Letter S - 1892 Mid-Antrim Glossary

Author: ‘F.L.’ (William James Knowles)

Date: 1892

Source: Nine lists of local (mid-Antrim) words and sayings, with notes, published in the Ballymena Observer between April and August 1892. See 1892 Ballymena Observer (Mid-Antrim) Word Lists for original articles (USLS/TB/Hist/1800-1899/012).

Comments: This serialised ‘glossary’ was compiled in response to a letter published in the Ballymena Observer, 19 February, 1892, from P W Joyce, whose book, English as we Speak it in Ireland, was in preparation. Dr. Joyce was appealing throughout Ireland for help in amassing a record of Irish Dialect, including words of Scotch origin. The first response from the readers of the Ballymena Observer was a significant glossary of local words by ‘F.L.’ on April 8. This word list began with an appeal for other readers to “add to it and throw light on meanings which they will see are rather obscure to me”. Further word lists introduced by ‘F.L.’ then appeared on April 22; April 29; May 6; May 27; June 17; July 1; and August 18. The identity of F.L. as William James Knowles, MRIA (1832–1927), a distinguished antiquarian from Cullybackey, was confirmed by Joyce when English as we Speak it in Ireland was published in 1910. Numerous entries sourced from this ‘Ballymena Observer’ glossary were also published in the English Dialect Dictionary (1898) and the Scottish National Dictionary (1929–1946). A complete A–Z ‘merged’ glossary has been created from these entries, and appears as the ‘1892 Mid-Antrim Glossary’ in this website.

Doc. ref. no.: USLS/TB/Hist/1800-1899/013-s

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Sail – as ride; as, Wull ye gie me a sail in the kert?

Sapple – to dip or soak; as, Sapple the fadge in the gravy.

Sappy – full of sap or gravy. Applied derisively to niggardly persons; for instance, to one who had made a mean present. Heth A tell you, you were gie an’ sappy.

Sawddie – fat and healthy looking. A fine swaddie o’ wee pig; a fine swaddie o’ a lass.

Scad – for scald.

Scaith – injury, damage. A fear the kye’ll be in some scaith or ither; A’ll no tak baith the scaith an’ the scorn.

Scale – To have an interval; as, The scholars are scaled.

Scam – slightly burned.

Scart – scratch.

Sci or Si – the seam under the armpit that attaches the sleeve to the body of the dress.

Scobe – to pin down thatch with pointed rods. Rods that will easily bend without breaking, like hazel, when pointed at both ends are called scobes

Scoot – a loosening of the bowels in animals.

Scouder – bread cooked on the gridiron.

Scourged – a term applied to bare hands and feet which have become red and sore from the effects of cold and wet. My feet’s scourged; Whut’s guid for scourged han’s?

Scraigh – a harsh sound, as, that of fowl when frightened. A person will say, A lot a scraigh oot o’ me.

Scrape – to gather; as A’m trying tae scrape up the price o’ a coo.

Scraws – the sward and as much of the soil as contains the roots of the grass, neatly pared or skinned off with the flaghterspade.

Screed – a tear in cloth; a tune; as, Gie us a screed on the fiddle. Perhaps the literal meaning is rather to scratch or screed the strings of the fiddle.

Screenge – applied to children and household pets who search out hidden things hidden away and not intended for them; as, a kitten when discovered stealing milk will be described as a little screenge.

Scrimp – barely sufficient in measure or quantity. Same as Gimp, I believe. Skimp is another form of the word. Is it big enough? No, it’s rather scrimp. “Will you take this woman whose hand you are squeezing to be your lawful wedded wife in flush times and scrimp?” (Newspaper a few days ago.)

Scroof – a hard outside surface, as the crust of a loaf; a crust of dirt on the skin.

Scrotch – scorch.

Scruff – scurf.

Scrunty – stingy, miserly.

Scud – a slap with a ruler on the open hand. A punishment frequently administered to schoolboys.

Scuff – to soil a dress and make it shabby by wearing it at unreasonable times.

Scunge – One who wastes his time by running among his neighbours.

Scunner (pronounced Scundther) – Disgust.

Seep – the oozing of water from a bank or sides of a drain. A garment saturated with rain will be hung out to seep.

Semple – perhaps simple, common; as, He wus liked by baith gentle an semple.

Server – a tray.

Set – to become; as, You set your bonnet. To plant; as, A knowed it wus him by the set o’ him.

Sevendable – severe, as, A sevendable beating, supposed to be derived from seven double.

Shade – the line of parting of the hair. Wull ye tell me if that’s a straight shade.

Shaen – for shoes.

Shank’s Mere – your feet. Hoo did ye come? i.e. What kind o’ conveyance had ye? Heth A jist come by shank’s mere.

Shannagh – a friendly chat.

Shaups – the empty pods of beans or peas.

Sheddins – the place where two roads cross. He leeves at the sheddins.

Shilcorns – pimples on the face.

Shillin – corn with the husks shelled off by the mill.

Shilty – a small pony.

Shine – teasing one for fun, as, We will take a shine out of him.

Shinnens – for sinews.

Shinney – a game played with carved sticks, like golf, but a number may be engaged on each side driving the nag or ball backwards and forwards as in football, only using the shinneys to strike with instead of the feet.

Shire – allowing a mixture of any substance and water to rest till the solid matter fall to the bottom.

Shough – an open drain.

Shows – the hard central portion of the flax which is removed from the fibre by scutching.

Shuggy-Shoo – a sort of a see-saw made by children of the branch of a tree.

Sib – related. Too sib is too nearly related.

Sicker – steady, sure; as, He’s gye sicker boy.

Silly Bub – buttermilk mixed with newly milked sweet milk.

Silly-go-safely – a term applied good naturedly to a person who is jocular and fond of playing harmless tricks.

Singe or Swunge – to burn off downs from a plucked fowl; to remove by the flame of a candle the loose threads from the edges of a folded web of linen.

Sinthery – asunder. The man tuk the clock sinthery an’ cleaned it. It will be said of two persons very much alike in appearance. You cud harly tak them sinthery; or of two companions who are often together. They’re niver sinthery.

Skeeg – a drop. There’s no a skeeg o’ milk in the hoose.

Skeigh – high tempered, wildish. Applied to a horse; as, He’s gie an’ skeigh.

Skelf – a splinter, a flake. A wee skelf o’ wud haes run intae my finger; There’s a skelf knocked aff the plate.

Skelly – to squint.

Skelp – a slap on a child’s bare hips.

Skep – the neatly made hood-like cover of straw for bees.

Skibel – You’re a naked skibel would be said to a ragged urchin.

Skilly – gruel. The name of the vessel for making skilly is still retained in English. (Skillet).

Skink – thin gruel.

Skite – a clash or slap on the side of the head.

Skiver – for skewer.

Sklenther – for slender.

Slaverin bib – a pinafore or slip for young children.

Slays – the part of a loom containing the reed, and which by its backward and forward motion drives the threads of weft close together.

Sleenge – a lazy good-for-nothing fellow. You’re a lowified sleenge.

Slinkit – thin, in poor condition; as, As slinkit as a grew.

Slip – a young growing pig, a pinafore for children.

Slipe – a strong frame work made of two parallel side pieces with cross bars or sloats, used by farmers for drawing large stones. It has no wheels, and lying close to the ground, stones can be easily rolled on to it. The load is then drawn in a sliding fashion along the ground.

Slither – to slide along quietly.

Slocken – to quench thirst; as, That’s very slockenin’ drink.

Slouter – an untidy awkward fellow with bad fitting clothes.

Slunk – a deep hollow or rut in the road caused by the cart wheels.

Slut – a sort of a candle made by dipping a tow cord into molten resin. A dirty, slovenly woman would be nicknamed a slut.

Smit – infected. Whut’s the metter wi’ ye? A had the maisels. Hoo did ye get the maisels? A wus smit at skael.

Smithereens – he smashed it intae smithereens; small pieces.

Smittal – contagious, infectious. They say the coul’s smittal; They hae the faver, an’ they say it’s a very smittal kine.

Smudge – a smile.

Smudgin – smiling; suppressed laughter.

Smur – fine rain.

Snash – impertinent talk from a child or a servant.

Snash – provoking language; as, Gie me nane o’ your snash.

Sned – to cut, to trim; as, to sned the hedge.

Sneevlin – constantly snuffing with the nose.

Snell – saucy, pert. A girl who can scold and give word for word will be spoken of as gye an’ snell, or a gye snell bit.

Snib – to cut off small slices from the top ends of potatoes.

Snibbins – the portions snubbed or sliced of potatoes.

Snick – a piece of iron with a notch for a bar to drop into when fastening the door.

Sniftering – constantly snuffing with the nose, as when there is a cold in the head.

Snig – a small thing where the general run are larger; as, A snig of a potatoe, a snig of an apple.

Snirtin – making a noise with the nose while endeavouring to refrain from laughing. They wur snirtin’ an’ lachin’.

Snite – as, Ded snite you for a rascal.

Snoak or snoke – to search with sniffing by the nose, as in the case of dogs searching for rats. They will be encouraged by the cry, “Snoak it oot”.

Snod – to trim; as, in a sheaf of oats. Snod it up an’ mak it feat.

Snool – a mean fellow who would not feel or take an affront.

Snotters – a discharge from the nose.

Soans or Sowans – flummery. This is generally made of a mixture of meal and husks called meal seeds, being the sweepings and the last made portion of meal. They are steeped in water and allowed to remain till sour. Then the liquid is strained and boiled, when it thickens into a jelly-like material called sowans.

Soncy – douce, pleasant looking, lucky, as, A soncy face; and something of a good size and value would be said to have some sonce with it.

Soss – to let yourself drop into a seat, or seat yourself with a bounce as when in a temper. She threw herself on the chair wi’ a great soss.

Sough – a sound; as, The sough of the trees. A rumour; as, There’s a sough of so-an-so going to get married.

Souple – swift of foot, as, he wus as souple as a hare.

Sousin – in washing clothes plunging them vigorously up and down in the water.

Spay – to tell fortunes.

Spay-wife – a woman who tells fortunes.

Speel – to climb, as to speel a tree.

Speel – to climb, as, to speel a tree.

Spelch. to splice anything broken, Applied principally to a broken pipe.

Spell – a lengthened time of one kind of weather; as, A spell o’ dry wather, a spell o’ wat wather.

Spen – to spen is the local term for weaning a child.

Spenchil – to attach a cord from the head to the fore leg of an animal to prevent it from breaking over fences.

Spicket – a spout, as, His nose bled as if it wus rinnin’ oot a spicket.

Spill – a heavy fall of rain is called a spill o’ rain.

Spinel – spangle, four banks o’ yarn.

Spittin – a spade’s depth.

Splaggy – splay footed.

Splash – weak soup or tea will be characterised as splash.

Spleen – a complaint that woman are subject to, as, A had a touch o’ the splane.

Splinners – splinters of wood.

Splits – long thin pieces of bog wood used for giving light.

Spluchan – a sort of a purse for holding tobacco.

Spraghle – to sprawl and cast about for support in water.

Spreet. something diminutive, as a spreet of a fowl.

Sprent – just home from the shop, as, a sprent new hat or bonnet.

Sprickled – speckled.

Sprunged – applied to animals which have not thriven well, as a sprunged cat.

Spuins – matter that is vomited.

Spulpin – a rascal.

Spunky – said of a person who was generous and did his part in an off-hand way.

Spurtle – an instrument with two short prongs used by thatchers for pushing in the straw that they are putting on as thatch.

Squaring – setting oneself in a fighting attitude.

Squaverin’ – throwing the arms about.

Squeenacy – for quinsy.

Squench – to quench.

Squink – to move the eyes from side to side.

Stane-bruise – a sort of large fleshy boil that children who go bare footed take on the sole about the heel.

Stapple – about as much long straw as could be grasped by the hand, tied at the top end. Used in thatching.

Staughie – a mixture of odds and ends left over for some days and cooked together.

Steepins – pew rents in a church.

Sten – to prance about, as, He jumped and stenned like a tip aff its tether.

Stickin – stiff, disobliging.

Stime – the slightest glimmer of light, as, A canny see a stime. A person also informs me that she has heard blin’ stam called blind man’s stime.

Stirk – a calf about a year old.

Stoagin’ – walking awkwardly, and likely to do injury by tramping on things.

Stoon – a sharp sudden pain.

Strant – the quantity of milk drawn from a cow’s teat at one pull.

Streeker – a nickname for a very tall person. Heth that’s a streeker.

Streetcher – a person stretched on the ground from a blow, a dead person; as, He’s a stretcher; A’ll lee ye a stretcher.

Stribbins – the last milk drawn off the cow at milking time.

Striffin – a membranous structure; as, the striffin of an egg, the striffin o’ a dockin’, &c.

Strinkit – contracted, as sinews do after a burn.

Stripper – a cow that has missed being in calf for one season but is still giving milk.

Strone – has a similar meaning to strant.

Stroop – the spout of a kettle or teapot.

Stumpin – in a bad temper. Whut’s she stumpin aboot noo ?

Stunnered – astonished, shocked.

Sturdy – the seed of a plant which grew among oats an got ground with the meal. Any one partaking of porridge made of such meal got giddy and was said to have the sturdy. (N.B. perhaps someone could tell the name of the plant. I suppose it does not appear now owing to better cultivation).

Swap – to exchange.

Sweel – to join with rings having having a sweel or swivel; as, a pair o’ sweeled sheep.

Sweerence – trying which would be longest at doing a job. Get up some o’ ye twa an lead the kye. Ye wud think ye wur drawin’ sweerence.

Swither – to consider; as, A’m swithering whather tae go or no’.

Swunger – an oath. He swore a great swunger, &c.

Swurl – a gust of wind sweeping round in a circular manner.

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