The Scottish Fish And Chip Shop Debate: Chippie vs Chipper?

fish and chips from a Scottish fish and chip shop. The food is in a box with a side of tartar sauce on a wooden table.

Is it chippie or chipper – what do you call your Scottish fish and chip shop? It’s national fish and chips day, so discover the national debate.

Your local Scottish fish and chip shop is known by many names and is doused in other regional terminology.

“Chippy/chippie” is the term most commonly used across Scotland. Both are just two slightly different spellings of the same word.

This affectionate nickname for a Scottish fish and chips shop is prevalent in urban areas, particularly in cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh. It’s the favoured term in general across the central belt of Scotland. The term “chippy” often evoking memories of Friday night dinners on a warm evening and summer seaside trips.

In contrast, “chipper” is more commonly heard in the north east of Scotland. This term is particularly popular in areas such as Aberdeen and Dundee, extending into some rural parts of Aberdeenshire. The linguistic distinction is subtle but notable. In these areas, “chipper” is used with the same fondness and regularity as “chippy”.

The chippie vs chipper debate divides the country in a light-hearted way, but some do take it very seriously. One man tried and failed to sue an chippie in Leith for charging him 25p for a sachet of tomato sauce because in that neck of the woods “salt n’ sauce” is the free version.

Red sauce, brown sauce or salt and sauce is an even more tense debate.

Condiments also go by unique names at a Scottish fish and chip shop

If you’re ever asked if you want “salt n’ sauce?” you’re probably in Edinburgh or surrounding area. This is a salt and a vinegar/”brown sauce” mix.

On the west coast, you won’t find this vinegary brown sauce mix – Glaswegians always opt for tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce is also often called “red sauce.” Similarly, “brown sauce” refers to a slightly spicy, brown coloured sauce akin to HP Sauce, but much thinner.

These terms, “red sauce” and “brown sauce” act as a sort of universal language in Scotland and are usually reserved for the chip shop condiments on offer. There is always something slightly different about chippie sauce!

Whether you’re in Glasgow ordering a “chippy” with “red sauce”, in Aberdeen savouring a “chipper” covered in “brown sauce”, or Edinburgh asking for plenty of “salt and sauce” we hope you enjoy your fish and chip tea tonight… just watch out for the seagulls.

Something that units us all – the fear of having your dinner snatched up by one of these scavengers.

Discover more interesting Scottish words and phrases with our Scots Language Guide