A Right Dundee United

Dundee United

Dundee United

Here’s something to keep in mind if you’re ever visiting Nigeria – If someone calls you a ‘Dundee United’, it’s probably not a compliment.

The Scottish football club’s name has been appropriated as Nigerien slang for ‘idiot’, and is believed to have originated after Dundee played several friendly matches in Nigeria in the 70s.  The tour was a disaster – the Scots won just one of their five games – and the term ‘Dundee United’ has been used ever since to describe someone of low intelligence among Lagos’s Yoruba-speaking population.

The unlikely use of the word came to the attention of a Scottish audience thanks to a 2010 BBC documentary on the Nigerian capital Lagos. In the film, a local man called ‘Chubby’ tells the filmmakers that life in Lagos requires intelligence, and that any ‘Dundee Uniteds’ will soon learn the error of their ways.

Chubby remarks: “Anybody who came to Lagos and he didn’t learn sense, he cannot get sense ever. Because here if you are a fool, they will learn you how to get sense. If you are a ‘Dundee United’, when they start to pour **** on you, you will get sense.”

According to The Scotsman’s recent exposé into Scottish words and dialects, there is debate about where the term actually originated. As well as the popularly believed friendly-match 1970s tale, there is also a theory that troublemaking Dundee fans may have spread the word about their local rivals while Nigeria were based at Dens Park for the 1989 under-16 World Championships, sending their new friends home with some extra vocabulary.


About Nadine Lee

Originally from New Zealand, Nadine is a documentary researcher now based in the north east of Scotland.

View all posts by Nadine Lee →

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