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I know what wee bonnie lass means, but my question is can we use it for kids?

I heard that it can only be used when complimenting a girl, as in boys use it, but I may be mistaken.

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    Is it wee or bonnie or lass that you think can't be used on kids? Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:19
  • What I heard is that it can only be used when complimenting a girl, as in boys use it. I might be wrong as well
    – Ardis Ell
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:22
  • lass signifies the female gender, lassie is the diminutive
    – Peter
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 1:06
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    Bonnie (pretty) Wee (little) Lass (girl)
    – user32254
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 5:37

2 Answers 2

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Yes. In fact using wee would make me think you were probably talking about a child, though it could be used for a petite woman. Bonnie can be used on children or adults. Lass can also be used on children or adults. I would tend to think of lass as being 10-year-old or more, but wee lass could be younger than that.

It does sound slightly more natural to me to say bonnie wee lass rather than wee bonnie lass, but both would be understood.

Finally, be careful about using dialect words like this unless you're specifically speaking to people from that area. "Wee bonnie lass" would be understood by most British English speakers, but would still sound a bit unusual coming from a non-Scot. For example, as an English person living in Scotland, I do use some Scots terms when talking to my (mostly Scottish) friends, but if I were to talk to my (English) family with those terms, they'd probably think it was a bit weird and might tease me a bit. As a non-native speaker, you have the added risk that people may think you don't even know it's a dialect phrase.

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    +1, in part for your cautionary note at the end. This expression would sound more comical than serious in the U.S.
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:34
  • Yes, dialect words are a danger zone! Unless you're using them ironically, which doesn't sound to be the case in your question.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 16:36
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Bonnie wee lassie...heard it all my life..used on all the wains in scotland.. auch your a bonnie wee lassie..

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  • I'm not entirely sure whether you're saying this phrase can or can't be used for kids. Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 0:21
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    @NathanTuggy Janet actually does say it's appropriate for kids: wains, you just don't speak Scots, down vote is unfair
    – Peter
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 0:34
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    @Peter: I'm a native American English speaker who's read lots of books in all English dialects (including Scottish, modern and period); if I can't understand their point, I consider it entirely fair to assume non-native speakers won't either and downvote accordingly. Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 0:35
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    Also "your a bonnie..." - isn't that supposed to be "you're a bonnie..."? We need to take a little more care when we're writing for folks still learning English. I think the Scottish perspective is interesting, and that complete sentences, punctuated and spelled correctly would go a long way toward making this a better answer.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 1:10

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