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Black Country Sayings

These are some of the sayings that my parents and grandparents used to use. They were all Black Country "born, bred and buttered" as my Gran used to say.

Thanks also to the following people who helped me with the sayings and their meanings: Phil Irons of Sydney, Australia, Ron O'Neill, Tracy Slater, Barbara Elizabeth Haner in Los Angeles, Roy Philpotts in Staffordshire, Geoff Wright in Helsinki, Mike Dowding, Pat Haughton (nee Wright), Jenni Kirkham, Jean P, Doreen Petch, Clive Jones, Ingrid Ryder - and apologies to any others that I have missed.

These sayings are Black Country in general and not particularly Sedgley in origin. Local dialect was (and probably still is to a lesser degree) quite distinctive between the different towns and villages of the Black Country, although this has probably changed today due to the greater mobility of people.

© Compiled from various sources by Ian Beach, May 2000 and later.

See also "Ow we spake" (a Black Country Dialect dictionary)
Saying Translation/Meaning
I'll gie yo' a right bloody cork-aiver
OR Yo'll 'ave a bloody cog-winder in a minute.
A threat of a good hiding to a naughty child
I could-a drapped cork-legged! I could have died, as in "I was very surprised"
Well, e's took 'is eggs to a fine market, ay 'e? said when someone who showed great promise comes to a bad end
E's proper poorly. He not well.
This 'ay gettin the babbie a new bonnet or
this ay gonna feed the babbie
Meaning that it's not getting the job done or no progress being made.
Making a noise like a gleed under a door. Someone singing badly.
Up the wooden hills to bedfordshire. Up the stairs to bed.
Yo lift and oil grunt. You lift, I'll grunt.
Shift ya feet from up the 's 'ole. Move your feet away from the fire.
As gain as a glass eye. As useful as a glass eye (to actually see with).
As big as a bonk 'oss. As big as a bank horse.(ie a large horse that worked on a pit bank.
Yo' soppy (or daft) ha'p'orth. You silly idiot (ha'p'orth = half penny worth).
A bibble in a can or a pea in a colander Someone who rattles on & never stops talking.
Put wud in the 'ole. Put the would in the hole ie Shut the door.
Er cor stop a pig in an alley (or an entry). Meaning she is bow legged.
Stop your blarting. Stop crying.
A blind mon on a gollopin' hoss'ud be glad to see it. When referring to something that was less than perfect.
Fer two pins I'd thump you! Meaning that for something very trivial I'd hit you.
It's a bit black over Bill's Mother's. The weather looks bad in the far distance
Well, I'll goo to the foot of our stairs! Well I'll be damned.
Stop yer werriting (or mythering). Stop your worrying (or being irritating).
He's as fat as a tunkey pig. A tunk(e)y pig was a piglet that was fattened up for Christmas etc.
Her's a right haiver. She's really big.
Stop yer ivverin' an' ovverin' an' get on wi'it. Stop messing about and get on with the job.
Ee giv' 'im a right lampin. He gave him a thorough beating.
Yow big lommock. You clumsy idiot.
In a tiswas

In a state of confusion.
A way to prevent an attack by mounted soldiers was to scatter special nails called Caltraps, Crows foot or Tiswas in the road.
This was a four-legged nail device made in such a way that however they were thrown down, one spike was always pointing upwards. The idea was to lame the approaching horses.

A modern day caltrap

I suppose the saying originated from this time with the horses and riders not knowing which way to turn to get away from the spikes.


We 'ad a bostin time. We had a great time.
I'iv got a bally airk from atin them swaits  I've got a stomach ache from eating those sweets
(Thanks to Zoë Miller from Cradley Heath)
Ne'er a wun cum a nie No-one came to visit (Thanks to Lyn Corbett)
6 o'clock and ne'er a pidgeon um

Its getting late and what was expected hasn't happened yet.

From racing pigeons, when the fancier would sit and wait for them to return to the loft (Thanks to Dave Hopkin of Smethwich)

It wor me, ar day do it.

It wasn't me, I didn't do it. (Thanks to Sylvia Austin of Cheshire)


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