A Conversation for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne and Wear, UK
Canny, uses of
Steinbeck Started conversation Sep 9, 2000
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the different uses of the word "canny" in the Geordie vernacular, but may be of use to the non-speaker.
1) Attractive, adorable, pleasant, good-natured, nice. When used to describe a person i.e.
"What a canny bairn" - what an adorable child.
"She's canny, like" - She is very attractive.
"He's dead canny" - He is really nice.
2) Shrewdness. This is the most frequent usage in common English. i.e.
"She played canny" - She played cleverly / wisely.
3) Carefulness. Usually used as an instruction or as an addendum to a goodbye. i.e.
"Gan canny" - Literally go carefully, take care.
4) Fair, nice, good. i.e.
"I got a canny deal" - I got a good / fair deal.
"Bairns, play canny" - play nicely children.
5) As a substitute for 'quite', a qualifier. i.e.
"That film was canny good" - That film was quite good.
"The weather's canny crap" - The weather is quite bad.
6) A measurement of distance, both spatial and temporal. i.e.
"It's a canny way, mind" - It's quite a distance.
"He's been a canny while" - He has taken a long time.
As you can see, the distinctions between these usages are quite blurred, and when written, the word canny can have a number of meanings for example "he's canny" can mean he is nice, attractive pleasant, shrewd, fair etc.
"It's a canny way" can mean "it is quite far" or "it is a pleasant journey".
A lot depends on context and inflection, however Geordies seem to manage without any misunderstanding.
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