Posted by: christinelaennec | June 25, 2010

Affa bonny

We have had three days of warm weather, and the roses are in bloom!

James Galway climbing rose

The roses are “affa bonny,” as the folks here would say, meaning “awful pretty”.  I like the word bonny, I think it should be used more often.  The phrase “affa bonny” makes me laugh, too, because it reminds me of its expressive opposite, which I’ve usually heard to describe an overly-plain woman:  “nae affa bonny”.

Gay and I took a quick trip out to Drum Castle on Monday, in a little window of time before the Dafter’s swimming lesson.  Drum was also “affa bonny”:

Drum Castle, near Banchory. The placename "Drum" comes from the Gaelic "druim" meaning ridge of the hill.

Happy cows at Drum Castle, about 15 miles to the west of Aberdeen.



  1. I am thoroughly enjoying your website and have spent far longer than I should have reading May’s Diaries and all about your recent gallivanting. No one likes a smart arse, my mother always says, but you’ve written ‘affa nae bonnie’ when you meant ‘nae affa bonnie.’ A slip of the finger, I know. Delighted to know you are doing this and to have an insight into what you’re up to when I should be getting on with my work. And by the way, you look affa bonnie in that punt!

  2. Dear Jean,

    Thanks for all the compliments! I don’t want to be a smart-arse in return, but I’m quite sure I’ve heard “affa nae bonny” – or is it always bonnie? – here (as well as “nae affa bonny”). It was the word order I thought was particularly devastating! I will have to check with my local informants.

    Does anyone out there on the web know if this is a true North-East expression, or a figment of my overactive imagination?

  3. Dear Jean,

    You are right! As always, of course. I’ve checked with twa local loons – retired builders from Aberdeen who go to my church – and two Aberdonian friends of a younger generation, and they all say they’ve only ever heard of “nae affa bonny”.

    So I either completely dreamed up “affa nae bonny” or encountered some Doric wag with a devastating wit. Two of my friends pointed out that “affa nae bonny” might be a joke with an American influence, along the lines of “so not funny”.

    I shall edit my post forthwith! Thanks for the heads-up.

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