Written in Black and Wight: C

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And now for the answers, complete with examples provided in publications including A Dictionary of

Isle of Wight Dialect
by WH Long (1886) and Isle of Wight Dialect by Jack Lavers (1988).

Incidentally, if there are any bits of Isle of Wight dialect that you'd like explained, let me know as it is difficult

to judge how self-explanatory the examples are.


This week is words beginning with C.


  • Book with pornographic or shocking content.
  • An animal of poor breeding stock and also gone-off meat.
  • Waterproof coat worn by fishermen in stormy weather.

Long gives us a couple of examples showing both uses of 'Cagmag':

I wouldn't hay sich cagmag in a gift.

Tes a gurt cagmag sort o'hoss.


  • A woman's bonnet.
  • A boat large enough to have an enclosed cabin.
  • A woven trap used to keep fish, typically carp, in one part of a river.
  • A carpenter.

Yes, a carpenter. Long provides a few examples of 'Cappender' in use, including:

Have ye zid the wold cappender about here layetly?
A was here yesterday,

smaamen over the barn's door wi' a tar brish, but I han' t zid nothen on 'en zunce.

Have you seen the old carpenter about here lately? He was here yesterday, painting over the barn's door with a

tar brush, but I haven't seen nothing of him since.

Long also quotes a lovely song entitled 'The Little Cappender' (Traditional), which is about a pretty maid

who is admired and proposed to by many men, but her heart belongs to the little carpenter. I'll quote the first

and last verse here:

I'll zing you a new zong, that layetly has been maade,

'Tes of a little cappender, and of a pretty maade.

I have a fancy vor you, you goos zo neat and trim;

But oh, the little cappender, what wull become of him?

'I’ll work wi' my broad axe, as long as I can wag,

And all the money I can git, I’ll putt it in the bag,

I'll putt it in my bag until Zadderday at night,

Ana 'tes oh, my little cappender, you be my heart's delight.'


  • A chimney.
  • Chillblains.
  • Glove worn as finger-protectors when sewing

If you've heard Dick van Dyke sing 'Chim-chim-cher-Ee1

you might have guess that a 'chimbley' or 'chimley' is a chimney. Chimneys have featured in Isle of Wight

poems and songs. Long quotes 'Zed Jan to Joan' (Traditional), a song in which Jan proposes to Joan and lists

various reasons why she should marry him, includes the verse:

A good fat cheese lays on my shilf,

I never sholl yet it all myself,

And up the chimley, saafe in a nitch,

Es twenty guineas, 'long zide o' the flitch.

Then tell me Joan if this wull do,

Vor I can't come every day to woo.

Sadly we don't get to hear Joan's answer but I like to think they had a traditional Christian wedding, as

I'm a strong believer in cheeses. However in Percy Stone's Legends and Lays of the Isle of Wight

(1911) the poem 'Winter', which paints a perfect domestic image of the beauty of winter in rhyming Isle of

Wight dialect, also mentions a chimney in a verse,:

Ay! theer it be, at end o' lane,

T' hoam us dearly love a.

Zee, vire-light bivers dro' t' pane

An' chimbley zmoaks above a.


  • An area covered by a thick fog or sea mist.
  • The ticking and hand-moving gear noise made by a church clock.
  • Deep valley in a cliff caused by erosion from a river where it meets the sea.

A nice and easy one, famous for tourist attractions including Blackgang Chine and Shanklin Chine. The

word 'Chine' is unique to the Isle of Wight and Dorset.


  • Chinks and fissures.
  • Planks used to make a small rowing/fishing boat.
  • Chicks, baby chickens.

This word is unique to the Isle of Wight alone.


  • Particularly cold, fine rain.
  • A nose ring for cattle or pigs.
  • To cheat or swindle.

Long provides the example He chizzled me out on't, which means 'he swindled me out of it.'


  • A wedge used beneath a waggon's wheels on sloping land to prevent it rolling down a Down

    or off a cliff.
  • A sausage sandwich with high gristle content.
  • Hard, brittle, locally-made cheese.

Ah, the stories told about the rock-hard Isle of Wight cheese, once

described with the words,

It can scarcely be cut by a hatchet or saw; is to be masticated only by the finest teeth

and digested only by the strongest stomachs.

There are tales of it being regularly used as grindstones. In times of invasion it is said to have been used as

bullets, to lethal effect. Long tells the story,

Wold Jem Cooper over at Brison went one day on a arrant to Yafford, and when a was

there Missus axed 'en if a would hay a bit o'brencheese and a drap o'beer.

'Iss, I wull, thenk'ee missus,' zays Jem; zo they brought'n zome brencheese and beer; but Jem zet and looked

at it, and ded'nt offer to begin. 'What's the matter, Jem?' zays Missus, 'ye got what ye wants, han't ye?'

'Noa, not quite, missus,' zays Jem, 'I wants the billhook to cut the cheese wi'.'

Jem never got noo brencheese there noo moore aater that.

Old Jim Cooper over at Brighstone went one day on an errand to Yafford, and when he was

there, Mrs asked him if he would have a bit of bread and cheese and a drop of beer. 'Yes, I will, thank you

Mrs', says Jim, so they brought him some bread and cheese and beer, but Jim sat and looked at it, and didn't

offer to begin. 'What's the matter, Jim?' says Mrs, 'you've got what you want, haven't you?' 'No, not quite,

Mrs,' says Jim, 'I want a billhook to cut the cheese with(!)' Jim never got any bread and cheese there any more

after that.


  • A large and/or heavy object being carried by two or more people, possibly brothers, resulting

    in the exchange, 'To me!' 'To you!'.
  • Someone lacking in common sense.
  • Someone making repeated snorting noises in an attempt to stifle a laugh.

Another nice and straightforward Isle of Wight word. Have you noticed that quite a few seem to be

insults? Long provides the translation:

What bist about there, chucklehead?

- What are you doing there, chucklehead?

Amusingly, his translation doesn't actually translate the word he is defining, but despite this its meaning is

perfectly clear – provided in perfect ChuckleVision if you will...


  • To be scratched by someone, especially a woman.
  • Wooden pincers used by shoemakers and saddlers to hold leather while

  • To talk rapidly, especially spreading gossip.

Long gives us the example,

The wold dooman ded clapperclaa 'en proper.

This means the old woman did scratch his face well, and I assume we're talking about chuckleheaded Jim

Cooper, shortly after he asked for a billhook to cut his brencheese with.


  • A rooster's coxcomb.
  • To fall head-over-heels.
  • Pilot of a rowing boat.

Essentially to do a saamerzalt, that's not right, a summer

salt - nope, not that either… To do a cartwheel2. Not sure how the word originated but it certainly sounds painful...


  • A milkmaid.
  • A small, untidy tuft of hair on your forehead going in the opposite direction to the rest of your

  • A waterproof hood worn by fishermen in stormy weather.

A word that's certainly not unique to the Isle of Wight, but either deserves to be used more, though

alternatively if I could get my hair to sort itself out – especially after I've cycled to work - I wouldn't need to

hear it so often.


  • A broken or wrong-sized staff, pitchfork, billhook etc.
  • To be ill through over-indulgent eating or drinking.
  • Woven trap used by fishermen to catch crabs.

Yep, the word describes exactly what it says on the can.


  • To crash or crush.
  • Crisp, cold and bracing.
  • The cusp of a cliff or down.

Another straight-forward word that is unique to the Isle of Wight.


  • A cockle, a type of shellfish.
  • To walk with a bend, stoop or hobble.
  • A cross-shaped support, such as used on boats or as a frame for scarecrows



  • Underwater rocks and ledges that can damage the bottom of a boat at low

  • To provide moral support in order to convince someone they have the confidence to do

  • A wretched cur, a dishonest cheating swindler.

A word Jack Lavers claims to be unique to the Isle of Wight, although to me it looks like the word

'encourage' without the 'en'.

Map of the Isle of Wight in words.A <br/>
reader of the h2g2 Post
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19.06.17 Front Page

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1No-one knows what language Dick

van Dyke is attempting to communicate in during the film Mary Poppins, sounding as he does like a

sleep-talking Leprechaun with his mouth full of marshmallows mocking an Australian accent.
2You know, a


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