Wednesday 15th April 2015: What does “hingmy” mean? I hear it all the time in Glasgow

What does "hingmy" mean? I hear it all the time in Glasgow

‘Hingmy’ (aka hingmie) means ‘thing’, and is often used when you can’t find the right word, or you don’t know the correct word. It’s a combination of a variation on ‘thing’ and the suffix ‘-y’ or ‘-ie’ which is often used as a diminutive or to show familiarity. You often see it in names – eg. Anne to Annie, or Tom to Tommy. FUN FACT! That practice began first in Scotland as early as 1400, and spread south. SIDE FACT: at school my name, Ishbel, was always made into a pet name as ‘Ishy’, but when I went to university with predominantly English pals, they shortened my name to ‘Ish’. I still have divided views on the nickname ‘Ish’ because I associate it with moving away from what I was used to, what I thought I’d chosen by studying in Scotland (I was certainly the token Scot in my University of Edinburgh theatre-making crowd at Bedlam) . It’s also associated with some of my best pals, though, so it’s definitely mixed.

Back to hingmie. Here’s an example sentence: ‘Ma computer’s been on the blink since A plugged in the USB hingmie’. Or: ‘Turn that guff off, gie me the TV changer hingmie’. Variants include ‘thingmy’ and ‘thingy’. That use of a ‘h’ sound where there would often be a ‘th’ sound in other dialects, and in other words in the speaker’s dialect, applies elsewhere too eg. somehing = something. I have zero evidence for this, but it also feels like ‘nuhing’ is gaining ground while the older form, ‘naethin’ is losing it.

The word ‘hingmie’ is shockingly absent from the Concise Scots Dictionary, but ‘thingy‘ makes it to the OED (TOP TIP: pretty much any library card can get you into the OED online where you have free access to pure hunners o information – dae it!). The OED identifies ‘thingy’ as a chiefly Scottish word, which I had no idea about until RIGHT NOW. Added to the information about that ‘-y’/-‘ie’ suffix starting in Scotland, it’s not so surprising.

This is a fair fascinatin wee hingmie, daein this here blog.


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