Some Olde English Words (and their meanings)

Image result for image of a Victorian person Image: Canterbury Christ Church University


Hello and hi. Sorry chaps, no Brexit updates today. But just know this and this is important- so I really need you to focus…ready? Ok, here goes: Brexit means brexit. That being said, let me get on with the getting on and share with you some olde English words and their subsequent meanings. You are welcome.


“It’s not working because the gubbins have fallen out.” Truth be told, I have never heard this particular word. Not that surprising-I am new here. New-ish. Gubbins means: bits and pieces or paraphernalia. It actually comes from an old French word for a bite of food-or a piece of something. Further, when the word crossed over to use in English language it was translated as ‘gob’ which is associated with mouth. Up North they will often say something like ‘oh shut your gob.’ They are weird up North. Please know this to be true. Yup.


“Come on…get a mosey on!” or “To mosey along.” Ahh, I do know this word. Massive relief. Actually this word is very strange in the fact that it can mean to hurry up or to go slowly. When this word originally appeared in 1836 it was a verb meaning to go away quickly. The leisurely version of the word came about in the 1960. Truth.


In American slang we sometimes say: ‘oh snap!’ as an exclamation or that something pretty incredulous has just happened. But on this side of the pond, you might hear: ‘What are you having for your snap?’ Snap means: dinner. It was featured in D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers-and snap was a word that originally came from mining. You see, miners used to take a tin box down into the mines, containing their food (think: lunchbox). And the sound of the tin snapping open and shut led to the meal itself being referred to as snap. Cool beans! See what I did there?


“Oh me dander’s up!” Have heard ‘dander’ plenty-and maybe you have too. It is an expression that means that you are cross (angry). Actually, this word was first seen in writing in America in 1831-and dander stood for dandruff. And when your dander’s up, it means you’re so angry it’s brought the dandruff off your scalp. Yikes. Head and Shoulders should sort that out. For real.


‘Don’t be mardy!’ The band, the Artic Monkeys are party to thank/blame for the recent resurgence of this word-thanks to their song ‘Mardy Bum.’ Now people all over the UK have picked up on this word which stands for a grumpy person. Mardy was originally recorded in Sheffield and Yorkshire in the 1890’s. The idea came from a marred or spoilt child who would then misbehave and be grumpy as well as sulky. Truth.



“You need to go down the twitten.” This word has nothing to do with social media/Twitter. It is simply an alleyway. Apparently there is a manuscript which was printed in 1831 Sussex dialect which says that a twitten is the word for a narrow path between two walls or hedges. This word is a regional version of betwixt or between-but used as a noun. Again, all true.


So, that’s it. Some olde, funky words and their meanings and origins. I dare you to use some-if not, all, next week. Do it. That is all.