AS a nation always keen to look on the bright side, it’s a surprise that “dreich” has been named the “most iconic” Scots word.

Used to describe the Scottish weather, it means dull or gloomy and topped a poll to mark Book Week Scotland, led by the Scottish Book Trust. It beat off contenders including “glaikit”, “scunnered” and “shoogle”.

The charity said the first recorded use of the word “dreich” was in 1420, when it originally meant “enduring” or “slow and tedious”. It’s not hard to imagine how that evolved to describe common attributes of Scotland’s weather.

It isn’t that our weather is always miserable, really, but a wee spot of research has turned up an alarmingly rich seam of vocabulary to describe challenging weather. Please indulge me while I have a little linguistic binge.

There’s the brilliant word “drookit” for when you’re soaked to the bone because the weather is “plowtery” or there’s a “sump” and it’s “greetie” (from the Scots word meaning “to cry”). Even a “smirr” can leave you damp, with that kind of low-level drizzle which penetrates by stealth. When it’s “oorlich” you must wrap up warm because it’ll be cold as well as damp outside. When the temperatures plummet further, then it’ll be “snell” and “jeelit” – pure baltic, some might say.

It’s said that the Inuits have the most words in their language to describe snow. In fact, this is a myth. Inuit, Yupik and related peoples have 50 words for snow. But other tongues have more. For example, the Sami, who live in the far north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, have a 180.

But the winner by an avalanche for the title of lingo-with-the-most-words-for-snow is ... drum roll ... Scots. According to researchers at the University of Glasgow, Scots has 421 words for snow.

Scots language lecturer Dr Susan Rennie explained in an interview: “The 421 words are all sorts of things to do with snow – the way that snow moves, the types of snow, types of snowflake, types of thaw, clothing you might wear in snow, the way that snow affects animals – we have even got a category for snow and the supernatural.”

She added: “Weather has been a vital part of people’s lives in Scotland for centuries. The number and variety of words in the language show how important it was for our ancestors.”

A few belters are “feefle” to describe snow swirling around a corner; “flindrikin”, which is a light snow shower, and “ground-gru”, which is the half-liquid snow or ice formed in early spring which floats along the surface of a river.

None of these wee beauties made it into the Book Week Scotland top 10. The other contenders were “glaikit”, “scunnered”, “shoogle”, “wheesht”, “fankle” “outwith”, “braw”, “beastie” and “bumfle”.

On reflection, these are all very fitting against the political backdrop of the moment.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling totally scunnered by the glaikit Tories trying to take us outwith the EU against our will. Shoogle about as they might with bumfled deals, the beasties are in a pure fankle.

Wouldn’t it be braw if they would all haud their wheesht?