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Local Sayings and Traditions

Local Sayings

For a more learned approach ot local dialect, folklore and sayings, consider obtaining one or more of these books:

Majorie reports that Lord Tennyson did some dialect poems. Fascinating reading, both for the dialect and the characters of the Lincolnshire people. They were available on record at one time with a written glossary.

If you're ever in the Sheffield area you can make an appointment to visit the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition at Sheffield University. You would need to give them a ring first for the appointment. Tele: 011-4222-6296.

Here we present a list of sayings that were widely used in Lincolnshire, but that some of you may not know. They are not necessarily unique to Lincolnshire, but often coloured local conversations and may be found in letters and other documents.

"All my eye and Peggy Martin"
This came from when British sailors would attack Spanish ships. Just before the attack, the Spanish sailors said in Spanish, something like "Mary, mother of Jesus protect me". To the British sailors it sounded like "All my eye...". As it never did much good for the unfortunate Spanish, it became a saying that meant rubbish or wasted talk.
As thick as six planks
Most unintelligent.
Back End
Beer Off
An Off Licence establishment - you could not drink on the premises, unlike a Pub. If you read the details above the door you will find a pub licencee is licensed to sell "Ale, Porter and Stout to be consumed on or off the premises" whereas above the off-licence door it is "licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises".
Its Black over Bill's mothers
Looks like it's going to rain.
Fill up.
Dirty, muddy or messy. ALT: "Soft as clarts" meaning "sensitive".
Fidling with something. ALT: something that was not difficult technically but was fiddly and took a long time.
To speak or act silly. ALT: When you had knots in your hair.
Daft as a boiled owl
No use to anyone.
Daft as an owd wumman's tale when er belly's full o' buttermilk
full of wind and hot air.
Do You Come From Bardney?
Means you had left the door open. Farne Hunt tells us: The story of the arrival of the bones of St.Oswald at the monastery has given rise to a well-known Lincolnshire saying. On the night that Oswald's bones arrived, the monks shut the abbey gates and refused to allow the coffin in. During the night a 'pillar of light' shone skywards from the cart and convinced the monks that Oswald was indeed a saint and that they had been wrong to shut his coffin out. Ever after, so the story goes, they left their gates wide open - hence the saying "Do you come from Bardney?", meaning that you have left a door open.
Dog Shelf
The floor, as in "you dropped it on the dog shelf".
Down Below
chiefly Boston: To take a boat trip on the Wash. "Down" is pronounced as "Darn" in the area.
common throughout England: A noun used to show mild affection or welcome. e.g. a shopkeeper saying, "what can I get for you today, Duck?" In Lincolnshire, often pronounced as "dook".
Everything but the squeak
Traditionally from killing a pig and using all of it, except for the squeak.
Evvy egg a bod
Literally, "Every egg a bird." Meaning there's one for everyone.
False Roof
Attic or loft.
Farweltered (fasweltered)
In some kind of bind or difficulty. It comes from a term for a sheep with a full fleece rolled over onto it's back.
Firkle about
To search for something.
A small vacation bungalow (see Humberstow parish).
To flee or steal away in the night.
Flitting Day
The day when one leaves one's old employer for a new one. Often associated with the Hiring Fairs.
Fogo as a fummard
Forehead ALT: Forward.
Frightened. Also occurs as "frittened".
From clogs to clogs in three generations
Refers to the common occurence of a man working or finding his way to wealth, passing it on to his son, only to have it wasted by the third generation.
Go to the foot of our stairs
Used as an expression of exasperation.
Going Down Under
Fishermen used this term around the Boston area to mean "fishing in the Wash" shallows, just below the low water line.
Gone Out
Excellent, thorough, handsome, comely, real, true, proper.
Guts for garters
Normally used as a parental threat, "I'll have your guts for garters".
Hang your nose over
To look something over for a long time.
To wriggle or move about. Mother to child: "Stop jiffling!"
To tire out. "I'm too jiggered for your sass."
Clutter, junk, debris.
Lug Hole
Ear. Miscreants might get a "clout around the lug 'ole."
Apparently imported from the north, derived from "marrow", it means close friend, used in place of "mate". Or it may mean "the other one of a pair" as when looking for a missing sock.
Sullen or bad tempered.
To brew a pot of tea.
Mend the grate
Mind or tend to the fire.
To complain or grumble.
Mud and stud
A style of building similar to wattle & daub. Mud and Stud buildings are somewhat unique to Lincolnshire.
Susceptible to the cold.
To be extremely cold.
Now Then
To stir. Any stick used for stiring is known as a "puggling" stick.
Pull it down
An expression with a mildly obscene connotation.
Rubble used to fill voids in buildings. Often used for all that stuff you hang on to 'cos it'll come in handy some day.
This refers to a main road. Believed to derive from "ramp" or "on ramp", the access road to main roads. [Terry Wells]
Siding the table
Clearing the dishes from the table.
Siling = To rain extremely hard. From the Danish verb "at sile".
To be extremely cold. From the Old English 'steorfan' - to die.
Potato. Cooks will "scrat their tates" to peel their potatoes.
Ten Foot
The alley way between houses or behind houses in towns. ALT: eight foot.
Especially "at the end of my tether." Exhausted, worn out, extremely tired; also "at wits end" or out of options.
A verb meaning come, go, press round in multitudes, press hard upon. From the German "drang". Common usage would be "to crowd" or to "gather close", as in, "throng with the sick children."
Wash the pots
Wash the dishes.
To be wet through.
Until. Unlike the typical usage, people will say "wait while I get my coat on." "Maggie in Wigan" reports there is a story, maybe apocryphal, that the notices advising of safe behaviour at level crossings had to be changed in some parts of the country. They initially said something like "Do not cross the line while a train is coming" - which could mean "Do not cross the line until a train is coming" Ooops! Elizabeth Davies reports of a Scunthorpe teacher who admonished her inattentive class with the words "You won't learn anything while you listen to me".
Often appears in a phrase like "whim-whams for meddlers", used by parents to silence inquisitive children.
typically appears "as thick as winkle-weavers", used to refer to people being in some sort of collusion.

Jeff Ashberry reports: Heard recently on a Lincolnshire farm by a Tractor mechanic: "Yok the raake to the Massey, git over yonder and bon yon dikeovers." Roughly translates to "Attach the mechanical rake to the Massey Ferguson tractor, go over there, rake up the grass mowings from the adjacent watercourse and burn them."

Farne Hunt offers this example:

Nah then, Just a litt'l no-at tuh ell ya abart ma Uncle Jor. 'E went tuh see Ant Arriat in Clee-a-thorps. 'E went up by tray-on tuh Grimsby 'n then bah co-atch tuh Ant Arriats. 'E reckoned the ossies wur yocked up rong 'n shud av 'ad watter on tuh way. 'E was supprised wen Anty (shees mams sis) sed she was brewing some tea as she don't drink. 'E was disappointed wen she only mashed it, and more so when she was yakking so mutch that she ended up stewin it. 'E said she giv im sum doah cake but called it plum lo-aff. Anty didn't seem 'appy wen 'e poored tuh tea in saucer, bloo on it 'n dunked 'is lo-aff in it. She told 'im there was a 10 foot behind the 'ouse but wen 'e went out tuh luck at tuh fishin there was a lane not a drain. Anty ask 'im to mend tuh fire but 'e sed 'e saw nothin rong with it so cuddent repair it. 'E sed 'e fettled it wit a poker, riddled the ashes maid up the fire by stoking it with co-al 'n pulled out tuh damper. Anty wur pleased. After tuh tea Anty sed 'E shud go for a walk on tuh doons. Sum one had red Lorna Doone to 'im so went, al 'e cud find wur sand 'ills 'n when 'e asked the doons wur 'e was told 'e wur on the fitties. Tuh local sed 'e shud ed 'ome as a sea-roke was coming in. 'E sed 'e didn't no watt one wuz but as a mist was coming he went 'ome anyway. 'E also sed that no way wud the cottages in tuh sand hills be able to grow crops or have live stock. 'E thinks tuh locals are clots. Wen 'e told Anty 'e cuddent find tuh doons she got real mardy. While she settl'd down 'e daren't yack to 'urr in case she got stroppy. Anty started cookin supper and sed we wur avin tripe 'n onions, 'e sed 'e were missin 'is sausage and 'acelet all reddy. Anty asked 'i tuh scrat tuh tates, 'e sed 'e didn't no wat she ment so 'e peeled the spuds. Anty asked 'im to side tuh table, she were most upset wen he tipped it ovver. She tolled 'im to tuh right it 'n lay the dishes on the flat top. Jo-ah sed 'e set the table an Anty seemed 'appy. Supper o'er 'e asked Anty if 'e could 'elp her do the pots, she sed she 'ad alreddy dunn them after 'urr cooking, but cud 'elp 'urr with washing the dishes. 'E sat were 'e was as thay 'ad only used plates knives and forks. Anty giv 'im a apple but told 'i be careful as some were mawky. 'E didn't think it wuz mawky but the worm in it were 'uge. 'E got tawking arter supper aboot cures. 'E sed Anty seamed embarrassed wen 'e sed 'e soaked 'is feet in the guzzunder wen 'e get chill blains. 'E sed wen 'e went to bed 'e realized thut Anty 'as urr guzzunder in a litt'l 'ole top 'o tuh draw - ers. In the mornin Anty asked 'im if 'e ad slept O.K. in the room wit all tuh kelter about. She sed it was rammel but he never saw the road in tuh room, 'E said 'e wonted to go to lavvy but cuddn't see 'ow cud use guzzunder. Anty asked if 'e meant chamber pot on the dresser. 'e sed 'eed never seen one 'e new other words for chamber and pot but thought Anty wud get mardy aggenn if he said those and cuddn't see how those draw-ers cud help 'im to dress. Anty sed the Autumn weather was cooling things down and Jo-ah sed as well as that tuh back end nip had come. 'E told 'urr that tuh 'arvest was in an tuh 'aystacks bilt. Anty asked if the family in Kwoddring, Cow-bit and Spall-ding wur OK, 'e sed 'e didn't no them but sed the folks on urr side in Kwade-ring, Cubbit and Spoldin wur fine. 'E wonered aboot Anties 'ealth wen she told 'im a storey about a Dutch boy putting 'is finger in a hole in a dyke to stop it leeking and sed Jo-ah cudd not jump a 6 fut dyke. 'E said tuh only 'oles 'e 'ad seen in dykes wurr rat 'oles an 'e had menny times lepped 8 fut dykes an no way cud a finger stop the flow as he had fallen in and 'e got wet but that's all. Anty showed 'im a paintin of a bank an sed it was a dyke, an wonne of a litt'l dyke which 'e said was a ditch. 'E reckens that Anty wud never win a bet abart jumping dykes 'n ditches when she thinks they'a banks. 'E thinks she's going bonkers. 'E went for a walk with Anty an took sum dandylion an burdock pop an some goodies. They went tuh the beer-off for some local beer and went in tuh snug at Co-acth 'n Ossies pub for a kwick snort. Anty coffed wen 'e lit up a Airman fag. 'E sed sorry but 'e normally got Woodbine or smoked Old Oke baccy, After a few drinks Jo-ah sed 'e got a bit brave an when Anty asked 'im to get urr a drink 'e asked urr if she 'ad a bone in urr leg. Anty sed she had and cud 'e see urr leg, she still din't get urr own drink. Taking to Anty 'e said e was going down below on sat'rday and se again wuz embarrassed 'e sed 'e didn't no why as liked fish and shrimps. Going fishing for shrimps in a smack on the Wash is not embarrassin. In the pub a woman came round selling cockles cooked and in vinegar, we both 'ad a feed. Anty was embarrassed agin when 'e drank tuh vinegar. 'E sed like fish and chips drinking the vinegar is tuh best bit. 'E sed 'e must say tuh fish'nchips wurr gud at Anties. 'E sed that Anty sed she was jiggered from watchin 'im drink and said she wanted to go omm, 'e sed 'e didn't no wat she ment but went 'ome with urr as 'e was tired. 'E sed that by tuh time thay got ome 'e ad found out Anty was mingy. She moaned all the way 'ome that she ad bought the pop. At 'ome she asked if 'e came from Bardney, 'e sed no an as the beer now wuz makin 'im dizzy asked urr if she lived in a barn an put the wood in 'ole. She sed she didn't live in a barn an shut tuh door. 'E sed that Anty calls urr pantry a larder, 'e sed e tried urr drippin in there and it was yukky. She giv 'im a jar an told 'im to rub it on 'is chest if 'e gits a cold. It stinks like goose fat to me. She giv 'im some rassberry vinegar two its awful on chips but lovely over brown sugar on yarkshire puddin. Jo-ah sez 'e was pleezed to get 'ome an speek to peeple oo don't call thing wot thay aint and don't go off half cock. 'E sed Arriats yacking was 'urting is lug'ole woss than a clip over the ear.

Gillian Bark offers this example from her experience as a young girl in Lincolnshire: Gillian Bark story


Local Traditions

Christmas Pudding
Common to many parts of England: When the Xmas pudding was made, one or two small silver charms or silver threepenny bits were added to the mixture and there was always great anticipation to see who would get the piece of pudding containing these surprises.
Entry and Exit
John Rouse reports: My Lincolnshire-born mother-in-law would go mad if you tried to leave by any door other than the one by which you entered.
First Footing
Widely known in northern Britain: A New Year's Eve ritual. The first person to cross the home's threshold after midnight on New Year's morning must be dark-haired (no blondes, please), preferably a man, and should bring a piece of coal and/or a small log of wood so you will have fuel and heat all year, a silver coin so you will have money all year, and bread so you will have food all year. In some families the tradition is to put out a box with a ring and some coins to ensure a good year for the marriage and the family income. Sometimes strangers would bring a lump of coal, to be rewarded with a warming (alcoholic) beverage.
Front Door
Keith Jackson adds: My grandmother, born of a Suffolk father and Flint mother, simply wouldn't use the front door. That was used for only three things: a new baby, a bride, a coffin.
From the French: A noisy mock serenade for newlyweds. Occurs widely in Canada and the US as well.
Tea drinking
Many men seemed to prefer to tip some tea into the saucer to cool it and drink from that. This is sometimes called "saucering" or, alternately "blowed and saucered."

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Last updated on 20-July-2012
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