Written in Black and Wight: R - Answers

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Time for the answers.

Quick Fire Round


And now for the weather, and we can confirm the outlook is sunshine and cloud, scattered cloud, with outbreaks of knowing what the correct meteorological terms from those listed below are

Isle of Wight

RhymA chill sea mist
Right-up-and-downA seafaring term for a calm.
RimeyHazy, but not quite foggy.
RiseA mist that is close to the ground.
Rishun dryWeather so dry that cornfields have become brittle.

Main Round

Isle of Wight

There are three possible answers listed for each word below, but only one is correct. Can You guess which is right, and see right through the incorrect options?



  • List of labourer's written demands.
  • Scruffy handwriting.
  • A long, rambling story memorised and repeated off by heart.

Racketty, also Rap and Run Vor

  • Wobbly, especially under pressure.
  • Thriftless, extravagant.
  • A game of tennis.

Racketty does indeed mean thriftless and extravagant, however the Isle of Wight Dialect by Jack Lavers (1988) adds it was sometimes also used for wild and boisterous. Lang uses the following examples of both phrases:

He was a reglar racketty sort o'chap avore he got married.

He'll never be wuth vive shillens, vor he spends all he can rap and run vor.

Racketty, this time spelt with one 't' also appears in the work of Maxwell Gray, the penname of Newport author Mary Gleed Tuttiett (1846-1923). Her 1886 novel The Silence of Dean Maitland was set in the fictional village 'Malbourne' which sounds remarkably like Isle of Wight real village Calbourne.

All the confused misery of the painful insoluble riddle of earth seemed to awake and trouble the clear happiness of Everard's soul at the story told in the poor little scrap of paper, the more pathetic for its bad spelling and artless grammar. And how came such an epistle in his pocket? Doubtless some friend had borrowed his coat; some heedless rackety medical student, perchance, and flavoured it with tobacco and correspondence.

The letter in question is from an unknown woman writing to say that she will not marry the person she is writing to, and he should instead marry her, another unnamed person. Gray uses the word again in The Reproach of Annesley (1889).

Those Highland officers were all men of means and family, they were nearly all unmarried and more or less fast, and the usual consequences of a young man associating with richer men than himself had ensued. Late hours, play, moderate by a rich man's standard, but high by a poor man's, steeple-chasing by a horse due at sick people's doors and such like, had combined to empty the doctor's pockets and scandalize his patients, particularly the steady-going burghers of Medington, who did not care to trust their families or themselves to the hands of a young man, who, instead of occupying his leisure with medical books, consorted with a 'set of rackety officers.'


  • Stale, unpleasant smell.
  • White water team bonding activity along the River Medina.
  • Someone or something that will float when pushed into water.

In A Dictionary of Isle of Wight Dialect by WH Long (1886), the following example is provided:

That ham got a kind o'rafty smell wi'et; I can't stummick it.


  • Somethink that's like well random.
  • What someone who gets bugged driving up and down the same old strip and gotta find a new place where the kids are hip gets.
  • Country fair

In mediæval times, a charter granted to a town gave it the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair, usually held on the feast day of the town's parish church, although Brading had the right to two annual fairs. Yarmouth celebrated on St James' Day, Newport had held a Whitsuntide Fair on Whit Monday until the 1860s when the fair was cancelled under the Fairs Act, which associated these events with drunkenness and debauchery. Newtown, the oldest of the Island's boroughs, had the right to an annual three-day fair 'on the Eve, Day and the Morrow of the Feast of St Mary Magdalene'. Just because the town of Newtown had been abandoned following its complete destruction by the French, plague and/or Pied Piper in 1377 and, what with the harbour silting up there hadn't been any point in rebuilding the harbour town1, does not mean that the right to a fair was forgotten. On the contrary, the right to hold a fair where there weren't any local residents to complain about what went on made it the most successful on the Island.

Architect and poet Percy Goddard Stone in his Legends and Lays of the Isle of Wight (1911) wrote a poem entitled 'Newtown Randy' about a young man taking a maade to the fair. Here are verses 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10:

I bunched a tutty2, big ez a plate,

An' garbed me up a dandy o,

To meet my maade by her mammy's gate

An' away to Newtown Randy o

Ef ar-a-one hed a vlouted zhe,

Reckon I 'd hay tann'd he o

The volk they vairly ztared at we

A walking to the Randy o,

I bought zhe a proper parazall —

Happen her 'll vind en handy o,

Chance zun do zhine or hrain do vail

Gooin' to Newtown Randy o.

I bought zhe hribbons an' ginger cake,

Laces an' zugar candy o

Us danced away till our ligs did ache

Vor zure at Newtown Randy o.

Us zid the dwarf an' a proper play.

An' a larned pig called Andy o.

Us zid most everything thet day

Theer wuz at Newtown Randy o.

Last her gev in. ' Come, tek my arm

Wi' your pratty handy-pandy o.

Snoodle 'gen me an' I'll keep 'ee warm

Way back vrom t' Randy o.'

Us lingered most by ivery ztile,

Like lovin' goose an' gandy o.

I hugged zhe ivery quarter mile

Comin' vrom Newtown Randy o.

I 'm a granfer nigh on vower score yeer,

My back an' ligs be bandy o.

Her's zetten theer i' the chimbley cheer —

The maade I tuk to t' Randy o.

I'd love to tell you more about it, but typing 'Randy' into a search engine can come up with all sorts of results...


  • Soon or early.
  • To rake a field.
  • Horse antlers.

This word means soon or early, and sometimes too soon or too early. Long quotes an epitaph found in Northwood Churchyard on two children, who died in 1668 and 1670, which concludes:

Such early fruites are quickly in their prime,

Rathe ripen we know are gathered in betime;

Such Primroses by Death's impartiall hand

Are cropped, and landy'd up at Heaven's command.


  • Strange noise coming from the walls of a house at night.
  • A child's toy animal.
  • A bat. (flying mammal)

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No - it's a bat! Long writes,

There's a gurt rattlemouse vleein' about in steyabel, you. Git the rudder, and let's ketch'n.

The petition to rename comic hero Batman to 'Rattlemouseman' starts here! Incidentally 'rudder' in this context means 'sieve'.


  • Improved mousetrap.
  • Dilapidated or falling apart, in desperate need of repair.
  • Someone who keeps talking nonsense.

Long says Rattletrap means old worn-out vehicle while rattletraps are old and rickctty household goods, providing the example,

There's nothen in the house but a few wold rattletraps, not wuth a rap, and about half-a-bushel o'vlees.

A Glossary of Isle of Wight Words by Major Henry Smith and Charles Roach Smith (1876) simply states it means 'Ramshackled'.


  • A small, narrow stool to sit on.
  • Signpost.
  • Being assigned to a church parish.

A signpost, originating from 'Direction Post'.


  • A fox.
  • A field for reindeer.
  • A rendezvous point.

In a word The English Dialect Dictionary ed. Joseph Wright (1906) states is unique to the Isle of Wight, a Renyard is a fox. Which is a bit odd, as foxes aren't actually native to the Isle of Wight. The Descriptio Britannica (1548) famously described the Isle of Wight as having 'no hooded priests, no lawyers, no wolves and no foxes' and the first fox on the Island, a vicar's pet, escaped captivity and was hunted for 15 miles in 1830. Since then foxes have fallen in love with the Island's climate and are now well established.

Anyway, despite not being native, the fox has inspired some local songs, with Long quoting the following song3:

There was zome jolly sportsmen

Went out to hunt a fox,

And where d'ye think they vound him?

Among the hills and rocks.

The vust we met was a ploughman,

A ploughen of his land;

He swore he zid bold Renyard

Run by on his right hand.

The next we met was a miller,

A peepen out o' his mill;

He swore he zid bold Renyard

Run up the yonder hill.

The next we met was a blind man,

As blind as lie could be;

He swore he zid bold Renyard

Run up a hollow tree.

The next we met was a paason,

Clad in his mournen black;

He swore he zid bold Renyard

Run up the huntsman's back.

Finally Long has given a quote in which no animals were harmed or injured, hurray!

Stone must have been fond of foxes, writing the 28-verse poem 'How They Ran The First Fox In The Wight' (1830) about the very first fox on the Island, following it up with a 30-verse sequel, 'How They Introduced Foxes To Wight'. I'm not going to quote them all, but here is verse 2 and 3 of 'How They Ran the First Fox in the Wight', the dramatic moment when the parson's servant discovers that the parson's pet fox is missing.

To Passon cum hrunnin' one vine zummer day,

As a moistened a's clay on the laan,

A's zervant man Zam wi' the ter'ble news —

'Pleaze zur, measter Renyard be gaan.'

High an' low did they zeek vor en, measter an' man,

But niver a traace uv en vound.

Zo twuz clear to they both, as they moppet theer brows,

Zly Renyard had goten to ground.

Of course although none of the dictionary writers mention it, it's unlikely to be a coincidence that 'Renyard' is similar to 'Reynard' the famous fox trickster of mediæval legend found in the fables England, France, Holland and Germany.


  • Taxes.
  • Metal things that attract trains.
  • Sunbeams.

Read my lips – reyals means taxes, with the word originating from 'royals'.


  • Invasive Martian plant described by HG Wells in The War of the Worlds.
  • Unwated liquid poured away.
  • Poppies

Lavers adds that William A Bromfield in Flora Vectensis (1856) wrote how poppies were used to feed pigs, both on their own and added to their wash (pot liquor mixture used as pig food), with poppy seed used as a substitute for caraway seeds to flavour bread.


  • A woman who looks just like Mrs Peel in The Avengers.
  • A ship that doesn't have quite enough ropes and sails and things.
  • Escaping sheep and cattle

Forget Steve McQueen for The Great Escape, what you need is a good farm animal. Long provides this example of an unharmed Houdini heifer:

That's a terbul riggish heifer o'your'n, varmer; she's for ever gitten' over hedge into my vatches.

Henry and Charles Roach Smith add that while the word 'riggish' is usually applied to cattle or sheep getting out and breaking through fences, it also means 'wanton', in which sense it was used by Shakespeare to describe Cleopatra4.

Curiously they add that 'Rig' means 'to break through a fence and to mark sheep' while Lavers states that 'Rig' was used in the phrase 'Rig out', meaning to hoax or bamboozle, or a set of clothing such as Missus wants a new rig out vor the daater's weddun.

Ring A Person Out

  • To toll a knell, ring a bell at their funeral.
  • To canvas their political opinion.
  • To be soaking wet during a storm at sea.


  • To be wealthy.
  • To rush.
  • To have a dream.

Yes, this means to rush, especially Rish to cut or Rish to leather which means to ride or drive at a great speed. Long has an example under 'Rish' which involves snakes eating chicks and then getting decapitated with a stakebittle5 so we'll ignore that and move swiftly on to an example used under 'Standvurder: a quarrel' in which no animals are harmed6 but a squire refuses to pay to use the toll road.

Wold Jerry Bull ben dead now a good many years; I can onny jest mind 'en. A used to be a kind o'groom or coachman to Squire Rishwuth, who lived at Freshwater one time. The Squire couldn't bear turnpike geats - they was jest putt up then; a wouldn't never paay if a could help it, and always had a deuce of a standvurder wi'the turnpike feller. 'Drave rish droo,' he'd zay to Jerry, 'I'll stand the racket on't. 'One day, the Squire was took mortal bad, and thought a was gwyne off the hooks; zo a had wold Jerry in to zay good-bye too'n. 'Ah Jerry,' a zed, 'I be gwyne a longer journey now than ever you drove me.''Well, meyaster,'zays Jerry, 'ye won't hay to paay noo turnpikes on the road, that'll be one consolation to ye.

I'll even add this example of riggish bovines going rish, with 'stout' meaning 'stung by an insect' or gadfly.

My eyes, you! the heifers got the stout, and be all gone taail-on-end, right down droo the elover, and rish droo hedge into copse.

Lavers adds that rish can also be used to mean over-ripe grain.


  • A very, very small river.
  • Getting to your destination.
  • Amorous.

A word that, according to The English Dialect Dictionary, is unique to the Isle of Wight.

Rot Gut

  • Dysentery.
  • Poor beer.
  • Talentless violinist.

Long provides a couple of examples, which demonstrate how important beer was to a labourer's life. After all, before the discovery of water-based germs, it was realised that water could cause illness but not known why, whereas a weak beer was a healthier alternative that was unlikely to spread disease. Or at least that was the theory...

don't veel over toppen, and kindy queer in my innerds, I can tell'ee. I yet zome apple pudden at dinnertime, and then I went down to wold Beagle's, and was fool enough to git a pint or two of his rot gut into me,
and 'tes sarren me out cruel. I shan't doo't agen, I'll warnt it.

The following farm labourer is dissatisfied with his employer, who he calls 'Billygoat', and is looking forward to the next Bargan Zadderday on the Saturdays nearest Middlemas (Old Michaelmas Day, 11 October), when his annual employment would end and he would be free to have a different employer for the following year.

Is that thee, Jem? I thought 'twas. Well, how dost git on wi'wold 'Billygoat'?

Oh noohow, mayet; I shant bewi' 'en much longer, I hopes. A wants a feller to goo to plough in the aaternoon; and all we hays vor breakfast es hes wold ornery cheese, and some swizzle that's regler rot gut, as zour as vargess [verjuice]; and if a veller zays ar word, wold Billy-goat 'ill putt hes boot up alongzide on 'en sharp. I sholl be middlen glad when Middlemas comes and I can get shet on't.

Rough Music

  • A cacophony of noise made to indicate disapproval.
  • A school recorder or ukulele recital.
  • Bagpipes.

According to Lavers, Rough Music was used to indicate the presence of someone in disgrace, for example by clashing saucepan, lids – anything the louder the better.


  • A Stone To Clean With.
  • Neolithic monument between Robin Hill and Merstone said to increase fertility.
  • Flint grindstone used at local mills.

A stone used for cleaning, especially scouring and whitening floors.


  • Bleeding.
  • A head shaken in disapproval.
  • Rugged, rugby-playing ruffian.

We have already seen how 'rudder' could mean a sieve, but it also means to shake your head in disapproval. Here's Long with a quick example.

I've heerd my father tell o'wold Forred, what used to be clerk at Newchurch, and played a hobwoy in church a Zundays; another wold feller, that lived at Pigspond, used to plaay a bazoon or zummet o'the sort there besides. One Zunday, aater the sarmon, they had to zing the Wold Hundred; but when the paason - Gill, I thinks hes naarme was - finished up, wold Forred was vast asleep. 'T'other wold man nudges 'en, and zays, 'Come, come, Richard, let's strick up.''All right!' zings out wold Forred, about half awake, 'I'll lay two half-crowns on the rid cock.' The paason ruddered hes head at 'en when a heerd it; but a dedn't zay nothen too'n as I knows on.
Map of the Isle of Wight in words.

So what have we learnt this week? Dunno, but I'll be ruddering my head next time Long uses animal cruelty as a method of linguistic illustration.

A - B - C - D - E - F
G - H - I - J - K - L
M - N - O - P - Q - R
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13.11.17 Front Page

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1Newtown was allowed two MPs to represent it between 1584 – the first time the Isle of Wight had been represented in Parliament - until 1832. It has a very fine town hall, even though it doesn't actually have any town, but you can still see the mediæval street layout in the field. It was unfairly called a Rotten Borough because it had a population of 68 people and 39 votes, while places like Manchester and Leeds didn't have any MPs.2Nosegay or bunch of flowers.3Although I'll leave out the chorus which involves such phrases as:
With my whoop, whoop, whoop, and my halloa! All in this merry train;

With my ran, tan, tan, and my tivy, tivy, twang;

Right droo the woods we'll ride, brave bwoys
4As Cleopatra was described by Cassius Dio as 'a woman of surpassing beauty', perhaps Riggish means 'a woman who looks just like Mrs Peel in The Avengers' after all...5A tool used for 'hedgen and deetchen, you.6True, the two men mentioned in the story are dead by the end, but c'est la vie.

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