Dictionary Of Local Dialect

This list is far from comprehensive; words have life in their contexts; and it’s difficult to recall dialect words when you’re based, as many of us are, in cities, speaking only standard ‘office’ or business English.

The Trillick dialect comprises words deriving from Shakespearian English, Ulster Scots, Irish and even Norse influences. For instance, ‘splanc’ (meaning ‘spark’) is lifted directly from the Irish language; and words such as ‘keeny’ (Irish: caoineadh) and ‘wheesht’ (Irish: ‘éist’) are mis-spellings of the original Irish. ‘Broch’ is Scottish (deriving from the Norse ‘borg’); though its use locally was broadened to mean any circular structure, not just the original Scottish brochs (fortified circular dwellings). ‘Rickle’ is from the Norse ‘rikl’. ‘Sidewalk’ is from older English; it has now been supplanted in standard English by ‘pavement’. (Note that the older meaning survives in the US, probably as a result of local immigration.)  ‘Afeard’ and ‘In troth’ are pure Shakespeare.  ‘Braird’ is from the Old English ‘brerd’, meaning ‘edge’.  ‘Leef’ is Middle English (cf. Dutch ‘lief’ and German ‘lieb’.)  ’Buss / bussog’ is from the Old English ‘basse’, from the Latin ‘basium’, meaning ‘kiss’. You can see how the word’s meaning shifted in the Trillick dialect; ‘bussog’ is simply a less forceful ‘buss’; denoted by a pragmatic yoking to the Irish suffix ‘óg’ (young / little). Cf. also ‘ricklin’ (‘rickle’ + ‘-ín’). Other words are standard modern English words, albeit with new meanings that would be counter-intuitive to a standard English speaker, e.g., ‘doubt’ for ‘believe’, ‘cope’ for ‘overturn’ and ‘ditch’ for ‘hedge / fence’.

ach [int.] – but (interjection used to express general disagreement or misgivings)

acky [adj.] – agile, adroit

afeard [adj.] – afraid

arr [n.] – scar

article [n.] – cheeky, resourceful young person (cf.’ogner’)

away at the welt [descriptive phrase] – said of anyone who is obsessed or un-hinged about any matter or infatuated about someone

aye [adv.] – yes

banny [v.] – to stroke affectionately (cf. ‘plackin’, below)

backen [n.] – short, thick-set person

birl [v.] – to spin

biss [n.] – lantern, rush-light, candle

blaych [n., v.] – a forceful blow delivered without skill or precision; to blaych

blether [n., v.] – someone given to foolish talk; to blether

blirt [v.] – to sob in a self-pitying or theatrical manner

blitther [n., v.] – someone prone to ostentatious displays of grief about trivialities; to blitther

boast [adj.] – hollow

bockenbarra [n.] – toadstool

bohrican [n.] – thick-set, unmannerly, aggressive person

boke [v.] – to retch

brae [n.] – hill

braird [n.] – first shoots of new grass or similar crop (‘the grass has brairded’)

brash [n.] – watery vomit

broch [n.] – circular storm cloud around the moon

brose [n.] – heavy cold or flu

bruckle [adj.] – brittle

bum [v., n.] – to boast; a braggart

buss; bussog [n.] – cuff on the ear, usually from someone in authority

caddy [n.] – boy

caldara [n.] – a fool

carrant [n.] – a rambling, silly song (usually out-of-tune)

cap [v.] – usher forcibly (usually said of farm animals: ‘cap that cow into the field’)

carr [n.] – grimace

ceilidhing [v.] – custom of unannounced, informal, leisurely visits to neighbours, often with scant regard for clock-watching.  Also: ‘on your ceili’.

clamp [n. ] – small stack of turf, thus assembled for final drying before stacking

clart [n.] – untidy, ham-fisted person

clatty [adj.] – promiscuous or untidy

cleek [n.] – dishonest person

cleg [n.] – horsefly

clem [n.] – clumsy fool

cludin [n.] – [pr. ‘clood-yin’] secret savings; windfall sum

coals [n.] – embers

cod [v., n.] – fool; ‘to cod’ someone

colloge [v.] – to plot (usually about trivial, gossipy matters); to stage whisper

coom [n.] – fine soot

cope [v.] – to overturn or fall over, usually said of a heavy inanimate object, e.g. ‘He coped the trailer on the spink.’.

creel [n.] – wicker container

cub [n.] – boy

cutty [n.] – girl

daffy [n.] – small detour

deelog [n.] – earwig

dindle; dindlin [v.] – vibrate; to have pins and needles

ditch [v., n] – to construct a barbed-wire fence; such a fence (often atop a low stone wall) or hedge

doubt [v.] – believe

doughal [n.] – dung-heap; obese person

driddle [n., v.] – small drop of liquid; to trickle

drimindroo [n.] – person given to excessive tardiness

dull [n.] – snare

drooth(y) [n., adj.] – thirst(y); or a drunk

dwalm [n.] – a fainting fit or heart attack

elder [n.] – udder

fadge [n.] – soda bread made with eggs

fairly [adv.] – thoroughly, intensely

fettle [n.] – condition (of person – ‘in good fettle’).  Standard English, deriving from Middle-English ‘fetle’, but not widely-used outside rural areas.

fierce [adv.] – very

figarey [n.] – flight of fancy, bling items

find [v.] – to notice (e.g., ‘Did you notice if he was there?’ would be said as ‘Did you find him about?’)

fly [adj.] – cunning

fly-boy [n.] – promiscuous man

fly boy [com. n.] – (without the hyphen) dishonest man

fog [n.] – moss

fog [n.] – feast

foossy [n.] – dessert

foother [n., v.] – to perform a task in an uncertain or ineffectual manner; someone who foothers

forenenst [adj.] – in front of

gam [n.] – gullible person

ganch [n.] – big, uncouth and gauche person (this vernacular word is not of local origin and may have been imported relatively recently from outside / Belfast; though this is its local meaning)

geansaí [n.] – jumper

garr [n.] – controversy

geazen [v.] – to warp [said of wood]

girn [v.] – whine, complain

give out [v.] – complain

glar [n.] – slime, scum

gleek [v., n.] – to glance furtively; a furtive glance

glit [n.] – black ice

gopin [n.] – large handful

gorb [n., v.] – greedy person; to wolf down food

gowl [v.] – scream

great [adj.] – a strong, clannish friendship (‘the two familes were very great’)

greth [n.] – to ‘keep the greth on’ someone is to schmooze or humour them

griesach [n.] – embers

gulder [v.] – shout loudly in an overbearing manner

gunk [n.] – disappointment

gurly [adj.] – truculent

hanch [v.] – a dog’s gnawing bite

handlin [n.] – (1) an exposure to problems, liabilities or penalties; generally one that could have been avoided if better judgement had been exercised; (2) a tragic  accident (e.g., a ‘bad handlin’)

hap [v.] – wrap up warmly

hard [adj.] – fast

hash [n.] – shallow, overly-talkative person

hate [n.] – trifling amount; scintilla (‘there’s not a hate wrong with him’)

hayvirl [n.] – jovial loudmouth

heel [v.] – to tip up (‘heel the load of stones’) or to gulp down (‘heel that into you’)

henk [v., ref.] – to trap one’s garments on thorns or barbed wire [pp: hunk]

hidge [v.] – to shuffle sideways while seated or lying down

hinch [n.] – hip joint

hirple [v.] – walk with difficulty

hogo [n.] – stench

hoke [v.] – rummage; dig untidily

hudderin [v.] – stiff, ungainly walk

hungry [adj] – stingy

jeg [v., n.] – measure, injection, e.g., a ‘jeg of petrol’ [n.]; jab [v.]

jorum [n.] – large measure of spirits

jundy [v.] – jostle

keef [n.] – stupid fool

keeny [v.] – cry theatrically / artificially

kelbert [n.] – clownish fool

kent [n.] – heavy cane or stick

kesh [n.] – makeshift bridge

kiffle [v.] – to perform a task in a half-hearted or aimless manner (cf. foother)

koboy [n.] – silly rogue

kug [v.] – suck vigourously, e.g. by a suckling calf

lap [v.] – to raise new-mown hay into small mounds for drying

lagherly [adj.] – well-presented / groomed / dressed; elegant

latchiko [n.] – light-hearted eccentric

leaze [n.] – embarrassing predicament

lick [n.] – person given to appeasement

leef [adv.] – preferably or willlingly; e.g., ‘I’d as lee’ walk as get on that train.’ [Often pronounced ’lee’.]

light [adj.] – lacking integrity

linge [v.] – comprehensively beat or overwhelm

low [n.] – (rhymes with ‘how’) glowing fire / inflamed wound (‘The wound was all in a low.’)

loodher [n.] – an open-handed blow to the head

march [n.] – boundary

meelymudha [n.] – nincompoop

melder [v.] – to strike someone forcibly and unskilfully, e.g., with a ‘haymaker’

mind [v.] – to remember

miserable [adj.] – stingy

mizzle [n., v] – light, continuous rain (cf. ‘skift’)

muck [n.] – mud

nebby [adj.] – fussy, especially about food

odds [n.] – ‘what odds’ / ‘no odds’; meaning ‘it doesn’t matter’

ogner [n.] – small (or young), precociously-resourceful person

old-fashioned [adj.] – cunning; cunning beyond their years (if said of a young person)

oxter [n.] – armpit

pahal [n.] – short, obese person

pake [n.] – hay-stack

palin’; palin’-posts [n.] – wooden fence; fence posts

panadey [n.] – bread and butter pudding variant, sometimes without butter

pant [n.] – oft-repeated community or folk tale

physick [n.] – laxative

pigh [v.] – grunt

pile [adv.] – much; as in ‘there’s not a pile o’ call for that’

pishmire [n.] – ant

plackin [v.] – necking; or excessive stroking of a pet

plash [n.] – careless spillage; used also to disparage poor-quality drink or watery food

plaster [n.] – overly-affectionate person

plougher [v., n.] – hacking cough

plump [v.] – boil, as in ‘the water in the saucepan’s plumpin’ ‘

pock [n.] – sufficient amount

powerful [adj.] – very satisfactory

prachus [n.] – gooey mixture, usually describing a mess of (overly) sweet food

pruch [n.] – embarrassing predicament

quah [n.] – shapelessly obese person

quare [adv.] – very [‘quare and big’ = ‘very big’]

quare [adj.] – remarkable or eccentric

ramiss [n.] – balderdash

red [v.] – clear out or complete, as in ‘red up’ meaning ‘complete’ / ‘red out’ meaning ‘clear out / tidy up’

reek [n.] – strong smell

remark [v.] – notice

rickle [n.] – makeshift structure

ricklin [n.] – a rickle of wet turf, thus assembled to dry

rift [v.] – burp

rook [n.] – exceptionally industrious person (usually said in relation to manual labour)

rotten [adj.] – politically un-principled

roughness [n.] – plenty (‘There was always a roughness of money in thon house.’)

ruck [n., v.] – rick; to construct a rick (of hay)

runagate [n.] – someone prone to excessive socialising

runner [n.] – small stream

skam [n.] – superficial burn, chafing

scobe [v.] – scratch

scrab [v.] – scrape

screave [v.] – creak

scrug [n.], scruggery [n.] – small, common bushes; thicket comprising such bushes

scundered [adj.] – bored and irritated

scutchers’ chat [n.] – said of unacceptably vulgar conversation; ‘scutcher’ being someone who beats flax.

sí-blow [n.] – a very cold East wind (pronounced ‘she-blow’, from the Irish for fairies)

shellfaskie [n.] – precarious structure

sherrin [n.] – effluent

sheugh [n.] – ditch

shire [v.] – the action of sedimentation (grit and sediment settling to the bottom of a liquid); e.g., a newly-dug well would need time to ‘shire’.  Or used allegorically, e.g., after a heated argument, you might need time to ‘let your head shire’.

sickener [n.] – boring person

sidewalk [n.] – pavement

sillimander [n.] – resounding slap

sizm [n.] – rambling tall tale

skelp [v., n.] – slap, spank

skift [n.] – light rainfall of short duration (cf. ‘mizzle’)

skite(1) [v.] – to splash, spatter (e.g., ‘skit with muck’)

skite(2) [n.] – light, glancing blow

skitter [n.] – brat; effluent

slipe [n.] – horse-drawn sleigh

slippy [adj.] – slippery

sloam [v.] – over-fertilise

slug [n.] – mouthful of liquid

sned [v.] – to thin-out excess plants at the growing stage; e.g., to ‘sned turnips’

snirl [n.] – in a rope, a tangle or accidental knot; corkscrew bends in a road

spahgs [n.] – feet (derogatory, said of big feet, or the feet of a clumsy person)

spang [n.] – bounding leap

speel [v.] – unassisted climbing, usually in a risky manner

spidín [n.] – thin, cheeky young person

spink [n.] – steep hill

splanc [n.] – spark

spulpin [n.] – brat

squivvy [n.] – swerve; escapade

starved [adj.] – feeling cold

stelg [v.] – to stride aimlessly

sthug [n.] – self-pitying, defensive, un-cooperative person

stigh [adj.] – steep

stime [n.] – mote, any small particle (usually in contexts of reduced visibility – on a foggy day, you might say: ‘I don’t see wan stime’)

stirabout [n.] – porridge

stock [n.] – the edge or ‘side’ of a bed farthest away from the wall (many old beds were ‘outshot’ beds; i.e., beds near the hearth in the living room with enclosing blinds or doors; or otherwise placed beside a wall to maximise space in a room).

stoor [n.] – offensive smell

stump [v.] – to fly into a self-centred rage

sugh [n.] – loud, cheerful chatter

suvendibly [adj.] – exceedingly (with malice)

swaddy [n.] – plump person

tacked [adj.] – soured; ‘gone off’

tail-draft [n.] – promiscuous woman

takin’ out [v.] – excelling in something

tallach [n.] – sprain

targer [n.] – bad-tempered, sharp-tongued woman

tarra [adj.] – unfortunate

teem [n., v.] – heavy rain (although supposedly standard English, not widely used outside rural areas)

thickward [adj.] – ill-mannered and stubborn

thole [v.] – tolerate (usually in relation to a tedious or aggravating person)

thorough [adj.] – satisfactory

thrahn [adj.] – prone to pedantic, obstructive arguments

throughother [adj.] – depending on context, either: promiscuous, forgetful or untidy

toady [adj.] – small and lovable, usually said of a young animal (‘a toady wee thing’)

tongue [v.] – scold

tough [adj.] – drawn-out; long-winded

trigged [adj.] – well-dressed (similar to ‘decked out’)

troth [n.] – truth (typically, ‘In troth …’)

turf [n.] – peat

twist; twister [v., n.] – put forward maliciously obstructive arguments; anyone who twists

vennel [n.] – open drain by a roadside

wag [v.] – wave

wee [n.] – small, young

whang [n.] – leather shoe-lace

wheen [n] – plentiful amount

wheesht [v.] – exhortation to ‘be quiet’; often: ’houl your wheesht’

whid [n.] – rumour

whitterit [n.] – stoat

wild [adv.] – very

wop [n.] – any tightly-twisted mass of fibres, usually hay or grass

wrought [v.] – used to describe determined manual labour, as in ‘he wrought at the hay’

If you can recall any others, drop us a line.