North of England dialect vocab list

by Veronica

If you intend to travel to the glorious, beautiful, North of England then you may need to know some dialect expressions before you go. You may get confused otherwise.

I am not talking about accent here, ( some accents are difficult enough ) I am talking about local dialect – terms that are specific to an area which are understood only in those areas. North of England dialects rely heavily on Norse terms and show the history of the area.

For this article I am choosing examples from mainly 3 different areas. I have chosen words which may have another meaning and therefore be confusing to visitors and also words used in English that you may not have heard of. There are several. Here's a few examples.

Our dialect is as distinctive and unique as our food.

The dialects are as fascinating as the scenery

Northern England
Northern England

North of England

This is the place that our ancestors chose to settle.

For me, the North starts at Manchester

Sheep counting system

Similar dialects all over England

I am also going to include the old North of England sheep counting system used by farmers. Some of these dialect counting systems are so specific even to a particular valley. I have heard farmers in the North of England Lake District even now counting like this. It is quite startling when you first hear this but a charming custom. This counting system is similar all over England by farmers . I have chosen one northern Lakeland valley dialect where I heard this as a child and the farmer repeated it for me.

Sheep counting is based on the old Briton numbering system which counted in 20s.

Sheep Counting system

(From North Lakeland, England)

Yan                    1

Tan                   2

Tethera             3

Methera            4

Pimp                 5

Sethera             6

Lethera              7

Hovera              8

Dovera              9

Dick                  10

Yan-a-Dick -     11

Tan-a-Dick -    12

Tethera-Dick -   13

Methera-Dick -  14

Bumfit    -          15

Yan-a-bumfit -   16

Tan-a-bumfit - 17

Tethera Bumfit -18

Methera Bumfit -19

Giggot   -            20



Lakeland counting dialect area

Liverpool and Manchester


Dialects are largely dying out in England unfortunately. The onset of national television and radio has largely standardized the language but some local words still remain and would be confusing to visitors. They certainly take some explanation but I find them charming and a relic of our ancestry. This isn’t a full list of course. I have chosen a few words from Liverpool and Manchester as these are well known places world wide.  

My Manchester parents were very particular about us using good English and good speech so we wouldn’t have been using many of these phrases and words at home.

Liverpool and Manchester

General Northern dialect words

General Northern dialect words

Tea – evening meal  

Chuffed – very pleased

Daft Chuff -  stupid person

Daft ‘apeth – affectionate term for a  silly person

Owt – anything

Nowt - nothing

Bangers – sausages

Butty – bread and butter

Chippy ( fish and chip shop )

Our kid – close friend , sibling

Dinner – lunch

Gradely - good natured

Flit - move house

Shippon - animal pen

Liverpool - home of The Beatles


Liverpool has been a major British port for centuries and is a few miles across the Irish Sea to Ireland. The dialect and the accent are quite a distinct mixture of cultures and language.


Strawberry jam tats - head lice, nits  ( Liverpool  )

Giz – Give ( Liverpool )

 La -  Lad, male  ( Liverpool )

 Knock off – steal  ( Liverpool )

 Scally -  badly behaved youth

 Ye wha – pardon  ( Liverpool )

 Go’ a cob on – in a bad mood  (Liverpool  )

 Bevvy – beer ( Liverpool )

 Divvy – stupid person ( Liverpool )

 Ozzi – hospital  ( Liverpool )

 Ar kid – close friend, sibling ( Liverpool )

 Paddy’s wigwam – RC cathedral ( Liverpool )


Glossop and Manchester

Manchester and environs

Manchester is further inland than Liverpool and has been influenced by Norse, Irish, South , Welsh and Eastern England factors.


fair gets mi mad up ... Makes me very annoyed

Mingin’ / Manky – dirty, horrible  (Manchester )

Ginnel – narrow passage between two houses (Manchester )

Galoot – clumsy person ,  ( Manchester )

Skrickin’ – crying   (Manchester )

Bung – Cheese   (Manchester  )

Made up – happy  (Manchester )

Buzzin’ – exciting  ( Manchester )

Brew – cup of tea  ( Manchester )

Mint – nice ( Manchester )

Dead – very ( Manchester )

Dinner  - lunch  ( Manchester )

Gaggin’ – thirsty ( Manchester )

Claggy – clay – based soil ( Manchester )

Pop – soft drink, fizzy drink ( Manchester )

Corporation pop – water ( Manchester )

Mither – irritate  ( Manchester


Glossop  Derbyshire

Gobbin’ – dirty, horrible  ( Glossop )

The North East

The North East has an old Norse influence on their dialect

A few North East phrases

These dialect phrases will be like a completely different language when you hear them.

North East


Dunni get the bairn a new frock – a waste of time ( North East )

Awp ya dunni find y’ave swapped ya fiddle furra googar  - I hope you don’t find you’ve made the wrong choice  ( North East  )

Gain’ yame -  going home   (North East )

Hinney – affectionate term for a loved one


Language is a living thing. It moves along with the people. All over the world each area will have its own terms for making themselves understood. Languages mingle and merge together with migration. American English and Standard English will have differences. I hope you have seen some of those above.

If you are English speaking though and visit England  don't be surprised if you don't understand what is being said. There are a vast number of different dialects in every area.

the North
the North
Updated: 12/02/2017, Veronica
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Veronica on 11/22/2017


Shippon also appears in Cheshire. I would think many Americans although English speaking wouldn't understand Cornish dialects, North Eastern and Liverpool Scouse dialects.

The Lambton worm is a case in question.
""He was nay fash to take it hyem so he hied it doon the well"

frankbeswick on 11/22/2017

More dialect for you. In Yorkshire a cow shed is a shippon and right up the north side of Britain into North East Scotland female sheep are yows.

How is this for North Eastern dialect, which is taken from the folk song,The Lambton Worm" which means the Lambton Dragon, "He was nay fash to take it hyem so he hied it doon the well." Translated, He was not willing to take it home so he tossed it down the well."

Note that to hie someting and the word doon have affinities to Lallans Scots, Lowland Scots dialect, as both dialects derive from the language of the Angles, who settled this region in the fifth and sixth centuries

frankbeswick on 11/21/2017

When I was at school,obviously in the North West of England, everyone referred to lunch time as dinner hour, so I am sure that dinner instead of lunch is a northern usage, but as BSG implies, the usage might be found elsewhere. If I recall properly, your family, BSG, are South West English in origin, so I wonder if this usage is found there as well.

Veronica on 11/21/2017

This has become a fascinating thread and passing on of information. I think it shows how traditions travel across the globe with people and unite us.

I think but I am not sure that the "dinner /lunch " is a North of England thing. My southerner husband indeed always refer to lunch as lunch - as do I now.

Thanks for this input BSG and Dusty. It is interesting and appreciated.

blackspanielgallery on 11/20/2017

We used dinner for lunch in my family. Of course my grandfather was the first generation to be born here, and he was in the same house as I was.

dustytoes on 11/20/2017

Interesting Frank. I am also part Danish but on my father's side. And thanks for that information on the use of "supper" Veronica.

frankbeswick on 11/20/2017

The influence of television has exerted a downward pressure on dialects, which mainly exist in certain more traditionalist communities and then mainly as specific terms that have lingered on in speech.

It is worth noting that the dialect used by old men in traditional north eastern communities of England [Newcastle etc] has affinities with Danish to such an extent that the two tongues are mutually comprehensible.

Veronica on 11/20/2017

If you want to hear Lincolnshire dialect ( East of England ) then You-Tube farmer Wink . The man is a legend . This is Lincolnshire countryside dialect.

Note the use of "yan past bumfit"

Veronica on 11/20/2017

That is interesting. This use of the word "supper" for an English evening meal as opposed to evening "snack " suggests what we would call an English middle class boarding school background.

dustytoes on 11/20/2017

Veronica, all I know is that I am part English on her side. So I assume a distant relative was from England. My mother also had a friend in England with whom she corresponded regularly. Once I was grown, I realized that most people called dinner the supper meal. For me it had always been breakfast, dinner and supper.

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