Letter A - Glossary of Words in the Counties of Antrim and Down

Author: William Hugh Patterson, MRIA

Date: 1880

Source: A Glossary of Words and Phrases used in Antrim and Down (London: Trübner & Co., for the English Dialect Society)

Comments: In the introduction to his Glossary of Words and Phrases used in Antrim and Down, William Hugh Patterson provided an historical account of the Scottish settlement of east Ulster from 1607. From these origins he observed that the words and phrases of the local population ‘will be found in the main to be of Scottish origin, and many of them have already found a place in Jamieson’s dictionary’. He acknowledged difficulty in spelling many words ‘because I only had them as sounded’. William Hugh Patterson (1835-1918) was the son of a famous naturalist, Robert Patterson, whose book on Birds frequenting Belfast Lough was also published in 1880. Many of the local names for birds in the glossary were sourced from his father. As he was also a collector of phrases and proverbs, Patterson’s glossary remains a unique record of Ulster-Scots in the 19th century.

Doc. ref. no.: USLS/TB/Hist/1800-1899/006-a

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A, pro. I. ‘A will.’ ‘Am sayin’.’

Aan, sb. the hair or beard in barley.

Aas, sb. ashes.

A-back. ‘Light-a-back.’ ‘Heavy-a-back.’ When a cart is loaded, the load can be arranged so as to press very lightly on the horse, this is having it ‘light-a-back;’ when the chief weight is towards the front of the cart, and therefore presses on the horse, the cart is ‘heavy-a-back.’

Abin, or Aboon, adv. above.

Able. ‘Can you spell able?’ = are you sure you can do what you are bragging about?

Abreard, adj. the condition of a field when the crop appears.

Acquant, or Acquent, v. acquainted. ‘I’m well acquant with all his people.’

Afeard, adv. afraid.

Affront. ‘He didn’t affront her,’ i.e. it was not a shabby present he made her.

Afleet, adj. afloat.

Afore, prep. before.

Again, Agin, adv. against.

Agee, adj. crooked; to one side.

Ahin, prep. behind.

Aiblins, adv. perhaps.

Ailsa-cock, sb. the puffin.

Ain, adj. own.

Airle, Erle, v. to give earnest money.

Airles, or Arles, sb. earnest money given on engaging a servant.

Airn, sb. iron.

Airns, or Plough Airns, sb. the coulter, sock, &c. of a plough.

Aiwal. When an animal falls on its back, and cannot recover itself, it is said to have fallen ‘aiwal.’

Aizins, sb. the eaves of the thatch of a house or stack. Same as Easins.

Aizle-tree, sb. an axle tree.

Allan-hawk, sb. the great northern diver, and the red-throated diver. The skua was also so called in Mourne, co. of Down (Harris, 1744). See Holland-hawk.

All gab and guts like a young crow, a comparison.

All my born days, all my life. ‘A niver seen sich a sight in all ma born days.’

All my lone, A’ my lane, or All his lone, v. alone.

Allow, to advise. ‘Doctor! A wouldn’t allow you to be takin’ off that blister yet,’ means ‘I wouldn’t advise it.’

Allowance, sb. permission. ‘There’s no allowance for people in here.’

All sorts, (1) a great scolding. ‘She gave me all sorts for not doin’ it.’ (2) very much. ‘She was cryin’ all sorts.’ ‘It was raining all sorts.

All the one, the only one. ‘Is this all the one you have.’

All there, adj. wise; sane. ‘Not all there’ = not quite wise.

All together like Brown’s cows, or Like Brown’s cows all in a lump, a comparison.

All to one side like the handle of a jug, saying.

Alowe, v. lit; kindled; on fire.

Amang hans. ‘He’ll daet amang hans,’ i.e. he will get it done somehow, by dividing the labour, and finding spare time for it.

Among ye be it, blind harpers, i.e. settle it among yourselves; said to persons quarrelling.

Amos ‘A blirton amos,’ a big soft fellow who weeps for a slight cause.

Angle-berries, sb. large hanging warts on a horse, sometimes about its mouth.

Anklet, sb. the ankle.

Auncient, Encient, adj. cunning; knowing. ‘A sea gull’s a very auncient bird.’

Annundher, adv. underneath. Same as Innundher.

Antic, adj. funny; droll. ‘He’s very antic.’ Antickest = most funny.

Anything, used as a comparison. ‘He was running away as hard as anything.’ ‘I’m as mad as anything with him.’

Apern, sb. an apron.

Appear, v. to haunt places after death.

Argay, to argue. ‘You would argay the black crow white,’ saying.

Arm. To arm a person, is to lead or support a person along by the arms.

Arr, sb. a scar, such a pock-mark, or the scar left by a wound.

Arran, Ern, sb. an errand.

Arred, adj. scarred; pock-marked.

Arris, sb. the sharp edge of a freshly-planed piece of wood, or of cement, or stone work.

Arr-nut, sb. the pig nut, Bunium flexuosum.

Art, Airt, sb. point of the compass. ‘What art is the win in the day?’ A particular part of the country, as — ‘It’s a bare art o’ the country.’

As, than. ‘I’d rather sell as buy.’

Ass. ‘He would steal the cross off an ass:’ said of a very mean and greedy fellow.

At himself. ‘He’s no at himsel,’ i.e. he’s not well.

Athout, without.

Attercap, sb. a cross-grained, ill-natured person. ‘Ya cross attercap, ya.’

Atween, prep. between.

Auld-farrand, or Aul-farran, adj. knowing; cunning.

Aumlach, sb. a small quantity.

Ava, at all. ‘A dinna ken ava.’ ‘A’ll hae nane o’ that ava.’

Avis, Aves, adv. perhaps; may be; but. ‘Avis a’ll gang there on the Sabbath.’

Avout, unless; without. ‘I could not tell avout I saw it.’

Away and divart the hunger aff ye: said to children who are troubling and crying for a meal before it is ready.

Away and throw moul’ on yourself: said in scolding matches, probably means ‘go and bury yourself.’

Away in the mind, adj. mad.

Away to the hills, gone mad.

Ax, v. to ask.

Ay? Eh? what? what do you say?

Ayont, prep. beyond.

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