Written in Black and Wight: K - Answers

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Isle of Wight

Quick Fire Round

And now for the correct meaning of these words and phrases.

KeckRetch or Choke
KeertA cart
K[I]keTo gape at
KissencrustsBread that stuck together when baked
KittlesString for tying up sacks
Knock OffTo finish work

Lavers notes that Kittles meaning string to tie the mouths of sacks is a word unique to the Isle of Wight.

Main Round

Isle of Wight

Can You identify which of the three meanings is the correct one for the words below? We'll start with a couple of easy ones that aren't unique to the Isle of Wight.

Kittle O' Fish

  • Another fine mess.
  • Kippers.
  • Hot drink made from boiling dried seaweed.

Yes, a kittle means 'kettle' and the expression 'kittle o' fish' means a mess, however the word 'Kittle' in the saying is actually a corruption of 'Kiddel' or 'Kiddle', which is a dam or weir in a river used to catch fish. Long uses the example,

Thee'st meyad a pretty kittle o'fish on't.

Dave Gorman called expressions that have changed slightly 'Cat Phrases'. As 'kittles', but also sometimes 'knittles', is also used to mean a string for tying up sacks, and the whole idea of a kiddel is to catch fish, I can't help but feel that this phrase is a real kittle o' fish.


  • Condition.
  • A helter skeleter.
  • Tartan skirt traditionally worn by locals.

Yes, in another common phrase Kelter or Kilter means condition. Most of the time if you compare 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) and Isle of Wight Dialect by Jack Lavers (1988), there is a lot of repetition and the same phrases are re-used in each. Unusually, although all three books define the word identically with 'Order, Condition', they each use a different illustrative phrase – which in chronological order are:

That hoss is in deuced good kelter.

Long uses two new, different phrases, thus:

We be all in middlen kelter this mornen.

I zid Varmer Jaacob's team last Zadderday, you; he jest have got zome nice hosses now, and all in good kelter. He got a black un naamed Punch, he es a fine hoss, and a regular good un to pull.

While Lavers uses a fourth different example,

Young Jim was gwyne to hrun at Godshill Show but I zays to en, 'You'll be all out o' kelter, mayet'.

Although I believe this to be a fairly common word or phrase as far as I can tell, I thought I'd include all the examples – if only because it is rare for Long to include a phrase involving animals that aren't in some way killed or end up out of kelter in some way.


  • Flatulance
  • Windpipe
  • A cream horn pastry cake.

In contrast, none of the Isle of Wight dictionary writers have anything further to say than 'keckhorn' means 'windpipe'. Not even Long who I've come to expect to have a long-winded rural story about animals being throttled.


  • Local pub
  • Coin.
  • To be better or superior.

Often used as the phrase 'King better' to mean much better, Smith and Smith wrote, It's a king better now than what it used to be., a phrase also quoted by Long while Lavers uses, I jet ben in hospital – 'twas a king to what it was years ago. As Lavers' dictionary was published in the 1980s, that must have been after the introduction of the machine that goes 'Ping!' but before the front of St Mary's was blighted by the piece of modern art called the Koan1. Isn't the NHS marvellous?


  • Lead weight thrown in orchards to knock branches and encourage fruit to drop.
  • A clown
  • Kaput and clapped out.

I don't like clowns, so the less said the better. Mind you, the 1811 edition of The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Francis Grose et al defines 'Country Put' as 'An ignorant country fellow'.


  • Flowers becoming fruit.
  • The next generation's wharf master's brother.
  • Feeling seasick on the Isle of Wight ferry.

No, this is not Worf's brother after all, but blossom turning into fruit. Long gives the example,

My appletrees have kurned very well this year.

That's all I have to say about the letter K. Next time on Written in Black and Wight you can all go to L!

Map of the Isle of Wight in words.
A - B - C - D - E - F
G - H - I - J - K
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