Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach Gifts for Outlander Fans

by JoHarrington

Don't fuss, Outlander fans, we have gifts for you. Not only in the physical things, but in an exploration through the meaning of Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach.

We know why we say 'Dinna fash yourself'. It's because Jamie Fraser does and it makes us grin every time.

Diana Gabaldon has a lot to answer for when it comes to the popularity of 'Dinna fash yourself, Sassenach', as a worldwide phenomenon. Until she came along with her 'Outlander' books, it was a phrase which was heard only where Scots congregated. Mostly Scotland. And it usually missed off the 'sassenach' bit.

But after we'd all delighted ourselves through imagining many iterations across several scenes, it was in the global lexicon too. A beloved phrase whispered to ourselves in lieu of any tall red-headed Highlander in the vicinity.

Ever wondered what 'dinna fash yourself' means? And how the Scottish even came to put that collection of words together? Stick around and you'll find out!

A Note on the Dinna Fash Yourself Sassenach Outlander Gifts

If you're here wondering whether 'Dinna fash yourself, Sassenach' presents are a good surprise for an Outlander fan, the answer is 'yes!'

Image: Dinna fash yourself, Sassenach, Outlander screenshotI'm not being selective when it comes to the displayed gifts for Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach. There's no editing on my part, other than clicking through the various categories on Zazzle and picking the most popular.

I figured it was fairer that way, especially for those coming here to find a treat for an Outlander fan.

They wouldn't necessarily know enough about the books (or TV show) themselves to be discerning on the point. This way they have the vote of anyone who's ever bought Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach products on Zazzle.

We know what we like and there is our implicit guidance on the subject.

However, it does mean that you may see some designs dominating the page. Often that's because they're the only ones in the category. But frequently it implies that they really are the most popular Outlander gifts there.

I will admit to one element of picking and choosing here. If the same design is repeated on several similar items, I'll merely lift the top one, then move along until I find one different. Clicking on that top one will bring up all over iterations anyway, so it felt like a waste to present the same over and over again.

All Zazzle products can be customized, so if you see something that you like, but could do with an extra personalization, then feel free to be creative before you buy.

Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach T-Shirts

You're really only looking at the design on the front, as each one of these shirts is available in dozens of styles for men, women, children and babies.

What Does Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach Mean?

I've already told you right up there in the sub-title to this Wizzley article! Though I sneaked it in like a little ninja.

In quick and easy terms, 'dinna fash yourself' means 'don't fuss yourself' or 'calm down'. A closer approximation would be 'don't fret yourself' or 'don't worry about it'.

'Sassenach', in this context, is a term of endearment. In the Outlander novels, Claire is on the receiving end of this lovely phrase and she quite literally is a 'Sassenach', or an Englishwoman.  In more general terms, 'Sassenach' can be translated from the Gaelic as an outlander, or foreigner.

We'll come back to this one later.

Therefore dinna fash yourself, Sassenach means 'don't worry, my love' - if we're going for the sentiment expressed in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander - or 'stop worrying, foreign person (probably English)', if we're reaching into more general terms.

If you're looking for a gift to treat an Outlander fan, assume they'll think in terms of the former, however loosely that translates the real meaning.

How to Pronounce Dinna Fash

Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach Tote Bags

At the time of writing, two of these involve tartan somewhere in their design. That is Clan Fraser of Lovat tartan dating from the time in which 'Outlander' is set.

In What Language is Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach?

For the pat answer, you can't go far wrong with calling it Scots.

A better question would be: 'which languages are dinna fash yourself, Sassenach in?', as this tiny phrase manages to squeeze in four!

'Dinna' is Scots, a recognized dialect and/or language.  There's some debate on that latter definition as remarkably there's no worldwide consensus on discerning between a dialect and a language.

Scots (aka Braid or Lallan) is spoken throughout Scotland and wherever Scots have migrated. Braid and Lallan are both Scots words used to denote their own lexicon. Braid translates as 'broad', while 'lallan' means 'Lowland'.

The language may also be called Lowland Scots or Ulster Scots, if spoken in each location respectively. Though those dialects are related - due to the Ulster Plantations of the 16th century and later colonization of Northern Ireland from Scotland - they are distinct from each other.

While most people seem to think that Scots is fundamentally a language (or dialect) derived from English with a sprinkling of Gaelic, the reality isn't that simple.

It's based on Old Northumbrian - picked up via trade over the English border - but has plenty of words added into the mix from France, the Netherlands and Germany (again due to trade, overseas), as well as a firm footing in both ecclesiastical Latin (the country was Catholic until John Knox happened) and Norman French (the language of Robert Bruce's court).

Outside Scotland and Northern Ireland, Scots is most famous for being the dialect (or language) in which Robert Burns composed his poetry.

Now we come to 'fash', which translates as 'fuss'. That's actually from the Old French 'se fâcher', which was scattered about Scots by Bruce's lot. However, the meaning has calmed down quite a lot since the Normans were uttering it.

'Fâcher', in modern French, describes proper irritation, or anger. If it has retained the same strength of emotion through its centuries in Scots, then 'dinna fash' would translate more like 'don't blow your top' than 'don't fuss'.

Next we get 'yourself', which is English - though also part of Scots too - and 'Sassenach', which is Scottish Gaelic, but may also be found in Scots. Hence my dual answer of one language, or four.

How to Pronounce Sassenach

Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach Jewelry and Gift Boxes

I've lumped these together, as really one could be used for the other. For the record, I would adore one of these as a gift from a loved one!

What Does Sassenach Mean?

Remember that its broader meaning and that in 'Outlander' are two different things. In this context, it really is a term of endearment.

In its purest form, Sassenach translates as Saxon. It's akin to all those other words, similar sounding and used in the same way, found in the Celtic languages around Britain. 

When I'm speaking Welsh, I'll use Saesneg to refer to English, but that technically means Saxon too. The Cornish say Sowsnek. It's Sasanach in Irish Gaelic. Both of those also translate strictly as Saxon.

It really tells you which group of Germanic invaders were causing the most trouble, when words for them were formed. The Angles, Jutes and Saxons all got lumped in with the latter people, as they tended to colonize the land now bordering the Celtic countries. Creating those borders in fact, as a moveable line depending upon which party won the last battle.

By the time Saxon - in all its forms - was in their vocabulary, no-one in British nor Gaelic lands really cared that the Angles (English) had swallowed up the rest in a cultural genocide. Saxon it was and Saxon it remained, whatever those Saxon types decided later to call themselves.

Claire Randall might refer to herself as English, but for Jamie Fraser, she was a Sassenach. Initially, because that's precisely what she was, but later as a pet name uttered in love, which also happened to describe her nationality.

But Jamie might just as easily have referred to Edinburgh born lawyer Ned Gowan in the same way. Though perhaps not exactly with the endearment so completely etched in.

Centuries after the Saxons came and England was consolidated as a unified state, the Lowland Scots became very Anglicized. They'd always been a different people to those in the Highlands, closely related, but distinct in their language and ethnicity. The Lowlanders were more akin to the Welsh than their compatriots in the North.

In highly simplistic terms, the Highlanders came from Ireland, hence the shared Gaelic language. The whole country is now named after that invading Irish Scotti tribe. But they've also got a healthy dash of Scandinavian/North men/Viking blood, each in some clans more than others.

South of Stirling, the descendents of the Brythonic people of the Old North still held their lands. These were British, hence the link with the Welsh. In fact, Gwynedd - that most Welsh part of Wales - was populated by a tribe originally from the vicinity of Edinburgh.

As far as the Scottish Highlanders were concerned, those Lowland Scots - disdaining Gaelic to develop their dialect based on Old Northumbrian and acting more English than the English - might as well be Sassenach too. So, in Gaelic, they are.

Claire is Sassenach because she's English. Ned is Sassenach as he's Edinburgh born and bred.

However, we still haven't finished.  Once the Irish had been assimilated, the Romans been confined to the other side of Hadrian's Wall, and the Vikings finished adding red haired genes in the general Highland bloodline, there weren't really too many invaders into Scotland. One or two attempts by the French, before the Auld Alliance was formed, but that's it really.

Except for one very notable nation.

Throughout its entire history, England has done pretty much nothing but attempt - with varying degrees of success, currently high but with its grasp slipping - to control Scotland.  It's perhaps hardly surprising then that any foreigner in Scotland was immediately suspected of being English, or Sassenach, until proved innocent.

Over time, the word Sassenach gradually came to denote any outsider, or foreigner, or - in a word we've come to know very well - an outlander. That's how Diana Gabaldon found the word to name her whole series. She merely translated Sassenach into English and arrived at Outlander

In short, if you're reading this and you're not currently sitting in the Scottish Highlands, with ancestry stretching back there into the mists of time, then you too are a Sassenach. By sheer dint of being foreign, you get to be Sassenach in Jamie's eyes too.

Happy days!

Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach Mugs

I defy anyone to fuss themselves, foreign or not, with a nice hot drink in their hands.

How Diana Gabaldon Single-Handedly Changed Sassenach

There are probably people in Scotland spitting chips over what that Sassenach did to their centuries old derogatory word.

As a native Briton, I should not be mooning over the mental image of Jamie Fraser softly calling me Sassenach.

Traditionally, it's pronounced with all attendant sibilant hissing left intact, or as close as may be approximated when you're saying it through a beautiful Gaelic burr.

It's not usually a term of endearment. Quite the opposite in fact.

Every Scot I've spoken with, or read their opinion upon the subject of Diana Gabaldon, appears to love her to bits.

Her little saga has brought a tremendous boost to the economy of Scotland. Even before the film crew moved in, there were tourists going to visit places mentioned in her books. Moreover, she genuinely delights in their country and who wouldn't warm to that?

But really that American Sassenach has committed a minor bit of cultural genocide by misappropriating the word.

It's not that Diana changed any meaning, just tweaked a nuance in the sentiment surrounding Sassenach.  For the best part of a millennium and half, Sassenach has been sneered, spat or generally conveyed with the kind of emotions elicited when your croft has just been burnt down and your menfolk executed.

Now there are people running around, all over the world, sighing with happiness and glee at the notion that they may be addressed as Sassenach. There are English people wanting to be called Sassenach by a Highlander!

Can you imagine how that looks to someone who's never read the books?  Though on balance, maybe even they'll forgive her, when they realize how many fans are suddenly wanting to learn Gaelic...

Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach Flasks

As a fan, may I advise those contemplating buying an Outlander hip-flask gift that we love them best filled with whisky. Just saying.

Diana Gabaldon May Have Saved Dinna Fash from Oblivion

We're all saying 'dinna fash' now. To be fair, Outlander fans have been saying it since the 1990s, when we first read and swooned over the phrase in her earliest books. But in Scotland itself, 'dinna fash' has been hurtling into a decline.

As recently as January 2012, The Scotsman noted how little 'dinna fash' is heard today, when it included 'fash' as its Scottish Word of the Day.  It didn't say it was dead in the water though. It was still used 'occasionally' and was generally recognized when it did crop up.

Therefore my header here may be a little on the dramatic side. But I still predict a bit of an upturn, when Outlander is finally aired in Scotland, and they realize how many people internationally now have 'dinna fash' as part of their everyday speech.

Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach Toys and Games

Two packs of cards and that's a jigsaw puzzle in the middle there. No fuss fun for the whole family of foreigners.

Scotticism and the Dialect Decline of Dinna Fash

Are we now more likely to hear 'dinna fash' at an 'Outlander' fan convention than on the streets of Glasgow? And if so, why?

It would take more than me with a few hours to spare, a shelf full of Scottish history books and a search engine to chart the accurate decline of 'dinna fash' in the Scots dialect. Or even to confirm that it is/was on the way out.

However, we can hazard a couple of guesses as to why.

The first is that globalization, and the internet, plus standardized schooling has led to the decline of dialect throughout the British Isles. I consider myself to have a fairly broad accent - as supported by 90% of the people with whom I speak outside my local area - yet mine is practically the Queen's English when compared to my grandparents and their generation.

Every so often, our regional newspaper runs an editorial panicking over colloquialisms getting lost, simply not understood anymore by the Youth of Today, though they were in common usage 'x' many decades ago.

I've seen it happen in my lifetime. When I was a kid, I'd eat a 'piece' or a 'piecey' for my lunch. I have no recollection of when that suddenly shifted into being called a 'sandwich'. It feels strange referring to that 'piece' now, when once it was as natural as nomming on a 'jam piecey'.

'Dinna fash' sliding gradually out of view could simply be part of this wider (extremely sad and alarming) disappearance of regional dialects and their slang words.

However, there are hints that 'dinna fash' has been less subject to neglect, and more to a slow strangulation due to its status as a Scotticism. These are words and phrases which are so definitively Scottish that they can (and are) used to stereotype a whole nation. Obvious examples include 'och aye the noo' or 'hoots mon', but 'dinna fash' is lower down there on the same list.

Since the Scottish Enlightenment, and more so after the Act of Union, there has been a concerted effort on the part of many members of the Scottish intelligentsia to remove Scotticisms from their vocabulary. Being able to be understood in English was seen as the only way Scotland could take its place upon the world stage.

Naturally I'm not a fan of such thinking, but there's little doubt that a few hundred years of this has done irreparable damage to the Scots dialect. 'Dinna fash' was one of those phrases thus targeted, so it's actually a quiet victory for Scots that it's survived long enough for Diana Gabaldon to pick it up and popularize it.

David Hume and pals must be turning in their graves.

Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach Skins and Cases

The legend may be found here on Kindle covers, laptop skins, MacBook sleeves and cases for Razr or Galaxy. There's a whole lot more over on Zazzle itself.

Influencing Fan Fiction, Diana Gabaldon Dinna Fash

Judging by the examples provided by a blogger, no-one can so much as kiss in Scotland anymore without inserting a 'dinna fash' in first.

If infiltrating the lexicon of a country wasn't big enough, Diana Gabaldon has apparently sparked a sea-change in the language used by fan fiction writers. Not to mention that of Scottish romance authors too.

I read with wry amusement the findings of Jane Litte, as the blogger inspected both genres and found Diana's influence running rampant. It seemed that every writer to touch the Highlands was now squeezing 'dinna fash' into their prose at any given opportunity.

Unfortunately, not all of them had an adequate grasp of the appropriate time to drop in such syntax, which sometimes left quite awkward results.

Though Jane's point was more that folk should write either in Scots OR in English. Mixing the two just makes for 'dialect crimes'.  But then she began her blog with a joke about the Welsh language having been created by a cat walking across a keyboard.


Dinna Fash Yourself, Sassenach Note Book and Pads

Just the thing for Scottish romance writers to use for scribbling down their ideas. The main line already etched in for them!

Dinna Fash Excerpts from Diana Gabaldon Books

When it comes to finding 'dinna fash' in romantic Scottish fiction, then I think all here can agree that Diana rules the roost. I've waffled enough so I'm going to leave the final words to her. Here are examples of why Outlander fans love this phrase so much.

Outlander (1991)

Does he actually say it? This is the closest that I could find.

Jamie, who had been viewing the badge on the bonnet with disfavor, glanced down at me, and the grim line of his mouth relaxed.

'Ah, dinna worry yourself on my account, Sassenach. It would ha' come to it sooner or later.'

Dragonfly in Amber (1992)

“Dinna fash yourself, Sassenach. Ye canna say more than ye know, but tell me it all, just once more.”

“All right.” I squeezed back, and we walked on, hand in hand.

Voyager (1994)

“I—er…I think I like the beard. Maybe,” I added doubtfully, scrutinizing him.

“I don’t,” he said frankly, scratching his jaw. “I’m crawling wi’ lice, and it itches like a fiend.”

“Eew!” While I was entirely familiar with Pediculus humanus, the common body louse, acquaintance had not endeared me. I rubbed a hand nervously through my own hair, already imagining the prickle of feet on my scalp, as tiny sestets gamboled through the thickets of my curls.

He grinned at me, white teeth startling in the auburn beard.

“Dinna fash yourself, Sassenach,” he assured me. “I’ve already sent for a razor and hot water.”

The Fiery Cross (2001)

“Dinna fash yourself, Sassenach,” he said softly, and tucked a wisp of hair behind my ear. “The doctor’s a wee fool; dinna mind him.”

I touched his arm, thankful for his comfort and wishing to offer him the same solace for bruised feelings.

“I am sorry about Phillip Wylie,” I said. I realized at once that no matter what my intentions, the effect of this reminder had not been soothing. The soft curve of his mouth tightened, and he moved back, his shoulders stiffening.

“Dinna fash yourself about him, either, Sassenach,” he said. His voice was still soft, but there was nothing even slightly reassuring in it. “I shall settle wi’ Mr. Wylie, by and by.”

Drums of Autumn (1996)

His hand, blindly groping after sustenance, encountered the muffins.  He picked one up and glanced up at me.  “Damned if I’ve ever seen that, myself.  D’ye think it likely?”

“No,” I said, pushing the curls back off my forehead.  “Does that book have any helpful suggestions for dealing with vicious pigs?”

He waved absently at me with the remnants of his muffin.

“Dinna fash,” he murmured.  “I’ll manage the pig.”

A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005)

"Dinna fash yourself for it, a leannan, " Jamie said, and kissed her affectionately on the brow.

An Echo in the Bone (2009)

“I’m sure. I killed him, a nighean.”

“You—oh.” I sniffed, and looked at him closely. “You aren’t saying that to make me feel better.”

“I am not.” The smile faded. “I wish I hadna killed him, either. No much choice about it, though.” He reached out and pushed a lock of hair behind my ear with a forefinger. “Dinna fash yourself about it, Sassenach. I can stand it.”

Written in my Own Heart's Blood (2014)

“British soldiers,” he repeated gently. “Dinna fash, Sassenach. I expect it will be all right. Fergus and I already hid the press, and we havena got any silver to bury. That’s one thing to be said for poverty,” he added reflectively, stroking my bottom. “Ye dinna need to fear bein’ plundered.”

Miscellaneous Dinna Fash Yourself Sassenach Merchandise

More Outlander Gifts Featured on Wizzley

In all matters involving Jamie Fraser, 'Outlander' fans will usually cry, 'I Am Ready!' Only that's phrased 'Je Suis Prest' - the motto of Clan Fraser of Lovat.
Show your allegiance to Clan Fraser - and particularly Jamie and Claire - with the ultimate in coffee time Outlander accessories!
Would you like to decorate your home with Jamie Fraser? Aye, you would. Dinna fash, Jamie and Claire Christmas ornaments can be found right here.
Looking for a gift for a fan of Outlander? Wanting to show your allegiance to the clan of Jamie and Claire addicts? Dinna fash, I am ready!
Updated: 01/12/2015, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 11/04/2014

Yeah, 'dinna fash yersel' is a commonly used phrase in Scotland, though apparently less common than it used to be a couple of generations back.

Ember on 11/03/2014

I find it funny that this phrase is four different languages. Is it (or was it prior to the novels at least) a commonly used phrase among Scottish? I suppose without the sassenach bit at the end though, huh?

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