Letter G - 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-g

Home | Introduction | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Gab, (1) sb. the mouth: hence talk. ‘Gie us none of your gab.’ (2) ‘All gab and guts like a young crow,’ a comparison.

Gabbuck, ov [sic] Gobbock, sb. the piked dog-fish.

Gackin’, v. mocking.

Gaffer, sb. the head man over a gang of navvies.

Gag, (1) sb. a joke; a deception. (2) v. to ridicule. ‘They began with gaggin’ other.’

Gailick, Gelick, sb. an earwig.

Gaily pot, sb. a jam pot. See Gelly cup.

Gaining, adj. winsome; lovesome.

Gaits, sb. sheaves of corn set up singly on end. They are tied higher up than usual, so as to allow the base to spread.

Gallon, sb. the butter burr, Petasites vulgaris.

Gallowses, sb. suspenders.

Galore, Galyore, sb. abundance.

Game. A dog is said to be game if it does not howl when held up by the tail or ear.

Game leg, sb. a lame leg; a leg shorter than its fellow.

Gammel, sb. the back of the knee of a horse’s hind leg.

Ganch, sb. an awkward, silly fellow. ‘A sore ganch of a craithur.’

Gang ower (going over), sb. a scolding.

Gang up the hous,’ go on to the best room or parlour, i.e. when the parlour is up a step from the passage or outer room. In some farmhouses, where the parlour is down a step, the expression used is ‘Gang doon the hous’ an’ mine the step.’

Gangway, sb. a frequented thoroughfare. ‘Oh, we live right in the gangway.’

Gant, Gaunt, sb. a yawn.

Gant, Gaunt, v. to yawn.

Gapeseed, sb. what one can see or spy out; what catches the eye. ‘They came in here just for gapeseed, for they had no erran’.’

Gar, v. to make or cause.

Garron, sb. an old horse.

Gash, sb. a rent or gap. ‘That cow has made a sore gash in your hedge.’

Gaskin, sb. any material, such as flax or india-rubber, used to pack the joints of steam or water-pipes.

Gather, v. to suppurate.

Gathering, sb. a suppuration.

Gatherup, sb. a wandering rag-man.

Gavel, sb. a gable.

Gaw, sb. a trap-dyke. Also called a March. Hamilton’s Antrim, 1784.

Gawk, sb. an awkward person.

Gazebo, sb. a stand at a racecourse; a tall building from which a look-out can be had; a staring looking building.

Gazened, sb. When the seams of a boat, a barrel, or any wooden article are opened and gaping in consequence of heat or drought it is said to be gazened.

Gelly cup, sb. a small jam pot or cup.

Gentle, adj. haunted by fairies. The large hawthorns growing singly are deemed sacred to fairies, and are hence called gentle thorns. McSkimin’s Carrickfergus, 1823.

Gentry, sb. the fairies.

Gentry bushes, ‘fairy thorns,’ &c. They are sacred to the ‘good people,’ and are therefore let alone.

Get, (1) sb. an opprobrious term used in scolding matches. (2) v. to be called. ‘He gets the name of Toal,’ i.e. he is commonly called Toal. ‘His name is Mulgrew, but he gets Timony.’

Get out of the sheugh, get out of the way.

Get yer heed in yer han’, v. to get a great scolding.

Get your lines, v. to be dismissed from employment. Same as Get the sack and Get the bag.

Ghost, v. to haunt a person or place for the purpose of importuning for money or anything else.

Ghoster, sb. one who follows another person or hangs about for the purpose of asking for something.

Giants’ Graves, sb. cromlechs and kistvaens.

Gib, sb. a hook on the end of a peculiar pattern of yard-stick.

Gif, if. ‘I certainly will fight gif your honour bids me.’

Giff-gaff, mutual giving and taking. ‘Giff-gaff mak’s guid freens.’

Gig-ma-gog’s Grave, sb. a kistvaen between Coleraine and Bushmills, Co. of Antrim.

Gilderoy. ‘I wouldn’t give it to you if you were as big as Gilderoy,’ a defiance. G. was a celebrated outlaw.

Gillaroo trout, sb.a large lake trout, commonly said to have a gizzard like that of a fowl.

Gillets, sb. narrow channels among rocks.

Gilpins, sb. the fry of the coal-fish, Merlangus Carbonarius.

Ginkin, sb. a fish. Harris (1744) says it is “a delicate small fish, spotted and shaped something like a trout. It is called here a ginkin, in the rivers of the C. Galway a streamer, in some parts a graveling, and in the C. Kilkenny a gilloge.”

Ginling, v. catching fish under stones with the hands.

Girn, (1) sb. a noose. The noose which is made with a halter and put in a horse’s mouth is called a girn. ‘Pit a girn in his mooth.’ (2) v. to snare trout, &c., with a noose. (3) v. to cry. ‘Stop that girning.’

Girny go gabby the cat’s cousin,’ said to a child that cries frequently without much cause.

Glaikit, adj. thoughtless; giddy.

Glaiks, sb. a lever attached to a churn-staff, by use of which the churning is less laborious.

Glam, sb. a sudden snatch. ‘I made a glam at it.’

Glar, Glaur, sb. slimy mud.

Glashan, sb. the coal fish, Merlangus carbonarius. Called also Blockan and Grey Lord.

Gled, sb. a kite (bird).

Gleed o’ sense, sb. a spark or grain of sense.

Glimin’, v. looking out of the corner of one’s eye.

Glipe, sb. an uncouth fellow.

Glower, v. to stare or look.

Go, or Gang, of water. A go of water is two pails, i.e. as much as a person can carry at one time from the well.

Goak, Gouk, sb. a cuckoo.

‘The bat, the bee, the butterflee, the cuckoo, and the gowk,

The heather bleat, the mire snipe, hoo many birds is that?’

Answer Twa. Another form:

‘The cuckoo and the gouk,

The lavrock and the lark,

The heather bleat, the mire snipe,

How many birds is that?’ Three.

Goat. ‘It would blow the horns off a goat:’ said of a great storm.

God speed. ‘The back of God speed,’ any very solitary and unfrequented place.

God’s truth, the truth.

Going on a stick, v. walking by the help of a stick.

Gold Head, sb. the pochard or red-headed widgeon. Harris, Co. Down, 1744.

Goldspring, Gooldspring, sb. a goldfinch.

Golly, sb. a ball or block of wood used in the game of ‘shinney.’ Called also a Nag.

Gomeril, sb. a fool.

Gomus, sb. a stupid person or blockhead.

Good. ‘He’s no good,’ i.e. he is of no use or of no account.

Good forder, sb. a salutation to a ploughman or labourer, meaning ‘May you get on well.’

Good lock, sb. a large quantity. ‘Ah, that’s nuthin’; gi’e us a good lock.’

Gooldspring, sb. the goldfinch.

Goose seam, sb. goose grease.

GoppenGoapen, sb. the full of both hands. ‘She gave the poor body a goppen o’ meal.’

Gorb, sb. a greedy person. In Belfast the boys of any one school called the boys of another gorbs.

Gorb-eel. Same as Culloch, q.v.

Gorgy-mill-tree, sb. a willow.

Gorsoon, sb. a young lad.

Gospel greedy, fond of going to church.

Goving about, or Goving round, v. staring about in a stupid way.

Gowk storm. On the N.E. coast of Co. Antrim, “the peasantry look forward with the greatest interest every spring for what they call the gowk (cuckoo) storm, that takes place about the end of April or the beginning of May, when the note of this bird is heard. This storm, which is from the east, casts on the beach vast quantities of sea-wrack, which is used as manure for their potatoes.” — Thompson’s Nat. Hist. of Ireland.

Gowl, v. to howl; to cry in a howling way.

Gowler, sb. a dog, i.e. a howler.

Gowpin, sb. the painful beating or throbbing in a suppurating finger.

Gra, liking for; affection. ‘I had no gra for it.’

Graden, sb. a coarse kind of oat-meal. Obsolete.

Graith, sb. horse harness.

Granny, sb. The granny is a small sheaf composed of the last remaining growing stalks of corn on a farm at harvest. The stalks are plaited together, and are cut down by the reapers throwing their reaping-hooks at it from a little distance. It is then carried home in triumph, and the person who has cut it down puts it round the neck of the oldest woman of the farmer’s family. It is sometimes hung up against the ‘chimney brace,’ where it remains till next harvest, when it gives place to the new granny. Also called the Churn and the Hare.

Granny gills, sb. head vermin.

Granny’s needle, sb. a hairy caterpillar; a dragon-fly. Same as Deil’s needle.

Graul, sb. a sea-fish resembling a young salmon. Harris (1744). A half-grown fellow.

Graving bowl, sb. a gratuity paid to ship carpenters when they have completed the repair of a vessel, on bringing her out of the graving dock.

Great, adj. intimate; confidential. ‘As great as inkle weavers,’ saying.

Greatly failed, adj. much impaired in health.

Great shakes, adj. much consequence. ‘He’s no great shakes’ = he’s not of much consequence.

Greeshaw, Grushaw, sb. glowing ashes; embers.

Greet, v. to weep.

Gregagh, sb. a fish, the ballan wrasse. Same as Bavin, q.v.

Grew, (1) sb. a greyhound. (2) sb. a tremor. (3) v. to shudder. ‘The chile grewed at its medicine.’

Grewsome, adj. frightful; anything that makes one shudder.

Grey, sb. the grey linnet.

Grin (corruption of grain), a small quantity. ‘Gi’e us a wee grin’o’ sthroe.’ ‘A’ll no gi’e ye a taste.’

Gripe, sb. a ditch.

Grogan, sb. a kind of fairy about two feet high and very strong. He helps the farmers in harvesting, threshing, &c., but takes offence if any recompense be offered him.

Groof, sb. the front of the body. ‘We found him lyin’ on his groof.’

Group, sb. a drain in a cow-house behind the cows.

Grubs, sb. juvenile thieves of the street Arab kind, who run away with the tops or marbles of school-boys.

Grummel, sb. a backing of clay put round the outside of the brick lining of a well.

Grummles, sb. grounds; sediment.

Grumpy, adj. disagreeable in manner.

Grunt, sb. a fish, the perch.

Grup, (1) sb. a grasp. (2) v. to grasp or grip. ‘Eels is gy an’ ill to grup.’ (3) v. to catch; to overtake. ‘She’s gruppin’ on us:’ said of one boat gaining on another.

Gudge, sb. a short, thick, fat person. ‘He’s just a gudge of a man.’

Guldher, (1) sb. a loud, sudden shout, caused by anger or surprise. ‘I gave a guldher at him, and he ran away.’ (2) v. to shout loudly.

Gullet hole, sb. a deep hole in a sand or mud bank dangerous to bathers.

Gulley, sb. a butcher’s knife; and, in derision, a butcher’s boy.

Gullion hole, sb. a muddy hole; a cesspool.

Gullions, sb. mud. Same as Gutters.

Gumph, sb. a stupid person.

Gumption, adj. quickness of understanding; common-sense; tact.

Gun. ‘It’s like the man’s gun, that wanted a new lock, stock, and barrel, some repairs, and a ram-rod:’ said of anything that is quite worn out.

Gunked, adj. taken aback; disappointed. ‘Greatly gunked,’ ‘sorely gunked,’ or ‘quarely gunked,’ are common ways in which this word is used. Same as Be-gunked.

Gunner, sb. a workman who repairs fire-arms; a gun-smith.

Gurly, adj. surly; cross.

Gut, sb. a narrow navigable channel among sand-banks or rocks.

Gutters, sb. mud. ‘The gutthers was dhreepin’ aff him,’ i.e. off a horse.

Guzzle, v. to take by the throat; to choke a person.

Gy, or Gai, adv. very. ‘It’s gy an’ hot the day.’

Gyly adv. very well; in good health. ‘How are you?’ ‘Gyly.’

Home | Introduction | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Tags: xxx xxx


The Ulster-Scots Academy has been an integral part of the Ulster-Scots Language Society since 1993. The name "Ulster-Scots Academy" is registered to the USLS with the Intellectual Property Office.

Ulster Scots Academy


A new edition of Michael Montgomery’s From Ulster to America: The Scotch-Irish Heritage of American English recounts the lasting impact that at least 150,000 settlers from Ulster in the 18th century made on the development of the English language of the United States. This new edition published by the Ulster-Scots Language Society documents over 500 ‘shared’ vocabulary items which are authenticated by quotations from both sides of the Atlantic. A searchable online version of this dictionary is now also available here.


The Ulster-Scots Academy is currently working on the digitisation of Dr Philip Robinson's seminal Ulster-Scots Grammar and the English/Ulster-Scots part (with circa 10,000 entries) of a two-way historical dictionary of Ulster-Scots. These projects are planned to be completed and available on the site in 2016.



This site is being developed on a purely voluntary basis by the Ulster-Scots Language Society at no cost to the taxpayer. USLS volunteers have been involved in preserving and promoting Ulster-Scots for more than 20 years. All donations, however small, will be most gratefully received and contribute towards the expansion of the project. Thank you!

This site is being developed by the Ulster-Scots Language Society (Charity No. XN89678) without external financial assistance. USLS volunteers have been involved in preserving and promoting Ulster-Scots for more than 20 years. All donations, however small, will be most gratefully received and contribute towards the expansion of the project. Thank you!

(Friends of the Ulster-Scots Academy group)