Yorkshire Slang

Where’s United Gone?

This may possibly jog a memory for Sheffield folk who went to school in the 70’s. 🙂

Where’s United gone – to division one!
Where’s United gone – to division one!
Far, far away
Far, far away

Where’s Wednesday gone – down the River Don!
Where’s Wednesday gone – down the River Don!
Far, far away
Far, far away

For reference:

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Sheffield, Yorkshire Slang, 0 comments

Northern British Sayings #11: Watter, Monk On, Gip

Watter (rhymes with matter), which is simply water

“I’ll just ‘ave a drink o’watter”.

“Am not gooin’ to that pub, thi watter t’beer”.

Monk on. Somebody can be said to “have the monk on” if they are sulking, acting moody, or feeling sorry for themselves. Possibly arising from the vow of silence taken by some monks?

“She’s got the right monk on wi me”.

Gip. The act of being physically sick, nauseous.

“Just thinkin’ of eatin’ black pudding makes me want to gip”.

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 0 comments

Northern British Sayings #10: If tha’ does ‘owt fer nowt …

Here’s a contribution from my Dad (thanks Dad!) This one is an old Yorkshire saying, words to live by. 🙂

Hear all, see all, say nowt, 
Eyt all, drink all, pay nowt,
And if tha ever does owt fer nowt,
Do it fer thi sen!


Hear everything, see everything, say nothing,
Eat everything, drink everything, pay nothing,
And if you ever do anything for nothing,
Do it for yourself!

Yorkshire folk do have a reputation of being “economical” …

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 0 comments

Northern British Sayings #9: Coil, ‘oil, Roo-ad, Soo-ap

This quick episode of Northern British Sayings covers some Yorkshire dialect.

Coil = Coal.
‘oil = Hole.
Coil ‘oil = Coal Cellar or Coal Mine.
Roo-ad = Road.
Soo-ap = Soap (and possibly also Soup).
Coo-at = Coat. But also, Coit = Coat.
Boo-at = Boat.
Boo-it = Boot.

Any others?


Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 0 comments

Northern British Sayings #8: Yitten

Yitten means “cowardly”, or “frightened”.

Example, “Tha’ yitten.” You are a coward/cowardly/afraid/scared.

Often used in an accusatorial manner, “Tha’ not goin’ darn’t pit cos tha’ yitten.” Or, “It occurs to me that the reason you do not want to go down the coal mine is because you are afraid.”

Another example, “Tha dun’t want to fight cock o’ t’class cos tha yitten.” Or, “Might I suggest that the reason you do not want to partake in fisticuffs with the acknowledged best fighter in the class is because you are a scaredy cat.”

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 2 comments

Northern British Sayings #7: Ta

In most parts of Yorkshire and other parts of northern England, the slang word “ta” (pronounced “tar”) is used to mean “thank you”.

The word is simply substituted for “thank you” or “thanks”, so for example:

“Here’s that money I owe you.”

“Ta very much.”

From what I can gather from the mighty internetz, this is likely due to the large Scandinavian influence on the English language, particularly in the north. Consider that for thanks/thank you:

Danish:  Tak
Norwegian:  Takk
Swedish: Tack

I believe that in those languages, the “k” sound is soft (more of a “g”), or even dropped. In Danish, the word is pronounced, “targ”, which is very similar to the pronunciation of “ta”.

Posted by Steve Wetherill, 0 comments

Northern British Sayings #6: Summat/Owt/Nowt

A trio of related words this time.

  • Nowt. “Nothing” (likely derived from naught). Rhymes with “out”. Example:”We’ve got nowt in for dinner.” We have nothing in for dinner.
  • Owt. “Anything” (likely derived from aught). Pronounced “out”. Example:”I dun’t want owt!” I don’t want anything.
  • Summat. Quite simply, “something”. Used in Yorkshire, an example of this might be, “Tha dun’t get summat for nowt.” You do not get something for nothing. I have read alternative definitions suggesting that summat is a contraction of “somewhat”; however, that was definitely not the common usage in Barnsley or Sheffield.

Update on nowt/owt, a couple of people have pointed out to me that there are one or more other pronunciations of these words. One variation would rhyme with note/oat. Can’t really say I have ever used that variation myself. The other would be using a short ‘o’ sound, such as in the word “on”. I can’t actually think of a “regular” word that has that combination, but take the ‘o’ from ‘on’ and replace the ‘n’ with ‘wt’ and you’ll be close.

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 6 comments

Northern British Sayings #5: Demic

To call someone “demic” is to accuse them of being perhaps slightly less than the shilling, not quite the sixpence. 

In Barnsley, you might hear, “Are thar demic?” What the very reasonable questioner is trying to ascertain of his subject here is, “Are you mentally all there?” or, “Are you perhaps somewhat physically or mentally unwell?”

Demic might also be used to describe something that is used up, worn out or broken, but commonly it is just a synonym for “stupid”.

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 0 comments

Northern British Sayings #4: Thee/Thou/Thy/Thine

As a kid, growing up in Yorkshire, and especially when I moved to the town of Barnsley, it was typical for people to use the following words:

  • Thee. Meaning, “you”. Example, “Does that belong to thee?” Does that belong to you?
  • Thou. Meaning, “you”. Usually abbreviated to “tha” (like the a in “cat”) or “thar” (similar the arr in “arrow”). Example, “What tha/thar doin’?” Or, what are you doing?
  • Thy. Meaning, “your”. Usually abbreviated/pronounced “thi” (like the i in “pig”). Example, “Put thi coat on.” Or, put your coat on.
  • Thine. Meaning, belonging to you, “yours”. Example, “Is that thine?” Is that yours?

When I have related this information to friends in the US, I think typically people think I am exaggerating, or even making it up. Growing up in Barnsley in 1970’s and 1980’s, I swear that it was the norm to use these forms rather than you/your/yours.

Interestingly, in Sheffield these words tend to be pronounced as “dee” instead of “thee” and “dar” instead of “thar”. This leads Barnsley folks to refer to Sheffield natives as “dee-dars“.

Wikipedia has a page on these (generally) archaic forms, going into the technical distinctions.

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 3 comments

Northern British Sayings #3: Lake

When I was about 12, my family moved from Sheffield to Barnsley. The distance between the two towns is about 15 miles, and they are both in the county of South Yorkshire. I’d expected slight differences in accent and dialect, but I did not expect to to hear completely new words (or at least new usage).

During the first week in my new school (St Helens Comprehensive), one of the other lads in my math class turned to me and said, “Does tha lake footy?” Ignoring for now the use of “tha” (meaning “you”, a contraction of the old English “thou”), my interpretation of this question was, “Do you like football?” A reasonable enough question. I answered, “Yes, it’s OK.” My questioner became visibly a little irritated at this answer, and repeated his question, more insistently this time, “Naw, does tha lake footy?” We repeated this cycle for a bit, ultimately leaving the matter unresolved.

I simply did not know what he meant, I thought perhaps he was looking to stir up some trouble, maybe this was the class bully?

Later, I learned that the word “lake” is used in Barnsley (though not in Sheffield) as a synonym for “play”. So, he was simply asking, “Do you play football?”

Posted by Steve Wetherill in Yorkshire Slang, 5 comments