Written in Black and Wight: N - Answers

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Nine EyesEel


The two words for 'donkey' listed above reminds me how important the humble donkey was in years gone by. Even today the Isle of Wight has a donkey sanctuary, and Carisbrooke Castle's donkey-powered well is famous far and wide.

Funnily enough, in A Dictionary of Isle of Wight Dialect by WH Long (1886) 'Needy' rather than 'Neddy' is defined as a donkey, which I assume is a typo as the definition for 'Pudden Headed' includes the following conversation:

Ded ye ever know wold Spanner, you? A3 used to live at the back o'the Island, at a plaace called Whisselgray, or zummut like it, handy Cheal. Hes wife was a terbul zoat, pudden headed zort o'woman, as thin as a rake; but there was noo harm in her. The wold man, you know you, had been bad vor a long time; zo one day a went into Nippert to zee the doctor. The doctor zed to'n, 'You must take keer o'yerself, and drink jackass's milk the vust thing in the mornen, or else ye med git into a decline.' Zo a went off hooam, and toold his wife what the doctor zed. 'Dear, dear,' she zays, 'what a zetout! our wold Jenny don't gee no milk now, and I don't vor a minute think we sholl be able to git any.' Well, there, zays the wold man, 'the doctor toold me if I couldn't git noo Neddy's milk anywhere else, I was to come to'n agen, and he'd let me hay zome.' 'Lor a massy!' zed his wife, 'ye beant't never gwyne to zuck the doctor, be ye?'

Naturally that image leads us seamlessly to Biblical thoughts. Long also provides a Bible-related tale featuring a donkey, with minimal animal cruelty.

A wold man by the neyam o'Carben lived at Chessell, onny he's dead now; and a used to drave a donkey keert about, aater a got too wold to do any more work. One day, gwyne along the road out by Tapnell, a met wi'a team, and they drove the waggon right into the donkey and keert, and beeat the poor nutten's voot off, zo a had to be shot. The wold man was terbul putt out over it, but a thought a would goo to church the Zunday aater, vor a zed, 'I dare zay, now, the paason will praach about my poor wold nutten.'

Now it zo happened that the lesson that Zunday was about Balaam and his ass, and the wold man was delighted. 'What a good sarmun,' a zed, when a got out o'church, 'I knowed the paason 'ud be sure to praach
about my nutten, 'cause a was sich a good one.'

This of course reminds me of a tale of St Boniface. Boniface was born circa 680 AD in Devon, spent time in Winchester from 690, is said to have spent time on the Island roughly around 700 and later became a bishop, took Christianity to Germany, invented the Christmas Tree and was martyed in 755. The Isle of Wight's highest hill, St Boniface Down, is named after him. Any way, a local legend says how a holy bishop was travelling on the top of St Boniface Down on the back of a donkey on a wild and stormy night where the snow and mist was so thick it was impossible to see and there was nowhere for him to escape the overpowering wind that threatened to blow him to his death. The bishop is said to have prayed to St Boniface to help guide the donkey to safety, only to find himself as soon as he had stopped praying safely sheltered next to St Boniface Well. The bishop was so grateful that he donated the land now called Bishop's Acre to St Boniface Church in thanks for this miracle.

Sadly the legend doesn't state what the poor donkey, forced to carry a bishop in the worst possible conditions, got out of it all...

Here endeth the lesson

Main Round

Half Eaten


  • Veteran of the Vietnam War
  • Lunch
  • A coney-catcher's net

'Nammet' is a word still in daily use on the Island today where it is used to mean 'lunch', especially a sandwich. This is because in the past 'nammet' was used to refer to a refreshment that typically consisted of brencheese (bread and cheese) and beer, typically the strongest beer of the day. Nammet time would during Harvest be around four in the afternoon, but at other times of the year around 9am. Long quotes a traditional Hooam Harvest song, verses of which include:

But nammet time revives our souls,

Our droopen spirits cheers,

Vor we begins to stast, and wants

Zome good stiff nammet beer…

At vower o'clock, or thereabouts,

Our nammet time arrives;

We twigs the bwoy that brings it out, -

That zets us all alive.

Near's a Toucher

  • Bar maid
  • Very near and/or a close shave
  • Ship wrecked on the ledges off West Wight.

Necessary House

  • Privy
  • Customs and Revenue building
  • Prison


  • Necktie or scarf
  • Affectionate hug
  • House or dwelling

Another word unique to the Isle of Wight.

Newse the Matter

  • Someone sentenced to be hung on the gallows.
  • An upsetting news story.
  • As it should be or nearly correct.

We've already seen how 'Anewse' means 'similar' and 'almost the same' so 'newse the matter' means all is as it should be. Curiously, A Glossary of Isle of Wight Words by Major Henry Smith and Charles Roach Smith (1876) spells it 'Neuce the matter' and clarify that 'Neuce the seyam' means 'much the same', which I think you'll agree is newse the same, really.


  • Cheating or acting unfairly
  • Itching or scratching
  • A leech.


  • A small handful.
  • Notorious, wicked and incorrigible.
  • A ninny or nincompoop.

Long provides us the example,

Don't hay nothen to do we that feller, he's a nineted rogue.

While again Smith and Roach Smith spell things slightly differently to Long and Lavers, with their glossary stating:

Niented: wicked; incorrigible. 'That chap's a niented scoundrel.'

A corruption of anointed.

Nipper Chap

  • Spidercrab
  • Fish that, despite being hooked on the line, gets away.
  • Teenager

'Nipper' meaning child is another word in constant use, with 'Nipper chap' specifically meaning a (predominantly male) teenager.


  • Small or baby crab
  • Ball of wool.
  • Nor yet

Although Long uses 'not yet' to define 'nit', Lavers emphasises that its true meaning is 'nor yet', providing the following.

'What time es it, you?

'Oh, 'tedden't one o'clock, nit near, it.'

Nubby Joe

  • Lumpy custard
  • Walking Stick
  • Physically attractive young fellow.

A phrase unique to the Isle of Wight to describe a walking stick, particularly ones that, like a wizard's staff, famously has a knob on the end. As you know by now Long could turn any sentence into one involving violence against animals, and even a discussion about walking sticks isn't safe. He uses the phrase in context thus:

Afeared o' that dog? Not I! If I onny gits 'long side on 'en wi' my nubby Joe, he'll zoon be afeared o' me.


  • Agricultural chain used as a weapon in time of invasion.
  • Food eaten between breakfast and dinner
  • Abbess or head sister.

It can get very hungry at this time of day, especially if the afternoon begins and you've only eaten your dewbit, breakfast, nammet and lebbenses.

Nuss Tenden

  • Someone nursing another.
  • Tithe, 10% of earnings given to sick and elderly.
  • Greenhouse or enclosed area used to protect young, delicate plants.

Yes, someone nursing another, either out of affection or for employment. Long provides the remarkably unviolent example,

My wold dooman goos out nuss tenden now, you, and makes pretty good headway wi'et.

And what have we learned?

If You have been moved by any of the issues discussed this week, why not donate money to your nearest donkey sanctuary? Donkeys – unappreciated throughout the centuries.

Map of the Isle of Wight in words.
A - B - C - D - E - F
G - H - I - J - K - L
M - N
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02.10.17 Front Page

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1Specifically, a cow without horns.2Again, a sheep without horns.3'A' meaning 'he'.

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