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24 September 2014

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You are in: South Yorkshire > SY People > Local dialect > Putting SY on the Wordmap

KINKI Chavs (NTU student club night)

Putting SY on the Wordmap

Doncastrians have a special way of saying you're good-looking, and Sheffield folk are unique when they're feeling the cold. Find out what the Voices wordmap reveals about the way South Yorkshire people talk.

Do you think you're smart? If someone from Doncaster says you are then you could be on to a winner, or at least a hot date, because Donny is one of only two places in the country where "smart" means good looking.

Model in smart pinstripe suit

You're smart but my gosh don't you know it!

Smart talk

Across the rest of the country, "fit" is the top term for an attractive person and "smart", as far as we know, is reserved for those suit-wearing or particularly clever moments. 

In other parts of Yorkshire as well as parts of the North East, you might be described as "bonny." Interestingly, the North East is the other area of the country where the word "smart" is used to mean good looking.

BBC Voices survey, 2005

People across the UK use a variety of different words for every day things. In 2005, the BBC Voices survey mapped some of the idiosyncratic ways we express ourselves. 

KINKI Chavs (NTU student club night)

It asked people to tell us what words they use for common ideas and things, from "child's soft shoes worn for PE" [pumps/plimmys] to "young person in cheap trendy clothes and jewellery" [chav].


The survey pinpointed our local lingo down to the postcode and it reveals fascinating detail about how we talk - as well as exploding some myths and stereotypes.

For example, Welsh people might be relieved at the confirmation that only one person in Wales nominated the word "boyo." Phew!


Sheffield has the distinction of its very own word for cold: "clemmed." The Voices survey identified a small pocket of the word in the city and nowhere else. That's despite the fact that Yorkshire has several other ways to say the same thing, like "nithered" and "nesh."

Perhaps surprisingly, "nesh" is also used in quite a few other areas such as the North West and East Midlands, and even as far away as the South West. So if you're ever feeling chilly in Taunton, you know what to say.

Yorkshire as a whole bucks the trend that describes those lightweight shoes children wear for PE as "daps" or "plimsolls." We call them "pumps", but are not unique in doing so.

View down an alley

An alley or a ginnel?

Ginnels and pumps

When describing a narrow walkway alongside a building, Yorkshire people were quite clear in picking the word "ginnel", whilst in every other region of the country "alley" came out as the top choice.

But again, the word did appear in the top 10 throughout the country, suggesting that a Yorkshire person could be understood describing a passageway or snicket that way just about anywhere.

You can find out more about the changing dialects and accents of the UK by following the link below.

last updated: 04/06/2008 at 11:33
created: 22/08/2005

Have Your Say

Georgia Gal
I was born and raised in Sheffield, but left in 1964 to come to the USA. I worked as a nanny for a very nice family in New York City. Now back home, the phrase "knock me up" meant "wake me up". Not knowing the American phrases, I left a note for the man of the house to "Knock me up at 11am" little knowing that I was asking him to "get me pregnant" and even giving him a time to do it! When it was explained to me later, I think I laughed for about a week! So now you can have a good chuckle too.... My mother used to tell us not to forget all our "tranklements" if we were going anywhere. We walked down the "gennel" to the fish and chip shop. If we were cold, we were "nesh" and if we cried for nothing, we were "mardy". Have a great day.

Peter Taylor
"me and him" as in the answer to the question "who made the mess in the kitchen" it was "me and him"

Mardy is an East Midlands word originally

Stewart Rotherham
One that I have come across from a professional point of view is the term "goit" used in Sheffield for an artificial waterway either feeding or draining a waterwheel. In the rest of the country "sluice" is more common, whilst in Devon and Cornwall these are usuually known as "leats".

Judith Cockroft
My mum who has recently passed away lived in Halifax West Yorkshire but was born and brought up in Rawmarsh South Yorkshire. Mum always used to tell us we were "nesh" if we complained about being cold. A few years ago when I was reading a book by Elizabeth Gaskell called "Mary Barton-A Tale of Manchester Life" I came across a footnote which explained that the word nesh derived from an Anglo-Saxon word "Nesc" meaning "tender".

Keith Cliff
I'm from Mexborough originally, but here's a few words:- brussen - similar to the word bully ought - Dutch word for anything (ooit) Nought - Dutch word for nothing (nooit) Beck - German word for stream Clammy - cold and damp Dale - Dutch word dal means valley, German word is tal

After reading all the dialect words no wonder when I caravan in wales and the west country the locals look at me as if I am 'barmy' and throughout my life I thought that I spoke with a 'posh' yorkshire accent. Alleys, ginnels, gennils are often referred to as (the)t'backs meaning a passageway at the rear of terraced houses

I lived on the North Notts , Derbyshire border .There a Jennel is a passage between a row of terraced houses. A jitty is a narrow pathway I use the word trinklements ( Much to my families amusement ) for all my little bits and pieces which I gather around me . The only time I have ever seen the word used was in a book based on a family travelling by boat from The Isle of Man . Until then people had convinced me that I had made the word up .

"clemmed" when has that ever been used in Sheffield, i've lived in Sheffield my whole Life and never heard it used once. i think you could be wrong on that one.

I'm originally from West Yorkshire - we used Ginnel to describe a route between buildings, snicket to describe a route between buildings and fences, and alley as a wider path (car width) - usually at the back of houses. Still use Ginnel even tho' it's a Jennel here! Others that seem the same (= don't get me looked at oddly when I use them!) 'snecked too' - door closed but not locked, 'laikin' =playing , 'pack it in' =stop it, 'bairn' = child... ;0)

Alan S, Stocksbridge
We used to 'lake at football' or 'come out to lake'. You were 'yitten' if you were scared. Rooarin' or roarin' was crying. 'Bahn' was 'going', as in 'Weer yer bahn?; or 'forced to, bound to' as in 'Tha's bahn te do it'. 'Tha' for 'you' as in the previous example. 'Reight good' for 'really good' ( like the German 'recht gut'). 'Siling dahn' for raining heavy. 'Scrawmin' for 'crawling; and loads more that will come to mind as soon as I press send.

Eric H.origin ,Wombwell
Ah wish thed frame thesens when the write in,it int jennell it`s ginnil,and i used to wear jeeans,not jeans,and ah went darnt streeart,not down the street.sick en stolled,=fed up.barner=going to,rawpin en shartin`=shouting loudly while annoyed.jeearns=denim trousers,coyle oyle=fuel storage,thi father wonts thi=daddy needs to have words with one,shek thissen=you need to hurry,grammers on er rooerd=grandmamma is going to visit one,ess te gorra snecklifter fo teniert=is one financially sound for tonights festivities.ess te seern yond darnt rooerd wi clart`ead=has one noticed the young lady with the educationally devoid person.shuv it up thi jacksie=place it where solar energy is extinct.

James Oates, 19, Sheffield
My grandparents used to live in the Fox Hill area of Sheffield and their dialect was as broad as it came. Here are a few collected words and phrases that they used occasionally. Tranklements – Bits and Bobs (Luggage) … "Has tha got all thi tranklements?" Wilk – Nose … “Gi’ooar pickin thi wilk!” Oggin – The sea … “We wenna Cleethorpes for ‘day, burra dint go in ‘oggin”. Gamp – Umbrella Ganzy – Jersey/Jumper Silin’ dahn – Raining Heavily Lakin' – Playing … "who's tha bin lakin wi' today?" Rooerin'- Crying … "Shurrup rooerin". Akky – Dirty/Filthy … “This sidebooard’s reight Akky”. Of o’t ooks – Not feelin well … “Ah’s bin of o’t ooks lately”. Claht’eaad – Not sure about this one, but I assume it’s a derogatory term in the same vein as idiot/pillock … “Tha’s a claht’eead thee”. Mash – Term used to describe the brewing/simmering/settling of the tea leaves in a cup of tea … “As tea mashed yet?” Cock – Used, amazingly, as a term of endearment, in the same vein as pal/mate. (Usually applied to males rather than females) … “Eyup cock!” Yitten – Scared/cowardly Eightfoot – Jennel/gennel/ginnel/this could go on forever. Sharrabanger – I think this referred to the road. Not sure though… Kermit – Road … “don’t go playin in’t Kermit, stay on’t reight side o’ corsey edge.” Corsey Edge – Curb (literally causeway edge). As a kid I can always remember my grandma telling me repeatedly: “don’t you go off that corsey edge!” Cal – Chat Fratch – Quarrel Brussen – Full Up Scrawmin abaht – Messing around … “Gi’ooar scrawmin abaht ont furniture!” That’s as much as I can remember for now. There may be another instalment in the near future, I’ll have to try and jog the memory of some old family members. I sincerely hope that words and phrases such as these will live on for centuries to come. I’m not in agreement with the purists who demand that everyone should use RP. Regional dialect provides character. The world could do with more characters.

zoey ov barnsley
barnsley dialect is prpr gr8 am ov barnsley n i luv tlkin it


tom fordo
'Tret' for treated. He 'tret me wrong.' Cue for a blues..

Nigy Bee
I agree Steve! i would never dream of saying ginnel or gennel it is snicket or croft. I have heard it a lot being said in Barnsley though. Its amazin how different it is just up the road from Rotherham. Cant beleive that tea cakes in barnsley are Rotherhams equivelant of a breadcake! bizarre, you have got to ask for them with currents in if you wnat them sweet. I really like the word bray! noit sure how it's spelt but it means getting a good slapping. I love Barnsley it rocks!!!!!!!!!!

Paul (Doncaster)
Have to agree with Steve S, in my area of Doncaster always used "snicket" to describe an alleyway.

Yvonne Ainsworth
In Lancashire where I grew up we went for 'fish and chips' but when I started working in Sheffield they went for 'chips and fish'. Funny lot these Sheffielders!

Mick (leeds)
Brussen. when I was young this word was used disparagingly of others-mainly fellas who were either trying to act tough in intimidating way or bragging. Any body else heard of it and can clarify what it meant. As originally from near Barnsley area I'm assuming it is Barnsley dialect.

Nick Supple
My late paternal grandmother who was Irish, frequently used the word 'nesh' in the sense of 'being overly sensitive to cold'; hence 'Don't be so nesh'. I'd always assumed it was an Irishism. We still use it in the family, and few outsiders have a clue what we're talking about!

Steve S
Neither Ginnel, nor Gennel are used in the area of Doncaster I grew up in. We always used 'snicket'. Anyone else?

Brian Tetley (from Halifax)
I always thoughy nesh was someone who was scared or soft. Years ago a Yorkshire teacher teaching near Newcastle asked her class if they had their pumps with them. They fell about laughing as pumps were farts to them. Years later still, that same teachers daughter was teaching in the US and asked her class if she could borrow a rubber off anyone (a pencil eraser to her but a condom to the Amercian class). They fell about laughing too. Dialects can be difficult...

Mick Ward, Doncaster
with regards to the word "moughn't", Graham and his wife can rest easy as I (42 years old) still use it and I pronounce is as "munt". Originally from Wath-on-Dearne, now in the wilds of Doncaster, I still say 'yourn' in place of 'yours'. Maybe it's the Barnsley influence at reducing words as I say 'wunt' for 'wouldn't', 'shunt' for 'shouldn't' and got into big trouble when I first went to London University in the 1980's and said the similar word for'couldn't'.My favourite word from my childhood is 'laiking' as in 'playing or messing about out of doors'

"Jitty" is usual in North Derbyshire, I think - it's used in Shirebrook, where I grew up.

Ian McDonnell
Daresent.........daren't Mourn't..........mustnt On't sneck.......on the latch / not locked Rarnt back.......round the back Quoits...........coats Babbyish.........babyish /childish Nesh.............feels the cold easily Coil.............coal chuckinitdarn....its raining

I have never heard of or used the word "clemmed". "nesh" is a reference to someone who complains about the cold when it,s not to bad.

Mrs Rachel Bhatia
Nesh, as I have been brought up to beleive it means is someone who is often cold. More prone to the cold than someone else. They have got "chip shop vinegar in their veins"

Hannah, Sheffield
I always thought "ginnel" was a Lancastrian word. I've always used "jennel" (as do many others in Sheffield by the sound of it).

i also pronounce it a "jennel" and i also say "moughn't" do any other area out of SY say "Mardy"

Martin Evans, Sheffield
I use the pronunciation "jennel" for "ginnel". Mind you , I'm not originally from Sheffield

duncan winter
as a child in barnsley we used to say AGATE when describing what someone was doing has anyone else used this

As a Sheffielder I'm used to using the word "gennel". Having moved to Renishaw just outside Sheffield, I've found the locals use the term "jitty", is this used anywhere else?

Mal Briggs
IT'S ON'T SNECK. Means the door isn't locked. I don't think this phrase is used anymore in the locality. I have not heard it for years.

In Dronfield, where I live, we don't use "ginnel" we say "gennel" (say it jennel)

Graham J ones
I have lived in Sheffield since 1979 and have only used the word "moughn't" (meaning must not)used twice. Once was by my wife and once by someone at work both native Sheffielders. is this word used anywhere else? or does it mean my wife is aged about 467.

Craig Broadwith
There seems to be a wide variation in how "ginnel" is pronounced and spelt, at least in Sheffield. It can have a hard or soft "G" and can also be spelt "gennel", again said with hard or soft "G". Sometimes an extra "L" is added, or only a single "N" used.

Chris Gooch
Peter Heath is right, "nesh" doesn't mean cold, it means someone who is prone to feeling cold - you'd say "don't be nesh" to someone who complained about being cold. I know people from Stoke who know the word, it's not a Yorkshire word, more like north midlands. Also in Sheffield people don't say "ginnel" that's Leeds - we say "gennel", with a "j" sound. Also in Sheffield

Max West
I agree with previous comments about Nesh meaning someone who feels the cold. A word with a similar meaning is yitten, which can also mean cowardly.

Peter Heath
Nesh does not mean that someone is cold, it is used to describe someone is more prone to feeling cold than someone else. So when someone says that they aren't willing to do something because it is too cold when someone else is willing, they would be described as nesh. (Thin skinned, lily livered, not strong enough to brave the elements)

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