Written in Black and Wight: B

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To be two B, or not to be two B – that is the question. On reflection I've decided that yes, issue two of Written in Black and Wight will indeed be dedicated to the letter B.

This is a quiz series dedicated to the Isle of Wight's dialect, preserved in publications including A Dictionary of Isle of Wight Dialect by WH Long (1886) and Isle of Wight Dialect by Jack Lavers (1988)1. I will be giving a selection of some of the words, as well as three possible definitions2, one of which is correct. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to guess which one is the right answer.


This week is words beginning with B. After the excitement of the ever-adaptable letter A, B is a much humbler letter. We have already seen in Issue A how 'B' was sometimes left off the beginnings of words, with 'Before' becoming Avore. Yet it was also used to substitute for other letters too, particularly V. For example the number 'Eleven' became 'Lebb'n' and Oven became 'Oben' etc.


  • A scrap of cloth used as a towel.
  • To use offensive language
  • Flag flown from the top of County Hall in Newport.


  • To be very drunk.
  • To be out of breath.
  • To be feeling sick.


  • A double-ended cattle prod that can also be used as a rudimentary pitchfork.
  • The blue titmouse, a bird.
  • A harness and bit for a goat.


  • A red squirrel, also small woodland mammals in general.
  • To flicker or shake.
  • A gluttonous person.


  • A woman's breasts.
  • A bee hive.
  • A broom.


  • Bluebell, a flower
  • Blue titmouse, a bird
  • Alcohol illegally smuggled from overseas.
  • A hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is.


  • A sling or splint used to support an injured limb.
  • To drive too fast.
  • A short, thick, wooden stick used to bleed cattle.


  • Lively or spirited.
  • Breast milk.
  • A loved one not on the Island.


  • Lumps of chalk used to make a drystone wall.
  • Small amount of leftover food.
  • Something brittle and easily broken.


  • A potentially dangerous cliff edge due to loose, unstable or crumbly soil underfoot.
  • A very silly person.
  • A muffler used to lower the volume of the militia's bugles for practice purposes so no-one assumes the calls are an invasion warning.


As well as being a musical instrument, is this:

  • A shell in which you can hear the sound of the sea.
  • A metal horn that holds a quart of ale.
  • A young bull.


  • A very clumsy person who keeps dropping things.
  • A shepherd with extensive experience in lambing
  • A milk maid who makes her own dairy products including cheeses.
  • A highly skilled archer whose arrows always hit the centre of the butt.

Bargan Zadurday

Bargan Zadurday means 'Bargain Saturday', but what was special about it? Was it:

  • The day after Blaak Vriday and two days after Dankzgivun, when Crismus shopping traditionally starts.
  • The first fish market of the year held in the port and Kynges Towne of Brading, particularly famous for crab and mackerel.
  • The annual hiring fair in which farm labourers were hired for the following year, like at the start of Mort.

Click on the picture for the answers!

Map of the Isle of Wight in words.

This is actually quite good fun, now I know how Douglas Adams felt when he wrote Meaning of Liff...

A reader of the h2g2 Post
The Bluebottle Archive


12.06.17 Front Page

Back Issue Page

1Others include A Glossary of Isle of Wight Words by Major Henry Smith and Charles Roach Smith (1876), The Encyclopedia of Isle of Wight Words, Placenames, Legends, Books and Authors by Edward Turner (1900) and The English Dialect Dictionary ed. Joseph Wright (1906).2Unless I feel like giving more or less than three possible definitions. 'Tis my quiz after all.

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