ARBROATH Smokies don’t have their own entry in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language, but are cited in the entry for “smoke”: “The older generation argue that the old time ‘smokie’ is a haddock freshly caught by line and smoked in the Arbroath way.”

Research suggests that many of the earliest appearances of “Arbroath Smokies” are in newspaper advertisements. An early example (1888) comes from McSymon & Company in the Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette: “We also offer splendid value in Arbroath Smokies and Aberdeen Haddocks."

In July I902 an intriguing headline appeared in the Dundee Evening Post: “Arbroath Smokies in Court”. Apparently, a fish-curing works in Aberdeen was charged with “being the owner of 112 boxes of cured fish, known as Arbroath Smokies...which were unfit for human food, and were intended for sale”.

Recipes using Arbroath Smokies appear in many cookbooks of course, and the Arbroath Smokie is nothing if not a versatile ingredient. For example, an interesting recipe for an Arbroath Smokie omelette appeared in the Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs in February 1949. And a restaurant review from the Dundee Courier of January 2022 reported: “Another starter to highlight is the delicious cream of Arbroath smokie soup … which is truly ambrosial,” and recommended the pancake made with “Arbroath smokie, flaked, fresh off the bone, in a double-cream sauce, served inside a thin savoury pancake”.

Arbroath Smokies were awarded Protected Geographical Indication status in 2004, which means that a haddock can now only be called an Arbroath Smokie if it is made within eight kilometres of Arbroath.

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