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 gewgaw  - 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: 12/26/2018, Veronica
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
Veronica on 09/08/2018

Skriking is included in the words up above.

frankbeswick on 09/08/2018

In Manchester child who was weeping noisily was said to be skriking.

Mira on 09/08/2018

:) Thanks, Veronica!

Veronica on 09/08/2018

Catherine was born in the south, in Hertfordshire but a good author researches well and who knows she may have northern ancestry if she is fortunate and blessed. :)

Veronica on 09/08/2018

shire is shy-ur
When the word shire goes on the end of a name such as Lancashire it would be … Lanky... shur.

Worcestershire sauce is not Worcester-shire … it is Worcester-shur sauce. Hertfordshire is heart ford -shur .

Derbyshire ……. darbi-shur

Although many speak English... it doesn't follow that they might understand it in England. :)

Mira on 09/08/2018

This was both educational and entertaining :) I did find some words I know from various British authors, but I wouldn't have placed them in the North of England, even though now that I think about Catherine Alliott, for instance, I wonder whether she's a northerner. She now lives in Hertfordshire. By the way, is there a way to remember how the -shire names are pronounced? Derbyshire is [ˈdɑːrbiʃər] or [-ʃɪər], Leicestershire is again [ˈlɛstərʃər] or [-ʃɪər], but Hertfordshire is [ˈhɑːrtfərdʃɪər].

frankbeswick on 06/14/2018

Fascinating! Lincolnshire was heavily settled by Anglo-Saxons, but has still retained an ancient counting system. What is interesting is that the Lincolnshire area was also settled by Swedish incomers during the time of the Norse invasions, yet an ancient British counting system hung on.

Veronica on 06/14/2018

I agree. Infact Lincolnshire which is the other side of the country to Wales has a similar counting system.

frankbeswick on 06/14/2018

I was speaking about there being localization within Cumbric. The precise boundaries between Celtic dialects is not known. But what you have said about Wiltshire indicates to me that the old idea that all the Britons spoke Welsh is false.

Veronica on 06/14/2018

Wiltshire though isn't what you would call "localised to Cumbric" . There was obviously more movement between parts of England than we would have thought.

You might also like

Old and Traditional Recipes of Lancashire, England

The traditional food eaten by people in the North West of England was shaped ...

Old English Lake District Traditional Recipes

Whilst staying a few days in the English Lake District this week, I started a...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...