A History of Brown Edge, a Staffordshire Moorlands Village

During the last few years I have been collecting local dialect words and saving them for posterity. This is not as easy as it sounds, as its difficult for locals to identify words that they commonly use as being dialect, its only when you mix with others and they look at you in a quizzical manner that you question what you have said!  Some time ago I attended a local dialect class run by John Levit who gave me the derivation of some of the words and I was surprised to learn that most were Medieval or Old English and had just stopped being used elsewhere. Some were Scandinavian and since this area was on the borders of Danelaw its not surprising that some words still exist.

Another interesting feature of the North Staffs dialect is the use of ne at the end of the word to make it negative.  ie Thee shutne goo dinethear sirree, theyt beyt dooin thesell a mischeyf. Common words that have a ne tagged to them are Shutne, Wutne, Conner (should not, would not, cannot)

I have never heared this anywhere else but of course is used in Latin in the same way. I would be interested to hear other peoples views about this.

I wrote the following poem for a Burns Night where its traditional to “find” a last or lost poem by Burns.  I thought it would be fun to suggest that Rabbies dad had come down with the rebellion to Brown Edge before setting off home.

Twas 1745 that my father went south

To fight the English once more

Upon his return strange words came forth

That had never been heard afore

Thee shutne, wutne and conner

Strange words was all we did hear

Father dear Father where have you been?

Sire ear ana shower but arl niver goo theyr ageen.

The Wenches was bosted

Mower fow than the Morridge wow

The Men ad Bellies that wuz reet fat

An just towked abite kikin a bow

Wey decided to goo wom after we climbed up the edge

Afower us were the potteries an siree it did stink

Nowt good wud com from visitin theyr we thowt

But we oughta just stop for a drink

So we steed at a hostelry fair, thee cowst it the Cob a Slack

Thee was sowdust on floower an it was quite rough

A mistress Bates was thee oowner

An thee cust tell er was tough

A gallon uv ale was consumed afore we crossed the strait

By tarm wey  left the holly Bush wey felt wey wuz all in

This strung stuff aduz in a  rite steete

But on to the Corner, the Quart and then  the New Inn

Wey  crawed up thill to the Miners an afower wey reyched the top

Wey met a chap cowed Baccer who stopped uz fow a chatter

And be nar we new wey shud bey goowin bak

Soo wey started Wom, Ten thisand steps too tak

We cudstne say we we wuz goin

Fost it looked up then it was dine

And then……The Rooze an Crine

Wey ad too stop it wud bey unfeer not to sample

The delights of such a plees

The problem was wey wuz soo dronk wey cudsne saty

Thand in front of uz feece

Thee shucne goo dine theyer deerest Robie me sun

Wat a trick to plee,   a reet feetin measure.

Enuf pubs an ale to sink a wheel

Dust noo, theyt waz neyaly a Brine Edger.

Pete Turner

Dialect Meaning Derivation
abide Stick with or endure Ar conna abide im OEabidan
afterings the last milk from a cow OE
aftermath second crop of grass OE math mowing
agate Busy or going again  theytl sown bee agate agin Norse gata
ailing Unwell
aired Warmed slightly
all but Nearly eh wuz ailing soo much ey wuz ullbut jyed
amperlash impudence
and then used often at the end of a sentence for no reason!
apieces break up  ar dinner touch it it fell apieces
ark keep corn in it
arns wages ME ernes
essgrid and ess hole Its not just about ashes its really the bottom of a chimney
aside they cust sit aside mey ME
asker Newt
averous averacious Fr averus
backbiters loose skin on fingernail
back-end autumn OE
backstan where you bake bread OE bac stan
bagging Take food to work
bait Food you eat outside Norse beita
bonk Hill or house  Thee cust get thesell off the bonk
bartered-upbautered-up splashed with mud
bass poor coal
baum plastered
beck peak of a cap ME bec
bedfast bed ridden
beestings first milk from a newly calved cow
bellock cow bloating
belong its strange but people belong to a place or property thee cust get back to where you belong dine yen!
belter something big and probably good as well
bing trough in front of cows Norse bingr
blart a child crying like a calf after its mother OE blaten
blaitch slap or hit ME blenchen
blather talking nonsene MEblather
bleb Pimple
bloat A cow moowing excessively
bobbing off playing truant ME boben
bodge to proke a hole
boffle a chimney boffles back
bonny clapper Sour milk
boskin stalls or partitions between cows
bottle, not much not very good
bull-nogger Millers thumb (type of fish)
cack Excretement ME cakkin
cade weak lamb sometimes child
cag-mag poor meat
cale Beat or get ahead latin canto
cant tell tales
casey Leather Football
chincough think its whooping cough but used when parents are warning children to wrap up in winter.
chommers Teeth
Chops mouth
chonnock Turnip
chunner grumble Wot at chunnerin at
clem to be hungry Arm clemmed deeth sirry (starving means to be cold)
clog again to get going again
clout piece of cloth or clothing OE Clout
cob sweat or angry/agitated  eys got a cob on
cobbed-up cluttered up with rubbish
cockstride short distance
cod joke with or to pull someones leg
codge pach up poorly
coffer grain storage ME coefre
collywesson Awkward  contrary
craft small field near farm
crog-on Cheating especially with games involving numbers
crossomical irritating or perverse
cunnyfogle decietful
cuther get heads together for a chat
dade teaching baby to walk by supporting under arms OED dade
deck to stop  deck it
delf rags Pit clothes
dinged bruised apple or car bodywork ME dingen
dinnering official dinner
doffer a bet type or dare challenge  arl doffer thee
donny Childs hand
drop on to find something by chance
drumble hole wooded valley between fields
ever likely no wonder
facy cheeky child
fang to catch hold of Norse fanga
farming used in phrase Wot at farming at ie looking or doing
favour to look like  eh favours is feyther
firk to scratch or probe with a stick usually OE fercian
flirt to throw especially with a stick
flit to move house ME flitten
fob to move forward in torrs or marbles
fodder road trough in front of cows
fogs, foggy Claiming to go first  bags i goo foggy
fold little field
fother feeding beast
fotherbin grain store
franked late for work
fuffle Fussing around
gansey Cardigan
gather Fester OE gatherian
gaumed-up covered in dirt
gaup talking loudly ME galpen
gennel narrow space between buildings
gormers hay cart extensions
gosterer someone who boasts a lot
graunch grind teeth
grindlestun Grindstome ME grindel-stan
grued-in ingrained dirt
hard-faced impudent
hare-shorn lip Hare Lip
hodge Stomach
hullock, a great Fat person
hullock, idle Lazy person
hutched haunched
hutched-up Crowded together
jack-sharp Stickleback
jib to give in or to resist
jinny spinner daddy long legs
jowl Hit on Head
just now later on
keggy left handed
kedge to steal or to borrow also as in to kedge a lift
kiggle wobble on a chair
keemers glasses or to peer over the top of glasses
kecks Trousers
kim-kam gossiping ie kim-kamming
labe stir up mud
laggy bags ar goo laggy last
lamp hit hard
lay-overs for meddlers stupid answer for a personal question u dont want to answer
leck to water OE leccan
lecking can watering can
lickering who can jump the furthest run the fastest
lozzuck(about) idle
lug knot in hair Scan Lugga
made away made away with a cold
mardy spoilt child
maunch to make a mess of a job
mending recovering from illness
mess off go away
midden Muckheap ME midding
mixen Muckheap OE mixen
monstink unpleasant child
moppet Moth
mowed-up dirty cluttered
mythermayther worryDunner mayther theesell surry theytl bay arate OE moither
narky Bad tempered
neb Peak of cap
neck To drink fast
nesh feeling the cold easily
nogger the game of football
nous knowledge
nowt naughty boy
nyarling whining
oction used in all over the place
off-side unwell
oss off go away
pather like a dog
piece Sandwich
pigcote pigsty
pikel pitchfork
pither pottering about
pobs bread and milk
pouse rubbish food FR pouse
powk sty in the eye OE pocc
proke to poke
proker poker
puddled soft in the head
puss-nets rabbit nets
puthery hot sultry weather
queedle see saw
quiggle rock on legs of chair
rammel mongrel dog
rathes hay cart extensions
rattle-chops talkative person
rawnged strained reaching up or carring something
razzered (up) worn out
rift belch Norse Rypta
rindle small brook
rinkers marbles
risen-on feel cold usually in a morning when leaving home
ronk in a bad temper or simply a bad person
rumpty-fizzer “naughty but nice” person
scen to squint
scrat scratch like a hen ME scratten
scrawl crawl
scrawm mean person getting money together
scrawp scratch or damage
scrit weak one in the litter
scuft slap
seg calous on skin
seggy to claim second place
senna-tucked stiff after sitting down
set to rent out
settle a comfortable armchair OE setel
shape for preparing to
sheed spill
shippen cow shed
shotties marbles
side clear away
sken squint
slat throw down
slither pudding slipshod work
slopstone sink
slow-walking bread currant bread
snapping food
snapping time dinner time (lunch)
snead, scythe
sneap to snub
snide away overrun with vermin
snotty bad tempered
soakies bread and milk
sock liquid manure or run off from a mixen
sog a good slap
sough drain
sparrow bills nails
spon-new totally new
sprit sprout
spuggy sparrow
sqitch couch grass
stad bothered
starve to be cold
stave rung of a ladder
stirk overwintering calf ie less than 1 yr old
stonnies marbles
straight-back lazy person
strap credit
strug a stranger
suppering official evening meal
surree or sirree greeting for a friend ey up sirree
sutter good hit on the head
ted to turn over hay
thrape to thrash
thunge bumping around
timber-toed pidgeon toed
tit horse
tittle-stomached squeemish
trappings bits and pieces. “Thee cust pack thee bags n trappings an gitthee gun nar” Gordon Turner sacking someone!
tow-rag oatcake or naughty boy
tucks lots of it!
tun-dish funnell
turmit turnip
tweedle see saw
unscrewgle to open eyes
up-bonk uphill
waft strength or endurance
wag, to play bob off school
werrit worry
without unless
wog steal
woppit wasp
yawp loud mouthed
yorks string tied below knee on trousers
youther youth



6 Responses

  1. to “timp” to tidy something,improve it
    to “firk” to seek something lost, to rummage for something
    to “sneep”, to hurt someone’s feelings
    to be “mimsy”, feeling vulnerable,upset
    to “create”, to go off at the deep end, to be irrational, to shout and be unreasonable
    to “mither”, to cause a fuss, go on about something
    to be “nesh”, to feel the cold

  2. Another word for you -“tranklements”-toys. In one of Jane Austin’s novel is the word “tranquillements”. So how posh were we?

  3. I was born in Stoke but now live in leeds. Grandad Bourne was a Brown Edger. He was Gladys Bailey’s eldest brother. Two words for you, the first “tranklements” -toys. I grew up being told to pack away your tranklements. I almost dropped my Bronte book when I read the word “tranquillements”. Some of my ancestors worked for the Heath family, and I thought the word had been used in their family, but I mentioned it to a Newcastle dweller and she was very familiar with it.
    My second word,sord, or sward was what we cut off the bacon ie-rind. I have read the word in Shakespeare but I think it is an anglo saxon word meaning the edge of something or the skin or the covering. It was used in the past to mean grass.

  4. My mother, who was from the potteries and was born in 1918 told me about going ‘monkey running’ when she was a teenage girl. By this she meant going courting.

    Also, the word ‘strapped’ means to be short of money. As in ‘I am a bit strapped this week’.

    I am originally from Audley and my father was from Middleport in Burslem, although I now live in Perth, Western Australia. I recently met a man here who is of about my own age (70) and who is originally from Talke Pitts which is the next village to Audley. So whenever we meet now our conversation is along the lines of ‘Ayeup how at. At they ow right’ and other potteries dialect phrases. This is to the total bemusement of all around us, including most of the other Englishmen who are in our circle of acquaintances.


  5. One word I heard as a youngster was MASHING apparently if you went courting Brown Edgers went MASHING often heard it said “HERS GONE MASHING”

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