Durham & Tyneside Dialect Group / Word Lists /


A 'standard' or metropolitan English, emanating from London, soon came to have an effect, for written records were the product of specially educated clerks, for whom some measure of standardisation of language and spelling was likely to be taken as proof of qualification. There is thus relatively little dialectal evidence to be gleaned from local records like:

1. The Noah Mystery Play (perhaps 15th century, written down late 16th century and printed in Henry Bourne's History of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1736):

baynes - bones
bide - stay: "I may no longer bide"
blin - to cease, die
clink - to clinch: "to clink yon nail too"
dame - woman, lady "ny own dear dame"
ee - eye: "sweat...trickles all o'ur myn ee"
every-ilk - every: "every-ilk a wight"
fenesters - windows
fother - feedstuff
hoope - valley: "hoope and hill"
ilk a thing - everything
kend - known
layne - keep a secret
lee - ?lie, be deceived
lett - delay: "bid him not lett"
nought - nothing
o'ur - over: "trickles o'ur myn ee"
rake - care: "I no rake"
rowe - nails or rivets
ruff - roughtree, beam
ryff - reef (for sail)
slee - sly, cunning
spront - ?small piece of wood
sprot - ?pole
sprund - ?spar
spyer - ?beam for ship
stere - severe
thee - to thrive
thee - you acc.sg.
this - these
thou - you (nom.sg.)
throng - speedily
tyte - haste: "tyte that thou tell me"
warks - works, deeds
wayns - children: "thine own wayns"
while - until: "while that thou come again"
whunt - clever
wrought - made: "this world that I have wrought"

2. An Elizabethan poem on St Cuthbert's Fair at Duram (printed in Durham University Journal vol.32 (1940) 161-168):

byen - are (3rd person plural)
bygg - barley
colyares - colliers
dysgysyng - 'guising'
gades - goads, rods, ?mine tools (wedge or punch)
let - cease: "he wold not let"
ra[v]eris - robbers
rede ryshe - ?salmon
scrabes - crabapples
shewlys - shovels
whylles - until
o yet! - make way

3. Records of Newcastle Guilds in Records of Early English Drama ed. J.J. Anderson (Toronto 1982), where (with dates occurring):

kirk (1508)
yatt (gate, 1503)
ledder (leather, 1590)
ffouel (fool, 1616)
heaid (head, 1628)
wishing (washing, 1624)

4. The Grassmen's Accounts of St Giles at Durham (Surtees Society vol.95) where for 1632:

loone (lane)
yet (gate)
dicke (ditch)
for 1734: watter (water), leazes (pasture).

5. Jacob Bee's Diary (Surtees Society vol.118, 1910, pp.45-63, covering 1681-1706):

betwixt (between)
murthur (murder)
bishel (bushel)
streen'd (strained)
moneth (month)

6. List from Finchale Priory documents

In 1837 the Surtees Society published as volume 6 a collection of medieval deeds from the Priory of Finchale. The text of these charters and accounts are in Latin, but occasionally include words that have relevance to the English of the time. A selection of these is given below. Extra text is quoted from the glossary by J.Raine.

brandaret - tripod for cooking over a fire (1465)
brochys - spits (1465)
camium ferreus - iron grate or fireplace (1460-1461)
carbones maritimi - 'sea-coal, so called for being carried coast-wise' (1358-9)
celdra - a chaldron or 36 bushels #date
clypes - pot hooks (1354)
cobill - boat (1406-7): 'Item in factura cimbri novi, et reparacione antiqui, cum uno cobill'
codbar - lippowcase (1411)
colpickes - coal picks (1354)
couppes - 'carts for leading manure, so called, not, as Mr Brockett states, from their being able to be couped or turned up in order to be emptied, but from having their sides and ends not open rail work, but cowped or tubbed with boards' - 'ii couppes pro fimo extrahendo'
crokys - crooks of iron (1465)
muk-hak - fork or rake (1465)
gaveloke - a gavelock, an iron crow or lever (1354)
grape - a dung ford, with three or more teeth in the shape of a spade of shovel (1360)
hack - a hack or two-toothed pickaxe (1360)
hammerhax - combined hammer and axe#
haveridils - riddles for haver or oats (1479-80)
hewyryn - an iron chisel (1464-5)
ker - a car or piece of marshy ground
kevel - a large hammer (1367)
kyrne - a churn (1479-80)
lauue - a hill (und., C14th?)
lynge - ling, used for covering the mill at Baxtanford (1480)
maskfat - mashing vat, for brewing
matok - a mattock
mell - a mallet (1465)
myxtilio - maslin. A mixture of wheat and rye (1303)
pikkes - picks, tools used by masons (1364-5)
qwhykwode - thorns, quick-wood hedge (1487-7)
rakynt' - a reckin tree, a horizontal bar of wood or iron, placed at a suitable height in the reek or smoke of a chimney, from which vessels are suspended over the fire'
skepe - a basket...made of whicker work or rushes (1397)
stirkis - young male cattle in their first year (1447-8)
stottes - male cattle from one to four years old (1363-4)
szoyll - a shovel
temes - a temse, a sieve of hair cloth (for flour preparation) (1449-50)
yetlings pro fixis - frying pans (1411)