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24 September 2014

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Chatting in Devon dialect
Which words and phrases do you use in general conversation?


You probably have a few Devon words and phrases of your own and we'd like to hear about them. You can also discuss the diversity of dialect in the county.

If you would like to send in your contribution please use the form at the bottom of this page.

Scroll to the end of this page to add your words



JAM from Tiverton
"Ee's as 'ard as a dug's 'eed" (hard as a dog's head), meaning that a person or object is hard or tough.

Kevin from Exeter
My Mum continues to use a phrase I first heard my Grandad say, and that is "CREATED BOBSZIDI" meaning kicked up a fuss, or complained bitterly!!!Another one is "he, (or she's), a "little eller"....meaning a really naughty child!!!

Pad from Kingsbridge
When a boy, I was sat (sot there) at (to) the kitchen table drawing. My Uncle George came in and I asked him if he could draw. "Ees buy, muck auver a aidge" he replied. Draw=throw.Saltash Cetch = a wet ass and no veesh.Zuent = Smooth, smoothly.Orts = Left over food - as in 'C'mon, ait op yer orts'Be ee bout ort? = Are you doing anything?Black's a rouk = As black as a rook (Alec from Budleigh)Brave and Bravish = considerable, large, as in 'Come to, you godda bravish bidda lan.' Meaning - 'In the final analysis you have acquired a considerable acreage.'Definition of miserliness - 'Mean, ee'd cut a teddy een alf an maake dree awn' = 'He would bisect a potato and contrive three pieces'.Definition of luck - 'Lucky, eef ee putt down twelve gins ee'd pick op leb'm rabbits an a bleddy blackbird'.Blushing - 'Er went red's a carrot 'alf scraped'Switch off the light - 'Maake out the light'Sheeps head - 'urdle bumper' Spectator at a rugby match when a player was injured - "laib'm there, us'll tread'n een fer dung"

Julie originally from Exeter now living Ashburton
"Wher b goin 2 me dear??" is a question I was often asked by late Grandmother followed by "out to the ninny?"Pure Devonian and proud of it

Robin from Kenilworth
My father in law said that he was "Chuffed as a maggot" when I married his daughter in Plymouth. As he included it in his speech at the reception, we took it to mean: He coudn't be happier !!

dave newton abbot
my mum who was Plymouth maid had several old sayings"you'm sclummed all down yer arm"You have scratched yourself on your arm

Sophie, originally fr Barnstaple
'Digby' - this was a derogatory term for someone not right in the head. I think this comes from the mental hospital in Exeter which closed down in the mid 1980's.

Martin Plympton
When I was at school in Ivybridge pupils used to come in from all the outlying villages from the South Ham villages to the Dartmoor villages. I always remember a Modbury saying which does not look right when it is typed as you need to say it. 'Yoom es ma-dde as a bar-bed wire Badd-ger.' Meaning - you are as mad as a barbed wire Badger. When out trapping rabbits sometimes they (Badger) would get caught in snares and you could not get them out. They were savage and if you did get one out of the snare they would chase you through the woods! Hence the saying.

Mary from Dorset
My mum born in 1918 and went to Ladysmith School in Exeter had a teacher whom when cross would take the child by the ear and twist it up and say in a shrill voice " I bainta gonna 'ave it, I bainta gonna 'ave it!" Meaning she was not going to have that sort or behaviour.

SteCymru14, Wrecsam, Cymru
It's not dialect you wonderful people should be learning. It's your language. DEUNANSEK. It can be revived if you want it enough. I have already posted a video on YouTube with simple words etc. Give it a go!

Damon, Plymouth
A torpoint Chicken was supposedly meant to stamp its feet in the mess on the floor and splash ther birds with it, a stroppy little scrap of a bird. I Naval slang it means a retaliation in anger - mud slinging etc. So i believe, a very old dockyard saying.A bit like "he's got a weed on em"

Tim, Plymouth
Anyone know the origins of the saying "got a temper like a Torpoint chicken" ??

Damon, born'n Plymouth livin N'Ampshur
Tig From Crediton, You have made my day, sitting at work N'ampshur, uz where I livin see, I used to get iffits for me tea all the time. Brings back some memories of wating for iffits for dinner.

Damon, Plymouth
Being from Plymouth the dialect changes a little from most of the posts here,we used to go bikin and get proper chatty in the streams, which my mum used to clip me side the eer'ole fer or catch my tail'n slap'm being a bad buy, (who knows how to spell it but anyone from plymouth would know - reet buy - are you alright boy!

pam plymouth
Ex Lympstone.When the zin titches zeels - Literally when the sun touches the hills, or sunset

maggie from manchester
get at do meaning talking a load of rubbish

Laura from Barnstaple
My family say chiggy pigs for woodlice, and I often hear people say anywho rather than anyhow.

Paul Wheeler (Australia)
Stedlin(g)Bundle of twigs used to light the fire in traditional open fireplaces. Also used in the morning to light up the overnight(oak) backstop.

Marian from Kent
Reading the website with interest. Noticed how many phrases are the same as rural North Hampshire: jaspers = wasps, daft as a brush, Granfer = grandad, etc. Never heard any of this colourful language in my part of Kent though.

Nick, now Southampton
When we were naughty our gran used to say "give 'im a whizzer that'l cur'n" which meant give him a whizzer (clip round the ear), that will cure him.

dan tavvy
one of my favirote sayings has to be 'g-mornin'as a greeting meaning good morning to most of us.

Simon from Exeter
In our family we use "vake" as a synonym for "sulk". My parents also say "twappy" when something has gone soft or mushy.

Reg from Countess Wear
My Grandfather used to say when my Uncle was carrying on. "You'm like a drone in a buzza"

Andy (originally from the South Hams)
My Mum still says "Smeechy", to describe the haze you get in the kitchen when you've burnt sausages on the grill. She also says "better fit" to mean "it would be better if" and "gramfer grigs" for woodlice. Other relatives of mine say "dimpsy" for twilight and "teddies" for spuds. And when I was at school we all called wasps "jaspers".

Bri from Bideford
In Woolsery Nr Bideford if someone has split something they have known to have 'upset' it and to say its 'very cold' would be its 'master cold'. I havent heard it said anywhere else.

ken from barum
yer , you vuriners do 'ee think i can git compinzation under this yer rashal discrimy thingmibob !!!ver bein' called a country bumkin ? do 'ee think tis worth a try ? after all you mussin call a cornishman "pasty" can 'ee!! they's the vurriners baint 'em not us Debensher dumplins, ah Deben ! Gods little acre 'tis like sex, if'ee made 'ort better 'ee kept it fer 'ees sel didn'n maid

Judy from Paignton
In my farming days you could turrify (excite) a bull by waving a red flag at it, and a shippen was the sort of cowshed where the cows were tied up and milked. If the bus was expected "dreckly" you might as well walk, while people in a hurry were gooin like ares (going like hares). Plurals were mostly doubled: sheepses, pigses and wopses (wasps), but the ancient single plural was used for childer (children). “Proper job” expressed satisfaction and “choose how” was used for emphasis in much the same way as the Welsh “look you”: thass a turrible tall 'ill, choose 'ow (that is an extremely tall hill).

Nick, ex Stoke Gabriel
"'Ard's a dug's ade" meaning as hard as a dog's head; very hard.

North Deb'n Gran
Squinches = nooks and crannies, as in 'Dustin' all me sqinches.'

justin - shaldon - now auckland NZ
i still say "where's that to?" =whereabouts is that?properjob and tight lines (ted tuckerman!)i'm moving to new plymouth- Taranaki and it's amazing seeing place names 12,000 miles from home -such as powderham street, devon road, exeter road, etc etc

Mike from London
when I was growing up in Bideford the name for a passage between two houses was 'drang'I have never heard it anywhere else and does anyone else use the term 'vuzzy vrees' for chesnuts ? our variant on maize was 'maized as a bezom' which I believe meant daft as a brush I thought 'tiddyoggie' was name for a cornish pasty in devon. I have lived in devon for many years and on my visits back I find the dialect seems to be fading out due to radio and television I assume.

Alex, Plymouth
For Hana from Shaugh Prior, and apologies to anyone that has already responded, Oooh Arrgh is a general affirmative, and in times where speed is of the essence can be shortened to arrgh. It is used widely accross the South West

Pam from Paignton
My Mum was born in Shebbear, North Devon and used to come out with lots of brilliant words and sayings such as: "tis cruel `omely" (something you feel very at home about), "sour`s a wig" (food that is extrememly sour), "drawin yer mouwth abroad" (yawning!)

francis from mid devon
A.J.COLES used to taich skool een Puddington, I bleeve ee cum fum Lunnun, or thereabouts, ee mus uv aad a gud yer fer dileck, cuz it take a bit uv fgurin out, even if yu be demshur, but ee got it off well

Bridget from Barnstaple
My gran was born here and used to say 'tis and 'twas, also "I was savage" = "I was very annoyed". My dad had a saying "'tis only the hairs on a goosegog, that stop it from being a grape" but that might be part of a song from somewhere else?

Montero, Houston,Tx
Seventy years ago in Milton Coombe, I was severely corrected by Mr Madge for using THIKKY instead of THAKKY to mean that.You state that THIKKY = (This, that, the, those)

pete from plymouth
You know the poet Coleridge was born in Devon? (Ottery St Mary.)Well, I read somewhere that he never lost his Devon accent, so this literary figure would not have greeted you with a "I bid thee good morrow, Sir" or some such elaborate formula - he'd probably have said, "Alright me 'andsome"!!

Alan from Yelverton
'Ortz'= Leftovers,'Gubbins'= Insides,'Oggin' = the sea,'Fuzz bush' = Gorse

Alan from Yelverton
My mum says 'Scabdabbery' meaning tattiness.

Chris from Okehampton
I wuz brunked up in Torquay `til I wuz `bout eleben, when us moved te Abbots`k`swell where the following were in use.Capey = a young chicken or turkeyThicky = with a soft T, meaning "this" or "that" ie "they lives in thicky `ouse up yonder"Mazed = mad or bonkers ie "you`m mazed, buy"Yer, tis `ansome, my buddy.

Nick, ex Stoke Gabriel
"Gaat, i could jump over your ade" meaning you are somewhat dilatory and while you are thinking about it, i could be doing it (jump over your head).

Daisy from Devon
pertartuzz - potatoes

Bethany from Dawlish
I have only just moved to Devon and a few people say 'allrighter' meaning all right or ok. My mum and dad made fun of it and invented the word 'lefter'!!!

Tim from Exeter
buvuvem...Both of them.What be about...What are you doing.GIRT!...large.Wozonen...Are you busy.DOWW get uttofut....I dont believe you.

Sara ex-from Torquay
Tuth.... tooth E'z... He is wajamacallit... "what do you call it?" Booty... beauty Eggseter... Exeter Batter pudding.... Yorkshire pud Dreckley.... Dimpsy...... Proper job, proper booty, proper ansome I imagine that there used to be some sort of sanitorium on Dartmoor somewhere, if I wasn't dressed warm enough, my Gran would always tell me that I would end up on the moors with my cough/cold

Sue - Kersie Maid (was Churston Ferrers)
Gleaney - Devon for Guinea Fowl, we keep lots of them free range and use them as a traffic calming measure in the surrounding lanes. The curious and uneducated ask what they are ie..."Your turkeys are in the lane, funny chickens you got mate" goes on.

Nick, ex Stoke Gabriel
'Ade like a bool' meaning big-headed (head like a bull).

Joan from New Zealand
Born in South Devon but when staying with grandparents in South Molton was always asked "Wherebe gwain" meaning "Where are you going?"

ken from lyme regis
south devon - wickid widn = angry with him. Spurtin arrishes = cultivating stubble. Probably to get rid of stroil = couch grass. Eval (south devon) dung fork. Dung pick (north devon) dung fork. Apple drain = wasp. drummel drain = bumble bee. Tom toddy = tadpole. Distance described by range of shot-gun i.e dree or vower gunshots. "Notes from a Devon Village" by Henry Williamson has some wondrous north devon dialect in it.

John ex Totnes
SHIPPON - (Shippen) - Cow shed Also used in Lancashire - possibly brought down here in 1930's by my father who had extensive dealings with many north and south Devon farmers. Any comments please!

Nora, South Zeal.
My late husband and a very good friend of ours often used this phrase. "Well, I've telled thee all I know, now thee diss'n know nort."Also they used a tool in the garden for banking up potatoes which they always called a "Teddy Ailer". They liked their devonshire "Teddy Cake" which I still make. Another friend always calls a frying pan a "skritcher"."Get the skritcher on, maid". Wood lice are "Zow Pigs". I also have a poem which I copied from our parish magazine a number of years ago. It was for us bellringers when we nearly went on strike because of the Vicar at the time not really supporting us. Someone in the village was afraid they wouldn't be hearing the bells any more. So yer tiz... "'Ow lucky us be, maister,to yer thicky bells on a Zundy morn, Us dawn't know what tiz like yer, not to yer thick bells or them birds at dawn. Ow lucky us be. "Now zee yer, Maister, I've a travulled a lot, 'n i've met zum queer volks who dawn't care a jot about ort like them bells yer, 'ow licky us be. Now zum volks I've met, they be zad in thur 'earts, an' it bain't cos they ain't got no 'orse n cart. Thay ain't got no ringers in thur Church Belfry, They all went away to the towns, dawn't ee zee. Ow lucky us be. Now in these yer towns you can't yer no bells vor the cars 'an the lorries 'an the 'ollers 'an yells, But I'd miss 'em, ya knaw, ev'ry Zundy at ten, just as much as I'd miss a vresh egg vrom our 'en. Ow lucky us be. Zo zee yer, you ringers, dawn't dwindle away, stay yer 'an keep ringin' as long as you may. Ring in the youngest 'an ring out the old, Read this 'an you can't zay you've never been told, Ow lucky us be. I don't know just how good the dialect is, but it sounds ok to me.

Angela from Crediton
My father used the phrase "sup me bob" when he was surprised about something-I think it meant "suffer me God" (East Devon). In North Devon people refer to things as being "maaster" e.g. Maaster storm last night or maaster big/good party. I'd never heard it before in East Devon where I grew up.

Dave From Newton Pop
"Ride-oh jibber!" means "ok mate" and "willy" means "will you" as in "pass us the salt willy"

Emma from London
Oiz a Devonisher MEANING: "I am from Devon"

ken from barum formerly from shammik
theres zum gude yarns in a book called "in the chimly corner " by Jan Stewer (A,J,COLES) mind you it's mostly in the south debm dialect, not proper debm like us speaks yer in north debm but us baint all perfic be us

Nick (exile)
I may have missed it, but no one seems to have added "proper". As in "proper job", "proper 'ansome", "proper boodiful".

Andrew originally from Totnes
I read some dialect books when a youngster growing up in Devon and can remember bits of a dialect poem. Can anyone tell me which book it came from as I've lost my transcript. The first verse went something like: Our Demshur spaich du make folks laff when they do vizit we, But us don't care what they do think, tiz ignorence you see. An us bain't gowin tu make a show of cuttin up our words To plaize the numbskulls who wud scat gude Saxon into sherds. Is it from AJ Cole (aka Jan Stewer)?

Nick, originally Stoke Gabriel
'Zawney' meaning a little slow on the uptake; dopey

Emma from London
Eediart Ee-dee-art MEANING: Idiot. Simple. Yet elegant, eh?

Emma from London
My Grandad always says 'Alright, Smelly 'Orrors?" MEANING: "Alright, grandchildren?"

Emma from London
Me mate's always saying: Chips'n'Doughnuts! Meaning: FAB!!!

Emma from London
Ya moppet! Meaning: A very foolish person; try saying it as one whole word.

Paignton Jim (Jimbo)
Atlldow = that will do. Maize as a brush/broom = silly person. Taint like a noo jub = stop fussing and finish up. Tis dank = cold & wet. reading the lists its nice to see that devonshire is a living dialect with words being adopted eg Fraggle. spelling is not important as it will be said slightly differently from place to place.

Suzi , Teignmouth
"While on holiday from Kent met my Gran's neighbour in Shaldon who recognised me but commented " gor Maid, you've got big about!"

nick of bideford
Chuckey pigs,meaning wood lice

nick from bideford
Mump aid. as in ,you'm a mump aid.Means you are daft. Aid means head.

Sean from Honiton
I was at a public boarding School in Devon so i do not have an accent but my grandfather was born in Braunton and has lived there 85 years. These are some phrases/dialects i hear him say as he sounds like a real "Pirate": Any rate - Anyway Any-road - Anyway! Anyho - Anyhow Bay - Boy Bay Christ - Good grief/good god! Dimpsy - Dark Dug - Dog ees - He's eeselv - Himself Giddy - Dizzy Hullowwww - Hello Iz - I Luvver - Lover Nort - Nothing Oat - Out Squiggles - Sqirrels Waps - Wasps Wapzies (Plural)-Wasps "Was on" - What's on? "Where's ee to" - Where has he gone? "Ee knows nort" - He knows nothing "Nevar knawn nort lake it" - Never know anything like it. Zornay - stupid/thick!

nick from bideford
draw vor and get yet. move forward and get warm. turn the yetter on. turn the heater on. frape un up. Tighten it up. ( suspect old french origins)

Matt from Newton Abbot
I'm surprised I've not seen it on here yet, but when we were growing up we were often greeted with "Hello ma buck!" by the old boys around and about. I've sometimes heard "buck rabbit" used as well. "Hello my ol' buck rabbit! Ows ee then?"

mike from newton
teddies=potatoes.crocky down=crouch down.pick up your traps,= pick up your toys,or clutter from the floor

beth from tavistock
i wonder if any one else has heard these any where esle in devon. us moor folk say 'tatties or 'spuds' for potatoes and the 'dewer' hu has many tales about him,........ he is the devil.

kalleigh from exeter
i love the way old devonshire men call young girls maids

Rue from North Devon
I was brunkted oop in debon(brought up in devon), and its only living away I realise how much of my language is still influenced and my scottish born and bred children! the letter v is always swallowed and youm or them'm for you are and they are being the clearest.

teresa from copplestone
will still use "drekly" meaning later, "hoood" for wood, "zooner" for a dog and "chill" for a little girl, i love my accent and wouldnt change it for the world.

Tig from Crediton
Many of my non-Devonian friends get confused when I use the words Dimpsy - meaning getting dark, ifits - as in "we are having ifits for dinner - meaning if its in the cupboard we can have it,

tony mates, seattle,usa
I just remembered another saying of Ida's: she called weak tea "frightened hot water."

tony mates, seattle,usa
I last saw mt great aunt Ida Lynd in 1993 or so, as I left her home Wisdom House, in Petertavy. It was early September, the days were getting shorter; or as she used to say "The days are fallin' in."

margaret from plymouth
Having read your letters,I am also from Debbin, and here are a few of our saying,'eer;chatty in 'eer, meaning that she is dirty.I still ask for a bunch of chippoes{spring onions}when I go shopping,'tis andsome my lover innit.

mike from newton
my grump always greeted us with "ELLO MY BUDDY". meaning beauty.I wonder if this is where the AMERICANS got the expression from.

mike from newton
ORT & NORT. means anything& nothing, not something&nothing,i back this up with the yorkshire equivelent, OWT&NOWT. whenever we asked "whats for dinner" my mother always answered "orts, meaning leftovers,but i think this is short for, anything left over.

Clive originally from Paignton
When we as small boys used to go home for lunch on saturday morning and before going down the lanes on a zatdiy aafnoon used to say : see you zaafnoon

Malcolm from Exeter
When I was a child my gran taught me part of a poem. She told me there was some missing in the middle. Can anyone help me out with the missing verses? The poem went like this : "They tell oi the wunners o' gurt Lunnon Zity So Sally and I zet of one day in our Zindy clawes zo Vitty Us travied up be skurshun traine and My 'er did go vass and Sally was middling vritten and glad to get out at lass. missing verses Now I dawn care for Lunnon you ne'er zees the skies there's lawks o' noise and dirt there, makes me maze, well nigh Give oi the zees o' Demn and the claine zweet Demshur air.?

Chris originally from Ilfracombe
If my Grandfer spilt snuff on his waistcoat Granny would cal him a "bistly toad". gert Gawk, - fool, idiot

Felicity from London
Does anyone know what "plum vidies" are? In the opening pages of the novel 'Daniel Martin' by John Fowles, a farmer says "where's my plum vidies to?". They are having lunch during harvest and the location is rural Devon, in 1942.

Chris originally from Ilfracombe
coopie down - crouching or kneeling olly - to shout or holler owdry - over cast looks like rain

Dan from Plymouth
Graas= grass init= is'nt it Plymouff= Plymouth ( you write plymouth normally but pronounce it as Plymouff

Susanne from Exeter, originally Cullompton.
The smallest piglet of a litter is called a 'Nissletripe'

susanne from Exeter, originally Cullompton.
I grew up on a farm and my Father always referred to 'daishels' rather than thistles.

Carol, originally Barnstaple
My mum (from Barnstaple) used to say her oven was 'smeeching'meaning it was smoking slightly when it got too hot.

Brian - Newton Abbot
"tacker" - child

Ben, Buckfastleigh
'Gurt big'n' A very big one!

sue from plymouth
My granny used to say would be better if.

Vicky form Kingsteignton
My Gran who was born here in South Devon and has lived here all of her life calls hedgehogs Fuzzypegs!

David from Kent
My mother who comes from Plymouth uses the words "crookie down" to describe crouching or kneeling.

Nick, originally Stoke Gabriel
'Granfer Greys' means woodlice and 'Goosegogs' gooseberries.

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