Word of the Day


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1. relating to people from Liverpool

2. the variety of English spoken by people in Liverpool

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The word Scouse is of surprisingly recent origin. As a shortened version of ‘lobscouse’, a meat and vegetable stew eaten by sailors, it is first recorded in 1840. However, the first mention of it as a term for someone from Liverpool (also Scouser) dates from 1945, and it is only recorded as meaning the dialect and accent of Liverpool in the 1960s, at the same time as the adjectival use. Scouser was first recorded slightly earlier, in 1959.


The word ‘lobscouse’ meaning ‘a sailor’s dish consisting of meat stewed with vegetables and ship’s biscuit, or the like’ (OED) was first recorded at the beginning of the 18th century. It gave rise to another noun, ‘lobscouser’, meaning a sailor. Liverpool was for many centuries a great port, which is presumably how a term that referred generally to sailors came to be applied more generally to people from Liverpool. As an adjective Scouse means ‘relating to people from Liverpool’. The first encounter many outside Liverpool had with the word came in the BBC sitcom ‘Till Death Us Do Part’ which ran from 1965 to 1975. The comedy’s main character, a bigoted Cockney called Alf Garnett, referred to his despised Liverpudlian son-in-law Mike Rawlins as a randy Scouse git. The character of Mike Rawlins was played by Tony Booth, the father of Cherie Booth, wife of the former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The insulting phrase was picked up by the American pop group ‘The Monkees’, who used it as the title of one of their songs.


“I understand Scouse – I think!”
(Mohamed Salah, footballer)

“All our fans are always very loud, especially Scousers.”
(Louis Tomlinson, musician)

Related words

Aberdonian, Brummie, Geordie

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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1 Comment

  • When I first saw Till Death Us Do Part I had no idea what the words ‘Scouse’ and ‘git’ meant, and due to Warren Mitchell’s strong Cockney accent I heard it as ‘skarskit’. I could tell it wasn’t a compliment and therefore deduced that ‘skarskit’ was a term of abuse…

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