Thursday, 18 November 2010


A stream near Pontargothi in spate a couple of years ago - probably looks similar today, as we've had so much rain.

I was reading my West Country dialect book last night, and a certain term made me prick up my ears. It was the word udjia or udjiack, meaning a small bit of something (especially mechanical) - we might called it a thingummibob today. Udjiak is actually a technical term used in shipbuilding (it is a movable chock used in fitting the planks of a boat).

I recognized this as an expression which possibly lengthened into "oojamaflip" in our house by my Devon-bred father - as in something small and lost - "where did I put that oojamaflip?"

As I sat here, another expression - this time of my mum's - came back to me - "Fanny Fanakapan". As in "What are you doing Fanny Fanakapan". I've just looked on Google and there was a Fred Fanackerpan in a Gracie Fields song . . . I wonder if it came from that? Mum used to say I was walking around like Fanny by Gaslight too!

Oh, and before I go, my mum used to be called "Lizzy Tin-drawers" by her dad - this presumably when she was being a bit straight-laced or having what would be termed these days as a sense of humour failure . . . I don't know where it comes from, but there is actually someone called Lizzy Tindraws with a Facebook account!


  1. How interesting. We used OOjamaflip in our house and also FANCY Fanakapan. I always thought it was something my Mum made up!

  2. We had oojamaflips too, and thingummybobs.

    If someone asked my Welsh Grandfather what he would like to eat, he would often say " Let`s have a brofus!".
    He would never say what a brofus was and I have never heard the word again. Did he make it up, is it a Welsh word for food you have forgotten the name of? I still have no idea!

  3. This is a delightful thread of thought---and I'm now trying to recall similar in my home of origin.
    I suspect that sometimes a popular term or line is mis-pronounced and becomes a sort of "insider" word which only the family uses.
    I try to remember that my grandson is now a dignified 16 years old and we mustn't keep referring to OWLS by his toddler pronunciation of "agals." [Or would I spell it agles?]

  4. Kath - I see these expressions were common currency then. Shame to let them die out.

    DW - "brofus" is probably "brecwast" - e.g. breakfast.

    MM - For years I was "Daffer" because my little cousin couldn't pronounce Jennifer!