Letter C - 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-c

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Cackle, sb. a concealed laugh.

Cadda, Caddow, sb. a quilt or coverlet; a cloak or cover; a small cloth which lies on a horse’s back underneath the ‘straddle.’

Cadge, v. to carry about anything for sale.

Cadger, sb. a pedlar; an itinerant dealer in fish.

Caff, sb. chaff.

Cahill, sb. an eel net.

Caigey, adj. in very good spirits; lively; wanton; eager.

Cailey, sb. a call or friendly visit.

Caillyea, sb. a talk round the fire; a gossip among neighbours.

Caleeriness, sb. giddiness; fun; mischief.

Caleery, adj. light; vain; full of mischief.

Calf. When a calf is born, it is customary in some places to crush an egg in the hand, and thrust it, shell and all, down the animal’s throat. It is also dragged by the heels round the yard for luck. Mason’s Paroch. Survey, 1819.

Caliagh, sb. a potato of more than a year old (probably from its wrinkled appearance, as this is the Irish word for an old woman or hag).

Call, sb. occasion or need. ‘You had no call to do that.’ ‘What call had you to touch them?’

Called on, in demand, as certain classes of goods in shops. ‘Flannen’s greatly called on this weather.’

Calling, v. ‘He’s a calling,’ i.e. he is being called.

Cambered, adj. slightly arched; a builder’s term for a floor or ceiling which has become bent.

Came on, v. became of. ‘What came on you?’

Candy-man, sb. a rag-man. These men generally give a kind of toffee, called ‘candy,’ in exchange for rags, &c.

Canney, v. cannot

Canny, adj. cautious.

Cant, v. to sell by auction.

Can you whistle and chaw meal? addressed to a person who is boasting of his powers of doing difficult things.

Cap-ball, sb. a boys’ game.

Capper, sb. a turner of wooden bowls.

Carcage, sb. a carcase.

Carf, Carp, sb. a fish, the sea bream, Pagellus centrodontus.

Carf, sb.a ditch; a shallow channel cut in peat bogs for conveying water.

Carnaptious, adj. quarrelsome; fault-finding.

Carpers, sb. pl. “Hundreds of men, women, and children, called carpers, are ready to catch the fish [herrings] that break from the net on its drawing on shore.” — Mason’s Paroch. Survey (P. Ardclinis, Co. of Antrim), 1819.

Carrion. ‘A carrion won’t poison a crow,’ i.e. there are some persons who can eat anything, or to whom nothing comes amiss.

Carry, sb. a weir or mill-lead.

Carryings on, sb. pl. boisterous or improper proceedings.

Carry my lady to London. In this game two children grasp each other by the wrists, forming a seat, on which another child sits, who is thus carried about, while the bearers sing —

‘Give me a pin, to stick in my thumb,

To carry my lady to London;

Give me another, to stick in my other,

To carry her a little bit farther.’

Carry of the sky, sb. the drift of the clouds.

Carry on, v. to behave in a boisterous or giddy manner; to act improperly.

Carvy seed, sb. carroway seed.

Case equal. ‘It’s case equal,’ i.e. it’s just the same; it’s as broad as it’s long.

Cash, sb. a pathway; a covered drain made to leave a passage for water in wet ground or bog.

Cast, (1) adj. rejected as being faulty. ‘Them’s old cast yins; A wouldn’t tak them.’ (2) v. to reject on account of some imperfection.

Castaway, sb. an old, worn-out horse.

Casting out, v. falling out; quarrelling; also the fading out of colours from articles of dress.

Cast ones, sb. pl. rejected things.

Cast up, v. to reproach; to bring up byegones; to remind one of past errors or offences.

Catch it, v. receive punishment. ‘If he finds you here you’ll catch it.’

Cat-fish, sb. a cuttle fish, Sepia officinalis.

Catteridge, sb. a cartridge.

Caup, sb. a wooden cup without a handle.

Cawney, adj. cautious. Same as canny.

Cawsey, Cassy, sb. the paved or hard-beaten place in front of or round about a farmhouse.

Cess, (1) v. a house painter’s term. When water is put on an oily surface it is said to cess, i.e. it runs into separate drops. (2) sb. ‘Bad cess to you,’ saying; i.e. bad luck.

Chainy, sb. china.

Champ, sb. mashed potatoes.

Chander, v. to chide; to scold in a complaining way.

Change, sb. not merely ‘the change’ coming back after a payment, but money itself. ‘Sir, I’ve called for the change for them pea-rods.’

Change one’s feet, v. to put on dry shoes and stockings.

Chapman gill, sb. a toll of one shilling levied annually by the sheriffs of Carrickfergus from each vessel trading to the port. It is to pay the cost of burying the bodies of sailors or others cast on shore. — McSkimin, Hist. Carrickfergus.

Charged. ‘Charged or no charged she’s dangerous:’ said of a gun or pistol.

Charity, sb. a person who is deserving of charity is said to be a ‘great charity.’

Charlie. ‘It’s long o’ comin’, like Royal Charlie:’ said of a thing that has been long expected.

Charm. ‘That would charm the heart of a wheelbarrow;’ and ‘That would charm the heart of a beggar-man’s crutch:’ said in derision to a person who is singing or whistling badly.

Chase-grace, sb. a scapegrace. ‘Runnin’ about like a chase-grace.’

Chay-chay, said to cows to call them or quiet them.

Chay, lady, said to a cow to quiet her.

Check, (1) sb. a slight meal. (2) v. to chide. ‘He checked me for going.’ To slightly slacken the sheet of a sail.

Cheep, v. to chirp.

Cheevy, v. to chase. Same as Chivy.

Chert your tongue, bite your tongue. ‘If you can’t tell the truth, you had better chert your tongue and say nothing.’

Chew, sir! away; or behave yourself: said to a dog.

Childhre, sb. pl. children.

Chile, sb. a child.

Chimin’, v. singing.

Chimley, sb. a chimney.

Chimley brace, sb. the screen that conducts the smoke from a fire on the hearth upwards through the roof.

Chirm, v. to sing; to make a low, murmuring sound.

Chitterling, (1) sb. a swallow. (2) v. chattering, as applied to the noise that swallows make.

Chitty wran, sb. the common wren.

Chivy, (1) sb. a chace. (2) v. to chase or pursue. ‘He chivied me.’

Chokes, sb. pl. the sides of the neck.

Choller, Chillers, sb. pl. the sides of the neck.

Chop-stick, sb. a small bit of whalebone attached to a sea fishing-line to keep the snood and hook clear of the sinker.

Chow, v. to chew.

Chrissimis, sb. Christmas.

Christen, (1) sb. a human being. ‘The poor dog was lyin’ on a Christen’s bed.’ (2) adj. Christian.

Chuckie, a hen; the call for fowl.

Churchyard deserter, sb. a very sickly-looking person.

Churn sb. a harvest home.

Clabber, sb. mud. ‘They clodded clabber at me.’

Clabbery, adj. muddy. ‘Don’t put the dog into that clabbery hole.’

Clachan, sb. a small cluster of cottages.

Claghtin’, v. catching or clutching at.

Clam, sb. a shell-fish, Pecten maximus.

Clamp, sb. a small stack of turf, containing about a load. When turfs or peats are ‘put out,’ they are left for some time to dry; as soon as they can be handled they are put into ‘footins’ or ‘futtins,’ i.e. about four peats are placed on end, the upper ends leaning against each other. In the course of a week or two, if the weather be dry, these are put into ‘turn footins,’ several footins being put together. In this case, two rows of turf are placed on end, say six in each row, the upper ends leaning against each other; on these are laid, cross-wise, as many peats as the upright ones will hold. After some time these ‘turn footins’ are put into ‘clamps’, in which they remain until they are sufficiently dry to be removed from the bog.

Clan-jamfrey, Clam-jamfrey, sb. a whole lot of people.

Clargy, sb. a clergyman. ‘Ah! he’s a good man; he’s my clargy.’

Clarkin’, v. clerking; doing the work of a clerk.

Clart, sb. a dirty, slovenly woman.

Clash, (1) sb. a slap or blow. (2) sb. a tell-tale. (3) v. to tell tales. ‘He went and clashed on me.’

Clashbag, sb. a tale-bearer.

Clatchen, sb. a brood of young chickens or ducks.

Clatin’, v. the act of raking together.

Clatty, adj. dirty, slovenly.

Clatty and longsome. ‘You weren’t both clatty and longsome at that,’ means that though you were quick about it, you did it badly and dirtily.

Claut, a strong rake for raking up mire or rubbish.

Clavin, a sea-fish, the spotted gunnel, Blennius Gunnellus. Called also Flutterick and Codlick.

Claw-hammer, sb. a slang name for a pig’s foot, also for a dress coat.

Clay-bug, sb. a common clay marble.

Clean, adv. quite. ‘I clean forgot.’ ‘He’s clean mad.’

Clean ower, adv. completely over.

Clean wud, adj. stark mad.

Clearsome, adj. clear; bright.

Cled, adj. thickly covered, as a branch with fruit.

Cleek, sb. a hook.

Cleeked up, adj. hooked up, as window curtains sometimes are.

Cleekups, sb. stringhalt; a twitching disease in the hind legs of a horse or ass.

Cleet, sb. a double hook used in a boat for belaying small ropes to.

Cleg, (1) sb. the gad fly. (2) v. to clog.

Clemmed to death, adj. perished with wet and cold.

Cleush, sb. a sluice; a water channel or spout.

Clever, adj. large; fine-looking.

Clib, sb. a horse one year old.

Clifted, adj. cleft or split.

Clincher, sb. a convincing statement or argument that settles the matter.

Cling, v. to shrink or contract, as wood in drying.

Clint, sb. a projecting rock.

Clip, sb. a gaff, or strong iron hook with a wooden handle, used for landing fish; a mischievous young girl.

Clipe, sb. anything pretty large. ‘A clipe of a boy.’

Clipes, sb. tongs for holding stones when being lifted by a winch.

Clish-ma-claver, sb. silly talk; nonsense.

Clitterty, clatterty, meal upon Saturday. The rattling nosie of a grinding mill is supposed to resolve itself into these words. Another form —

Clitterty, clatterty, late upon Saturday

Barley parritch, an’ hardly that.’

Clockin’, v. hatching.

Clocks, (1) sb. pl. dandelions in seed. (2) ‘I’d as soon watch clocks [beetles] as mind them childre.’

Clod, v. to throw anything, such as stones.

Cloot, sb. a hoof.

Clootie, sb. a left-handed person.

Cloots, (1) sb. pl. ragged clothes; fragments of cloth. (2) sb. the devil

Close side, sb. the right side of a carcase of mutton, so called because the kidney at that side adheres more closely than at the left, which is called the open side.

Cloth, sb. linen.

Clout, (1) sb. a slap. ‘A’ll gi’e ye a clout on the lug if ye dar’ to clash.’ (2) v. to slap.

Clove, sb. an instrument used in the preparation of flax; by it the ‘shows’ are removed which have not been taken off at the ‘scutch mill.’

Clutch, sb. the silty substance in which oysters are partly embedded on the oyster banks near Carrickfergus.

Coag, sb. a vessel for carrying or holding water, made of hoops and staves, like a small barrel, with one of the ends removed.

Coal, sb. a lap of hay; a lap cock.

Coaling hay, v. rolling it in small cocks after being cut.

Coast anent, v. Farm labourers who are given money to lodge and board themselves are said to ‘coast anent’.

Coat, (1) sb. a woman’s gown. (2) ‘I wear my coat none the worse for it to-day,’ i.e. I am nothing the worse now for having been in a much lower position at one time.’

Cobble, v. to bargain or haggle.

Cobblety-curry, sb. Same as Shuggy-shu (1).

Cobbs, or Herring Cobbs, sb. pl. young herrings.

Cock-bread, sb. a mixture of hard-boiled eggs and other things with which game cocks are fed.

Cocked up, adj. conceited.

Cocker, sb. a cock-fighter.

Cockers, Caackers, sb. pl. the heels of a horse’s shoe turned down.

Cockles of the heart. A warm drink or a dram is said to ‘warm the cockles of one’s heart.’

Cocks, sb. a common wild plant, Plantago. Children amuse themselves in summer with knocking off the heads of each other’s cocks. This is called ‘fighting cocks.’

Cock-shot, sb. anything set up as a mark at which to throw stones.

Cock-stride, sb. applied to the lengthening of the days. “About oul’ New Year’s Day, the days is a cock-sthride longer.” — Ollminick.

Cod, (1) sb. a silly, troublesome fellow. (2) v. to humbug or quiz a person; to hoax; to idle about. ‘Quit your coddin’.’

Codger, sb. a crusty old fellow.

Codlick, sb. a fish, the spotted gunnel.

Coffin-cutter, sb. Ocypus olens, the cock-tail, an insect larger than an earwig, of a black colour. Called also The Devil’s Coachman.

Cog, (1) sb. a wedge or support fixed under anything to steady it. (2) v. to steady anything that is shaky by wedging it; to place a wedge under a cart-wheel to prevent the cart going down hill.

Coggle, v. to shake.

Cogglety, Coggly, adj. shaky; unsteady.

Colcannon, sb. potatoes and ‘curley kail’ mashed together. A dish of Colcannon used to form part of the dinner on Hallow-eve, and usually contained a ring. The finder of the ring was to be married first.

Cold comfort, sb. no comfort at all. ‘That’s cold comfort ye’re givin’ me.’ Compare “He receives comfort like cold porridge.” — Tempest, Act ii. sc. i.

Coldrife, adj. chilly; cold; of a chilly nature. ‘Some people’s naturally coldrife.’

Colf, v. to wad a gun.

Colfin’, sb. the material used to wad a gun.

Colley, sb. smuts.

Collogue, (1) sb. a confidential chat. (2) v. to talk confidentially.

Collop, sb. a slice of meat.

Collop Monday, sb. the day before Shrove Tuesday.

Colly [coalie], a dog. ‘It’s as clean as if Colly had licked it:’ said of a plate or bowl that has been thoroughly emptied and polished off.

Come back. ‘Come back an’ pay the bap ye eat,’ i.e. come back; don’t hurry away.

Come in, v. to suit; to serve. ‘It’s sure to come in for some use.’

Come on, v. to grow up; to thrive. ‘The chile’s comin’ on finely.’

Come over, v. to repeat anything told in confidence. ‘Now don’t come over that.’

Come round, v. to recover from illness. ‘Doctor, do you think he’s comin’ roun’.’

Come speed, v. to get on with any work. ‘Are ye comin’ much speed wi’ the job?’

Commanding pain, sb. a severe pain, such as almost disables one.

Common, (1) sb. hockey; a game. Same as Shinney. Called in some districts Comun and Kamman, from the Irish name for the game. (2) ‘As common as potatoes,’ i.e. of very low extraction, or a comparison for anything very common.

Connough worm, sb. the caterpillar of Sphinx atropos. “Cows eating of the grass that it passes over are believed to be affected with that fatal distemper called the connough.” — McSkimin’s Hist. Carrickfergus, 1823.

Conquer, sb. a conqueror.

Consate, (1) sb. conceit; a pleasurable pride. ‘He takes a great consate in his garden.’ (2) sb. conceit. To ‘knock the consate out of any one,’ means to give him a beating.

Constancy, sb. a permanency. ‘I wouldn’t do it for a constancy,’ i.e. I would not make a practice of it.

Contrairy, (1) adj. obstinate; contradictory. ‘Now, what’s the good o’ bein’ so contrairy?’ (2) Inconvenient. ‘It happened at a most contrairy time.’ (3) v. to prove the contrary; to controvert. ‘I couldn’t contrairy that.’

Convenient, adj. near. ‘His house is convenient to the church.’

Convoy, v. to escort or accompany.

Coody doon, v. kneel down. ‘Coody doon an’ say yer prayers.’ Same as Coorie doon.

Coof, or Couf, sb. a clownish fellow.

Coo-pushla, sb. a single dropping of a cow.

Coorie doon, v. kneel down. Same as Coody doon.

Coorse Christian, sb. a rough fellow.

Coorse morning, sb. coarse morning, i.e. very wet or stormy. This is a common greeting.

Coo-sherran, sb. cow-dung.

Corby, sb. the grey crow or hooded crow. The corby has become rare in Antrim and Down since the purchasing of dead horses and cows by the artificial manure makers became usual.

Corker, sb. a large pin; anything large — a large fish, for instance.

Cormoral, sb. a cormorant.

Corn, sb. oats.

Corny-gera, or Corny-keevor, sb. the missel thrush, Turdus vicivorous.

Corp, sb. a corpse.

Corrag, sb. a wind guard for the door of a cottage, made of interlaced branches. Same as Wassock.

Corruption, sb. matter from a sore.

Corvorant, sb. a cormorant.

Cot, sb. a flat-bottomed boat.

Coulter-neb, sb. the puffin.

Coult fit, sb. colt’s-foot, Tussilago.

Country, sb. ‘My country’ is the common way of saying ‘the part of the country where I live,’ so that if two farmers from districts three or four miles apart meeting at market, one asks the other, ‘What’s the news in your country?’

Country Joan, sb. an uncouth country person.

County crop, sb. having one’s hair cut very short, as it would be cut in the county prison. ‘You’ve got the county crop:’ said in ridicule.

Course, v. ‘To course a lime-kiln’ is to put in the alternate layers of limestone and coal.

Coutther, sb. a plough-share.

Cove, (1) sb. a cave. (2) v. to rub a flagged floor with a ‘coving-stone.’

Cove, v. to rub a flagged floor with a ‘coving stone.’

Covered car, sb. a car with two wheels, drawn by one horse. There is room inside for four passengers, who sit facing each other. The door and step are at the back, the driver sits in front, perched up near the top. There are two very small windows in front, and one in the door.

Cowl, adj. cold.

Cowp, v. to upset; to empty.

Cow’s-clap, sb. a piece of cow’s-dung.

Cow’s tail. ‘To grow down, like a cow’s tail:’ said in derision to a person who is supposed to be growing shorter instead of taller.

Crab, v. to carp; to scold at. ‘A couldn’t thole bein’ crabbed at, when A didn’t do nothin’ ondaicent.’

Crab’s allowance, sb. the treatment that juvenile fishers give to those crabs (‘partens’) that fasten on their hooks and eat off the bait — the crabs, when landed, are instantly trampled to death.

Crack, (1) sb. a chat. (2) v. to gossip or chat; to boast.

Cracked, adj. damaged: as ‘cracked hams,’ hams which are slightly damaged in appearance.

Cracker, sb. the thin cord at the end of a whip; a boaster.

Cracks, sb. pl. tales; gossip.

Crane, sb. the iron arm over a fire from which the ‘crook’ hangs.

Crapen, sb. the crop of a fowl.

Crave, v. ‘To crave a man,’ to apply to him for payment of a debt.

Craw, Crow, sb. a rook.

Creel-pig, sb. a young pig, such as is taken to market in a creel or basket.

Creepers, sb. pl. lice. Same as Podes.

Creepy, or Creepy-stool, sb. a very low stool.

Creesh, (1) sb. a punishment of an uncertain kind. ‘You’ll get the creesh,’ i.e. punishment. (2) sb. grease.

Creeshy, adj. greasy.

Creuben, sb. a crab.

Crib, or Crib-stone, sb. the curb-stone at the edge of a foot-path.

Crine, v. to shrink.

Crock, sb. a derisive term for a person who fancies himself ailing or delicate.

Crocky, adj. fanciful about his health; hippish.

Croft, sb. a space surrounded by farm buildings. ‘Just go through thon farmer’s croft down there,’ a small field near a house.

Cronkin, adj. to describe the baying sound made by a flock of Brent geese.

Croo, sb. a poor, filthy cabin. See Pig Croo.

Croodle, v. to crouch; to cuddle.

Crook, sb. a hook which is suspended from the ‘crane’ in a kitchen chimney for hanging the pot or griddle from. ‘As black as the crook,’ very black.

Croon, v. to lament or wail.

Croose, adj. sharp-tempered; pugnacious; irritable; conceited. ‘He’s as croose as a banty cock.’

Crop, v. to crop land. ‘To put in crop,’ to sow seed.

Cross. ‘He would steal the cross off an ass:’ said of an avaricious person.

Crottle, sb. a lichen. A decoction of it is used for dyeing.

Crowl, (1) sb. a small person; a dwarf. ‘A crowl on a creepy looks naethin’,’ saying. (2) v. to stunt the growth of anything. It is said that dogs can be crowled by giving them whiskey when they are young, and that a child is crowled if a man puts his leg over the child’s head.

Crown of the causey, sb. the centre of the road, the driest and cleanest part, and therefore taken possession of by the strongest. The expression refers to the old paved country roads, which had no side paths.

Crub, (1) sb. a horse’s curb-chain. (2) v. to check. ‘The caterpillars crub the blooms of the roses.’

Cruden, sb. a parten (crab), Carcinus mœnas, of a reddish colour.

Cruds, sb. pl. curds.

Cruel, Crule, adj. very. ‘Cruel big.’ ‘Cruel nice.’ ‘Cruel purty.’

Cruels, sb. the king’s evil.

Cruffles, sb. pl. a kind of potatoes.

Crule han’, sb. a disagreeable spectacle; a bad case. ‘He’s made a crule han’ o’ hisself with the dhrink.’ Same as Sore Hand.

Crulge, v. to crouch near the fire; to cramp oneself by sitting in a crouching attitude.

Crumbs. Children are recommended to eat up the crumbs, ‘for the crumbs will make you wise.’

Crummel, sb. a crumb.

Crumming-knife, sb. a cooper’s tool.

Cruse, adj. captious; cross.

Cuckle, sb. a cockle.

Cuckoo-sorrel, sb. wood sorrel, Oxalis acetosella.

Cuckoo-spittle, sb. the white froth deposited on plants, which is secreted by and encloses the young of an insect, Aphromora spumaria.

Cudden, sb. a small fish, the young of the coal-fish, Merlangus carbonarius.

Cuddy, sb. a donkey.

‘Cudnae tell a B frae a bill’s-fit,’ applied to a person utterly ignorant.

Cuidhich, sb. a night’s lodging and food.

Culloch, sb. the broad-nosed eel, Anguilla latirostris. This word is used at Lough Neagh, and is the Irish Colloch = wicked, in allusion to this eel’s voracious habits. It is also called Hunter Eel and Gorb Eel.

Cummings, sb. pl. the rootlets of malt.

Curchie, sb. a curtsey.

Curcudioughly, adv. comfortably; cosily.

Curl doddy, sb. a flower, the blue scabious, Scabiosa succisa. Children twist the stalk of this flower, and as it slowly untwists in the hand, say to it:

Curl doddy on the midden,

Turn round an’ tak’ my biddin’.’

Curleys, sb. curled kail.

Curmurring, sb. grumbling; the sound cause by flatus within the body.

Curn, sb. a currant.

Curnaptious, adj. quarrelsome; cross-grained.

Custom gate, Custom gap, sb. one of the approaches to a fair.

Cut, (1) sb. a measure of linen yarn. See under Spangle and Lea. (2) v. to tack from side to side up an inclined plane; to move a heavy object forward by pushing each end alternately.

Cut butter. ‘It would cut butter, if it was hot,’ is said of a particularly blunt knife.

Cut meat, To, v. to eat anything. ‘They never cut meat from Saturday till Wednesday:’ said of a lot of sheep which were in transit from Ireland to England.

Cuts. ‘To draw cuts,’ to draw lots.

Cutter, sb. a slate pencil.

Cutty, (1) sb. a short, clay pipe. (2) sb. a sea bird, the razor-bill. Also the guillemot. (3) ’There you are puttin’ in your cutty among spoons,’ said to a youngster who attempts to join in the conversation of the elders.

Cutty full. ‘You hav’n’t a cutty full’ (of brains), i.e. you have no sense.

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