Lookeedezee the Grizzledemundy?

"Devon Landscape" by Ambrose Bowden Johns

“Devon Landscape” by Ambrose Bowden Johns (1776-1858)

Snippets 70. In the mid 18th Century Mary Palmer wrote Devonshire Dialect, a work of fiction that is highly significant from an historical perspective as it offers such a valuable insight into the language of the county at the time. Her grandson had part of the text published in 1837, to which was attached his own Glossary of Devonshire Words, which he compiled while staying in the area for health reasons. He offers the disclaimer that the glossary represents only the language of the “northern parts of the county, and will probably be found defective in many particulars.” It is my experience that authors of the time were modest to a fault. The following is an abridged selection of some of the most interesting dialect words from the first half of the alphabet (we will take a look at the second half in a future post). Anyone with knowledge of any of these surviving today is most welcome to make use of the comments section.

“Aggie” – to dispute, to murmur, to provoke or incite quarrels

“Angle-twitch” – a common earthworm

“Ballirag” – to abuse vociferously

“Barn-gun” – an eruption of pimples

“Begeged” – bewitched, hog-ridden, quasi behagged

“Belike” – probably

“Betoatled” – affected with imbecility, besotted with stupidity

“Blow a coal” – to make mischief or sow dissention between neighbours

“Bring Gwain” – to spend profusely, to accompany another person partly on the road

“Chonce” – to cheat

“Chump” – to masticate audibly

“Clapper” – a plank laid across a running stream as a substitute for a bridge

“Clathers” – clothes

“Co, co!” – Come, come! Equivalent to Pooh, pooh!

“Concable” or “Conkerbell” – an icicle

“Crope” – to creep slowly and heavily

“Crubby” – dry crusty bread is so called

“Crumply” – the state of being much wrinkled

“Daps” – likeness. ‘The very daps of her mother’, the exact likeness of her.

“Drang” or “Drang-way” – a narrow passage

“Evil” – a three-pronged dung-fork

“Flosh” – to spill

“Flusteration” – nervous excitement

“Fustilugs” – a gross unwieldy person

“Galliment” – scarecrow

“Ganny-cock” – turkey

“Gladdie” – the yellow-hammer

“Goodee” – to prosper

“Goose-cap” – a silly person

“Grizzle” – to laugh or grin

“Grizzledemundy” – one who is perpetually laughing without cause, a stupid oaf

“Hauchee-pauchee” – said of potatoes which have been boiled to a mash

“Huggermugger – ‘In huggermugger fashion’, in a mean underhand manner

“Juggy-mire” – a swamp or bog

“Kickhammer” – a stammerer

“Kicking” – smart, well-dressed, showy

“Lab” or “Labb-o’-the-tongue” – a tittle-tattle, a blab

“Lookeedezee” – look do you see, pronounced as one word

“Maunder” – to grumble or talk to oneself, to be in a brown study

“Michard” – a truant schoolboy

“Moody-hearted” – melancholy

“Moyle” – a mule

“Moyly” – to drudge like a mule

“Mystry” – to deceive

The glossary also lists some words as being specific to the region that are now commonplace in the English language as a whole, such as “cuddle”, “dunderhead”, “flabbergasted”, “grumpy”, “helter-skelter”, “lollipops” and “munch”.

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Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com Co-writer on junkyardview.wordpress.com Administrator of frontiersmenhistorian.wordpress.com
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4 Responses to Lookeedezee the Grizzledemundy?

  1. Such colourful language! It’s great that some of it has survived. Right, I’m off to get me clathers on to go check on the angle-twitch in the compost. Is that flusteration I’m feeling about my first bike lesson today?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. docrichie says:

    Excellent stuff. Thank you. I live in rural Devon, and you still hear words like this in the local market. Such a gentle language.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do you really? How interesting! When I find these old books on dialects or slang I often wonder if any of the words have survived in their local areas. Thanks for your comment 🙂


      • docrichie says:

        In Cornwall, for sure, you will see ‘Drang’ occasionally for a narrow passage. Clapper bridges are common on Bodmin Moor and dartmoor, though made of granite slabs. My neighbour calls chimneys ‘Chimlees’, I don’t know how common that is. Some of the words I overhear are in broad dialect. If they were to be written down phoenetically from such overhearings – as of course would usually have happened in the old days, when clerks, scribes and writers visited places where folk were often illiterate – anything might appear!! I guess ‘aggie’ would come from ‘argue’ etc.

        Thanks for all your postings, I usually do enjoy them.

        Liked by 1 person

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