THIS coming Mothering Sunday many mothers will look forward to a visit from their grandweans as well as a visit from their grown-up weans. Grandweans first appear in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) in D E Brown’s 1897 Clydeside Litterateurs: “Till grand-weans and great-grand-weans, clap and applaud”. However, DSL does not record the object of their applause.

Our next citation comes from the Herald of September 1992: “The Use of Language and That: A rare example of verbal talent overheard on a North Sea ferry. A Scottish granny is admonishing her half-German grandwean: ‘Gretchen! If ye dinnae stoap that you'll get yer heid in your hauns to play wi’.’”

A later example perhaps reflects the feelings of some grandparents. Grandwean visits can be exhausting – as in this from History on your Doorstep: The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum (1993): “My mother said I like to see my grandweans but I like to see them going away”.

While looking for other examples many were found, among them the following from the Motherwell Times of May 1960: “Gilchrist’s beat music band, composed mostly of young lads from the scheme, gave the grandads and grannies an insight into what their teenage grandweans enjoy”.

Gregor Steele wrote a poem for DSL in 2021, called When Scotty said “Scunner”, in which our word also appears: “And the words wull pass tae ma wean’s wean’s wean, And their wean’s grandwean’s wean’s grandwean…”

I hope many grandweans will be enjoying the company of their grannies and grandads this Sunday.

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