Letter H - 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-h

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Hackit hands, sb. pl. hands chapped from exposure to cold.

Hackle berry, sb. a growth on a horse’s leg. Same as Angle-berry.

Haddin, sb. a holding or ‘tak’ (take) of land.

Haddin, sb. the wall in a cottage which faces the door, and in which is the triangular or other shaped ‘spy-hole.’ Same as Hollan.

Haen, v. had. ‘I should ha’ haen them things home in the cart.’

Haffets, sb. locks of hair growing at the temples.

Haft, v. to plug the teats of milch cows when they are brought to market, so that the udder becomes very full of milk, or to leave them unmilked for the same purpose.

Hag, v. to cut or chop; to disfigure or spoil by cutting. ‘I hagged a wheen o’ sticks.’

Haggle, v. to wrangle over a bargain.

Hag-yard, sb. a stack-yard.

Hail, sb. shot. ‘Sparrow hail’ = fine shot. ‘The whole charge of hail went into his back.’

Hain, v. to save; to economise. Also to save or spare onself. ‘Ye hained yersel’ the day.’

Hair. ‘No a hair feared,’ not a bit afraid.

Hait, anything. ‘Deil a hait’ = nothing at all.

Haiverel, (1) sb. a fellow half a fool (2) adj. giddy; foolish.

Half away, adj. mad

Half natural, sb. a fool.

Half one, Hef yin, sb. a half-glass of whiskey.

Half-piece crock, sb. the ordinary deep-shaped dairy crock.

Hallion, sb. a coarse, idle, worthless fellow.

Hames, Hems, sb. the iron or wooden parts of a cart-horse’s collar.

Hammer, block, and Bible, a boys’ game. Each of the three objects is represented by a boy.

Han’. ‘It’s doon the hill, an’ wi’ the han’:’ said of a thing that is easily done. See Wi’ the han’.

Hanch, sb. a voracious snap. ‘The dog made a hanch at me.’

Hand, (1) sb. a ham made from the fore-leg of a pig. (2) sb. something spoiled, or broken, or dirtied; much the same as Sore hand, q.v. ‘If you let the chile get the book he’ll make a hand of it.’ (3) To ‘take a hand at’ a person is to make fun of him or mislead him. ‘There, don’t mind him; he’s only takin’ a han’ at you.’

Hand idle, adj. idle. ‘They’re hand idle for want o’ their tools.’

Handketcher, sb. a handkerchief.

Handle yer feet, make good use of your legs.

Hand ma doon, a term for any article of clothing purchased second-hand or ready-made, from the fact of its being handed down by the stall-keeper for the inspection of the intending purchaser. The term is sometimes used in ridicule for any odd-looking garment. ‘Whar did ye get that auld hand ma doon of a coat?’ Compare Décroche moi ça, the slang French term for an old clothes shop.

Hands. When the left palm itches you are going to receive some money, when the right itches you are going to pay money.

Handsaw. ‘Your voice is like the sharpening of a handsaw,’ i.e. very harsh and disagreeable.

Hand’s turn, sb. any work. ‘He hasn’t done a hand’s turn these six months.’

Hand write, sb. hand-writing. ‘Whose hand write is that?’

Hang, v. to hang a scythe is to attach it to its ‘sned’ (handle) for use.

Hanging, v. standing. ‘Hangin’ on my feet all day.’

Hanging gale. On some estates it is customary to allow one gale of rent to lie always in arrear. This is called the hanging gale.

Hank, sb. a measure of linen yarn. See under Spangle and Lea.

Han’le, v. to hurry; to exert oneself.

Hansel, (1) sb. an early meal given to farm-labourers before they commenced work. (2) v. The first purchase made from a dealer hansels him, i.e. brings luck.

Hansel Monday, the first Monday of the year.

Han’ stav, sb. the handle of a flail. See Flail.

Hap, (1) sb. a covering, as a cloak or a blanket. (2) v. to cover; to wrap up in muffling or bed-clothes.

Hap aff, a call to a horse to turn to the off, or right, side.

Hape of dacency, much politeness or good manners.

“Boys, A had a hape o’ dacency,

When A first come among ye.”

Hard, (1) adj. close-fisted; penurious. (2) adj. quickly; fast. ‘Now run hard!’ (3) adj. strong; as applied to strong drink, whisky, &c.

Hard bowed, adj. said of flax when the seed has formed.

Hardies, sb. broken stones used as road metal. ‘Nappin’ hardies,’ breaking stones.

Hardy, adj. frosty. ‘It’s a hardy mornin’.’

Hare, The, sb. the last handful of growing corn at harvest. Same as The Granny, q.v.

Hare scart, sb. a hare lip.

Harey, adj. cunning; knowing (like a hare?)

Harl, adj. a rough, coarse, field labourer.

Harn, v. to harden bread on a griddle.

Harnishin, sb. harness.

Harp, sb. an Irish shilling (temp. Eliza. and Jas. I.) equal only to 9d. sterling money (Hill’s Plantation in Ulster).

Harrow goose, sb. a ‘large’ bird mentioned by Harris, Hist. Co. Down (1744).

Hash, sb. a lazy, untidy person.

Hasky, (1) adj. husky; hoarse. (2) adj. harsh: applied to flax, fibre, &c.

Haste. ‘The more haste the worse speed, as the tailor said to the long thread,’ saying.

Hatterel, (1) ‘He’s all in a hatterel,’ i.e. his body is all over sores. (2) a great many; a flock. ‘A hatterel o’ weans.’

Haud, v. to hold.

Haud awa’, go away.

Haughle, v. to walk badly; to hobble.

Have no mind, to forget. ‘I had no mind of it’ — I forgot it. ‘Have you mind of that, Sam?’

Hawthery, Huthery, adj. untidy; tossed.

Hay-bird, sb. the willow wren, so called from its using hay largely in building its nest.

Hazelly, adj. ‘Light hazelly land,’ i.e. light, poor soil.

Hazerded adj. half dried, as linen, &c., spread on grass. ‘Them clothes are not dry at all; they’re only hazerded.’

Head, (1) sb. used for mouth. ‘Not a word out of your head.’ ‘Every tooth in my head was aching.’ ‘The doctor said he was never to have the milk away from his head.’ This of a person who required constant nourishment. (2) ‘He was like to ate the head off me,’ i.e. he was very angry with me. (3) ‘Hould up your head, there’s money bid for you:’ said as an encouragement to a bashful person. (4) ‘Over the head of,’ on account of. ‘I got dismissed over the head of a letter the master got.’ (5) ‘To stand over the head of,’ to warrant the quality or quantity of anything.

Head beetler, the foreman beetler in a beetling mill, and hence any foreman or head man over workpeople.

Head fall. “An infant at its birth is generally forced by the midwife to swallow spirits, and is immediately afterwards suspended by the upper jaw with her fore-finger; this last operation is performed for the purpose of preventing a disease called head-fall. Many children die when one or two days old of the trismus nascentium, or ‘jaw-fall,’ a spasmodic disease particular to tropical climates; here, however, it is probably a dislocation caused by the above-mentioned barbarous practice.” — Mason’s Parochial Survey, Parish of Culdaff, Co. of Donegal, 1816.

Heaghmost, adj. highest.

Hear tell, v. to hear. ‘Did ever ye hear tell o’ the like?’

Heart. ‘I could find in my heart to,’ &c., i.e. I have the heart to, &c. ‘I couldn’t find in my heart to leave her.’

Heart fever. ‘Measuring for the heart fever,’ a country charm. A tape is passed round the chest.

Heart lazy, adj. very lazy.

Heart’s disease, sb. heart disease.

Heart sick, adj. wearied; disgusted. ‘I’m heart sick of your goin’s on.’

Heartsome, adj. cheerful; lively.

Heartsomeness, sb. cheerfulness.

Hear your ears, to hear yourself speak. ‘There was sich a tar’ble noise A couldn’t hear ma ears.’

Heather bleat, sb. the common snipe.

Heatherling, sb. the twite or mountain linnet. Called also Heather Grey.

Heavy. ‘He’s very heavy on the strawberries,’ i.e. he eats a great many. A heavy drinker.

Heavy-footed, adj. pregnant.

Hech, faith. ‘Hech man, but ye’re dreigh o’ drawin’,’ i.e. faith man, but you have been slow in coming to call. Same as Heth.

Heddle, sb. part of a loom.

Heeler, sb. a sharp, prying, managing woman.

Heel in, v. to plant young trees in a temporary way, to keep them safe till it is convenient to plant them permanently. They are placed in a slanting position.

Heal of a loaf, the last bit of a loaf.

Heel of the hand, the part of the hand nearest the wrist.

Heels foremost, dead. ‘Never! till A’m taken heels foremost.’

Heir, v. To heir a person is to inherit his property.

Heir skip, sb. inheritance. ‘He got it by heir skip.’

Hen. ‘Like a hen on a hot griddle,’ a comparison for a very restless person.

Hen fish, sb. the poor or power cod, Morrhua minuta.

Hern cran, Hern crane, sb. the heron.

Herring hog, sb. the bottle-nosed whale.

Het, v. heated. ‘He over het himsel’.’

Heth, faith. ‘Heth no.’ ‘Heth aye.’ ‘Heth an’ soul, but you won’t.’ Same as Feth.

Heugh, sb. a rocky height. ‘The Gobbin Heughs,’ precipitous rocks on the coast at the east of the Co. of Antrim.

Higglety-pigglety, in confusion.

Hi-how, sb. the hedge parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris. Of the parts of the stem between the joints children make ‘pluffers’ to ‘pluff’ hawstones through. Children also make ‘scouts,’ i.e. squirts, of the stem of this plant. An instrument for producing a noise is also made. Could this sound have originated the curious name? A correspondent says: “When we were wee fellows we used to make horns of the hi-how.” Called also Da-ho. Compare the Sc. hech-how.

Hinch, (1) sb. the thigh. ‘The corn was that short a Jinny Wran might ha’ sat on her hinches, an’ picked the top pickle off.’ (2) v. to throw stones by bringing the hand across the thigh.

Hingin’ lock, sb. a padlock.

Hingit, adj. drooping; applied to flowers or plants.

Hintin, Hint, sb. the furrow in a ploughed field between the ridges.

Hippo, sb. ipecacuanha.

Hip-roofed house, a house the roof of which has no gables.

Hirple, v. to walk lame.

Hisself, himself.

Hitch, v. to run.

Hives, sb. red, itchy, raised spots on the skin.

Hize, Hoise, v. to hoist.

Hoag, Hogo, sb. a strong smell.

Hock, Hawk, Hough, v. to throw stones under the thigh.

Hoges. ‘The hoges,’ a boys’ game played with ‘peeries’ (peg-tops). The victor is entitled to give a certain number of blows with the spike of his peerie to the wood part of his opponent’s.

Hoggat, Hoggart, sb. a dry measure consisting of ten bushels. (I believe obsolete.)

Hoke, v. to hollow-out anything, such as a toy boat. A dog hokes out the earth from a rabbit hole.

Hokey Oh! an exclamation.

Hole and taw, a game of marbles.

Holed, v. worn into holes, or suddenly pierced.

Hollan, sb. a wall in a cottage. Same as Haddin. See under Spy-hole.

Holland hawk, sb. This name is applied to two birds — the great northern diver and the red-throated diver. Same as Allan hawk.

Holy show, sb. a ridiculous or absurd exhibition of oneself. ‘He made a holy show of himself.’

Honey, a term of endearment.

Hooden, sb. the hinge or joint of a flail. Called also the Mid-kipple.

Hooden sheaves, Hudden shaves, sb. the sheaves which are placed on the top of a ‘stook’ of corn to turn off the rain. Also called Head sheaves.

Hook, Hyeuk, sb. a reaping-hook.

Horn, (1) v. to gore. (2) ‘To have got the horn in him,’ to be slightly tipsy. (3) v. to saw the horns off cattle.

Horned, adj. Applied to cattle which have had their horns sawed off. Same as Skulled or Polled.

Horn-eel, sb. the garfish, Belone vulgaris. Called Mackerel scout at Strangford Lough, and Spearling at Portrush.

Horney, sb. a constable.

Horn ouzel, sb. a bird mentioned by Harris (1744) as found in the Co. of Down.

Horse elf stone, sb. a petrified sea urchin.

Horse pipes, sb. the great horse-tail, Equisetum maximum.

Host, sb. a large number. ‘I’ve a whole host of things to do.’

Hot. ‘You were hot in the house:’ said to persons who come out in wet or inclement days without apparent reason.

Hough, (1) ‘It’s the last hough in the pot,’ i.e. the last of anything, particularly anything to eat. (2) v. to hamstring.

Houghel, sb. a person who walks in an awkward, loose, clumsy way. ‘He’s a sore houghel of a craithur.’

Houldin’, sb. something held, such as a farm.

Hoults, holds. ‘When I first seen them they were in hoults,’ i.e. they were grappling with each other.

Houl’ yer han’, stop work for a moment.

Houl’ yer loof, i.e. hold out your hand: an expression used in bargaining at markets.

Houl’ yer tongue, be silent.

Houl’ yer whisht, be silent.

Hoved up, swollen; inflated.

Hovel, sb. the stand on which a corn rick is built.

Hovel-cap, sb. the broad stone, or piece of iron, laid on the top of each pillar of a ‘hovel’ to prevent rats, &c., from climbing up to the grain.

How-an’-divir, however.

How are you comin’ on?’ how do you do?

How do you come on? how do you do?

How do you get your health? a common salutation, meaning how do you do?

Howziver, however.

Hulge, any large unshapely mass. ‘A hulge of a horse,’ a loose-limbed horse. Same as ‘a wallop of a horse’.

Hum, sb. a morsel of food masticated by a nurse, and then put into an infant’s mouth.

Hummin’, v. feeding a child with ‘hums.’

Humplock, sb. a shapeless heap; applied to a badly-built hayrick.

Hungry. ‘A hungry eye sees far,’ saying.

Hungry grass, sb. some plant. When a person treads on it in the fields he is seized with an intolerable hunger and weakness. A crop of hungry grass is said to spring up if persons who have dined in the fields do not throw some of the fragments away for the fairies.

Hungry heart, sb. an empty, craving stomach.

Hungry land, poor, sandy soil.

Hunker, v. to crouch on the ground with the heels under the hams.

Hunkers. ‘To sit on one’s hunkers,’ is the same as ‘to hunker.’

Huntagowk, sb. a person sent on a fool’s errand.

Hunter, sb. A cat that is a good mouser is a hunter. ‘Her mother was a right hunter:’ said of a kitten.

Hup, a call to a horse to go on; a call to a horse to go to the right or off side.

Hup! hup! a car-driver’s cry to get out of the way.

Hurlbassey, sb. a star which when it is seen near the moon foretells stormy weather. — McSkimin’s Hist. Carrickfergus.

Hurly, (1) sb. a game; hockey. Same as Shinney or Common. (2) sb. a long, low cart with two wheels.

Hurly burly, sb. a boys’ game. In it the following rhyme is used:

Hurly-burly, trumpy trace;

The cow stands in the market-place;

Some goes far, and some goes near,

Where shall this poor sinner steer?’

Hurries, The, sb. a term for the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Called also the Turn-out.

Hurrish, Thurry, a call to pigs.

Hurry, (1) sb. a row or fight; a quarrel. (2) ‘Take your hurry,’ or ‘Take yer hurry in yer han’,’ take your time.

Hurstle, Hurstling, the sound of rough breathing caused by mucus in the air passages.

Hush, to drive a flock of fowl, saying at the same time, ‘Hush, hush.’ Sometimes Whush, or Wheeshoo.

Hut, tut! an exclamation of impatience.

Hy spy, sb. a boys’ game.

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