Warwickshire Words and Sayings

Aerial view of Fenny Compton and surrounding countryside as seen from Gredenton Hill. 1950s
IMAGE LOCATION: (Warwickshire County Record Office)
Reference: DR, 161/48/6, img: 8920
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I had parents and grandparents from both Warwickshire and Staffordshire, and grew up in far South Warwickshire near the Oxfordshire / Gloucestershire county boundaries, so I have dialect words and sayings that could be from any of those counties. My paternal grandparents were from around Eccleshall in Staffordshire, my maternal grandfather was from Whitnash, my maternal grandmother from Southam, and my Mum grew up in Leamington.

  • Unked – dismal, dull, cold, damp weather, although not raining that ‘gets into your bones’.
  • Swilker – liquid spilling over the edges of a container such as a bucket.
  • Mither – child keeps on and on asking for something (not the same as whinging).
  • Purveting – nosing around.
  • Breviting – poking around trying to find or do something.
  • Lozick about – lying around lazily doing nothing.
  • Tice – entice. ‘Tice the cat out from under the bed’.
  • Tazzing about – dashing around.
  • Nesh – uncomfortable in cold or wet conditions, would rather stay in the warm.
  • Purvit – poking into things in a mildly annoying way.
  • Cross-ommocked – grumpy, and nothing seems right for the person who is cross-ommocked. I have no idea how it is spelt!

There were also lots of sayings which we don’t use today

  • ‘This tea’s hot – did you make it on sticks?’ When a fire is needed quickly to boil a kettle, thin sticks are used.
  • ‘You could go bareback to London on that knife’ – of a blunt knife.
  • In and out like a dog at a fair – can’t settle down.
  • Like a cat on hot bricks – as above.
  • Were you born in a barn? – you’ve left the door open and the heat’s escaping.
  • You’ll have to eat on one side of your face – if there’s not quite enough food at a meal.
  • Have you lost your appetite and found a donkey’s? – a child who’s eating a huge amount more than normal.
  • Never garden without a bucket – a useful gardening saying of my Grandpa’s which my Mum only told me when I was in my 50s.
  • Choke up chicken – what my Gran used to say to us as children when food had ‘gone down the wrong way’.

Perhaps my favourite, and I haven’t been able to google an equivalent but think it might be from Staffordshire, is when it’s thundering – ‘Don’t be frightened it’s only Pussyfoot clacking his clogs’. Presumably Pussyfoot is the devil and he’s stamping up and down on the ceiling of cloud above us.