‘Outlander’ Author Diana Gabaldon Talks About Jamie’s Nickname For Claire

Let's just say 'Sassenach' isn't a flattering term for an English person.

21st SCAD Savannah Film Festival - Red Carpet, Premiere Screening & Costume Exhibition For 'Outlander' Season Four
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Let's just say 'Sassenach' isn't a flattering term for an English person.

Fans of the Starz series Outlander have heard Jamie call Claire by a certain nickname at first intentionally and later ironically. The series starts with Claire Randall, an English nurse visiting Scotland after the war, and through a twist of fate, she ends up in 18th century rural Scotland where she is derided as a foreigner, an Englishwoman, a “Sassenach.”

Town & Country is reporting that the use of the term “Sassenach” was originally used in the Outlander books by author Diana Gabaldon as a Gaelic term used for someone who is an outsider or a foreigner (especially someone English). Gabaldon thought it was important to include some of the Gaelic languages that might have been used at the time.

“Very early on I began doing research as much as I could into Gaelic. While I don’t speak Gaelic by any stretch of the imagination, we want a few little terms and sentences scattered around to give a flavor of the language.”

She learned early on in her writing process that the word Sassenach was the 18th century equivalent of a naughty word for an English person.

“Well, I had this English woman showing up, and I did know that Sassenach is, in fact, a fairly derogatory term for someone who is a foreigner, but specifically for an English person given the long and acrimonious relationship between England and Scotland. So, it seemed natural that someone would refer to Claire as a Sassenach.”

The show, now in its fourth season, continues to thrill fans with its tightly woven story that combines history and some level of mysticism.

Gabaldon says that the use of the word throughout the series shows the evolution of Jamie and Claire’s relationship, which goes from two strangers who don’t trust each other to two people who almost only trust each other.

“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.'”

Recently at New York Comic-Con, more people than expected showed up to meet stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan at the Jacob Javits Center reports the New York Times.

They added that despite the fact that much of the show is built on romance, 35 percent of the crowd which showed up to meet the cast of Outlander was male.