Written in Black and Wight: A

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The Isle of Wight has had its own rich dialect that, along with many other local dialects of England, has entered a slow, steady decline. Fortunately cunning linguists have, since Victorian times, recorded many of the words and phrases used by Islanders. Publications to have preserved these include:

  • A Glossary of Isle of Wight Words by Major Henry Smith and Charles Roach Smith (1876)
  • A Dictionary of Isle of Wight Dialect by WH Long (1886)
  • The Encyclopedia of Isle of Wight Words, Placenames, Legends, Books and Authors by Edward Turner (1900)
  • The English Dialect Dictionary ed. Joseph Wright (1906)
  • Isle of Wight Dialect by Jack Lavers (1988)

With the exception of a large number of unique words to describe the Island's flora and stages in the rural calendar, few of these are entirely unique to the Island, many being shared by the dialects of Dorset, I will be giving a selection of some of the words, as well as three possible definitions, one of which is correct.

We will begin with words beginning with A. In many ways, A is the most useful letter on the Island. Pronounced broad and long, an Islander approaches the letter 'A' with much the same way as Tony the Tiger uses the letter 'R' to tell you how great he believes Frosties are. In fact, to best blend in, whenever you are really enjoying a conversation on the Island and you don't want your sentence to end, just take your time, savour the moment and keep adding extra 'A's in the middle of words.

In fact, adding extra As into words has in many ways become an art form, as there are actually few letters that you cannot simply substitute with multiple 'A's. Why say it with flowers when you can say it with As, to make flaaawaas? A couple of 'A's can become an 'F', so that 'afternoon' becomes 'aaternoon'. Try it. See how adaptable an 'A' can be.


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


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

Adams Ale

  • A lump in the throat
  • Water
  • Urine


According to the The English Dialect Dictionary, this is unique to the Isle of Wight. But does the word mean:

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


  • 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.


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


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


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


  • Opposite
  • Fruit or crops ungathered beyond Harvest
  • A shock, to be given a sudden fright


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

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