Written in Black and Wight: G - Answers

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And now for the answers to the seventh entry in the 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.


Isle of Wight

Quick-Fire Round

GaakTo stand and stare
Garbed-UpTo be dressed in an unusual fashion.
God A Mighty's CowA ladybird
GoggleShaking and wobbly
GrabbleTo snatch
Groanen TimeHeavily pregnant woman during her accouchement.
GollopTo swallow greedily
GumpshunForesight and common sense

Main Round

Isle of Wight

Identify which of the three meanings is the correct one for the words below:


  • Large groups of stars, often spiral in nature.
  • Thick, hard skin found on knees during harvest time.
  • Braces.

Long provides the following example that refers to braces buttons.

Come here, Betty, I wants thee to zow on one o'my gallus buttons vor me.


  • A scarecrow.
  • A woman fond of stargazing.
  • Local variant on 'Tallyho'.

This word wasn't unique to the Isle of Wight and was used throughout the West Country. Long wrote about someone who went to Chale last Sunday afternoon,

I was gwyne to Cheal last Zunday aaternoon, you, and 'long there by West Zide I run agen wold Spanner, garbed up like a wold gallybagger.


  • A legendary dinosaur-like monster that threatens to rise out of the sea and stomp over Ryde.
  • The ale brewed by the monks of Quarr Abbey.
  • A shipwreck

Times were hard and when a ship wrecked, especially along the Back of the Wight's rocky coast, it was a boon to the local community. Not all shipwrecks were caused by nature and often Islanders would play tricks to confuse navigators and cause them to wreck on the rocks.


  • A glowworm
  • A rumour that causes everyone who hears it to stop what they are doing to stare at the gossip's focus.
  • You know when you see a bright light and then look away, but you still see a bit of the bright light for a few seconds even though you're not looking at it any more? Well, that.


  • Wife.
  • A cowardly technician on the Red Funnel ferry who, according to legend, can only be described as a smeg head.
  • Spending time with a man until midnight.
Gimmer gimmer gimmer a man after midnight

- Abba

No, this word means 'wife', and Mrs Mary Moncrieff, who was herself the wife of Mr George Moncrieff, wrote in her poem A Dream of the Isle of Wight (1863)

My Gimmer's at market; one calf she will sell,

Reserving the lebb, pluck, and haslet as well.


  • Type of school which teaches you how to naughtily run through corn fields.
  • Grandmother
  • Old-fashioned hand-cranked record player.

Yes, a word to mean 'Grandmother'. I'll quote a poem by Percy Goddard Stone from Legends and Lays of the Isle of Wight (1911) entitled 'The Old Grey Hen' which is about, well, someone describing his old grey hen.

Her beak be yaller guinny goold;

Her comb be gay an' hred

Her eye be bright, her breast be plump

As grammer's veather bed.


  • One thousand pounds.
  • 'Granfer Pony' is an ancient role-playing board game the aim of which is to steal people's pony carts and ride them through Newport, completing various missions along the way.
  • Grandfather

Yes, a grandfather, and curiously the Daddy longlegs (crane fly) is still occasionally locally known as Granfer Longligs.


  • Husband or family's main wage earner
  • Someone who catches mealy worms to use as bait when fishing.
  • Workhouse.

Yes, the Grubber was the workhouse. In 1774 the second workhouse in Britain3 was founded in Newport, nicknamed both 'The Grubber' and 'Forest House' as it was in Parkhurst Forest. The elderly, infirm and disabled, the unemployed, widows, unmarried parents, their bastard children, orphans and the young were incarcerated within its walls in conditions similar to those found within gaols, with the stigmatised inmates treated worse than slaves.


  • An unexpected chewy bit in a sausage that you're probably best off not knowing what it is.
  • A pork steak.
  • A dance move popular in the 1960s when people would be grisken the night away in Ryde's ballrooms.

Sometimes I think that Long was very hungry when he wrote his dictionary… Anyway, he gives this example of the word in use:

We be gwyne to kill our pig a Friday, and we shall hay turn grisken vor dinner Zunday, you.
Map of the Isle of Wight in words.A reader of the h2g2 Post
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31.07.17 Front Page

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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).2'Lebb' is a calf's stomach, 'Pluck' the liver and lights and 'Haslet' the edible part of the calf's viscera (intestines).3Following the much smaller House of Industry at Nacton in Suffolk in 1758.

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