, voicemail and broadband.

The ensuing outcry led to a book called The Lost Words by author Robert Macfarlane, a fundraising campaign to get the books into schools and even an exhibition in Edinburgh this summer. 

Ms Thomson, from Kilsyth, said: “Different words will have resonance with different people depending on who they are, where they are from and how old they are.

“It harks back to connections to place and history, how you relate to previous generations. There’s a word for a sparrow – speug – I always remember my grandfather using.

“Most of us are now in the city more than the country and we don’t care about the weather in the way we would have done. A lot of the old words pertain to that. 

“One of the lovely words for rainbow is a water-gaw and when seen from the north or the east it’s a sign of bad weather.

“Some of the words are really matter of fact but there is something lovely about it and they are sometimes specific. A bar-ghist is a ghost that frequents stiles – there is something lovely that you have to be careful when crossing a stile because a ghost might be waiting for you.”