B - Buckinghamshire Vocabulary
The following list of words are quoted from three articles published in the "Records of Buckinghamshire" by Alfred Heneage Cocks, M.A, between 1897 and 1909 (some editing has been used to produce a unified list). See the introduction for further details..
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BABBINGS, the great fagots formerly used to heat ovens for bread-making.
BACK, TO, to wager or bet. "That ain't above a fortnit sin', I'll back."
BACK-EDDY, an eddy.
BACK-HARROW, e.g., "Things begin to go back-harrow," i.e., affairs begin to go badly.
BACKER, to give anyone, to thrash. "I'll give him backer," is somewhat equivalent to the better known expression, "I'll give him something he won't like." (Should the word be 'bacca, for tobacco?)
BAFFLE, to cheat, gull.
BAG, the udder of a cow. A sack almost invariably so called.
BAGGING-HOOK, a fagging hook. See also Fag and Fagging-Hook.
BAIL, the movable handle over a three-legged pot or bucket. A dictionary word, though not in common use. Halliwell gives this meaning as used in the eastern counties.
BALK, a headland in a field. The common use of the word as a verb meaning to check, foil, disappoint, etc., is metaphorical, probably from the fact that the plough-horses on reaching a balk, must stop, turn, and go back. AS balca, a ridge, heap, partition, etc.
BALLAST, shingle dredged from the river-bed.
BALMY, not right in the head.
BANNER and BAN-STICKLE, a stickleback (genus of fish, gasterosteus). AS ban, a bone, and sticel, a spine or thorn.
BARLEY-SPANKER, a kind of flat barley-cake.
BARM, yeast, leaven.
BARNEY, a "game" in the slang sense, = a commotion, also a gossip.
BARN-TASKER, a professional wielder of a flail. There were two departments of the art, wheat-tasking and barley-tasking.
BARROW PIG, a castrated pig. AS bearh = porker.
BARTON, this word is now, I believe, obsolete in Bucks, and only survives in the name Barton Hartshorn; but it is still current (e.g.,) in East Anglia. Mr. Rye states that it formerly meant the demesne land of the lord of the manor, not let out on lease, but held by the lord in his own hands, for the sustenance of his household. Now (where used) it means a farm-yard, a rick-yard, or even a poultry-yard.
BASH, to beat; of bushes, or the surface of a river, to drive birds, fish etc. To eat down fruit with a long pole. The Slang Dictionary also gives it in the sense of corporal punishment.
BAT-FOLING, BAT-FOWLING, or BAT-FOLDING, fowling with bats, i.e., catching birds by means of a net stretched between two poles or bats, so called from being beaten or clapped together to imprison the birds. This is the proper name for this method, which in the south of the county is called clap-netting.
BAT-MOUSE. The various smaller species of Bats (of which the most common is the Pepistrelle) are called Bat-mice. See also Rat-bat.
BATCHELOR'S BUTTONS, the white campion (Lychnis dioica). See COW-RATTLE, infra.
BATTER, a slope, an incline. As a verb, to make sloping. "'E (= a dead rabbit) come tiddly-bump down the batter." The word is used technically in building to signify the slope of a wall thicker at bottom than top.
BAWSER, or BALSER; BAWSEY, or BALSEY, a large (playing) marble, also called ALLEY.
BEANS, a jollification. "I'll give him beans" = Something he won't like.
BECLAYPERED, See Claypered.
BED, a long flannel forming part of the long-clothes outfit of a baby.
BEDEHOUSE, an almshouse. AS gebed-hus; bed, gebed, prayer; biddan to pray. See BID.
BEE-NETTLE, the white dead-nettle (Lamium album). See DUMB-NETTLE.
BEELY, dry, pithy. Said of apples become dry through being kept too long.
BEG AT, TO, to beg of.
BEGGAR HIS NECK, used as a semi-humorous malediction.
BE GOES, or BE GOY, an interjection, originally an oath. "That be good tack, begoy."
BE GOOD, a valedictory expression. "Be ye off, Bill? Wal., be good."
BEHIND, "you're all behind," = you are behind-hand with your work, or, you are late.
BEHOLD YE! (interjection), used in such a sentence as "I looked away half a mo', and behold ye! when I looks round ag'in it was clean gone."
BENNET (often pronounced BENNUT), the stalk of a grass, especially one grown old and hard. AS beonet. Mod. Eng. BENT (see below).
BENNY GAUNT. Mr. Gurney was told that this name is sometimes used jocularly for the sun. He heard a labourer call a heavy sheaf of corn, which he was in the act of lifting, "one of Benny Gaunt's dumplin'-busters." If the phrase referred to the sun in this instance, it was a triumph of metaphor; but there was a "fighting man," i.e. a boxer or prize-fighter in the neighbourhood many years ago of the name of Ben Gaunt or Caunt.
BENTS, not the Bent-grass (Agrostis vulgaris), but the Rye-grass (Lolium italicum).
BESOM, a broom [Dictionary word] (AS besm, besem, besma); metaphorically a direputable woman.
BEST, to over-reach, or get the better of.
BETHWINE, the Lesser Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), and almost equally used for the Great Bindweed (Calystegia sepium). See Devil's Gut. A Wiltshire name is Withy-wine. Halliwell gives Withwind, but mentions no locality.
BETIMES, does not mean early, but sometimes, occasionally.
BETWIXT AND BETWEEN, midway. "He's a nuther good nor bad, but betwix' and between-like."
BEVER, or BAVER, a drink or meal between the ordinary meals. In the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Peter-in-the-East, Oxford, for 1655, is: "payd for chipping the tenor and advise and beavers -.4.-."
BIBBER, a drinker. See Bever.
BID, TO, to wish, pray (AS biddan, to pray); only used in such phrases as "I bid you all goodnight." See Bedehouse, supra.
BINGE, to soak a wooden tub to prevent its leaking. Halliwell gives it as a Lincolnshire word.
BIRD-CHERRY, often means the White-beam tree (Pyrus aria), instead of the real Bird-cherry (Cerasus padus).
BIRD-STARVING, the keeping of birds off newly-sown corn, or other seed.
BIRD'S-EYE, the Common Eyebright, or Germander Speedwell (Euphrasia officinalis).
BISSEN, the milk of a cow immediately after calving. The usual modern word is BIESTINGS or BEASTINGS. AS, bysting, and beost; German, biest-milch.
BITCH-RAT, see Sow-rat.
BLAB, to disclose a secret, or tell tales.
BLACK-GRASS, the Hop Trefoil (Trifolium procumbens).
BLACK-TOP, a Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla).
BLACKY, a Blackbird (Turdus merula).
BLAME, or BLARM, intended as a milder form of "swearword" than the national D--.
BLAND, a "bland of snow" = a slight covering.
BLARING, crying, loud talking. Halliwell gives the second meaning of to blare, as to roar, to bellow, to bleat, to cry.
BLATER, TO, to blate about swaggeringly.
BLATING, for bleating.
BLEWIT, a kind of mushroom, growing in July. Halliwell gives it as a Northumbrian name.
BLIGHT, a dull cloud (especially in summer, and with an E. wind) spreading all over the sky, is called a blight, and is supposed to cover trees, etc., with blight, such as the aphis.
BLIND, abortive. Used of blossoms that do not form fruit.
BLIND-EYES, the common red poppy (Papaver rheas). There is a superstition that if this flower is looked at for too long a time the gazer will loose his sight.
BLIND-MAN'S HOLIDAY, a jocular term for a dark night.
BLIZZY, a blaze (as with a heap of thorns).
BLOB, a small lump of anything thick, viscid, or dirty (as of tallow, dregs of ink, etc.). This is one of the meanings for the word given by Halliwell, the first being "a blunt termination to a thing usually more pointed."
BLOOD-WORM, the larva of the gnat; a colony of them just showing above the mud of a pool, has much the appearance of blood.
BLOUZY, loose and disordered, of a woman's hair.
BLOW-BALL, the seed head of the dandelion, etc.
BLOW-FLY, a Blue Bottle Fly; FLY-BLOWS, the ova of flies.
BLUBBER, occasionally used for a bubble. "That come up all in little teeny blubbers."
BLUE-HAWK, generally means Sparrow-hawk (Accipiter nisus).
BLUSTROUS, for blustering, of the weather.
BOAR, in distinguishing the sexes of various species of animals, the words BOAR, DOG, SOW, or BITCH are often used for species other than those to which the words are properly appropriated.
BOBBISH, always used in Bucks (so far as I know) to signify well, in good health, in answer to enquiries after health, "I'm pretty bobbish, thank'ee;" but Halliwell states that it is used in various dialects,as, pretty well in health; not quite sober; somewhat clever.
BODE, TO (generally pronounced BORD), to threaten, forebode. "It bords to be a very rough night."
BODGE, a man working at a trade, not a master workman. See ODD-BODGE-MAN.
BOFFLE, TO, to baffle.
BOILING. Halliwell explains it as "a quantity or number of things or persons," but it rather signifies "the lot," or "entire number," or quantity. Generally used in the expression "the whole boiling;" seldom by itself, and never after any other adjective, such as "large," "great," etc.
BOND, for band. "Hay-bonds." Used for band in the C.W. accounts for Wing for 1585, see Church Bells for Bucks, p. 627. When a poor woman fell down stairs, I was told that the doctor had "bound her up in bondage."
BORE ABOUT, TO, to pore over, to wear oneself out.
BOOST, or BOOST UP, a lift with the shoulders given to a climber, or to a sack, etc.; also as a verb. See Hotch.
BOOSY, intoxicated. Doubtless N. French, connected with boire.
BOSS, to miss one's aim. Possibly a variation of botch.
BOSS-EYED, see Cross-eyed.
BOTTLE-TIT, the Long-tailed Titmouse (Acredula caudata).
BOUGH-HOUSE, a house or booth with a temporary license to sell beer. They were formerly seen at Ivinghoe fair, and others in the neighbourhood. They were so called from the bough or bush hung as a sign as in mediaeval alehouses.
BOUTING-PLOUGH, a double-furrow plough. (Quite a recent invention however.)
BRAND-FIRE NEW, brand new. Halliwell gives this as an eastern counties form.
BREVET, to rummage. Halliwell gives it as a west-country word, to move about inquisitively; to search diligently.
BRITTON, or BRITTON-BOARD (? spelling), the bottom- or flooring-boards of a boat or punt. Halliwell gives "Brittene: to cut up; to carve; to break, or divide into fragments." Brittons are made in sections for facility in taking up and replacing, but whether that is the meaning of the present word does not seem at all obvious. In the "Companion" to "The Oarsman's Guide to the Thames," etc., New Edit. (1857), with no author's name, but by the late Thos. Lett Wood and Sir Patrick Colquhoun, the principal bottom-boards of a boat are written burdens. "Shifting battens, otherwise termed footlings, are however, far preferable to solid burthens." (The word is thus spelt in the two ways.) The more or less triangular sections of the brittons, tapering to fit the bow and stern, are called sheets; with which word in this sense, Mr. R. E. Goolden (an old Thames-sider), who kindly lent me this "Guide," tells me he is familiar.
BRON, brawn. Old French braon.
BRY, a horse-fly, a gad-fly (Tabanus bovinus). The late Rev. J. G. Wood ("Illustrated Natural History," 1863) names this species the Breeze-fly; Halliwell gives Brims as used in Kent.
BUB, "GRUB AND BUB," food and drink. See Bibber, supra.
BUBBY-ATCH or BUBBY-UTCH. Mr. Gurney has often heard this word applied to a small box-like pony-trap. The proper form is no doubt BOOBY-HUTCH, which Halliwell gives as an eastern counties word for a clumsy ill-contrived carriage or seat. It sounds as if the name had been bestowed by a sailor, in fancied resemblance to a booby-hatch!
BUCKS, a staging erected across stream, on piles driven into the riverbed It may either be at a weir, with sluices, for the passage of barges and boats before the use of locks, such as is now known to most people as a flood-gate; or it may be an EEL BUCKS, which is a staging with wicker baskets, or wheels, for the catching of eels.
BUDGE, self-satisfied contented, cheerful, "uppity." "Uncle come in quite budge this mornin'."
BUFFER, a foolish fellow. Corrupted from A-N. buffard. Doubtless this word and Duffer are generally confused; the latter, according to Halliwell, signifies a pedlar who sells women's clothes.
BUG, offence. "'E don't care what folks say; - not what you and me 'ud take bug at, 'e don't." Also (pronounced BOOG), a caterpillar.
BULL-HERN (pronounced bull-ern), a male heron. Also called a JACK-HERN. See Moll-Heron, which is used for a female heron.
BULL-RATTLE the white campion (lychnis dioica). See Batchelor's Buttons, and Cow-rattle.
BULL RUSH, TO, to go headlong.
BULLOCK, TO, to bully.
BUMBARREL, the Long-tailed Tit (Acredula rosea). The golden-crested wren (Regulus cristatus).
BUMMOCK, to beat; defeat.
BUNT, to push, with the implied idea of its being done at a run, and sometimes with the head; to butt. Generally, "he bunted up against me," less frequently, "he bunted me."
BURDEN, the huge bundles of wood collected for firing, to a large extent by women and dishonestly.
BURN YE, BURN IT, imprecations.
BURROW, sheltered. "It's rather more burrow there." The Rev. R.H. Pigott tells me this is in common use round Grendon Underwood, and throughout the Vale of Aylesbury.
BUSH, not used for bushes generally, but exclusively for the loppings of quick-set.
BUSSEN PIG (? = BURSTEN), a ruptured boar-pig.
BUTTY, "pal," companion. "I like gooin' a'ter 'ares best without no butties."
BUXEN-BERRY, BUXEN-TREE, the buckthorn berry, and shrub (Rhamnus catharticus).
BUZZARD, also MAY-BUZZARD, BUZZART, a cockchaffer (melolontha vulgaris). Evidently from its buzzing.
BY LIKINGS, on approval. "You can have it be laik'ns."
BYE-BLOW, a bastard.