Planked away

My mother, who’s 85, was discharged from hospital last week. Her local pharmacy makes up a weekly blister pack dividing out her medication for each day. Yesterday, she got a bit confused and took her pills at the wrong time. My sister Eileen decided to hide the medicines away until Mum can manage better for herself.

Eileen sent me an email this morning saying that she’d phoned IRIS (the rehabilitation and after-care team) to fill them in on “the medicine plank”, in case Mum’s carers couldn’t find the pack and there was a panic.

“Plank”, as used here, is Scots for “hiding-place”. It can also be used as a transitive verb – to plank something away (as we Scots often do with our purse or wallet when we go out for a drink with friends in case, horror of horrors, one of them asks us to pay for a round).

You can find more Scots words on our “Your words” page – feel free to add your own favourites (or pet hates) in the comments. In other languages too – English included.

By Marian Dougan

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

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  1. Very interesting, I had never heard this word in 8 years of journeys to Glasgow…
    I imagine it is usable in combination with any other word, so that, for example, “piggy bank” could be substituted with “money plank” (as long as it is hidden, is that correct?).

    1. Hi Marco – I think someone’s been neglecting your Scottish education!

      Yes, you could create a “biscuit plank” for example, if you happened to have a teenage son who eats whole packets at a time. Or a “chocolate plank” where you hide away some chocolate in case of emergency. Mike Ritchie mentioned on Twitter that his Mum used to “plank away” shortbread for New Year. So she would have had a “shortbread plank”.

      Funny how all my examples are food-related – time for a snack, I think!

  2. You’re right Marian, I already know who to complain to 🙂

    Mike Ritchie’s example makes me wonder whether the Scottish use of this word might come from war times. I guess it could just be a coincidence.

    However, Lyndsay’s parents are coming to Bologna a week on Friday, so I shall test my updated Scottish vocabulary with them!

  3. I imagine this is another example of French in Scots dialect, as to me “plank” corresponds in sound and meaning to the French word “planque” (noun) / “planquer” (verb).
    Another example I’m aware of is “corbie” for crow which come from the French “corbeau”.
    My (Scots) dad always said these words came over to Scotland with the courtiers of Mary Queen of Scots when she came back to Scotland after having grown up in France.

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