Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Grockles or Emmets?

What you call a tourist in the West Country depends on where you live.  In Devon they are Grockles (and in Dorset and parts of Hampshire too, and Somerset too I believe) but go across the Cornish border and they become Emmet.  An emmet (in Hampshire) is a red ant.  Apparently the mass movements of tourists are not unalike those of ants, hence the term.  My good friend J has found me this: However the use of 'emmet' to mean ants is actually from the Cornish dialect of English and is derived from the Old English word �mete from which the modern English word ant, is also derived (compare Modern German Ameise [ant]).

 The little guide I bought in Hay-on-Wye had a few interesting dialect words.  I'd never heard of "ANCHOR" used in any other than a maritime sense, but apparently it is to dawdle or potter . . .

BIGETY - stuck-up - high and mighty.

A CHATTERBAG is a gossip. Love that word!

PURDLE is to cause to fall over or spin round - to PURDLE ALONG is to go at a good rate.

SCAMMISH is clumsy or awkward.

TOMMY is food, especially when taken to work, or a loaf of bread.

A WANT is a mole.  Thus a WANT-HEAP is a mole-hole; and a WANT-WRIGGLE is a mole trackway.

Just a few words for you to enjoy.


  1. Fascinating to read of the meaning of those words. I too like "Chatterbag"!!

    I loved the excerpts in your last post from the Alison Uttley book - beautiful prose. I will look out for her books as I only have some of the "Little Grey Rabbit" books which I bought the children when young and can't bring myself to part with!

  2. They're fantastic. I love Chatterbag too!

  3. Isn't it funny how words go with areas? There is a column each week in our local paper about dialect words - locals write in with a selection. As I come from a different county, my words are different too - and although I haven't lived there for a long time, I still use some of them. Old habits die hard.

  4. Grockles and emmets--I half expected a post on birds I never met! I've tried to recall some of the words my Grampa Mac used, still hoping to find a clue as to where in England his grandparents were from. It interests me that in Great Britain--a relatively small country by comparison to USA--there has been such a diversity of dialects and 'accents.'

  5. Have to say that practically your entire post consisted of words that are new to me:) Hope you are OK and life is trogging along nicely.

  6. Loved this new vocabulary list! Chatterbag is my favorite.