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Slang from Around the UK Trivia Quiz
This quiz covers a variety of British slang, possibly mostly northern or Midlands, but should be well enough known if you're from the UK, or even if you're not. Can you match the words to their meanings? This is a renovated/adopted version of an old quiz by author nomistai
A matching quiz
Estimated time: 3 mins.
The use of noggin to mean the head is quite widespread nowadays, and seems to have been since the eighteenth century. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it may have originated in the sport of boxing and was used, in print, in 1769 to refer to someone's head. It's an expression used in the USA too.
The original noggin was a small container for liquid, often alcoholic, which then became transferred to the contents instead. Even now, it's not uncommon to hear someone refer to a small amount of alcohol as a noggin.
Mardy means irritable or peevish and is often used to describe a child who is whining or sulking. This is an expression used in the Midlands - I certainly remember hearing it in Birmingham many years ago - and parts of northern England. Some sources give Derbyshire as the origin.
The expression was defined and recorded in 1874 in the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent newspaper when it was stated to have originated in Hallamshire, which is an old name for part of Sheffield. This is in Yorkshire, so maybe there is some validity that it's an expression from there. It may come from 'marred', meaning spoiled - the later word is regularly used to describe children who are ill disciplined.
Answer: Short of money
If you're brassic, you have little or no cash to spare. It's an expression you're likely to hear in many parts of the UK, with claims that it comes from Manchester and appearing on lists of Yorkshire slang, too.
This is a case of a slang expression linked to another slang word and one which may well have spread north from London. In Cockney slang boracic lint means 'skint', another word meaning short of funds and which is derived from 'skinned'. Boracic sounds like 'brassic' spoken, so 'brassic lint' means skint, which means penniless. Boracic lint is a medical dressing of lint soaked in a salt solution of borax, to complete the history of the word.
A ginnel is a narrow road or passageway which provides access to pedestrians. It is a word primarily associated with the north of England, with Yorkshire, Lancashire and Manchester being the regions where it is most often used. It can be used to refer to a path giving access to the rear of terraced houses. Snicket is another word meaning the same thing.
There are references in Yorkshire newspaper reports of the eighteenth century where the word 'ginnel' appears. It may be related to 'channel' and be a corruption of the French word 'chenelle'.
Although it's passed into everyday usage, it appears that wazzock is a relatively new word, with most sources placing it as dating from the 1980s. It is used to refer to someone annoying or a bit dim, in a similar way to pillock - the person isn't the brightest, but the insult is a mild one and can be spoken in an affectionate way.
Some sources claim it came from the word wiseacre but the truth seems to be that nobody really knows. A couple of northern English comedians claim to have been the first to use it, but there's no evidence to support the claims.
The use of butty to describe bread and butter, often made into a sandwich, does seem to have originated in Yorkshire or, at least, in the north of England. The etymology is straight forward for this one, being short for butter (butt) with a y added to the end. It often refers to 'chip butties' where chips (French fries, if you're American) are made into a sarnie (sandwich in proper English), for a calorie filled snack.
Further south in Gloucestershire's Forest of Dean and in Wales (probably elsewhere too), butty is used as a term of endearment for a friend. I've often heard 'how bist old butt' in Gloucestershire, which translates as 'how are you my old friend'.
Something, or someone, described as 'manky' is grubby, dirty or extremely unpleasantly to touch or be close to. Although claimed as a Yorkshire word, it seems to be more prevalent than that, although it does appear on lists of Yorkshire expressions.
Some sources claim it dates only from the 1950s, although it could be older, and may be a corruption of a French word, manqué, which means damaged. Wherever it came from, it's not a description you'd like applied to you or your home.
Answer: Feeling cold
This is described as a Northern and Scottish expression which means to be cold. If you are 'nithered', you are extremely cold, not just a bit chilled. It is said to date from the seventeenth century in many sources that I've checked.
The word could be Scandinavian, with Old Norse being the favoured origin. As the Vikings raided Scotland and the north of England, this could be true, although the original word doesn't seem to have a connection to being cold.
Scran, according to some sites, refers to a good spread of food, but in northern parts it's more likely to be used for a few bits and pieces thrown together to make a quick meal. It is especially used to describe a workman's lunch, which could well be eaten while work is ongoing.
Some sources say it originated with seafarers, or stands for 'sultanas, currants, raisins and nuts'. The latter is likely to be apocryphal, though, rather like the word posh supposedly deriving from 'port outward, starboard home'.
If you are described as 'nebby', it's not a compliment - you're being told you're nosey or overly interested in other people's business. You might be told, bluntly, to 'keep your neb out'. In this sense, neb refers to the nose and 'keep your neb out' means the same as 'mind your own business'.
In Old English, neb meant 'nose' or beak. The use of it to refer to being too inquisitive dates from the 19th century. It's commonly used in northern England and Scotland and, according to research, also in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, possibly brought there by English or Scottish immigrants.