Written in Black and Wight: H - Answers

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And now for the answers to the eighth entry in the quiz series dedicated to the Isle of Wight's dialect as 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

Things are miserably harled up in this world, whatever they med be in the next.

- Maxwell Gray Unconfessed (1911)

It isn't just the world either, with things miserably harled up in the quiz too – but the correct meanings of each of word has been untangled below.

HackerTo stammer
Hard DoesBad times
Harl2To be tangled up or confused
HawkTo spit
HoblersSentinels watching for invasion
HoppersSmall maggots found in bread or cheese.
Hoss StingerDragonfly

Main Round

Isle of Wight

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


  • Icicles
  • Small crones.
  • Knots tied at the end of shoelaces.

A nice, straight-forward one to begin with.


  • V-shaped frame covered in fabric that is a small, basic glider.
  • A villainous rascal.
  • The sort of hangover experienced the night after drinking a gallon of beer.

This literally means someone fit to be hung on the gallows, with Long giving the example,

Oh, he's a hang-gallus rascal.

The last man to be hung on the Isle of Wight was murderer Michael Morey, and my cousin is a direct descendent of his. In July 1736, Michael Morey decapitated his 14-year-old grandson James' head with a billhook, dismembered the body and buried bits in satchels around the woods above Arreton. When a bloodstained shirt was found in his home Michael fled and a reward of 2 guineas was offered for his capture, and another 2 if his grandson's body could be found. Though Michael never confessed to his murder, on 19 March 1737 he was publicly executed and his body hung in chains near Arreton's crossroads as a warning to others.

Eventually his body had rotted away and been eaten by crows, and so the wood for the gallows was used to build the nearby pub The Hare and Hounds' snug, while what is said to be his skull remains on display in the pub to this very day. Guess where I like to meet my cousins?


  • Someone who hides needles in haystacks.
  • A worthless person
  • Using straw to create a path over a muddy field.

This phrase was regularly used by my grandparents who always called people a 'silly hapeth', but without strongly pronouncing the h. As it was in regularly usage I too used it quite often, until my late teens, after my grandparents had died. I had begun to worry that the phrase I believed to be 'apeth' was unwittingly racist in origin, however I am pleased to say that I had nothing to fear. 'Hapeth' is nothing to do with apes after all, but a contraction of 'halfpennyworth', and so used to describe someone of no value. As Long put it,

That chap's a bad hapeth. - That fellow is good for nothing.


  • Feeling that there's no place like home, there's no place like home.
  • Women's high-heeled shoes.
  • Small amount of drink left in the bottom of a glass.

Yes, the drink left at the bottom of a glass, so Don't leave noo heeltaps. means 'Down your drink and empty your glasses.' Percy Goddard Stone in his Legends and Lays of the Isle of Wight (1911) includes poem 'How they Ran the First Fox'. This includes the following verse:

Charge your glasses —no heeltaps we make it our boast

In the health I 'm proposing tonight

'Squire Thatcher, of Wackland', I give as the toast

Who ran the first fox in the Wight.

The Descriptio Britannica (1548) once famously described the Isle of Wight as having 'no hooded priests, no lawyers, no wolves and no foxes', as foxes were not native to the Island. However in 1830 a Parson Fenwick brought a pet fox to the Island and it escaped, with Squire Thatcher leading a chase over 15 miles before killing it. For the rest of his life Squire Thatcher called himself 'The Fox Slayer' and bitterly opposed any attempt to introduce foxes to the Island during his lifetime. When he died in 1845 his son William brought foxes over to the Island to hunt, and by 1856 foxes on the Island were 'as firmly established as the oldest inhabitant'.


  • What Ventnor is compared to Newport.
  • A garden centre.
  • A roofer or tiler who does not use thatch.


  • Punishment given to someone who says Jehovah – not to be carried out by women wearing fake beards.
  • Scrubbing the deck of a man 'o war.
  • Using stone from the dissolved monastery of Quarr Abbey as a building material.

The remains of the old Duver Church at St Helens is the 13th Century tower that stands on the waterline. Dedicated to Emperor Constantine's mother, but built far too close to the seashore, the church was soon abandoned and finally collapsed in 17033. The seaward face of the tower was then bricked up and painted white by Trinity House in 1784 to form a seamark, although according to local legend the sailors from the mainland who came to brick up the tower drowned when crossing the Solent as punishment for this sacrilege.

With the church long abandoned and St Helens used as a safe anchorage and a renowned source of water for ships about to undertake long voyage, it wasn't long before the remaining stones of the church and the tombstones were being used to scouring the decks of the Royal Navy's ships.


  • Something done carelessly.
  • Seductress who uses her charms to pick gentlemen's pockets.
  • Someone in a pub who makes his pint last twice as long as everyone else.


  • Gate or fence made out of oysters.
  • Tortoiseshell colour.
  • Falling off slippery rocks when crabbing.

In another word unique to the Island, turtleshell cats were often described as being hurdleshell. Long quotes the following conversation about a cat,

I zay mayet, talk about cats, I got zummet like one now, a hurdleshell one, you. I war'nt she es a good one: she'll ketch birds and yaller hammers; but the wust on her es, I vound her up top o'taable in the dish o'pork and turmet greens left there over night, when I come down stairs in the mornen. I up wi'my skitter boot and let drave at her, and het her sich a clink by the zide o'the head, and knocked her down as dead as a rat; she onny went kick, kick, a vew times, and never moved a wag aaterwards; but when I come hooam at night, there she was, zetten avore the vire as if nothen was the matter we her.
Map of the Isle of Wight in words.A reader of the h2g2 Post
The Bluebottle Archive


14.08.17 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).2A word unique to the Isle of Wight.3Local legends insist that this was a result of blasphemous Satanic rituals taking place on the holy ground.

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