Podcast #9: The Glasgow Nickname Game

Aug 19, 2016 | podcast | 4 comments

I don’t know why, but Glaswegians (people from Glasgow, Scotland) love giving nicknames to official places. These could be monuments, buildings, statues, or even other towns nearby. The point is that these names are light-hearted: they’re chose for fun and to make you laugh.

Glasgow is my birthplace so it holds a special place in my heart. I only lived there as a baby, but most of my family are there, including my parents. That’s why I wanted to share these 5 Glaswegian nicknames with you and play a little guessing game. Get started with the listening activities below.

Before You Listen

Let’s play a Glaswegian guessing game.

In this episode, I’m going to talk about 5 nicknames for official places in and around Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city and also the friendliest and most fun!

Here they are:

  1. Squinty Bridge
  2. Luss Vegas
  3. The Clockwork Orange
  4. The Death Star
  5. The Armadillo

Before listening, for each nickname on the list, I want you to guess which one could be…

  • …a place where there are lots of weddings?
  • …a public transport system?
  • …a way to get across the River Clyde, the river that runs through Glasgow?
  • …a place where you can see concerts?
  • …a hospital?

I will also ask you to do this in the podcast, but have a think before! The answers will be revealed in the episode so make sure you listen.

Useful Vocabulary

Just a few words you may find difficult:

Nickname = this is an informal name that you give to a person or place

Made-up name = a name that you make up (=invent)

Loch Lomond = a beautiful lake not far from Glasgow that looks like this Loch Lomond

Vicar = an important job in protestant churches. Vicars give services every Sunday as well as weddings, funerals and baptisms.

Grim = used to describe something unpleasant, depressing

Sydney Opera House = this really iconic building in Sydney Harbour bay  Sydney Opera House

loop = a circular shape that curves back on itself

While Listening

As usual, I’ve picked out some sections for you to transcribe. Listen to them several times and write down what you hear. The answers are underneath. Good luck!

Dictation 1

Cara's fast, natural English podcast

Dictation 2

Cara's fast, natural English podcast

Dictation 3

Cara's fast, natural English podcast

Dictation Answers

Here are the transcribed sections of each dictation. Which words or expressions did you find difficult to catch? Let me know in the comments.

Dictation 1: So I thought we could turn this into kind of a game.

Dictation 2: lots of people go to Loch Lomond to get married. I went to a wedding there last year.

Dictation 3: basically, that’s why the nickname umm was chosen for this hospital, because in fact, this hospital is gigantic and it’s in a kind of star shape

The Big Reveal

The answers are of course in the podcast, so make sure you listen. I’ve also added some pictures to help you visualize the places I mention and understand the nicknames a little better.

Squinty Bridge

If you paid attention to the last couple of podcast posts, then hopefully you remember we discussed the word ‘squinty’. If not, here’s Glasgow’s Squinty Bridge.

Squinty Bridge

Squinty Bridge or the Clyde Arc.

The Clockwork Orange

Named for its colour and shape, not after the Stanley Kubrick film.


The Clockwork Orange or The Glasgow Subway as it’s officially known.

The Armadillo

Thanks to these pictures you should understand how the Clyde Auditorium got its name.

The Clyde Auditorium or SECC

Glasgow’s Armadillo on the banks of the river Clyde.

A real armadillo

I promised you a picture of an armadillo – here it is!

The Death Star

Here’s what the South Glasgow University Hospital actually looks like – would you have nicknamed it the Death Star?

South Glasgow University Hospital

The Glasgow hospital whose unfortunate nickname is the Death Star.


Over To You

Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. I’d love to hear from you in the comments – Where in the world do you live? Do you give nicknames to places in your town or city? What are they? What do they mean?

Photo credits:

Blog post image photo: By Macieklew – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24738088By

Loch Lomond: By Peter Barr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14261954

Sydney Opera House: Christian Mehlführer, User:Chmehl – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3378013                  

Squinty bridge : By AndrewJGallacher, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43250632

Armadillo : By Guérin Nicolas (messages) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4342935

Glasgow subway: By calflier001 – GLASGOW SUBWAY BUCHANAN STREET SCOTLAND SEP 2013Uploaded by MainFrame, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28882328                                                         

SECC : By dalbera from Paris, France – The Clyde Auditorium (SECC), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24672188                                                                                                                                                             

Southern General : By MrGRA – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41264875

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