Cumbrian Dialect Names for Wildlife and Plants

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Lists on this page are in the following order (please scroll) and the contents of the page are copyright, 2017, (see foot of page):

  1. Animals
  2. Birds
  3. Fish
  4. Insects
  5. Plants and Fruits
  6. Trees

ANIMALS

  • Ask                               Newt or lizard  (also see ‘watter ask’)
  • Blin’ Moose                 Shrew  (also see ‘moose’)
  • Braun                           Wild Boar
  • Brock                            Nowadays a badger but originally (also?) an otter
  • Branlins                       Small worms, great for fishing with.
  • Bullhead                      Tadpole (also ‘Powhead’) ‘Pollywog’ is widespread, not Cumbrian. (See in Fish)
  • Charlie                         Fox (also see ‘todd’)
                    Red Squirrel: A ‘skoperil’, ‘con’ or ‘swirrel’.   Photo copyright 2016, Eddie Wren.
  • Con                               Squirrel (also see ‘skoperil’ and ‘swirrel’). Con is also used for a squirrel’s nest.
  • Fou’mart                      Polecat (also see ‘Pow Cat’)
  • Frosk                            Frog (also see ‘Paddock’)
  • Hae                               Hare
  • Hagworm                     Snake, or more specifically, an adder
  • Kit                                Young pine marten or polecat
  • Moose                          Not a big Canadian deer with huge antlers…… a mouse! (also see “blin’ moose”)
  • Mowdiwarp                  Mole  (Old Norse: moldvarpa)
  • Paddick/Paddock         Frog (also see ‘Frosk’), sometimes also used for toad
  • Paddock-rudd/rid       Frog spawn
  • Paw Heeds                   Tadpoles (also see ‘Bullhead’ and ‘Powhead’)
  • Pow Cat                        Polecat (also see ‘Fou’mart’)  (Also see ‘pow-cat’ in the plants section)
  • Powhead                      Tadpole (See ‘Bullhead’ and ‘Paw Heeds’) ‘Pollywog’ is widespread, not Cumbrian.
  • Rabbets                        Do you want to guess this one? 🙂
  • Skoperil                       Young squirrel  (also see: ‘con’ and ‘swirrel’)
  • Snevil (shell)               Snail (shell)
  • Stot                              A stoat or, very differently, a young ox
  • Sweetmart                   Pine Marten
  • Swirrel                         Squirrel  (also see ‘con’ and ‘skoperil’)
  • Teadd or Tiad              Toad
  • Tod                               Fox (also see ‘Charlie’)
  • Watter Ask                   Newt  (also see ‘ask’)
  • Wissel or Wuzzel         Weasel
  • Wo-Whol                      Forms in which baby hares & rabbits [sic] hide

BIRDS

  • Baltute                         Coot (also see ‘bellcute’)
  • Bare Gawps                 Nestling birds  (also see ‘gorb or gorlin’)
  • Baum                           Partridges’ basking and dust-bath location
A dipper. In dialect, a ‘beck bessy’, ‘bessy dooker’ or ‘watter piet” (that latter of which, meaning pied, is inaccurate because despite common appearances the bird is not black and white, it is dark green and white).     Photo copyright Dave Fox / FoxyPhotos
  • Beck Bessy                  Dipper (also see ‘bessy dooker’ and ‘watter pyet’)
  • Bellcute                       Coot (also see ‘baltute’)
  • Bessy Blackcap           Reed Bunting
  • Bessy Blakelin            Yellowhammer (also see ‘yalla yowderin’)
  • Bessy Dooker              Dipper (also see ‘beck bessy’ and ‘watter pyet’)
  • Bitter-bump               Bittern
  • Blue Dikey                   Dunnock (see also “dickey’ and “dikey sparra”)
  • Chatter Hen                 Wren
  • Chitty                           Wren
  • Corby                            Carrion Crow (also see ‘daup’)
  • Crag Starlin                  Ring Ouzel  (also see ‘ring wuzzle’)
  • Cronk                            The call of a raven when in flight
  • Cushat                           Woodpigeon (also see ‘wooshat’)
  • Cuttery Coo                   The cooing of a pigeon, but also a secret or whispered conversation
.        Is this watt thoo means by ‘dope crows’?
  • Daup/Dawp/Dowp       Carrion Crow (also see ‘corby’)
  • Dickadee                      Common Sandpiper  (‘Tringa alpina‘)  (also see ‘willey-wicket’)
  • Dickey                          Dunnock  (also see ‘blue dikey’ and ‘dikey-sparra’)
A dunnock, in dialect, is a ‘dickey’, ‘blue-dikey’ or a ‘dikey-sparra’ and the latter relates to its old, inaccurate name of ‘hedge sparrow’ that should no longer be used (because it’s not a sparrow!). Photo copyright of Dave Fox / FoxyPhotos
  • Dikey-Sparra              Dunnock (formerly also called a hedge sparrow)  (also see ‘blue dikey’)
  • Fell-Fo (or -Faw)       Fieldfare
  • Fell Thrush                  Mistle Thrush (also see ‘shellcock’ and surprisingly ‘shillapple’)
  • Flecky Flocker             Chaffinch  (also see: ‘scoppy’, ‘shillapple’ and ‘spink’)
  • Glead                            Kite (but I think this name was widespread, not just Cumbria)
  • Gorb or Gorlin             An unfledged bird  (also see ‘bare gawps’)
  • Gowk                            Cuckoo
  • Hammer-bleat            Snipe
  • Heather-bleat              Snipe
The grey heron: a ‘heronsew’ or ‘jammy/jenny-lang-neck’.  Photo copyright of Dave Fox / FoxyPhotos
  • Heronsew                      Heron (also see ‘jenny-lang-neck’)
  • Hoolet/Hiulet/Hullet    Owlet
  • Jammy-lang-neck       Heron
  • Jenny-lang-neck          Heron (also see ‘heronsew’)
  • Jenny-red-tail              Redstart (“Sylvia phoenicurus“)
  • Laverick                        Lark (but is ‘laverick’ a more widespread name, not just Cumbria?)
  • Lingy                             “The ground lark, from the Alaunda genus of birds.” (also see ‘Moor-tidy’,                .                        ‘Mosscheeper’ and ‘Mosschilper’) – Skylark
  • Miller’s Thumb           “Willow Wren” (“Sylvia trochilus“)  n.b. Willow Warbler (also see ‘Milly Thoom’)
  • Milly Thoom                “Willow Wren” (“Sylvia trochilus“)  n.b. Willow Warbler (also see ‘Millers Thumb’)
  • Moor-tidy                     Described by Ferguson as a ‘ground lark’ so perhaps a meadow pipit, but by           .                                William Dickinson as “the ground lark, from the Alaunda genus of birds” which          .                               would make it a sky lark (see ‘Lingy’)
  • Mosscheeper/chilper   See ‘Moor-tidy’ plus ‘Lingy’
  • Nettle Creeper              This is one I want to know. Knowledgeable answers only, please; not wild guesses.
  • Peggy White Throat     “One of the willow wrens.”  Logically a whitethroat or lesser whitethroat.
  • Plivver                           “The plover bird, “Charadrius.” (i.e. the lapwing or peewit, so see ‘Tewit’)
  • Pyatt / Piet                    Magpie (Note: A ‘teally piet’ is a person who is a tell-tale or betrayer)

.                        A raven in flight.  Copyright 2015,  Eddie Wren

  • Reavven                        Raven
  • Ring Wuzzle                 Ring Ousel  (also see “Crag Starlin”)
  • Scoppy                          Chaffinch (also see ‘flecky flocker’, ‘shillapple’ and ‘spink’)
  • Shep / Shepster            Starling
  • Shellcock                      Mistle Thrush (also see ‘fell thrush’ and surprisingly ‘shillapple’)
  • Shillapple                     Chaffinch (also see ‘flecky flocker’, ‘scoppy’ and ‘spink’) BUT…
  • Shillapple                     Mistle Thrush (also see ‘fell thrush’ and ‘shellcock’)
A male chaffinch: the ‘spink’, ‘scoppy, ‘flecky-flocker’ or ‘shillapple’. Photo copyright of Dave Fox / Foxy Photos
  • Spink                             Chaffinch (also see ‘flecky flocker’, ‘scoppy’ and ‘shillapple’)
  • Steg                               Male goose
  • Tewit / teufit                Peewit (Note: ‘Tewet Tarn’ on Low Rigg is pronounced ‘Teufit Tarn’ by locals)                              .          (Also see ‘plivver’)
  • Throstle / throssel       Thrush
  • Tommaty Taa/Tee       “Tom Tit” so a blue tit
  • Watter Tee                   The “water wagtail” – now Grey Wagtail
  • Yalla Yowderin             Yellowhammer  (also see ‘Bessy Blakelin’)
  • Watter Pyet                  Dipper (also see ‘beck bessy’ and ‘bessy dooker’)
  • Willey-wicket              Sandpiper  (also see ‘Dickadee’)
Juvenile (left) and adult (right) woodpigeons. In dialect, either ‘cushats’ or ‘wooshats’. Photo copyright of Dave Fox / FoxyPhotos
  • Wooshat                       Woodpigeon  (also see ‘Cushat’)

FISH

  • Bass                               Perch
  • Bull-heed                      Bullhead (but also see ‘Bullhead’ in the ‘Animals’ section.)
  • Brandlings                    Young salmon parr
  • Fleukk                           Flounder
  • Hing                              A male salmon or trout
  • Kipper                           An ignominious name for an out-of-season salmon
  • Kittle                             The act of tickling a trout
  • Looatcher                      Loach
  • Liggy (Boddam)            Loach (“Cobitis barbatula“)
  • Mennoms                      Minnows (“Leuciscus phoximus“)
  • Paddock Fish                Toadfish (a saltwater fish – “Batrachoididac“)
  • Pinks                             Young smelt of salmon  (also see ‘sparling’)
  • Pricky back                   Stickleback
  • Skelly                            “Chub”
  • Sparling                        Salmon smelt  (also see ‘pinks’)
  • Tommy-looatches       Loach
  • Troot                             Trout

INSECTS

  • Atter (cob)                    Spider (web) – yes, I know spiders aren’t insects! 🙂
  • Attercrop                      Spider’s web
  • Atter-mite                    Pond Skater
  • Beegle                           Beetle
  • Bessy Clocker               Black beetle – kill a bessy clocker an’ it’ll rain!
  • Brackin Clock               Small brown beetle, used as fish bait in June
A Highland Darter ‘bullstang’ – northern Lake District. Copyright 2015, Eddie Wren
  • Bullstang                      Dragonfly (A ‘stang’ is dialect for both a sting and a pole. People used to think             .                               these beautiful, harmless creatures could sting, and even kill, bulls!).  Also:
  • Bullstang                      Hornet
  • Bummle                        Bumble Bee
  • Bustard                         A type of fly used on a hook, by fishermen, on summer evenings.
  • Cleg                               A gad fly, sting fly or common horsefly
  • Deeth Clook                  The tapping of a death-watch beetle – a bad omen
  • Fuzzy-Ganny               A hairy caterpillar (or a hairy witch!)
  • Jimmy Twitcher           Centipede or millipede
  • Jinny-Spinner              Jimmy-Longlegs (crane fly)
  • Kest                               Swarm (e.g. bees)
  • Kiad                               Sheep louse
  • Kurk (Kirk?) Louse       Woodlouse
  • Mawk Midge                 Blue-bottle or flesh-fly
  • Meg-o-many-feet       Centipede (but see a similar name in the Flowers section)
  • Pissimire                       Ant. Also recorded as ‘pishmidder’, pissamoor’, pissimer and pissmudder.                                             .   (Also see ‘Pissimire’ in the ‘Flowers’ section)
  • Pissimire Bed                Ants’ nest
  • Sleugh                           A white grub found in watery places and used as fish bait
  • Teadd Spit                    The same as ‘cuckoo spit’, the froth of a froghopper
  • Tom Beagle                  Cockchaffer / may-bug
  • Tom Tayleor                “A water insect” – very vague but that is the only description
  • Twing                           “A small, scarlet-coloured insect said… to occasion fatal illness in cattle.”
  • Twitch-bell                  Earwig
  • Warble                          A maggot in a cow’s hide
  • Whamp                         Wasp
  • Willy-Wi’t-Wisp          Fireflies  (“Varra flaysome things“)
  • Wireworms                   Millipedes

PLANTS, FLOWERS & FRUITS

While some flowers’ names strongly appear to be Cumbrian dialect, it is possible that some are simply just the regional, or even national, period names for such.  So even though those included here are listed in 19th Century dictionaries of our dialect, I cannot be sure how accurate this aspect is.

  • Agreen                         Ragwort (“Senecio Jacoboea“) (Also see ‘Grundswaith’, ‘Grunsel’,’Muggert’)
  • Bird-Een                     Bird’s Eye – “Bonny bird-een, the bonniest flooer at ivver waz seen.”
  • Black Kites                  Blackberries, Brambles  (also see “Bumbli-kite”)
  • Bleaberry/Blebbery     The Bilberry or Whortleberry(“Voccinium myrtillus“) (from Old Norse blaber)
  • Bog onion                    Flowering fern (“Osmunda Regalis“)
  • Buck-Bean                   Bog Bean – “Buck-bean tea, grand fer tekkin’ fur off yer teeth.
  • Bulls and Cows            Lords and Ladies! (Both names coming from the flower’s phallic appearance.)
  • Bullace                         Wild plums
  • Bumbli-kite                 Blackberries, Brambles  (also see “Black Kites”)
Rosehips (‘choops’ or ‘shoops’). Copyright: Eddie Wren, 2016
  • Choops                          Rosehips  (also see ‘shoops’)
  • Clents                            Coltsfoot
  • Clot Bur                         Burdock  (also see “Cuckelty Burs”)
  • Coo Stripplins               Cowslip
  • Creaanns                       Cranberries (“Oxycoccus palustris“)
  • Cuckelty Burs               The seed heads of Burdock (also see “Clot Bur”)
  • Cuckoo bread & cheese           –   The leaves and flowers of Wood Sorrel (“Oxalis Acetosella“)
  • Daffy-Dum(0r Down)-Dilly   –   Daffodil
  • Death Come Quickly    Herb Robert (“Geranium Robertianum“)
  • Dee/Deaa Nettle           Dead Nettle (“Lamium album“)
  • Deed Tongue                 Cowbane (“Circuta virosa“)
  • Devil-in’t-Bush           (I’m working on this one!)
  • Dusty Miller                 “The flower of the Auriculus”
  • Easter-Man-Giants     Easter Ledges (Bistort) (also see ‘Easter-mun-jiands’ and ‘Wasterledges’)
  • Easter-mun-jiands      (“Polygonum bistorta“)
  • Eldin                              Butter Burr (“Petasites vulgaris“) Once used as a firelighter, hence ‘eldins’
  • Fitch                              Vetch
  • Fiz Bo                            Puff-ball fungus
  • Gale                               Wild Myrtle
  • Grundswaith                 Ragwort (“Senecio Jacobaea“) (Also see ‘Agreen’, ‘Grunsel’, ‘Muggert’.)
  • Grunsel                          Ragwort (“Senecio Jacobaea“) (Also see ‘Agreen’, ‘Grundswaith’, ‘Muggert’.)
  • Gull                                Corn Marigold (“Chrysanthemum segetum“)
  • G’yus-goggs                 Gooseberries
Red Campion – dialect name ‘Heed Wark’  (meaning ‘head-ache’). Photo copyright:          Dave Fox / FoxyPhotos
  • Heed-wark                   Red Campion (literally translated: “head-ache”!)
  • Hine-berry                   Raspberry
  • Hip-haws                     Hawthorn berries
Hawthorn berries (‘hip-haws’) on Blencathra. Copyright, Eddie Wren, 2014
  • Horse Knop                   Knapweed (“Centaurea nigra“)
  • Kesh                              Cow Parsnip or any other “hollow stem”
  • Kites                              Berries
  • Knop                              Flower bud
  • Lamb-tails                    Hazel catkins
  • Lockin Gowan               Globe Flower (“Trollius Europoeus“)   N.B. Marsh Marigold is ‘Oppengowan’.
  • March Malice                (I’m working on this one!)
  • Meg-wi-many-teazz   –    Creeping Crowfoot/Buttercup (“Ranunculus repens“) (See similar, in Insects)
  • Mekkin                          Yellow Flat [sic] but ‘Flag’ (“Iris pseudacorus“) (also see ‘seag’ and ‘seggin’)
  • Mosscrops                     “The flowers [sic] of Eriophorum vaginatum” (Hare’s Tail Grass)
  • Muggert                         Ragwort (“Senecio Jacoboea“) (Also see ‘Agreen’, ‘Grundswaith’, ‘Grunsel’)
  • Mushamer                     Mushroom or fungus
  • Naked Ladies                 Autumn crocus
  • Oppengowan                 Marsh Marigold (“Caltha palustris“)  N.B. Globe Flower is ‘Lockin Gowan’.
  • Paddock Peyp                Common of Field Horsetail (also see ‘teadd pipe’)
  • Paddock Steull              A mushroom or toadstool; all non-edible fungi
  • Pissimires                     Dandelion flowers before the ‘clocks’ appear (but also see ‘Pissimire’ in ‘Insects’)
  • Pow-cat                        The stink-horn fungus, “Phallus impudicus.” (Named after the smell of the polecat)
  • Ramps                           Ramsons or Wood Garlic
  • Redshanks                     Common Persicaria
  • Resh                               Rushes
  • Rheumatism Plant        Angelica
  • Robin-run-in’t-dike    (I’m working on this one!)
  • Seag                               (“Iris pseudacorus“)  (also see ‘mekkin’)
  • Seeaves / Seeves           Rushes (“Juncaceae“)
  • Seggin                           (“Iris pseudacorus“)  (also see ‘mekkin’ and ‘seggin’)
  • Shoeless Horse             Common Moonwort fern (“Botrychium lunaria“)
  • Shoops                          Rosehips  (also see ‘choops’)
  • Sleeas                            Sloes
  • Teadd Pipe                    Common of Field Horsetail (“Equisetum arvense‘) (also see ‘paddock peyp’)
  • Vagabond’s Friend       Solomon’s Seal (good for facial injuries from fighting)
  • Wasterledges                Easter Ledges or Bistort (also see ‘Easter-mun-jiands’)
  • Watter Kesh                  “Angelica sylvestris” Wild Angelica
  • Watter Thistle              “Cnicus palustris” now Cirsium palustre, the marsh or European swamp thistle
  • Wattertwitch                “Agrostis vulgaris”  Bent Grass
  • Whin                             Gorse or Furze
  • Yowe-Yorlin                 (Also Yow-yonuts or Yow-yornel) Earth nuts / pig nuts
  • Yur                                “Corn Spurrey, Spergula arvensis

TREES & NUTS

  • Akkerns                         Acorns
  • Birk                               Birch
  • Boretree / Burtree        Elder (‘Bawtree Johnny’ is Elderflower wine)
  • Chats                             Ash seeds
  • Cock Drunks                 The fruits of the Rowan or Mountain Ash
  • Dogberry                       Rowan / Mountain Ash, or alternatively a cherry tree
  • Eck/Egg/Heck Berry     Bird Cherry (“Prunus padus“)
  • Ellar                               Alder
  • Ellar berries                  Can be either Alder or Elder berries
  • Emmal                           Elm
  • Esh (chats)                   Ash (seeds)
  • Eysh                              Ash
  • Leemer                         Hazlenuts that have ripened and come free from there husks (“broon leemers”)
  • Liggers                         Long branches, partly severed and laid horizontal when laying a dyke (hedgerow)
  • Ome                              Elm
  • Rowntree                      Rowan / Mountain Ash
  • Saugh or Saughtree     Willow
  • Seal-Seugh                  Willow
  • Seel                               Willow
  • Sevein                           Juniper
  • Skybel                           An oak twig
  • Wand                            “The one-year-old shoots of the willow”
  • Wiggin                          Rowan / Mountain Ash
  • Witch Wood                 Rowan / Mountain Ash
  • Yak / Yek                      Oak

Go to the main ‘Dialect‘ index page

When first published, on 25 January 2017, the initial contents of this Web page were based on an article titled ‘Can you tell a yak from an esh?’, written by Eddie Wren and first published in the Cumbria Life Magazine in April 2003 (page 30).  This page has since been significantly expanded.

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This page (along with the rest of this website) is Copyright, 2016-17, of Eddie Wren (writer of novels under the pseudonym of ‘Steve Shearwater’).  All rights reserved.