Written in Black and Wight: A - Answers

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We have seen how the letter A is the billook1 of the alphabet. The following words are examples of genuine Isle of Wight dialect, with the correct definition shown in bold.

There are also some extracts from WH Long's A Dictionary of Isle of Wight Dialect (1886) that show the word in daily use in Victorian times.


  • A hat pin, also pin-shaped broach.
  • Thunder - a loud, booming sound.
  • A disagreeable occurrence happening after a problem is believed resolved.

This is a straight-forward example of how, if two wrongs do not equal a right but three rights make a left, two 'A's clearly make an 'F'. An Aaterclaps or Afterclaps is an undesired consequence of something that had happened earlier, for example Long gives us the phrase,

We dooan't want no aaterclaps.


  • To work properly.
  • To laugh manically.
  • To strongly negotiate the price of goods.

On the Island 'ackle' is usually used in the negative sense, so that something that is broken 'don't ackle'. Curiously, Jack Lavers in his The Dictionary of Isle of Wight Dialect (1988) notes that across the water in Hampshire 'Ackle' means 'fake'.

Adams Ale

  • A lump in the throat
  • Water
  • Urine

A nice and easy one, with an expression I believe to actually be common off the Island as well as on.


  • Unladen or empty.
  • To flirt and/or exchange flirtatious looks.
  • To be drunk.

According to the The English Dialect Dictionary, this word usually used in conjunction with wagons is unique to the Isle of Wight. A Glossary of Isle of Wight Words by Major Henry Smith and Charles Roach Smith (1876) contains the phrase,

Goo whoam wi' the waggon aleer.


  • An island in the Irish Sea where cats have no tails, presumably because the motorbikes have run over them all.
  • Muddled up / mixed together.
  • A heavy implement used for hitting/thrashing.

Usually used on farms with different flocks of sheep or cattle mixed together they were described as 'allamang one another'.


  • Someone who is earnest.
  • Nearby
  • A hornet or wasp nest.

Another nice and simple one, with Long providing the warning examples,

Dooan't goo annearst the mare, she med fling at ye.

I be afeared to go annearst un.


  • To argue.
  • Someone caught in the act of telling a lie, a fibber.
  • To have heavy, aching limbs

Another nice and simple one, with Long's dictionary quoting the phrase in context thus,

I bain't gwaine to stand y'ere all daay to argufy wi' ee.


  • To vomit, especially following excessive consumption of alcohol.
  • The other side of a hill.
  • Overthrow, tip over

Yes, that handy letter 'A' can sound like an 'o'. Traditionally 'D' was often used for 'Th', with Long recording words such as Drash, Dree, Dresher, Dreshel, Dretten, Dripny Bit, Droo, Drottle and Drow for Thrash, Three, Thresher, Threshold, Threaten, Thruppeny Bit, Through, Throttle and Throw to name but a few. An example of the word in use is,

He auverdrode the waggon gwyne down the shoot.

A 'shoot' is a steep hill with 'shute' used in many road names. I must confess that I was a speed demon on my bicycle in my teens and on more than one occasion zoomed down a shute with a sharp turn at the bottom, only to end up overdrode in a hedge.


  • Opposite
  • Fruit or crops ungathered beyond Harvest.
  • A shock or sudden fright

If something is over-right, it is indeed opposite. Although Long provides a little phrase, I prefer Jack Lavers approach, as he quotes a verse from a poem by Percy Goddard Stone2 called 'The Recruiting Sergeant', published in Legends and Lays of the Isle of Wight (1911). In fact, I like the poem so much I'll quote the second one too.

I chanced to be i' Nippert town,

'Twuz on a market daay

An' auver-right t' Rose and Crown3

I met a zergeant gaay.4

Hes hair wuz iled, hes cap atop

Wuz bunched wi' hribbons vine

Hes coat wuz laaced, hes trousies vaaced

Each zaide wi' a hred line.

And that's not even the good bit.


  • A harlot or lady of the night
  • Before
  • A fight or violent argument, battle or skirmish.

Another example of the handy letter 'A' this time becoming the letters 'Be'. This was used in sentences such as,

I can zee 'tes gwyne to rain avore long.

I sholl be there avore you.
Map of the Isle of Wight in words.A reader of the h2g2 Post
The Bluebottle Archive


05.06.17 Front Page

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1The Isle of Wight word for 'billhook', the traditional rural equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife being an implement with many uses.2As his name suggests, Stone was a highly regarded architect. He also wrote genuinely moving, emotional poems including St Aubin (1908). I wish I had a heart like Stone.3Formerly in St Thomas Square, Newport.4Incidentally 'Gaay' could also mean 'fast' or 'mounted on a fast horse', although in this context the sergeant is clearly gaily dressed.

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