Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a Scottish food made from the inner organs of a sheep

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun haggis was first used in English in the early 15th century, when it was spelled ‘hagws’, ‘hagas’ or ‘hagese’. Its origin is unknown.


Saturday was the anniversary of the birth of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, who was born in Ayrshire in 1759 and died in Dumfries only 37 years later. Burns wrote in both Scots and English. He also collected and adapted folk songs and these, including ‘Auld Lang Syne’, ‘My Love is Like a Red Red Rose’ and ‘Scots Wha Hae’, remain some of his most popular works. Burns is regarded as Scotland’s national poet and his birthday is celebrated annually in Scotland and around the world with Burns nights or Burns suppers. The first Burns supper was held at the poet’s home by his friends on the fifth anniversary of his death but the event is now usually celebrated on the anniversary of his birth. Although the format of the suppers varies, they generally include the consumption of haggis. At more formal dinners the haggis may be brought in ceremonially while a piper plays the bagpipes, after which someone reads or recites the poem Burns wrote in its honour, ‘Address to a Haggis‘. The traditional accompaniments to haggis are tatties (mashed potatoes) and neeps (mashed swede), along with whisky. The origins of haggis are uncertain, though it probably originated as a way of quickly preserving the offal of sheep to prevent it from going off. Vegetarian versions are also available.

Related words

black pudding, chorizo, liver sausage, sausage

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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