Rag, tag and bobtail
I have been reading a History of Scotland recently and discovered what may be the origin of this phrase.

Apparently in 1745 Prince Charles and an army of Scots arrived in Edinburgh, and were derided by some witnesses as “The oddest crew … with plaids, bagpipes and bare buttocks … a real rag, tag and bobtail bunch.” 
My imagination supplied what they must have seen!

There was another sentence in this History that I particularly liked:
Graham of Claverhouse wrote a battle report to his boss in 1689 and beside his signature he added an apology; “I am so wearied and so sleapy that I have wryten this very confusedly.”

From now on, when I read over some complete rubbish I wrote the previous day, I shall be comforted by the thought that I am not the first to “wryte confusedly” when weary.


  1. Hah! It must have been a windy day and the kilts were flying :-)

  2. I've been known to write confusedly myself!

  3. We all wryte confusedly at times... so they really don't wear any. I always wondered.

  4. Helen Laycock24/06/2013, 13:09

    “I am so wearied and so sleapy that I have wryten this very confusedly,” is also a regular excuse of mine and shall continue to be peddled out at every possible opportunity.

  5. I'm thinking of printing and laminating a copy for each of my wryting friends!

  6. I've often wondered - but never came up with that explanation. I must have a clean mind! Lorraine (wearied, sleapy)


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