WITH Free Church of Scotland member Kate Forbes running to be the next SNP leader, the term “Wee Frees” is suddenly everywhere.

“Wee Free” is a term often used in the media to describe those who are members of the Church, but it has not been accepted by the Church itself.

The Free Church has, over the years, attempted to distance itself from the phrase – even describing it as a “derogatory and offensive slur”.

Despite that, the phrase is used inside and outside of the institution.

READ MORE: Free Church of Scotland say Kate Forbes being hit with 'anti-Christian intolerance'

So, where does the phrase "Wee Free" come from and what does it mean?

In 1900, the Free Kirk and The United Free Kirk, which was significantly larger, formed a union. To distinguish between the larger and smaller element, “Wee Free” began to be used.

In the modern day, it is not only the Free Church of Scotland members described as “Wee Frees”. Sometimes the phrase is used for Free Presbyterians or the United Free – the body which the name was invested to distinguish the Free Kirk from.

The term has also appeared in popular culture, including in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels.

He denied his “Wee Free Men” are based on Scottish people or Church-goers.