Letter W - 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-w

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Waarsh, Worsh, adj. insipid. ‘A’ve got a warsh taste in ma mouth.’

Wabster, sb. weaver.

Wad, v. to wager.

Wag at the wa’, sb. a clock, of which the pendulum is exposed to view.

Wag on, v. to beckon. ‘I wagged on him to come across the field to me.’

Wait a wee, wait a little bit.

Waited on, just expected to die. ‘He was waited on last night.’ ‘He’s just a waitin’ on.’

Wakerife, Waukerife, adj. wakeful.

Wale, (1) sb. that which is chosen or selected. (2) v. to pick the best out of a quantity of anything.

Waling [wailing] glass, sb. a weaver’s counting glass, which magnifies a small portion of the surface of linen, and thus enables the set or count to be ascertained.

Walked [l sounded], adj. shrunken, applied to flannel that has shrunk in washing. ‘The flannen ’s as walked an’ hard as a ca’s lug’ [a calf’s ear].

Wallop, sb. ‘A wallop of a horse,’ a loose-limbed horse.

Walloping, v. floundering. A certain lake had overflowed its banks, and it was said that ‘the eels were wallopin’ through the fields.’

Wallopy, adj. loose limbed.

Walter, v. ‘The potatoes lie down and walter on the ground,’ i.e. they remain lying.

Walthered, adj. mired or stuck in a boggy road, or swampy place. ‘Whiles in the mornin’ I find the branches of the trees all walthered and smashed,’ broken down into the mire.

Wanst, adv. once.

Want, v. to do without. ‘We can’t want the pony the day.’

Wanting, without. ‘You’re better wanting that.’

Wants a square of being round: said of a person who is not wise.

War-hawk, sb. a bailiff or summons server.

Warm the wax in your ears, box your ears.

Warshness, sb.a sickish feeling accompanied by a desire to taste something salt or with a strong flavour.

Warts. Warts are said to be caused by the foam of the sea if it touches the hands.

Washing, sb. A washing of clothes is as much as is washed at once.

Wasslin’, v. making a rustling or hoarse sound in breathing. ‘Do you hear the chile wasslin’ in his chest?’

Wassock, sb. a wind-guard for the door of a cottage made of inter-woven branches of birch or hazel. Same as Corrag.

Watch out, v. to watch for; to look out for.

Water, sb. a river. ‘The six-mile water.’ ‘The Braid water.’

Water-brash, sb. a sensation as of water coming up the throat into the mouth.

Water-grass, sb. water-cress.

Water guns, sb. pl. sounds as of gun-shots said to be heard around the shores of Lough Neagh and by persons sailing on the lake. The cause of the sounds, which are generally heard in calm weather, has not been explained. The phenomenon is also spoken of as the Lough shooting.

Water of Ayr, sb. a kind of stone highly prized for hones; boys’ marbles are also supposed to be made of it. Sometimes called Wattery vair.

Water table, sb. the channel at the side of a road.

Water wagtail, sb. the grey wagtail.

Waur, adj. worse. ‘Ance ill, aye waur,’ saying.

Way, sb. ‘He’s in a great way with her,’ i.e. he is very much taken with her, or in love with her. (2) ‘What way are ye?’ ‘What way are ye commin’ on?’ i.e. how do you do?

Ways, sb. way; distance. ‘It’s a great ways off.’

Weak turn, sb. a fainting fit.

Wean, Wain, sb. a child.

Wear in, v. ‘The time will soon wear in,’ i.e. the time will soon pass.

Wearie. ‘The auld wearie on you,’ an evil wish or curse.

Weasel, sb. the stoat. The true weasel does not occur in Ireland.

Weather gall, sb. the end of a rainbow seen in squally weather. Same as Dog.

Weavers, sb. pl. spiders.

Webber, sb. a country linen buyer. (Obsolete.)

Week, sb. a wick — hence the riddle or puzzle, ‘Licht a can’le on Monday mornin’, an’ it ’ll burn tae the week’s en’.’

Wed, v. weeded. ‘The garden wants to be wed.’

Wee, (1) sb. a short time. ‘In a wee’ = in a short time. (2) adj. little.

Weed, sb. a feverish attack to which women are sometimes liable.

Weel-faured, adj. good-looking.

Wee folk, Wee people, sb. pl. fairies.

Wee knowin’, sb. a small quantity; what could be perceived.

Weel saired, adj. well served.

Weeny, adj. little. Same as Wee.

Wee ones, sb. pl. children. ‘There was a wheen o’ wee ones follayin’ afther thim.’

Wee thing, a little. ‘It’s a wee thing sharp this mornin’.’

Weght, sb. a round tray, made of sheepskin stretched on a hoop, for carrying corn, &c.

Weigh butter and sell cheese, sb. a children’s game. Two persons stand back to back and interlock their arms; then each, by bending forward alternately, lifts the other off the ground.

Well? what?

Well-blooded, adj. with a high complexion; rosy.

Well ink, sb. a marsh plant, Veronica Beccabunga. It is used medicinally.

Well, I think! an exclamation of surprise; indeed!

Well of a car, sb. a receptacle for luggage or parcels in the central part of an ‘outside car.’

Well put on, adj. well-dressed. The reverse is Ill put on.

Welshmen plucking their geese, a heavy shower of snow when the wind is S.E. or E.

Welt the flure, a call of encouragement to persons dancing.

Wet-my-foot, sb. the quail; so called from its cry. Also called Wet-my-lip.

Wet shod, adj. having one’s boots and stockings saturated.

Whack, (1) sb. a good allowance of drink. ‘He can take his whack.’ A profit, or a share or slice of the profit, on a transaction. (2) Quality. ‘It’s not the whack,’ i.e. not the quality; not up to the mark.

Whalin’, sb. a beating.

Whammel, v. to fall in a sprawling way.

Whammle, Whummle, v. to upset or knock over something.

Whang, (1) sb. a thong: hence a shoe-tie. (2) sb.a large slice cut off a loaf.

Wharve, sb. the spool fastened on a spindle over which the band passes which drives the spindle.

What ails you at? means what objection or dislike have you to? Thus: ‘What ails you at that man?’ ‘What ails you at your stir-about?’

What come on you? what happened to you? what delayed you?

What do they call you? i.e. what is your name?

What like is he? what is he like?

What way are ye? how do you do?

What way is he? how is he?

Whatsumever, adv. whatever.

Whaup, sb. a curlew, Numenius Arquata.

Whee! Wee! call for a horse to stop.

Wheen, sb. a quantity; a number. ‘Give us a wheen o’ them nuts.’ ‘I’ll try it for a wheen o’ days more.’

Wheep, v. to whistle.

Wheepler, sb. a whistler.

Wheetie, sb. a duck.

Wheetie-wheetie, a call to ducks.

Which? what?

Which han’ will ye have it in? a taunt, meaning you won’t get it at all.

Whiles, adv. now and then; occasionally. ‘Ogh, ’deed, whiles he’s betther an whiles he’s waur.’

Whillalooya. ‘Singing whillalooya to the day nettles,’ dead and buried.

Whimper, sb. a whisper.

Whim-wham. ‘A whim-wham for a goose’s bridle,’ something that April fools are sent in search of.

Whin checker, sb. the hen stone chat. See Stone checker.

Whinge, v. to whine; to cry in a complaining way.

Whin grey, sb. a bird, the lesser redpole.

Whins, sb. furze.

Whin-stone, sb. basalt.

Whip, v. to run quickly.

Whish! Whisht! Wheesht! interj. hush.

White, v. to cut small chips off a stick with a knife.

White-headed boy, sb. a favoured one; a mother’s favourite among her boys.

White horse, sb.a summons.

White side, sb. the tufted duck, or the young of the golden eye.

Whitey-brown thread, sb. a strong kind of thread: so called from its colour.

Whitterick, sb. a small swimming bird, perhaps the little grebe.

Whitterick, Whitterit, sb. the stoat, Mustela Erminea.

Whizeek, sb. a severe blow. ‘A hut him a whizeek on the lug.’

Who’s owe it? who owns it?

Whuddin’, v. applied to a hare when it is running about as if to amuse itself.

Whumper, sb. a whisper; a private intimation.

Whup, sb. a whip.

Whutherit, sb. a stoat.

Why but you? why did (or do) you not? ‘Why but you pay the man?’ ‘Why but you hut him?’

Wiley coat, sb. a short shirt of flannel, with short sleeves, open down the front, worn by men, sometimes next the skin and sometimes over another garment.

Wilk, sb. a periwinkle.

Williard, adj. obstinate; self-willed.

Willie Hawkie, sb. the little grebe. Also called Drink-a-penny.

Willie-wagtail, sb. the wagtail.

Wilyart, Wulyart, adj. bashful; stupid.

Win, v. to save or dry hay, turf, &c., by exposure to the wind.

Wind. (1) ‘To get under the wind’ of any affair is to get secret or early information about it. (2) The following rhyme has regard to the various winds:

‘When the wind ’s from the north

It’s good for cooling broth;

When the wind ’s from the south

It blows the dust into your mouth;

When the wind ’s from the east

It’s neither good for man or beast;

When the wind ’s from the west,

Then the weather’s best.

Winedins, sb. pl. The head and foot rig in a ploughed field on which the horses turn are the winedins.

Wine ’ere, Wind ’ere? a call to a horse to turn to the left or near side.

Wink o’ sleep, any sleep. ‘I didn’t get a wink o’ sleep for a week.’

Winlin, sb. a small roll of hay.

Winnle stroe, sb. a stalk of withered grass.

Winter dyke, sb. two strong fences of stones or earth crossing each other at right angles. These are erected on exposed pastures to shelter cattle left out in winter. Also a clothes-horse for drying clothes on.

Winter Friday, sb. a term for a cold, wretched-looking person.

Wit, (1) sb. knowledge; intelligence. (2) ‘He has to seek his wit yet,’ said of a fool.

Witch’s cradle, sb. a Lias fossil, Gryphea incurva.

Wite, v. to blame.

Wi’ the han’, favourable; easily done. This expression is taken from ploughing experience. When a man is ploughing across a sloping place, and has difficulty in getting the earth to lie back, he would say it was ‘again the han’;’ if otherwise, he would say it was ‘wi’ the han’.’ The horse that walks on the unploughed land is said to be ‘in the han’;’ the other horse is called the ‘fur horse,’ because it walks in the furrow.

Without, adv. unless. ‘Without you do it.’

Wizzen, sb. the windpipe.

Wobble, v. to lather the face before shaving; to totter in walking; to shake; to be unsteady on the feet.

Wobblin’ brush, sb. a shaving brush.

Wool cottar, sb. a cormorant.

Wool fire, wild fire, an eruption on the skin. ‘It spreads like wool fire,’ a comparison.

Word, sb. news; a message. ‘Word come that his brother was dead.’ ‘Did the master leave word when he would be home?’

Words, sb. a falling-out. ‘Why did you leave your last place?’ ‘Oh, the manager an’ me had words.’

Worm month, sb. part of July and part of August; a fortnight before and a fortnight after Lammas. “Everything that has life in it lives this month.”

Worm-picked, adj. worm-eaten, as wood.

‘Worse nor lose ye canna,’ i.e. you can but lose, so you may venture to do it.

Wraith, sb. a shadowy likeness of a person.

Wran, sb. a wren.

Wringin’, adj. saturated; dripping with water. ‘I was out in that pour, an’ I’m all wringing.’

Wrought on, v. worked in the system. ‘He took a swelling in his knee last July, an’ it has wrought on him ever since.’

Wud, adj. enraged; mad.

Wun, sb. the wind.

Wunnher, sb. a sprite of a child. ‘Come here, ye wunnher, ye.’

Wunnhur what ails ye. ‘A’ll mak ye wunnhur what ails ye,’ a threat of a beating or punishment.

Wunnie claith, sb. winnow cloth, a large cloth on which the grain falls when it is winnowed by being tossed in the wind.

Wur sels, sb. pl. ourselves.

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