Spik Doric : Lesson 49

Skyse Graphic

Skyse. Verb, abstract noun. To vanish, disappear;  a moonlight flit. Pronounced to rhyme with “mice”.

This must be either a highly localised word to a particular part of West Aberdeenshire, or else Scots lexicographers have yet to discover it. I have been familiar with it for years; since I began speaking Doric, but I can’t find it in any Scots or Doric dictionary, even on vague spellings.

To skyse is to disappear suddenly. I suppose a magician’s assistant would skyse from her glittery cabinet, or a ghost might skyse from the end of your bed. The usual context, however, is the moonlight flit, when someone runs off overnight to escape debts or some darker threat.

Many a business has been seemingly active one day and then staff have turned up the following morning to find the doors locked and the blinds drawn. The owners have “skysed”.

I recall hearing a few hushed tales in my boyhood and teenage years of brides-to-be who were denied weddings because their fiancés got cold feet and promptly skysed. No forwarding address. This is a pretty cowardly skyse.

The sadder context these days is of scam artists online or by phone conning pensioners out of their life savings. They milk the unsuspecting old folk out of whatever they can get and then skyse. That is the most despicable skyse of all.

Filed Under: DoricFeaturedScotland


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  1. Margaret Young says:

    Thanks for enlarging my Doric vocabulary, Norman! I hadn’t come across this word before. However we used to speak of something unfair as being “skysie”(sp?) “‘at’s skysie ‘at”! was the usual phrase aimed at someone who was cheating! I can’t see the connection between “skyse” = vanish & “skysie” so perhaps the latter is spelled differently – “skycie” perhaps? Perhaps you can enlighten me. Thanks.

    • Norman says:

      The only vague connection I can see, Margaret, is that someone who does a moonlight flit is cheating another person out of his or her due. However, there doesn’t appear to be any entry in any dictionary for either skysie or skysed. I have tried a multitude of spellings, each less likely than the one before, and still drawn a blank. If any other readers have ideas, please share them.

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