Letter L - 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-l

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Lab, sb. a game of marbles.

Labour, v. ‘To labour a field,’ to dig it or cultivate it.

Lachter, sb. a brood of chickens, &c.; a quantity.

Lacken day, sb. a wet day.

Lag, lag, Leg, leg, the call to geese.

Laimeter, Lamiter, sb. a lame person.

Lair, sb. A man or horse is said to lair when he sinks in mud or snow, and cannot extricate himself.

Laivins, sb. the refuse.

Lamed to the ground. ‘I got a stab of a bayonet in the groin, which has lamed me to the ground.’

Lament’able, adj. unpleasant; disagreeable. ‘It’s a most lament’-able wet day.’ ‘The smell of the fish was most lament’able.’

Lammas floods, sb. heavy rains which are expected about the first of August.

Land, sb. cultivated land or pasture, as opposed to a road. ‘Come on the land,’ i.e. come off the road into the fields.

Landed, v. arrived; placed. ‘I landed off the car at six o’clock.’ ‘I gave him won [sic] skite, an’ landed him into the middle of a whin-bush.’

Langle, (1) sb. A ‘sheep’s langle’ is a short piece of any kind of rope, with a slip knot at each end. The loops are passed over the fore and hind leg of a sheep. The animal is thus langled, and cannot go over fences. Hence the saying, ‘He goes out of the langle,’ applied to a person who goes on the spree occasionally. (2) v. to tie the hind foot and the fore foot of an animal together, to prevent it straying far.

Lap, or Lapcock, sb. a small roll of grass cut for hay. Same as a Cole of hay.

Lap, v. to roll up grass. ‘They lap it from the swathe.’

Lapped up, wrapped up.

Lapsther, sb. a lobster.

Lark heeled, sb.having long heels: a term of derision.

Lash, (1) sb. a large quantity. ‘The master bought a lash o’ things from them.’ (2) v. to throw anything down violently.

Lashins, sb. plenty. ‘Lashins and lavins,’ more than plenty.

Lash wheat, v. to beat the grains of wheat out of the ears.

Last day. ‘I wouldn’t have lifted it, not if it had lay till the last day in the afternoon,’ i.e. I would never have taken it.

Latter end, sb. the end. ‘The latter end of the week.’

Laugh, ‘Laugh with the wrong side of your mouth’ = to cry.

Laughin’ sport, sb. sport; fun. ‘You’ll find it no laughin’ sport,’ i.e. it will turn out more serious than you expect.

Lave, (1) sb. the remainder; the rest. ‘Ye may have the lave o’t.’ (2) v. to lift of throw water out of a pool by means of anything, such as a bucket or scoop.

Laverock, sb. a lark; also a hare.

Law, v. ‘To take the law’ of a person is to go to law with him.

Laws. ‘By the laws,’ a mild oath.

Lay a finger on, to touch, in the way of hurting or harming.

Lay down yer bone, v. to work hard or earnestly.

Lay out, v. to arrange; to plan. ‘I laid myself out to do it.’

Lazy led [sic], sb. a broad ridge of potatoes.

Lea, sb. a measure of linen yarn. Same as Cut. The ‘lea’ or ‘cut’ contains 300 yards, a ‘hank’ contains 12 ‘cuts,’ and a ‘bundle’ of yarn 200 ‘cuts.’

Leagh, v. low.

Leagh the brae, at the foot of the hill.

Leal, adj. loyal; true; faithful.

Leap the bullock, a boys’ game. Same as Leap-frog.

Leasing, sb. a twisted thread of cotton or flax used for tying the ‘cuts’ of linen yarn.

Leasing, v. putting in order or disentangling anything, such as thread, that has been tossed or tangled.

Leather-winged bat, a bat.

Leave over! v. stop! desist!

Lees. ‘I hav’n’t got the lees of you,’ i.e. I don’t comprehend you.

Lemon sole, sb. the lemon dab, Platena microcephala.

Lend, sb. a loan. ‘Give me the lend of it.’

Lerk, Lurk, sb. a wrinkle or fold. ‘The child’s that fat I can’t get dryin’ all his lerks.’

Lerked, adj. wrinkled. ‘The uppers of your boots is all lerked.’

Let, v. to hinder; to interfere with. A boy’s term in ball-playing, &c. ‘Don’t let the game.’

Let alone, besides. ‘I fell in and got hurt, let alone bein’ all wet.’

Let on, to show knowledge of a thing. ‘I never let on I seen him.’ ‘Don’t let on,’ i.e. don’t tell.

Libel, sb. a label.

Libbock, sb.a small, loose piece of something.

Lick, (1) sb. a blow. (2) v. to beat.

Licking, sb. a beating.

Lieve, lief.

Lift, (1) sb. the bend in the shaft or blade of a spade. ‘I would like a spade with more lift,’ i.e. with the shaft more bent. (2) v. to collect, as tickets, subscriptions, &c. (3) v.Lift it and lay it like the lugs of a laverock:’ applied when persons make frequent changes, such as moving things about from one place to another. (4) ‘Come here to I lift you:’ said in derision or in fun to a person who has fallen down. (5) v. to start a funeral. ‘What time do they lift?’

Lift yer han’, v. to strike. ‘Wud ye lift yer han’ to a woman?’

Lig, v. to lie: a boy’s term in playing marbles. ‘Let him lig,’ i.e. let his marble lie.

Light, adj. ‘Old light,’ ‘new light,’ the terms for two sects of Presbyterians. The former subscribe the Westminster Confession, the latter are principally Unitarians.


Light, light, low,

The butterfly low.’

Sung by children who are chasing butterflies.

Like. ‘What like is he?’ i.e. what is he like?

Like is applied to words thus: ‘I’m all tremblin’ like.’ ‘He was all frightened like.’ ‘He seems careless like.’ ‘Summer like.’

Like I don’t know what, a vague but common comparison.

Lilt, v. to sing or hum an air.

Limber, adj. flexible; light; frail.

Limner, sb. a portrait painter: hence sometimes applied to a photographer.

Limpy coley, sb. a boys’ game.

Line, (1) sb. dressed flax. (2) sb. a road. The new roads are so called.

Linen lease, sb. a lease granted under the provisions of the ‘Linen Act.’ It was for lives, renewable, and provided for the keeping of a certain number of looms on the farm.

Lines, (1) When a dispensary doctor is engaged making calls in his district he is said to be out on lines, i.e. when he has received a line or order. (2) sb. a discharge given to a worker or servant.

Line yarn, sb. yarn made from flax that has been dressed and sorted, so that the fibres are long and run in one direction.

Ling, sb. Heather, Erica cinerea, is especially called ling.

Linge, v. to beat; to chastise; to lunge.

Linging, sb. a beating.

Lingo (pl. Lingoes), sb. a long, thin weight of wire used in Jacquard looms.

Lint, sb. flax.

Lint-hole, sb. a pit or dam for steeping flax.

Lint-white, sb. a linnet.

Lint-white, adj. very white.

Linty, sb. a linnet.

Lip, sb. ‘Give us none of your lip,’ i.e. impudent talk. Same as Jaw.

Lippen, v. to trust; to depend on. ‘I wouldn’t lippen her to carry it.’

Lisk, sb. the groin.

Liths, sb. the layers of a slaty rock; the layers of an onion; the divisions of an orange.

Lithy, adj. flaky; in layers.

Loaden, v. to load. ‘I was told to loaden up with flax.’

Loadened, adj. loaded.

Load of coul’, a heavy cold Same as Morth o’ coul.

Loaning, sb. a country lane.

Lock, sb. a quantity. ‘A big lock.’ ‘A wee lock.’

Lockjaw, v. to take lockjaw. ‘He lockjawed.’

Lock spit, v. to mark off the boundaries of land by cutting a slight furrow.

Lodged, adj. Growing corn that has been laid by the wind and rain is said to be lodged.

Loghter, Lughter, sb. a handful of growing corn, or crop of any kind cut with a reaping-hook.

Loke smell, sb. a nasty, sickening smell.

Long. ‘The long eleventh of June,’ a saying.

Long last, the very last. ‘Well, at long last he did it.’

Long line, sb. a fishing line with several hundred hooks. Also called a Bulter.

Longsome, adj. tedious; slow.

Looby, sb. a great, loose, indolent fellow.

Loof, sb. the open hand. ‘They’re scuddin’ loofs an’ buyin’,’ i.e. they are striking hands over their bargains.

Look, v. to search. ‘Away an’ look the child’s head.’

Loose, adj. unoccupied. ‘I want to see the mistress when she’s loose.’

Loot your broos, to look sulky.

Loss, v. to lose.

Lossin’ (i.e. losing), v. going to the bad. ‘Them childre’s lossin’ for the want o’ somebuddy t’ see afther them.’

Lost, adj. cold; wet; perished. ‘Come in, chile, out o’ the cowl’; yer lost.’ ‘Och, ye craythur, ye’ll be lost if ye go out the day.’

Loughry men, a race of small hairy people living in the woods. It is said that ‘they would get your gold.’ They are very strong.

Louin, adj. hot. ‘My ears are louin.’

Loun, sb. a boy; a low, idle fellow.

Loup, v. to jump.

Louse. ‘They wad skin a louse:’ said of very grasping people.

Low, sb. a flame.

Low come off, sb. a low expression; an offensive remark. ‘They toul’ me to ate ma wee dog, an’ A sayd to them, it’s a low come off in ya to say the like o’ that.’

Lown day, a calm day.

‘Lown yer crack,’ speak lower.

Lowze, v. to loosen.

Lozenger, sb. a lozenge.

Luck. ‘It was more by good luck than good guiding,’ saying.

Lucky, adj. full; something over in count or measure.

Lucky half, rather more than half.

Lucky stones, sb. small pebbles of hard, white limestone, which have been perforated by a sea-worm. They are found on the beach, and when the perforations extend in such a way that a string could be passed through the stone, and it could thus be suspended round the neck, it is called a lucky stone.

Lue warm, luke warm.

Lug, (1) sb. the lob-worm, Arenicola piscatorum, a large sea-worm used for bait. (2) sb. the ear; the ear at the side of a can or bucket.

Luggie, sb. a boys’ game. In this game the boys lead each other about by the ‘lugs,’ i.e. ears, hence the name.

Lump, (1) sb. anything big. ‘A lump of a girl.’ (2) sb. a quantity. ‘A lump of people.’

Lump it. ‘If you don’t like it you can lump it,’ i.e. you must put up with it.

Luppen shinnen, sb. a started sinew.

Lurgan, Lurg, Lurk, sb. a whitish, very active sea-worm used for bait.

Lusty, adj. healthy looking.

Lying, adj. sick. ‘He’s lying these two months.’

Lying heads and thraws, lying in different directions.

Lythe, (1) sb. a fish, the pollack, Merlangus pollachius. (2) v. to thicken broth with flour or meal.

Lything, (1) sb. flour or meal put into broth to thicken it. (2) v. fishing for Lythe.

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