Outlander: What does Sassenach mean in Outlander? Author teases HIDDEN meaning

Outlander season 5 will be launching on our screens within the next few weeks for fans to find out exactly what is next for the beloved couple. Ahead of its return, Express.co.uk has taken a deep dive into what exactly Sassenach means in the show, including some insight the author has revealed about its hidden meanings.

What does Sassenach mean in Outlander?

In series one viewers will remember how Claire Randall (played by Caitriona Balfe) arrived in 18th century Scotland from her life in post-war England.

An Englishwoman turning up at this time in Scotland meets some hostility from the residents due to the long and acrimonious history between the two nations.

However, it is also here where she meets her future love Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) who begins to refer to her as Sassenach in every interaction.

Fans of the series will know the term derives from Scots Gaelic and is a term used for a foreigner.


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According to Dictionary.com, it is described as “a person or animal that inhabits a place, especially as a permanent resident.”

And viewers will know it begins as a not very affectionate term as the Scots and the English were natural enemies at this point.

However, fans may not realise for Jamie the term has never been an insult for Claire in the world of Outlander.

Author of the books Diana Gabaldon recently revealed the truth in an interview with Town and Country magazine.

She told the publication she decided to use the term as she wanted to have some Gaelic used throughout her novels.

She was aware of the word and its association with the English so for her it seemed like a natural fit to include.

But, in Gabaldon’s mind, Jamie never meant it as an out-and-out insult.

She said: “To start with, she [Claire] has a slight idea that it’s a derogatory term, but she knows he’s plainly not trying to insult her. He’s just pointing out that she’s strange.”


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In fact, as fans will know, the term goes on to become a real term of endearment for the pair.

Jamie uses it for his love at several important moments in their lives as a nod to their beginnings.

Gabaldon continued: “As time went on, he adopted it as a term of endearment for her, and because one of the things and only one of the things that attracts him to her, is that she is an English woman.

“He kind of likes to think of it as ‘I’ve got one of their women.’”

The word has also become such a popular embodiment of the Outlander series, Jamie actor Sam Heughan has even launched a Whisky called The Sassenach Spirit in recent years.

As well as this, back at the end of 2019, he announced he would also be launching Sassenach Tartan.


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Fans will be hoping to hear a lot more of it when the show returns for its fifth season.

This will see the now-married Jamie and Claire begin to build their life in the new world of America as war creeps up on the horizon.

The 12-episode outing was previously delayed and its release pushed back from the end of 2019.

But now it will soon be airing weekly for fans of the series to enjoy in full.

Outlander is released on Starz on February 16 and Amazon Prime Video on February 17.

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