Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

from 2005 supplement

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BUROO, n. Add variant burroo
Add to defin.: Now, on unemployment or other benefit.
Add quots.: Gsw. 1985  Michael Munro The Patter 14:
burroo or broo The Department of Health and Social Security. Someone who is out of work and receiving unemployment benefit (burroo money) is said to be on the burroo. The term originated as a Glasgow pronunciation of bureau as in Employment Bureau, a former name for this institution.
Sc. 1987  Scotsman 16 Mar :
... and a dogmatic, sectarian hostility to any measure which might help their obedient servants in the welfare ghetto to raise their expectations beyond the buroo, the pub and the betting shop.
Gsw. 1990  John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 16:
Sure, there's fights closer tae hame int there? A coupla they scunners up it the broo could dae wi a good doin, ah'm tellin ye.
m.Sc. 1991  Robert Alan Jamieson A Day at the Office 55:
Or maybe he should go and see the doo man. The old guy hadn't turned up this morning at the buroo. Maybe he was ill or something.
Lnk. 1991  Duncan Glen Selected Poems 26:
There bidit a man in Glasgow
lady, lady.
He was weill-kent for his weekly shauchle
doon to the broo.
Sc. 2000  Herald 9 Mar :
One of the bright young Scots in Brussels is Veronica McWatt who found her Euro career in the unlikely location of the Greenock buroo.

Add Comb.: broo day, The day on which benefits can be claimed. See also SND Arg 1937 quot.Gsw. 1983  James Kelman Not not while the giro 90:
...and in we dived to Old Porter for a couple of bob till broo day...
Edb. 2003  :
Gonnae sub me till Broo day.

Add Comb.: buroo money, also broo money. Unemployment benefit.Gsw. 1983  James Kelman in Moira Burgess and Hamish Whyte Streets of Stone (1985) 72:
They were good days and one or two of us could have afforded to let our broo money lie over a week if we had wanted though none of us ever did.
wm.Sc. 1984  Agnes Owens Gentlemen of the West 89:
If ye pay me aff the auld wife will get broo money. Dae us that favour.
Gsw. 1985  Michael Munro The Patter 14:
buroo ... Someone who is out of work and receiving unemployment benefit (buroo money) is said to be on the burro.
Gsw. 1986  Alex Cathcart The Comeback 149:
"Will you get the unemployment?" "Broo money? I don't know, maybe, I suppose I might, I don't really need it just now."
Gsw. 1991  Margaret Sinclair Windae Hingin' and Busker Singin' 13:
Drink's oot the windae noo, the broo money's needed fur the hoose, ...
Cai. 1992  James Miller A Fine White Stoor 70:
Now Pogo lives in a council hoose and fleshes oot his broo money and his social security wi buying and selling scrap, poaching, doing odd jobs at the harvest.
Ayr. 1993  :
If we only had 80 days fishing it'll only gie us slightly mair than burroo money.
Sc. 1993  Herald 25 Jun 16:
The Falkirk East constituency of the SNP, observing the anguish of Scottish Conservatives over the sinking of Rosyth, has sent Scottish Secretary Ian Lang an application form to join the Nats. Bet you a week's broo money for 20,000 shipyard workers he doesn't take up the offer.

Add Phr.: on the buroo, Claiming unemployment benefit. See also SND Abd9 1937 quot.Gsw. 1972  Molly Weir Best Foot Forward (1974) 23:
I knew this was serious, for we needed every penny she earned. 'Ur ye on the Buroo, then?'
Gsw. 1984  James Kelman The Busconductor Hines 24:
Naw, he said, of course I don't mind you going full-time — the wages I'm earning you'd have to sooner or later. Be better off on the bloody broo so I would.
Gsw. 1985  Michael Munro The Patter 14:
buroo ... Someone who is out of work and receiving unemployment benefit (buroo money) is said to be on the burro.
Gsw. 1987  James Kelman Greyhound for Breakfast (1988) 124:
What d'you work at yourself?
I'm on the broo the now.
Aw are you!
Ags. 1988  Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 18:
While thoosans dwinnil on the Broo
he maks o Scotland a country o mist,
o touristy ruins and tunes that insist
nocht's wrang in Brigadoon.
m.Sc. 1989  James Meek McFarlane Boils the Sea 119:
'Just because you're on the broo, you don't have to act like a fucking alkie.'
Gsw. 1991  Margaret Sinclair Windae Hingin' and Busker Singin' 13:
Jimmy ah know how ye feel, it's hard bein' oan the broo,
Thon wis a great Friday night in the pub, drinkin' 'til ye were fu.
... Oan the broo, it's demoralising, ah know it is tae me,
Staunin' at the corner, spotless, clean frae breakfast until tea.
Cai. 1992  James Miller A Fine White Stoor 207:
' ... Dinna let us lose the place altogether, boys. If a mine means less lads on the broo, I say let's start a mine.
em.Sc. 1997  Ian Rankin Black & Blue (1999) 73:
' ... Then he's got a lot of the taxi cabs, the ones that don't switch their meters on when you get in; or if they do, the rate-per-mile's been hiked. The cabbies are all on the broo, claiming benefit. ... '
w.Lth. 2000  A Puckle Poems 5:
A'm oan the broo!
Ur you?
Ay, A took ma two thoosant redundancy.

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"Buroo n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2019 <>



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