More Info


Words, Facts & Phrases

Search by category




Choose a language

Acid Rain

Discovered and named by Scottish analytical chemist Robert Angus Smith (FRS). See under Climatology.

Antarctica

Scottish cartographer John George Bartholomew, gave the continent its name in the 1890’s. It had previously been called Terra Australis Incognita (Unknown).

Arboretum

John Claudius Loudon, Scottish botanist (1783-1843). First use of the term in an English publication, 1833 The Gardener’s Magazine.

Beaker (the archaeological term)

John Abercromby (1841-1924), Archaeologist.

Common Sense

Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid FRSE (1710-1796).  The immediate successor to Adam Smith in the chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, and the “Father of Common Sense Philosophy”. In 1764 he wrote his “An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense”.

Conurbation

Patrick Geddes FRSE, b. Aberdeenshire, Scotland (1854-1932). Pioneering town planner.

Cybernetics

James Watt  via the Greek for governor, his automatic control device for steam engines.

Decibel (dB)

Units of volume of sound intensity invented by Bell Laboratories and named after Alexander Graham Bell, b. Edinburgh, Scotland (1847-1922).

Documentary

Coined in 1926 by Scottish film maker John Grierson (1898-1972)

Educate, Inform, Entertain

Lord Reith, First DG of the BBC. It remains part of the BBC’s mission statement to this day. It has also been adopted throughout the broadcasting world, notably in the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States.

Gasometer

Coined by William Murdoch to describe containers able to safely hold gases.

Horsepower

James Watt (1736-1819). In order to measure the power of his steam engines, in 1783 he tested a strong horse and decided it could raise a 150-lb weight nearly four feet in a second. He therefore defined a “horsepower” as 550 foot-pounds per second.

Hypnosis

James Braid (1795-1860). Neurohypnosis, later shortened to hypnosis.

John Steinbeck Quotation Re Scotland

In a letter to Mrs John Kennedy: “You talked about Scotland as a lost cause and that is not true. Scotland is an unwon cause”.

Kaleidoscope

Invented in 1817 by Scottish scientist Sir David Brewster.

Keep Left

Driving on the left side of the road entered Scottish law in 1772, more than 60 years before England followed suit in 1835.

KEROGEN

Named by Alexander Crum Brown FRSE, FRS. Kerogen is a mixture of organic materials contained in sedimentary rocks. It is much sought after today as it contains large quantities of light and heavy hydrocarbons. See under chemistry.

Landscape Architecture

Scotsman Andrew Laing Meason (1769-1832) coined the phrase in 1826.

Laugh your head off

Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, known as “the Fox”, was sentenced to death in 1747 for his participation on the Jacobite side during the 45. He was about to be beheaded with his head on the block when a platform crowded with bloodthirsty oglers collapsed. He burst out laughing as the axe descended. He was the last nobleman to be beheaded in the British isles.

Ne-er-day

New year’s day, the first of January, as decreed by King James VI in 1600, bringing Scotland into line with the major European nations. England continued to celebrate the beginning of the new year on 25th March for another century and a half.

Police

In 1714, the first use of the word in any government documents in the UK was the appointment of commissioners of police for Scotland.

Political Economy

Sir James Steuart (1713-1780) in his book An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy.

Presumed innocent until proven guilty

Diaspora

Sir William Garrow KC, PC, FRS. (1760-1840) His father’s family all came from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, descended from the Garriochs of Kinstair. Likewise his father, David, born there and educated at Aberdeen university gaining an MA in 1736. before moving to England where he married Sarah Lowndes and William was born.

Reithian

From Lord Reith first DG the BBC. Denotes a form of management, particularly in relation to broadcasting.

Reithianism

Lord Reith’s principles of broadcasting including, equal consideration of different viewpoints, probity,  universality, and a commitment to public service, as opposed to a free market where the principle considerations are viewer numbers and advertising revenue.

Scottish Achievement, Influence & Heritage is a work in progress