Geordie is a regional nickname for a person
from the Tyneside region of
England, or the name of the English dialect
spoken by its inhabitants. Depending on who is using the term, the
catchment area for
the term Geordie can, depending on the speaker be as big
as the whole of north east of
England, or as small as the city of Newcastle upon
Sunderland, however, uses the regional nickname
" as opposed to Geordie. Similarly,
people from the Teesside area (Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees,
Redcar, Billingham and surrounding settlements) of the north east
are known as 'Smoggies
In most aspects Geordie speech is a direct continuation and
development of the language spoken by the Anglo-Saxon
settlers of this region. Initially
mercenaries employed by the Ancient Brythons
to fight the Pictish invaders after the
end of Roman rule in Britannia
5th century, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes who thus arrived became,
over time, ascendant politically and - through population transfer
from tribal homelands in northern Europe - culturally over the
native British. The Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms that emerged during the
Dark Ages spoke mutually intelligible varieties of Old English
, each varying somewhat in phonology,
morphology, syntax and lexicon. Thus, in northern England,
dominated by the Kingdom of Northumbria, was found a distinct
'Northumbrian' Old English dialect. Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is
the forebear of Modern English
while the modern dialects of most other English regions have been
much changed by the influences of other foreign languages, Norman-French
in particular, the modern dialects of
Northern England (including Geordie), remain closer to the sounds
and words of the 'Northumbrian' Anglo-Saxon dialect, thus featuring
many characteristics of Old English lost in Standard English
In recent times "Geordie" has been used to refer to a supporter of
Newcastle United football
Derivation of the term
A number of rival theories explain how the term came about, though
all accept that it derives from a familiar diminutive form of the
which was once the
most popular name for eldest sons in the north-east of
One explanation is that it was established during the Jacobite Rebellion
of 1745. The Jacobites
declared that the natives of Newcastle were staunch supporters of
the Hanoverian kings
, in particular
of George II
1745 rebellion. This contrasted with rural Northumbria, which largely supported the Jacobite cause.
If true, the term may have derived from a popular anti-Hanoverian
song ("Cam ye O'er Frae
), which calls the first Hanoverian king "Geordie
Whelps", meaning "George the Guelph
Another explanation for the name is that local miners
in the north east of England used "Geordie" safety lamp
, designed by George Stephenson
in 1815, rather than the
" designed by Humphry Davy
which were used in other mining
Using the chronological order of two John Trotter Brockett
Geordie was given to North East pit men, later Brockett
acknowledges the pitmen christened their Stephenson lamp
Wales also predates the Oxford
, she observes that "Geordy" (or "Geordie")
was a common name given to pit-men in ballads and songs of the
region, noting that such usage turns up as early as 1793. It occurs
in the titles of two songs by song-writer Joe Wilson (1841–1875):
Geordy, Haud the Bairn
and Keep your Feet Still,
. Citing such examples as the song Geordy
written by Rowland Harrison of Gateshead, she contends
that, as a consequence of popular culture, the miner and the
keelman had become icons of the region in the 19th century, and
"Geordie" was a label that "affectionately and proudly reflected
this," replacing the earlier ballad emblem, the figure of Bob Crankie
Newcastle publisher Frank Graham's Geordie Dictionary
- "The origin of the word Geordie has been a matter of much
discussion and controversy. All the explanations are
fanciful and not a single piece of genuine evidence has ever been
In Graham's many years of research, the earliest record he has
found of the terms use was in 1823 by local comedian
, Billy Purvis. Purvis had set up a
booth at the Newcastle Races on the
In an angry tirade against a rival showman,
who had hired a young pitman
Johnson to dress as a clown
, Billy cried out
to the clown:
- "Ah man, wee but a feul wad hae sold off his furnitor and
left his wife. Noo, yor a fair doon reet feul, not an
artificial feul like Billy Purvis! Thous a real Geordie!
gan man an hide thysel! gan an' get thy picks agyen. Thou
may de for the city, but never for the west end o' wor
- (Rough translation: "Oh man, who but a fool would have sold
off his furniture and left his wife? Now, you're a fair
downright fool, not an artificial fool like Billy Purvis!
You're a real Geordie! Go, man, and hide
yourself! Go and get your picks [axes] again. You
may do for the city, but never for the west end of our
Graham is backed up historically by Hotten (1869).
The definition of Geordie as around the Tyne communities was not
always the case, as Geordie has been documented for at least 180 to
240 years as meaning the whole of the North East of England. (As
referenced in . The book was reprinted in 2004.
A name applied to cockle sellers.
"As the season at which cockles are in greatest demand is
generally the most stormy in the year - September to March - the
sailors' wives at the seaport towns of Northumberland and Durham
consider the cry of the cockle man as the harbinger of bad weather,
and the sailor, when he hears the cry of 'cockles alive,' in a dark
wintry night, concludes that a storm is at hand, and breathes a
prayer, backwards, for the soul Of Bad-Weather-Geordy"
Oliver, Rambles in Northumberland, 1835.
“Plus Geordieland means Northumberland and Durham” Dobson Tyne
referring to the people, as opposed to the dialect, dictionary
definitions of a Geordie typically refer to "a native or inhabitant
of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, or its environs", an area that
encompasses North Tyneside, Newcastle, South Tyneside and
However, just as a Cockney
is often colloquially defined as someone
"born within the sound of the Bow bells
a Geordie can be defined as someone born "within spitting distance
of the Tyne
". Another interpretation is
the mining areas of the North East
Although the dialects of North East
were often grouped together as Geordie, in modern times
this is incorrect. This misconception is usually made by people
from outside the north east.
from Sunderland have been nicknamed Mackems in recent generations.
earliest known recorded
use of the term found by the
occurred as late as 1988.
Geordie also has a large amount of vocabulary
not heard elsewhere in England.
Geordie often features as one of the UK's most popular accents. In
a newspaper survey, the Geordie accent was found to be the "most
attractive in England".
Words still in common use by Geordie dialect speakers today
- a 'I'
- aboot 'about'
- ahent 'behind'
- alreet ( ) a
variation on alright or Hello
(Some times used as alreet mate)
- awer 'over' as in "Hoy
it awer, pet!" meaning "Throw it over, dear." (See below for
hoy and pet).
- aye 'yes'
- bairn/grandbairn for
- bi 'pen'; shortened
version of biro
- buk 'book', pronounced
- cannit 'cannot'
- canny 'pleasant' (the
Scottish use of canny is often somewhat less flattering), or to
mean 'quite'. Someone could therefore be 'canny canny' in the same
way someone can be 'pretty pretty' in standard English.
- carcastic 'sarcastic'
- chiv 'knife'
- chor 'to steal'
- clart 'mud' as in
"there's clarts on yar boots"
- crack for good time/banter
- cuddy 'small horse,
- D/dee 'do'
- deeks 'look at'
- divint 'don't'
- divvie 'stupid
- doon 'down'; /u/ often
corresponds to English /aw/, e.g. noo /nu/ 'now'
- ee used like oh, often in
shock "ee neva"
- gaan 'going'
- gadgie 'person'
- gan 'go'
- geet for "very",
- get awesh for "go
away" *very rarely used*
- glaiky 'thoughtless,
- haad for "hold"
example: 'keep a hadd' is 'keep a hold' and 'had yer gob' becomes
'keep quiet'. That polite little notice in the parks aboot keepin'
yor dog on a lead is 'ye cud hev keep a-hadden yor dog'
- hacky for "dirty"
- hadaway for "get
away", an expression of doubt
- hinny a term of
endearment - "Honey"
- hoose for house
- hoy for "to throw"
- hyem/hyam for "home"
- is 'me'
- kairn 'house' or
- kets for
- knaa for "to
- lad 'man'
- Lar/Thar instead of though
- lass 'lady'
- Lend often used for
borrow, "can ah lend a bi" meaning "Can I borrow a pen?".
- like used in
many sentences; usually every other word, e.g. "like, is
he like, on aboot me or like, summat, like?"
- lowy 'money'
- mam a variation of
- man Not really got a
translation, often used e.g. "Giv is it ere man". "ha way man"
- marra 'friend'
- met 'mate/friend'
- me 'my', also meself or
overprotect, "wrap in cotton wool"
- muckle (used more in
- muggy a marble (the
childs toy, not the rock)
- naa|nar 'no'
- nowt 'nothing'
- neb 'nose' (nebby
- nettie 'toilet'
- neva 'never'
- N'ew Now, very hard to
write. Pronounced like new, N 'ew
- nowt for "nothing"
- peev for "alcohol"
- pelatick for very
- penca a marble (the
child's toy, not the rock)
- pet a term of address or
endearment towards a woman or a child
- pipe for verbal noise,
e.g. "pipe doon" (noise down, i.e. instruction to be quietier)
- pit for "bed"
- polis another word for
police (also bizzies)
- polit for police
- radgie stroppy, moody
e.g. "radgie gadgie" meaning stroppy person
- scran food
- shite faeces or the
act of defecation
- snout for
- stottie cake
for stottie, a large, flat, unsweetened soft bread
- summat for
- tab for "cigarette"
- toby for "stroll"
- toon for "Town", the
phrase "the toon" specifically refers to Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
- Us for I or me, e.g.
"give us a turn" meaning "give me a turn" or "can us go to the
netty" meaning "can I go to the toilet?".
- wey for "well"
- wint for wont (also
- Wo, Wa, Woh
or wat or wot what
- wor for "our", used
mainly in the context of wor kid,
meaning 'friend', one's sibling or literally 'our kid'. Used
primarily to denote a family member.
- wuh for "us"
- ya for
- Yem For Home e.g. "c'mon
Pet, let's gan the yem"
- youz plural for you
pronounce you-z. eg. Youz lot best pipe doon - you lot better be
is broadly comparable to the
invocation "Come on!" or the French
"Allez-y!" ("Go on!"). Examples of common use include Howay
or Haway man!
, meaning "come on" or "hurry up",
Howay the lads!
or Haway the lads!
as a term of
encouragement for a sports team for example(the players tunnel at
St James' Park has the phrase just above the entrance to the
pitch), or Ho'way!?
(with stress on the second syllable)
expressing incredulity or disbelief. The 'a' and 'o' in howay/haway
convey different strands of aggression, with the ‘a’ being the
aggressive. The literal opposite of this word is "Haddaway" (go
away), which is not as popular as Howay, but has found frequent use
in the phrase "Haddaway an' shite" (Tom Hadaway, Figure 5.2
Haddaway an' shite; ’Cursing like sleet blackening the buds, raging
at the monk of Jarrow scribbling his morality and judgement into a
seems to come from the Co-op
dividend, or from the two Davy lamps (the more dangerous explosive
Scotch Davy used in 1850, commission disapproved of its use in
1886. (inventor not known, and nicknamed Scotch Davy probably given
by miners after the Davy lamp was made perhaps by north east miners
who used the Stephenson Lamp), and the later better designed Davy
designed by Humphry Davy
the Divvy.) As in a north east miner saying ‘Marra, ye keep way
from me if ye usin a divvy.' It seems the word divvie then
translated to daft lad/lass. Perhaps coming from the fact you’d be
seen as foolish going down a mine with a Scotch Divvy when there
are safer lamps out, like the Geordie, or the Davy.
geordie word netty,
meaning a toilet and place of need and necessity for relief or
bathroom, has an uncertain origin, though some have theorised that
it may come from slang used by Roman
soldiers on Hadrian's
Wall, which may have later become gabinetti in the Romanic Italian language (Such as this article
about the Westoe Netty, the subject of
a famous painting from Bob Olley.
Another article about the
Westoe Netty is featured here ).However gabbinetto
, which actually derives from the Latin cavea
("hollow", "cavity", "enclosure") the root of the loanwords
that became the Modern English cave
, and gaol
.Thus, another explanation would be that it
comes from a Modern Romanic Italian
form of the word gabinetti
. Though only a, relatively,
small number of Italians have migrated to the North of England,
mostly during the 19th century.
connect the word
to the Modern English
Trotter Brockett, writing in 1829 in his A glossary of north
, claims that the etymon
(and it's related form neddy
) is the
Modern English needy
Bill Griffiths, in A Dictionary of North East Dialect
points to the earlier form, the Old
; he writes thusly "MS locates a possible
early ex. "Robert Hovyngham sall make... at the other end of his
house a knyttyng" York 1419, in which case the root could be OE níd
Another related word, nessy
is thought (by Griffiths) to
derive from the Modern English "necessary".
A poem, called ‘YAM’ narrated by author Douglas Kew, demonstrates
the usage of a lot of Geordie words.
In addition to many different words, Geordie also has phonetics
different from English. For instance voiced /ð/ th
words such as them
is far deeper in the throat and close
to /d/, whilst English voiceless /θ/ in words like through
most often corresponds in Georgie to a sound virtually
indistinguishable from /f/.
In the media
In recent times, the Geordie dialect has featured prominently in
the British media due to its alien dialect to much of the
population but also its friendly appeal. Note however that,
although the dialect appears, the dialect is toned down for
comprehension of the general (non-Northumbrian) public. Television
presenters such as Ant and Dec
are now happy to use their natural
accents on air. Marcus Bentley
commentator on the UK edition of Big Brother
, is often perceived by
southerners to have a Geordie dialect. However, he grew up in
and Sid Waddell
worked as television sports commentators. Cheryl Cole
, a member of Girls Aloud
and judge on The X Factor
, has a strong 'Geordie'
accent. The song 'Why Aye Man' is also a popular Geordie song by
The dialect was also popularized by the comic magazine Viz
, where the dialect is often conveyed
phonetically by unusual spellings within the comic strips.
magazine was founded on Tyneside by two locals,
and his brother Simon
The Steve Coogan
-helmed BBC comedy
I'm Alan Partridge
featured a Geordie named Michael (Simon
) as the primary supporting character and de facto best
friend of the eponymous hero, despite Partridge's referring to
Michael at one point as 'just the Work Geordie'.
The movie Goal!
, which stars Kuno Becker
and Alessandro Nivola
, prominently exposes the
Newcastle football club, as well as exposing the Geordies and their
House (aka Jarge Hoose
), presenters of the BBC
local news program Look North
the 1960s and 1970s, not only incorporated Geordie into the show,
albeit usually in comedy pieces pointing up the gulf between
ordinary Geordies and officials speaking Standard English
, but were responsible for
a series of recordings, beginning with Larn Yersel'
which attempted, not always seriously, to bring the
Geordie dialect to the rest of England.
The mastermind behind Larn Yersel' Geordie
humorist Scott Dobson, who wrote several booklets on the theme in
the early 1970s, including History O' the Geordies
Advanced Geordie Palaver
, The Geordie Joke Book
(with Dick Irwin) and The Little Broon Book
The New Little Broon Book in 1990).
The Jocks and the
was a Dandy
comic strip running from 1975 to the early 1990s.
In the lyrics of the song "Sailing to Philadelphia" by Mark Knopfler
, Jeremiah Dixon
describes himself as a
"Geordie boy. Jeremiah Dixon,
surveyor of the Mason-Dixon
In an earlier live album and video,
Alchemy: Dire Straits
, the band are seen in a pub - on the wall hangs a
scoreboard for darts featuring "Geordies" vs. "All Others."
, real name Dorothy
Samuelson-Sandvid, was a noted Geordie dialect writer who once
wrote for the South Shields Gazette.
Auf Wiedersehen, Pet
was a popular fictional British comedy-drama series about a group
of seven British migrant construction workers: Wayne
, who, in Series 1, are living and
working on a German building site. Three of the seven were
(played by Tim
) comes from Birtley Co. Durham; Leonard "Oz" Osborne
(played by Jimmy Nail
) comes from Gateshead; and
by Kevin Whately
) comes from North
The Hairy Bikers'
with Geordie Simon King
and Dave Myers
. The duo's lifestyle TV show is a mixture of
cookery and travelogue.
In 1974, Alan Price
’s Jarrow song reached
number one in the old RNI International Service, and number 4 in
the UK charts, which brought to the attention once again of the
The character Detective
Inspector Robert "Robbie" Lewis
Sergeant) in the long-running ITV
is a self-described
Geordie. His speech variety serves as a foil to Morse's pedantry
The character "Geordie Georgie
portrayed by Catherine Tate
eponymous TV show
, is a
Geordie, complete with a thick affected accent, and is portrayed
regularly taking part in (mostly ridiculously ambitious) sponsored
events for a North East based charity
- the charity in question
usually has a website
with an outrageous
, for instance, the site for
the charity she supports for battered husbands is
"www.chinnedbythemissus.co.uk". The sketches usually conclude with
her remonstrating her co-worker Martin, sometimes by violent means
(playing on the Geordie stereotype for violent behaviour), for his
apparent non-support of her charitable crusades.