Friday 10th June 2016: Haar – Scots? For mist […] Origin?

What. A. Great. Word.

This is definitely a contender for my favourite Scots word – a question I get asked pretty frequently in the show.

Haar is the cold, wet, sea mist that can flood Edinburgh, even when two miles inland it’s glorious sunshine. It doesn’t just apply to Edinburgh, anywhere on the East Coast, but I associate it with being a student in the capital because we didn’t get any such thing in Kinross, which was Very Inland For Scotland (ie. 30 minutes from the sea). We never get it in Glasgow either. In Scarborough, in the north east of England, they call it the ‘flett’ and it is spectacular.

The word is not exclusively Scots, it’s used all along the east coast from north of Lincolnshire. The origin in the Middle Dutch word ‘hare’, which meant a ‘keen cold wind’.


Maybe my connection of haar with Edinburgh isn’t only personal. The misty, mysteriousness that the haar brings to the Old Town is part of what gives it it’s ghostly, medieval character. The haar made Edinburgh, like the Clyde made Glasgow.

PS: I had a friend who was in a progressive black metal band in Edinburgh called Haar. I went to see them in a gig once and I wore a little, flowery dress and my fluffy blonde hair in pleats. I fitted right in.


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