John Trotter Brockett.

A glossary of North country words, in use : with their etymology, and affinity to other languages ; and occasional notices of local customs and popular superstitions online

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Online LibraryJohn Trotter BrockettA glossary of North country words, in use : with their etymology, and affinity to other languages ; and occasional notices of local customs and popular superstitions → online text (page 1 of 28)
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i^ortl) Country W^xs^t^,












|3etD(a0tIe it^on 'Cpne :



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Les mots sont le lien des soci^t^ le Tebicule des lumiereq^ 1ft basr
des sciences, les d^positaires des decouvertes d'une Nation, de son sa-
Yoir, de sa politesse, de ses id^s : ia connoissance des mots est done
un moyen indispensable pour acquerir celle des choses; de-li ces
Ouvrages appell^s Dictionnaires, Vocabulaires ou Glossaires, qai of-
frent I'^tendue des coqpaissances de chaque Peuple.— •Ge6e{t».

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The Glossary before the Reader is the result of those
hours of literary ^musementy when it was thought necei*
sary to unbend the mind from professional labour. ' The
Author has felt much satisfaction at the favourable recep-
tion which his former attempt to collect and' preserve die
relics of our good old Northern dialect has received from
some of the first literary characters of the age. He has,
in particular, been gratified by the approbation of several
gentlemen of grelEit. philological learning, in both king*
doms ; among whom he is proud to rank the Rev. H. L
Todd, the profound editor of two editions of Dr. Johnson's
naticinal work, with the most valuable additions ; and the
Rev. Dr. John Jamieson, whose Etymological Dictionary
of the Scottish Language contains a labour of lexicogra-
phy, as elabors^ and comprehensive as aqy that has yet

The Author may be permitted to denominate this an
entire new work, rather than a sec<md edition of his for-
mer pid>lication. Independent of the numerous additions,


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which further research and communication, both with the
living and the dead, have enabled him to give, all the old
articles have undergone a complete revision, and most of
them are re-written. A wider range has been taken,
and a variety of circumstuices relative to the usages of
the olden time, as well as to the local customs and popu-
lar superstitions of the present day, have been introduced.
The ancient traditions of the country are entitled to more
regard than is generally given to them by the fastidious.
However hyperbolically exaggerated, or concealed from
the perception of this enlightened age, few of them are
wholly false.

The Glossary has been made much more copious in
tlie etymological department**alike interesting to the an-
tiquary and the philologist. Every scholar is aware of
the extraordinary analogy of various languages. Jn many
of the articles will be frequently found noticed the words
of similar origin, appearance, and meaning, in the cognate
dialects, ancient an4 modem, of the North of Europe^
which may be truly said to form the warp and the woof
of English, and on which the flowers of Greece and Rome
have been embroidered. Notices are also given of striking
affinities, in sound iand meaning, with different other lan-
guages ; though these are not always sufficient to consti-
tute an et3rmon.

• It is unnecessary to adduce reasons for preserving our
old words. They are generally simple and expressive,
and often more emphatic than their modem synonymes*

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By the revival of a more general relish for early English
writers, the Reader will imperceptibly acquire a habit of
regarding them in the light of their pristine dignity. He
will no longer hastily pronomice to be vulgarisms what
are in reality archaisms — ^the hard, but deep and manly,
tones and sentiments of our ancestors. The book will
prove how much is retained of the ancient Saxon speech —
in its pure unadulterated state — ^in the dialect of the
North of England, which also exhibits more of the lan-
guage of our Danish progenitors than is to be met mth
in any other part of the kingdom.

Our Northern words and terms, though often dii^iuised
in different spelling and structure, bear strong affinity to
the Scottish language. Indeed, the greater part of them
wtQ be found to be in current use in each country. Even
laying out of view the opinion expressed by some writers,
that the Scotti^ language is merely a dialect of the
Anglo-Saxon, the similarity of words and phrases used
both in the North of England and the South of Scotland,
may be accounted for by the county of Northumberland,
aiid other parts of the English territory, having anciently
fermed a portion of the sister kingdom. But it is to be ob-
scnrved, that a number of the words in this Glossary, which
are mtknown to the South, are in common use in the
North of Scotland. It is true that the greater part of
tiiese may be traeed to the French ; but henoe the words
used in Scotland may often be expbuned and elucidated by
r^rence to those oi the North of England, and vieeversm.

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By a conamimicatiOB f)>om George R^ Kiiflochy Es^ oi
Edinburgh^ the Author has been fumiBhed with an exten-
MTe list of our North Country words which are in, use in
Scotland^ some of which have escaped the vigilance of
Dr. Jamieson> diough Mr. Kinloch says they are well
known as Scottish words. .In some instances where they
differ in spelling, or have a wider signification, in Scotland,
the Author has either given the Scots orthoepy^ or the ad-
dition^ meaning.

To James Losfa, Esq., Major Thain, George Taylor,
Esq., Anthony Easterfoy, Esq., Rev. William Turner, Rev.
James Raine, Rev. George Newby, Mr. Edward Hemdey,
Mr. Robert Thompson, and those other friends who have
contributed so much to the interest of the work, by allow-
mg the Author tlie unrestrained use of their interleaved
copies of the fcMmer editicm, he returns his grateful thanks*

For the invaluable and kind assistance afforded him by
his antiquarian ^ends, Robert Surtees, Esq.of Mainsfbrth,
and Sir Cuthbert Sharp ; and by the Rev. W. N. Dart
ndl, B. D., Prebendary of Durham, Matthew Culley,
Esq., of Fowberry Tower, 1. 1. Wilkinson, Esq., Rev. H.
C^tes, R. R. Greenwell, Esq., and Thomas Fenwick, Esq^
in the unreserved communication of various manuscryt
vocabularies of provincial terms, collected in different
parts of the Northern Counties, his warmest acknowledg-
ments are due, and he feels sincere pleasure in th«s pirib-
liely recor^g his sense of the obligation.

With these aids, and with the assistance and encourage-

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mex^ he lam received^ during his uiuiertakiiig, firom
diferent eminent individuals^ which it would have the
iq>pearance of personal vanity in the Audior to particula-
rize> he has endeavoured to the best of his a^ilitj, and
inaking the most of the time which he could allow him-
self firom other avocations, to re-constnict, and, as he
hopes, materially to improve, the Glossary of North Coun-
try Words,

Of the instances of misconception and inadvertence,
which may still remam, those, who are most conversant
with the subject, will, in its various and complicated nap
ture, discover the best extenuation.

ABdan Placey IQA Mardk^ 1829.

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Br. Ancient British language.

Celt. Celtic Unguage.

Cumb. Cumberland dialect

Dan Danish language.

Dur. Durham dialect.

Dut. Dutch languages

Fr. French language*

Gael Gaelic language.

Germ German language.

Gr. Greek language.

Ir. Irish language.

IsL Islandic (or Icelandic) language.

Ital Italian language.

Lane Lancashire dialect.

Lat. Latin language.

Moe.-Got. Mceso-Gothic language.

Newc Newcastle dialect. '

North Northumberland dialect.

Sax Anglo-Saxon language.

Sc Scottish language.

Span Spanish language.

Su.-Got. Suio-Gothic, or ancient language of Sweden.

Sw.— Swed. Modern Swedish lang^ge.

Teut. Teutonic language.

West Westmorland dialect.

Toric Yorkdiure dialect.

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Boucher Glossary of Obsolete and Proyincial Woids, 4to.

London, 1807.

Crmv. Gloss. Hone Momenta Cnveme, or the Craven Dia-
lect exemplified, 12mo» Lond. 1824.
' 2d. edit Dialect of Crayen, with a copious Glos-
sary, 2 vols. 8vo. Lond. 1828.

Du Cange. Glossarium ad Scriptores Mediie et InflmK La-

tinitatis, 6 torn. fol. Paris, 17S8.

Gael. Diet. Dictionarium Scoto-Celticum : a Dictionary of

the Gaelic Language, compiled and published
under the direction of the Highland Society of
ScoUand, 2 vols. 4to. Edinb. 1828.

Orose. Provincial Glossary, with a Collection of Local

Proverbs, 8vo. Lond. 1787.

Groae ^... Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 8vo.

Lond. 1785.

Ihre Glossarium Suio-Gothicum, 2 torn. fol. Upsal.


Jam.— Jamieson. ... Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Lan-
guage, 2 vols. 4to. Edinb. 1808.

Jam. Supp. Supplement to the Etymological Dictionary of

the Scottish Language, 2 vols. Uo. Edinb.

Jennings. Observations on some of the Dialects in the

West of England, particularly Somersetshire :
with a Glossary, 12mo. Lond. 1825.

Jun.— Junius. Etymologicuro Anglicanum. Edid. Lye, fol.

Oxon. 1748.

Kilian Etymologicon Teutonicae LingusB, 2 tom. 4to.

Traj. Bat. 1777.

Le Rous Dictionnaire comique,8atyrique, critique, burles-
que, ]ibre,et proverbial, 2 tom. 8vo. Lion. 1752.

Lye Dictionarium Saxonico et Gothico-Latinum.

Edid. Manning, 2 tom. fol. Lond. 1772.

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Moor. Suilblk Words and PhrMM, by Edward Moor,

F.R.S. F.A.S.,&c ISmo. Woodbridge,1888.
Narea.-Nare8' Glosi. A Glossary; or Collection of Words, Phrases

Names, and Allusions to Customs, Proverbs,

&c* 4tD. Lond. 1828*
PaL^grave. L'Esclaircissement de la Langue Fran9oise, foL

Black Lxtteb. The two first books printed

by Pynson, and the third (the most copious

part) by lohan Hawkins— the only work he

ever executed.
Prompt. Parr Promptorium Parvulorum si?e Qerioonun, fol.

Pjrnson, 1499.
Ray. Collection of English Woids, ISmo. Lond.

Roquefort Glossaire de la Langue Romane, 2 tom. 8to.

Paris, 1806. Supplement, 8to. 180a
Skin.— Skinner. Etymologicon Linguae AaglicimaB, foI. Lond*

Somner. ...... ...».••• Dictionarium Sazonico-I/atino-An^cum, fol.

Oxon. 1659.

Spelman. .«... Glossarium Archaiologicum, fol. Lond. 1687.

Thomson, Etymons of English Words, 4to. Edinb. 1896*

Todd*s JohD."-Todd*s Johnson. Dictionary of the English Language

by Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. Edited by the

Rev. H. I. Todd, M. A., F.S. A., 4 vols. 4to.

Lond. 1818— Sd. edit. 3 vols. 4to. Lond. 18f7.
Tooke Diversions of Purley, 2 vols. 4to. Lond. 1798

and 1805.
Wachter. Glossarium Germanicum, 2 tom. fol. Ups.

Watson Vocabulary of uncommon Words used in Hali^

fax Parish.
Wilb.— Wilbraham. An Attempt at a Glossary of some Words used

in Cheshire. From the Archaeologia, VoL

XIX. With considenble Additions, 8vo.

I^ond. 1820. 2d. edit. Lond. 1826.
Willan A List of Ancient Words at present used in the

Mountainous Districts of the West Riding of

Torkshire. Archaologia, Vol. XVIL

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A* It 18 8 Striking provincial peculiarity^ in many parts of the
North of England, tenaciously to retain this letter in most
of the words in which modem English substitutes o/ as awn,
own; bane, bone; kame, home; &c.; and to omit the two
last letters in those ending inU; as a* fawj for all; co*
fcawj for call ; &c. But at Hexham, and a district round
it, the a, instead of usurping the place <^ o, as is common in
most other parts of Northumberland, is itself converted into
o, in the vulgar pronundation; as o, for all; bo, for bell;
fote, for fault; hofe, for half, &c. ^ Hexham ho-fennt^^ is a
bye-word of long standing; and ** Hexham, the heart of o
England!* may be said to be proverbid.

A, always, ever. — Cwmb. A, in the Saxon language, is the ad-

. verb here ^en« Perhaps from the same root the Germans
have their ew^, and its dependents. In the formation of

t our border dialects it has been freely denizened. ** For ever
and 0," KB an expression used by old rustics. Philologers and
grammarians will decide how far^ in this sense, pleonasm of
continuous action, the a is an adverbial prefix to our participles
agoing, acoming; &c.

A, interrogative— a ? what? what do you say?

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Aac, Aik, Yak, Ybck, or Yaik, the oak. Sax. ae^ tec. Sa^
Got. ek. Germ, eiche. Dut. and Isl. eik, Sc. oft. The
words aik and acorn, observes Mr. Boucher, fall under tihat
numerous list of northern terms which difier from the onn-
mon speech of England, only by having. retained that strong
characteristical mark of their Saxon origin, the a in the place
of the modem o, and would not have been adverted to here,
had there not been something peculiar in their prcnaunciation,
in which alone their provincialism consists. The former is
pronounced yeck or yaik, just as earth is pronounced yortfa ;
whilst acorn is every where pronounced nearly as it is sq;)elled.
By having thus retained the orthography as well as the or-
thoepy of aiky the people of the North have avoided that in-
consistency, which certainly is imputable to their Southern
neighbours, of rejecting the ancient and original spelling, in
the theme, whilst yet it is retained in the derivative : for, to be
consistent, oerorn should be written ocont. Both these terms
are pure Saxon, ac and ipcem ; the latter importing as lite-
rally in the Saxon, as it does in English, the fruit or com of
the uk.

Aback, backwards. Isl. a-hak. Not obsolete, as stated iii
Todd's Johnson.

Aback a behint, behind, or in the rear. " Ahack a heJnnt,
where the grey mare foaled the fiddler;'* that is, I am told,
threw Mm off in the dirt.

Abuns, perhaps, possibly. Mr. Boucher justly considers this
word a remarkable confirmation of an ingenious grammatical
position, first strenuously urged by Gebelin, and, since, well
supported and confirmed by Mr. Home Tooke, viz. that par-
ticles were originally verbs. He takes abHns to be the parti •
ciple of the present tense of the irregular verb, ** to be aUe;^
and as such, easily rescJvaUe into the being able,

Aboon, Abuin^ above. Sax. abufan. Mr. Todd says, aboon is
*< common in Westmoreland and part of Yorkshire." It is
also in constant use in the counties of Durham and Northum-
berland. V. Junius and Boucher.

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Abslaw^ to rise on the stomadi with a degree of nausea ; applied
to articles of diet, which prove disagreeable to the taste, or dif-
. ficult of digestion. See l^um.
Abbedb, in breadth, spread oat. Sax. abred'OHy to lengthen.
Abstract, to take away by stealth.— -uffordSer^ of North. In the
dissertation on Fairies, in the Border Mhistrelsy, a curious
• instance of superstition is related, where the corpse of a de-
ceased person, dug up from the grave, is said to be abstracted.
. So in Law, abitractum of tithe is the unjustifiable removal of

AcciDAVY, an inveterate corruption of affidavit. Sometimes
simply davy.

We think nowse on% aw*ll myek aeeydaop.

Cimny NewaumL

Accident, a soft term used to denote the situation of a confid-
ing girl, when an undue advantage has been taken of her by a
faithless swain, without affording her a legitimate ri^t to his
• When lovely woman stoops to folly.

And finds too late that men betray.

Acksrsprit, the premature sprouting of a potatoe, the germi-
nation of grain* V. Skin. Jam. and Wilb.

AcKNOW, to acknowledge, to confess. The old form of the
word - still in use as a nortiiem provincialism.

Acow, crooked, obliquely, awry. Sax. tucwnan, devitare.

AcRK-DALE Lands, common fields in which diflferent proprietors
hold portions of greater or less quantities; fi'om acre, a word
common to almost every language, and Sax. dtelany to divide.
In ancient times an acre did not signify any determinate
quantity of land; and the Normans had an acre confessedly
difiering from that of the Saxons. When at length it came to
mean a specific part, the measure still varied, until it was
fixed by statute, in the reign of King Edward I.

Adder-stone, a perforated stone, imagined by the vulgar to be
made by the sting of an adder. Stones of this kind are sus-
pended in stables as a charm to secure the horses frcmi being

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hag-ridden ; and are also hung up at the bed's head, to pre^
▼ent the nightmare. See Holy-otonbs.

Addiwissen, had I known it. An expresnon nearly obsoleCe,
though still retained by some old persons. It appears, says
Mr. Boucher, to have been formed on that pocH* excuse, to
which silly people are apt to have recourse, when, for want of
consideration and caution, they have &Uen Into some difficuU
ty : had I wist, or had I wissen (and in the pronundation it is
as one word, addiwiuen)y I would not have done so and so.
The phrase is of great antiquity, occurring in Gascoigne's Her-
mit's Tale, in Gower, and in Holinshed.

Addle, Aidle, Eddlb, t;. to earn by labour. — Addlings, Aid-
UNGs, t. labourer's wages, earnings. Sax. edlean, recompense,
or requital Diflbrent both in import and source from —

Addled, a. decayed, impaired, rotten ; as, ** addle headed,"
** addled egg^;^* from Sax. adHan, ieegrotare-^-ndlfilg, a^grotus,
morbo laborans.

Ae, £a, one, one of several, each. Aewaas, Eawats, aiufayt.

Ae lad frae out bebw the ha*

Ees Meggie wi* a glance.-^i2oo(2 FcAr.

ArEAR*i>, afraid. Pure Saxon. This word is repeatedly used
by Shakspeare, in several of his plajrs, but I do not remem-
ber that afraid occurs more than once.

Aforn, before, on hand. Sax. ai^oran. Afore^ die andioit
word for before^ is also in use.

Aft, behind. Pure Saxon The dictionaries call this a sea
term, but it is in common use on the banks of the Tyne, and
occasionally in other places, in the sense here given, without
any relation to nautical subjects.

Ag, to hack or cut with a stroke ; hence an axe.

Agate, on the way, agoing-— on foot again; as a person recovered
from a sick bed. ** The fire bums agate^* that is, is beginmng
to bum briskly. — York, where it always denotes inci[nent

Agean, Aoen, again, against. Sax. agen; and so used in old

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Aqee, Ajbe, Aoys, awry, uneven, adde. ** Let ne'er a new
whim ding thy fancy t^ec^^^A. Banuay, Across; as "it
went all ogee**

Agi£B) or AoLEY, wrong, awry. As poor Bums truly said.

The best laid schemes cornice and men
Gang aft a~g!ey.

Agog, eager, desirous. ^ He's quite agog for it." Great re-
search has been expended, and much has been written on the
etymology of this word. It is straijge that all our philolo^ts
have marked it as uncertain ; as it may, I think, be satisfiic-
torily derived from Ital. agognare, to wish, to long for. Since
this was written, I have been informed by a valued corres-
pondent in Edinburgh, who has most kindly and liberally
aided -me in my etymological enquiries, that there is a Rox-
burghshire saying " on the gogs for it," synonymous with
" quite agog for it" — ^meaning " he is in the humour for it,"
or, *' is eagar for it." This expression, he is of opinion, is
derived from, and, indeed, is a pure translation of the French
phrase ** etre daru set gogues** which Boyer gives as synony-
mous with ** dans sa bonne humeur," to be in a merry mood,
pin, cue, or humour. V. Boyer, vo. gogues ; which is derived
from the reciprocal verb " se goguer (se rejouir) to be or make
merry." It is scarcely necessary to remark, that both the
French verb and phrase are only used in a comical or burlesque
style ; which is the very character of agog.

Ahint, behind. ** To ride akint.** Sax. a^hindany post.

AiG, sourness. *' The milk has got an aig**

Aigrb, sour. Fr. aigre. Hence Alb-aiore, which see.

AiN, pron. the northern pronunciation of own ; being, as it were,
a compound of a^une, i. e. aU belon^g to one, in contradis-
tinction to that which is the property of many. V. Boucher.

AntD. This word, as applied to the name of a place, means
fa]^; MJirdley in. Hexhamshire. Br. aird, height- GaeK
and fr. ard, mighty, great, and noble. It is also used to de-
scribe the quality of a place or fidd ; in which sense it means
dry, parched; from Lat. aru^ia^henqe arid.

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AiBLY, the northern form of early ; conformable to Dan. aarU^

AiRT, or Art, a point or part of the horizon or compass ; a dis-
tricty or portion of the country. Germ, ort, a place — die mer
orte, the four quarters. Gael, aird^ a carduial point. In
Yorkshire the pronunciation is airth,

AiRTH, afraid, fearful. " He was airth to do it" — he was afraid.
•* An airthful night"— a fearful night. Sax. yrhth, fear.

AiTH, an oath. The same in Moes-Got. and Sc.

AiTHER, order, or course of husbandry in tillage land. Mr.

Online LibraryJohn Trotter BrockettA glossary of North country words, in use : with their etymology, and affinity to other languages ; and occasional notices of local customs and popular superstitions → online text (page 1 of 28)