Based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels, Outlander is admired for its inclusion of Scottish Gaelic and Scots Leid as Gabaldon herself is a huge advocate of Scottish minority languages.
As she wrote the books, Gaelic-speaker Iain MacKinnon Taylor reached out and offered help with translation, while expressing his fear over the looming extinction of Gaelic. In response, Gabaldon said: “Maybe so, but I tell you what Iain – if Gaelic does die, it won’t be because you and I didn’t try.”
This passion can be felt all throughout the Outlander series (dubbed ‘the Scottish Game of Thrones’) especially between the show’s leading romance, Jamie and Claire, who use Gaelic words affectionately.
Valentine’s Day 2023 just past but there’s always time to learn this romantic Scottish vocabulary and indulge in the romance of the Scottish Highlands that Outlander portrays.
(Note: The following phonetics were made with support from a fluent Gaelic speaker. They maintain, however, that as a non-Latin language with unique vocalisation, standard English phonetics serve only as a well-meaning suggestion. For audio pronunciation please check out LearnGaelic’s online dictionary.)
Tha gaol agam ort (I love you)
If you remember any Gaelic phrase from this list then make sure it’s this one. A useful expression that can be applied to any loved one, romantic or otherwise, it literally means ‘My love is on you’’ and is said like “hah-geul-ah-kum-orsht”.
Mo nighean donn (My Brown-haired lass)
‘Mo Nighean Donn’ translates to ‘My brown haired lass’ which is the term of endearment Jamie Fraser uses to describe his wife, Claire, during the series. It is pronounced like so: “moh – nee-uhn – down”.
Mo chridhe (My heart)
This romantic phrase means ‘my heart’ but it is used colloquially for saying ‘my darling’ or ‘my dear’ and it is used by several characters throughout the books. You can pronounce it like “mo chree-ah”.
Mo Leannan (My darling)
Another of Jamie’s many terms of endearment for Claire which means ‘darling’ or ‘sweetheart’. However, unlike in the English-speaking world where ‘sweetheart’ can be used casually, this only refers to a lover or partner. It is pronounced like “mo leh-nahn”.
The Scottish Gaelic word ‘gràdh’ simply refers to love. An example of its use in a sentence is ‘Gradh Geal Mo Chridhe’ which means ‘Fair love of my heart’. You can pronounce it like “graagh”.
M’annsachd (My blessing)
Sweetheart, darling, dear… There’s nothing wrong with these words but imagine being referred to as someone’s blessing, now that’s special! To pronounce the term of endearment you can say “m-aa-own-suchk”.
Colman geal (White dove)
The ‘Dinna Fash Sassenach’ blog says that Jamie refers to Claire with this term of endearment to describe her as she bathes in the moonlight. The word is pronounced like “cullaman geeh-yal”.
Bràmair (Sweetheart for a boyfriend or girlfriend)
Unlike other gendered words in Gaelic, SpeakGaelic reports that this word “does not really have a gender” and can be used to refer to your boyfriend or girlfriend as ‘sweetheart’. You can pronounce it like “brah-mer”.
Slàinte mhath (Cheers!)
Last but not least, what Valentine’s Day celebration is complete without a toast between you and your partner in honour of your love? To do so you can use this phrase which is like “cheers” in Gaelic and it is pronounced “slanj-a-va”.