Dialect, language and accent have, throughout history, played a large part in shaping Wiltshire – and how it was perceived by the rest of the country.

There was once a layer of rich folklore in Wiltshire – inspired in part by the rather guttural sounds, inflections and choice of words from its rural population.

In 1893, George Edward Dartnell and the Reverend Edward Hungerford Goddard published Wiltshire Words, now known as a Glossary of Wiltshire Words, which attempted to bring together a variety of "Wiltshire Folk-speech" and help preserve it for centuries to come.

At the time, Dartnell wrote: “The use of dialect would appear gradually to be dying out now in the county, thanks, perhaps, to the spread of education, which too often renders the rustic half-ashamed of his native tongue. 

"One here, and another there, will have been up to town, only to come back with a stock of slang phrases and misplaced aspirates, and a large and liberal contempt for the old speech and the old ways.”

He added: “No time should be lost, therefore, in noting down for permanent record every word and phrase, custom or superstition, still current among us, that may chance to come under observation.”

So, do you know any of these Wiltshire words of old – or have their meanings been lost throughout the years?

About: Extremely. Used to emphasize a statement, such as “T’wer just about cold s’marnin" or to describe someone back at ordinary work, after an illness. "My missus were bad aal last wick wi’ rheumatiz, but she be about agen now".

Ahmoo: A term for a cow, that was used by mothers to their children.

Aloud: Smells very bad. "That there meat stinks aloud".

Attercop: A term for a spider, once popular in the village of Monkton Farleigh.

Back-friends: A strange term that was used in North Wiltshire, for the small bits of skin that stick out at the bottom of fingernails

Bullyrag: Bullyrag, or Ballarag was a term used across the country to abuse or scold anyone.

Bawsy, Borsy or Bozzy: A Trowbridge term to represent when the fibre of cloth or wool was coarse, ‘Bozzy-faced cloth bain’t good enough vor I’

Bellock: To cry like a child or to complain or grumble

Blackberry-moucher: A truant from school "in the blackberry season".

Black-Bob: Also referred to as a Black-Bess nearer the Berkshire, the term meant cockroach.

Boat: The segments cut from apples and oranges used to be referred to as "boats" or "pigs" by children. The book sadly doesn’t explain why this is…

Bobbish: In good health, if you were asked how you were in 1800, an expected reply would be "Purty bobbish, thank ee".

Boon Days: Certain days during winter on which farmers on the Savernake estate were formerly bound to haul timber for their landlord.

Burl: To burl potatoes meant to rub off the grown-out shoots.

Butchers’ Guinea-pigs: Woodlice. The creepy crawlies were also once referred to as "curly-buttons" in the south of Wiltshire.

Cam-handed: An old word for "awkward".

Canker: Toadstool or fungus.

Chatter-mag or chapper-pie: A talkative woman.

Cock-shot: A word used by boys in Marlborough, when looking for a target to throw sticks at.

Coney-burry: A word once popular in Amesbury to refer to a rabbit hole.

Daglet: An icicle.

Dead year: A somewhat sombre term used to refer to the year immediately after a man’s death. In North Wiltshire, according to the Glossary, a widow was expected not to marry again, until "afore the dead year’s up".

Dew-pond: A body of water kept strong by mist, dew and rain that rarely fail, even in the longest of droughts.

Dog, how beest? A phrase used in Clyffe Pypard to reflect feelings of loneliness. An example given is "There isn’t one as ‘ll so much as look in and say, "Dog, how beest?"'

Dudman: A term once used in Malmesbury to refer to a scarecrow. Other terms in the region included "galley-bagger" and "hudmedud-mommick."

Emmet-heap: An anthill.

Fitty: Another term for good health, once used in North Wiltshire. “How be ‘ee? Ter’ble fitty".

Firk: Had two meanings – to worry mentally and to be anxious, or to be eagerly busy or inquisitive.

Flamtag: Yet another insult for a woman, this time to reflect her dirty appearance. Floppetty was also used towards an “untidy” woman.

Furlong: The strip of newly-ploughed land lying between two main furrows.

Garley-gut: A greedy person.

Gramfer and Grammer: Wiltshire, and wider West Country terms, for grandparents.

Hitter: A poorly cow, likely to die soon, was said to be "going off a hitter".

Jarl: To quarrel.

Latter Lammas: A habitually late and unpunctual person.

Lewis’s Cat (or Blue Cat): Many years ago, fires occurred so frequently at the "premises" of a man called Lewis, that his cat was even accused of starting the fires. People accused of incendiary habits or fire-starting became known as Lewis’s Cat, later "Blue Cat".

Maggots: A term for trickery or lighthearted fun. "Her’s at her maggots again".

Mandy: A word, in 1883, that was “only used by very old people” to refer to people who were known to be "frolicsome or saucy".

Marlbro-handed: People who used their tools awkwardly were referred to as such because the “natives of Marlborough were traditionally famed for clumsiness and unhandiness".

Muddle-fuss: A persistent meddler with other people’s affair.

This Is Wiltshire:

Mummock: A word given for a shapeless mass of which examples, according to blank and blank, include "a clumsily-swaddled baby" or a "badly-dressed woman".

Ninny-hammer: A fool or silly person.

Noodle along: To lounge aimlessly long and to move drowsily or heavily

Perseen: To pretend. "There’s Jack White a comin’; I wun’t perseen ta known un".

Pigeon-pair: A phrase used to refer to a woman with two children, a boy and a girl.

Pig-meat: The flesh of a pig was apparently never referred to as pork, but as fresh "pig-meat".

Quamp: Still, quiet.

Quiddle: A fussy person.

Radical: Also once popular in Somerset, a term used to refer to a troublesome young rascal.

Raims, Reams, Raimy: A very thin person "He do look as thin as a raims".

Rhaa: To be ravenous or hungry.

Rock: The word for chalky residue left in a kettle after multiple uses.

Scrambling: A term used to describe a very hurried meal.

Sly: A "sly" day looks bright and pleasant, but the air has a chilly note to it.

Tazzle: "Hair hair be aal of a tazzle". Unruly hair, tangled or knotted.

Teg-men: Shephard.

Toad-stabber: A blunt knife.

Uck: What was once a very characteristic North Wiltshire verb used in many ways. Stable-litter could be ucked about with a fork, weeds would be ucked out of a gravel path, for example.

Wag: "To wag the chuch bells" is to send them ringing.

To find out more about the old speak of Wiltshire, check out the video below.

Edward Slow (1841-1925) was remembered for writing many rhymes and stories in the Wiltshire dialect, and primarily for this rendering of an old Wessex smuggling tale, which came out in his 1881 edition of rhymes.

Alan Doel, speaking in a modern-day accent, recorded the tale below: