Telford People

The Dawley Dictionary

Twenty-two years before the Ironbridge was erected across the Severn, the first English Dictionary was penned by Samuel Johnson.  Although we doubt very much that English as a language was in any danger of disappearing, that’s not the case for many minority languages where the native speakers are getting fewer in numbers, and those left struggle to understand their dialect. Scroll forward to 2012 and the unique ‘Dawley Dictionary’ phrasebook being compiled by the AFC Telford United Dawley Supporters Group has a few gaps, that maybe you can help to fill.

Ackadock – Neighbouring village of Aqueduct
Ammer – Hammer

Bist, – The verb to be shows its Germanic origins, eg, German du bist, Dawley thee bist.
Bonk, – Bank as in Dawley Bonk
bost – Broken
William Ball, – The Shropshire giant
Benny Wood, – Benny used to hitch hike to Wellington
bostin, – lovely
bistna  – “Bistna gonna do that, bist?” “you’re not going to do that are you?”

Cognoggin – Large sandwich
Cowd – Cold ‘Cowd enough fer bootlaces’
cust – Could
cock, cocker – mate
conner – can’t,
clemmed – ‘Clemmed (starving) to death’

Dunna – Do not
dower – door

Edith Pargeter – Famous author
Ellis Peters – resident and employee of chemist on high street

Fryin pon – Frying pan
Fatty Folks- Largest goal keeper to play at Wembley
flower – floor

Greet – ‘Nothin’ greet is ezey’ Captain Webb

Hossay – Horsehay, a neighbouring village

Inna –  Is not

Jannock – Honest
Jockey, – .Friend
Jerry Rails – White Hart Pub

Knowst – Do you know?

Larrup, – ‘Gizza a pint a larrup’ (beer),
Langley cow shed – langlrey county school

Mairt, – Friend
Malias, –  Shop pronounced Malisas
mon – man

Nesh –  Feel the cold

Ow – How
opples – ‘When they towd me at school that A was for Opples & P was for tatoes it was all over for me’,
Opengates – Oakengates
okkud – awkward

Parva – Old word for village – Dawley Parva,
Preeces – Oldest shop on high street


Rechabites – Group based in Chapel on high street, campaigning against alcohol

Shunna, – Shouldn’t
Shammocks, –  ‘Shift thee shommocks’ (legs),’
Sid –  I anna sid im’ I haven’t seen him
suck – boiled sweets

Tatoes – thee’t Potatoes



wur’st, – ‘Wur’st bin? Thur an back to see ow far it is’
Matthew Webb, – First man to swim the channel
wench – young woman
wunna – will not


Ya – ‘An any on ya got an onion on ya?’ Has anyone of you got an onion
‘ya wot’ – pardon

Leave your comments below!

If you are interested in the history of Dawley, then have a gander at

Pete Jackson

75 thoughts on “The Dawley Dictionary

  • Hmmm, bit confusing! Maybe each word then definition on a new line?

    • Yes, very! Now fixed :O)

      • Some of these are shops, not Dawley words; come up the street. there inner many of us left but we amner all jed yet, cocker.

      • Ellis Peters was the nom de plume of Edith Pargeter. Surely she did not work in the chemist did she? In the forties she used to come to tea in our house. I think she had been at school with my mother.
        In the chemist was the wonderful Sadie who knew everyone and their relatives and their ailments and was a fount of kindness and common sense.

    • Very similar to west mids speech. Id say shudna, cudna, av any a ya gorra onion on ya? Ya wot/eh? Nah ah int gorra onion, soz. Fascinating dictionary

      • Yes I can relate to these phrases. I now live in Telford but spent 60 years of my life in the very heart of the “Black Country”. The “Gornals,” a cluster of small villages where the pig was put on the wall to watch the band go by. I will always be a “black country wench” but I am l so privelidged to be living in the beautiful county of Shropshire.

        • you”ll know the sandyfields pig then, half way up the straights.

          • Cost kick a ball gen a wall, and yed it till u bost it…

    • My dad spoke broad Dawley and he’d say when he was called up in 1939 the army, thought he was a foreigner, because they couldn’t understand him.

  • How about “Ommer” as in Hammer i.e. “Give it some Ommer”

    • I agree Michelle, Madeley talk is exactly the same as Dawley. Hammer = Ommer, (give it some ommer wut/Give it some hammer will you). Ammer = am not (I ammer gonna do that agen/I am not going to do that again). Thee Bissna = your not (thee bissna gonna do that again/your not going to do that again). Thee Wussna = you wont. Thee Cossna= you can’t. Wuss = Worse. Opple = apple. Wai’ter = water. How Bist Jockey = How are you mate. Ow’do = How do you do.
      Thee’st = you are.

    • Gayit som Ommer,
      cum awt onit = Move out the way
      Yaw = You
      amya = Are you
      Yaw con = You can
      Yaw car = You can not
      Arcon = I can
      Yaw ay = You are not
      gunna = going to

    • I had always thought that the Dawley speech came from the Quaker iron masters who set up the first coal smelting in Coalbrookdale. Thee, thou, wouldst or couldst beeist or bist. Anyone know more or better?

  • “Skooowell” – school, “Fairce” – Face, “Wuss” – Worse, “Spake” – Speak, “Thee” – you, “Thee Sen” – Yourself, “Graft” – work, “howerm” – Home, “Ate” – Eight, “Knock off” – stop, “Reet” – right, “Neet” – night, “Adoo” – hello, “Tung” – tongue, “hast” – have, “yed” – head, “summat” – something, “Throsh” – thrash, “Sponner” – spanner, “saft” – soft, “rung” – wrong

    • Yeah floor in my dialect is flowa, poor is puwa, sure is shewa odd but true

  • I’d forgotten about Benny Wood, some of the words and phrases bring back memories.

  • It’s a shame the dialect is endangered, it should really be studied properly by a linguist. There’s some classic examples of throwbacks to Middle English, Old English and Modern West Frisian.

  • Ewdo, it luks like theest strugglin abit ewd jockey. Thee austa get in the Queens Yed an lissen ta the Pugh’s rattlin wen theyn had afew.

    When Me and our Tony was on the milk rounds back in the 70’s. Benny Wood would be hitchiking to Bridgnorth on a Monday morning for the cattle market. We used to stop the milk van let him run nearly up to it then drive off. We wun buggers ven.

    • When we where going down the farm lane to Langley school. Benny used to try and scare us by telling us the school bell had gone.

  • By Ray Nickless, Dawley-born-&bred. ray writes poetry books and sells them for charity. Here’s one of his poems (with permission!)

    Hollywood comes to Dawley
    I sid that sign on the Podduck
    I ask owd Nacky, “Wot does it mean?”
    E sed, “Ollywood’s movin to Dawley
    The new wum to the silver screen.
    “I’ve bin showed a letter
    By a counculor from up Lawley Bonk
    E sed it cum frum America
    Signed by sumwun called J Arther Ronk.
    “The moguls um leavin the U.S.A.
    Cuz the doller’s wuth more to the pound
    They’m moving lock, stock un barrel
    Un setting up wum on the owd Podduck Mound.
    “Didst ear uv that wench frum Ackaduck
    Who fainted away in the street
    They sen it’s becuz er sid Brad Pitt
    Un ad nuthin to do with the heat.
    “They’m doing a remek uv Swan Lake
    Callin it the ballet of the Coot Pool
    Set on the Dandy un Wide Wearter
    Un starrin that Peter O’Toole.

    *wum = home

  • Although this dialect is called Dawleyspeak now, it was a quite wide spread dialect throughout Oakengates, Ketley, Trench, Donnington etc. I lived in Trench and almost everyone i knew spoke this way. Its a bit different now though, with families moving in from all over the country.

    • I grew up in Trench and Dad was always correcting me as I use to pick up some of those phrases from school

  • I’ve got loads of these and made a start on a web page myself a few years ago. As AYoung says it was an East Shropshire dialect rather than a Dawley one, there are some subtle differences between Donnington where I grew up and Dawley, which was the other side of the world back then!. A few from me:
    Scabby ‘Oss – I could eat me a Scabby ‘Oss. (I’m hungry)
    Troughing (Trowin) – house guttering
    Sirree/Surrey! – blimey, flippin’eck, that sort of thing
    Dunna, wut. – oh, please don’t..

    Got a few more somewhere. There is a book called “The Shropshire Word Book” by Georgina Jackson in the local reference libraries. Published over 100 years ago and reprinted about 20 years ago. Almost all of the words in this excellent web page are in there. Good luck with the dictionary!

  • My mother – now 91 – grew up in Dawley in the 1930s; she tells wonderful tales of recklessly riding her bike down Jiggers Bank, narrates stories of trips to the Lum(h)ole, and perks up when you say to her “Ow bist thee?”

    “Thee bisna, bist?” [you aren’t, are you?] is another of her expressions.

    In her youth she lived opposite what was then”The Exchange” pub at the top of Burton Street.

    Trowin’ [for guttering on a house] is another of her words. Same goes for “Nesh” – meaning sensitive to cold/wet weather.

  • A few more of my mother’s expressions:

    “Pither” and/or “Werrit” – meaning to worry or complain excessively about things that don’t really matter.

    “Jessie” – a slightly derogatory term of endearment.

    Hence “Stop pitherin’, ya ewd jessie!”

    Also, this bit of dialog:

    “Ow’s ur-seen George?”

    “Er’s ooreet – er’s coot er foot on a bookit!”

    [which translates as “How’s your wife George?” “She’s alright – she’s cut her foot on a bucket”]

    Also, as a single continuous word – “Anneranyoyeranyoniononya” = Haven’t any of you any onion on you?

    Finally, a true Dawley mon would talk of an “Ewd jed rot” rather than an “old dead rat”.

    Over Christmas I can record my mother saying some of these expressions, and put them up on YouTube if you’re interested.

  • Granch – crunching a hard sweet

    The old towns in what is now Telford have variations on the Dawley dialect and even out as far as Broseley the older ones have a similar dialect although it’s a bit more Shropshire than Dawley.

  • Sum un wot thiss lot un rote ‘ss rate un sum onnitt inner. iftheecustkickaballagenawallun yeditwiththeeyeduntillitbosts the I rekun theet alf way theeeur. Utherwise shut thee clack.
    Dust ken that?

    • Kenned Cocker! “when thee gest wum, put thee mate in toven fousta! Now get thee sel up yander, n dunna hinda.

  • I’m a Hossay lass. I have a recording of my Grandfather made in the1960s, he was from Hinkshay and was very broad Dawley.

  • Very interesting! I do not come from the area at all but what strikes me are the similarities with many yorkshire words…particularly from the West Riding… maybe there is some reason for this… it would be interesting to know…

    • I agree with you and feel it could be that men moved around to obtain work in the mines and of course girls to find work in service.

  • Really like. My Dad was brought up in Dawley and Horsehay but only spoke ‘the ‘Dawley talk’ when with old friends. His Dad had run the Queens’ pub in Dawley the 1950s and Forresters Arms in early 1960s.I was brought up in Wellington then moved to Malinslee when I was 8; I didn’t really understand a lot of what was said in the first few weeks of school and I stood out by my accent from all of 4 miles away! Soon learned fit, though. Some ones I remember that aren’t on your list: 1. Borrow me yer ball? (can I borrow , or will you lend?); 2. I’m bad (I’m poorly); 3. Babby (baby or kid); 4. I’ve got the clogga (have a cold); 5. That’s yourn/arn (yours/ours); 6. Council pop (tap water); 7. Splitherin’ (dribbling) 8. Rowad (road) – there are lots of words where a single syllable is stretched to two; 9. Jom piecey (jam sandwich); 10. Ow bist, whut? (how are you, eh?); 11. Marlies/ironies (marbles/ball bearings); 12. Doorstop (thick cut bread or sandwich) 13. Mither (worry, or slight nagging); 14. Yelp (help – like yed for head). Bet there are loads more – I’ll have a think. I worked in the Potteries for some years and was surprised by the similaries in some of the common words and pronunication. I wonder if a lot moved from here to there, or vice versa?

    • These all need to be added to the next edition of the dictionary 🙂

  • Very sorry to hear of the death of Ray Nickless after a short illness. Ray was an ever-active man in his seventies, loved looking after his grandchildren, writing and giving talks about Shropshire and its history & dialects, tireless fundraiser for charity, regular reading helper in his local primary school, ex-miner from the age of 15, walker in all weather and, above all, a ‘Shropshire Mon’. We’ll miss him.

  • Sleep tight jockey – tha wunna be forgotten

  • I’m an owd Dawley bloke, Dawley born and bread, these comments bring back some memories, had of fix me trowin! Said that at work the other day, no one knew what i was on about.

    • Got any other memories Tim?

  • I would just like to say how sorry I was to hear of Ray Nickless death. He was my Mother in Laws brother and although I had not seen him for many years I have wonderful memories.

  • This is lovely bringing back memories and reminding me of my roots. I am Dawley born and Dawley, strong in the arm but NOT thick in the head – as some people may remember as a saying a bit differently. I am proud to be a Dawley girl, a pupil of Phoenix and to say that my mum and her family came from Dawley, Crown Street and before that Malinslee and my Dad, a proud miner, came from Akadock and had family from Lawley Bonk.
    A familiar saying we still use and tell newcomers to the area including Americans is ‘how bist jockey ast got any suck’. This just leaves them confused and amazed.
    I echo the sad loss of Ray – a well respected part of the community and someone who worked with my Dad down the mines.
    Times and dialects are changing but I would like to think that we keep memories and dialects relevant and part of the history of Dawley – long before Telford existed. I also recall as a girl of about 10 going on a Mystery Tour with Elcocks buses (yes it was a Dawley bus company back then) to see the development of Carrefour on an old mining site – aka Telford Town Centre!
    Phoenix ‘school’ has now moved to a new site but it will arise again from the ashes and hopefully continue to teach the offspring of new generations great values underlined with local history which they can be proud of.
    And my son and I want to know does the school still have jar containing the pickled two-headed pig!!!
    I must add that a local version of a well known song, by a well known person of Dawley of, the song being ‘Crying Over You’ aka ‘Sqwaking over Thee’ is just bostin
    Happy days and happy memories

    • Brilliant post Julie 🙂

  • It’s odd because a lot of these words I’ve only ever heard said by people from the ‘Potteries’ areas of old Stoke on Trent. Bostin, cost etc are all used by the old pot bank and mining families. Funny how language gets around!

  • Sorry to be picky but, Hammer is Ommer and not Ammer. Ammer means “am not” as in “I ammer doin’ that”. Brilliant to see it all in print though.

  • Brilliant!
    Having moved away 12 years ago I’d forgotten the vast majority of this.
    My dad and my granddad both spoke/speak “proper” Dawley – I’m embarrassed to say my use of it has long since past (except for bostin – which still raises eyebrows in Cardiff!).
    Great work collecting it – audio samples would be good to keep it alive!

  • This has reminded me of working in Red Lion in Little Dawley about 12 yrs ago serving some fab regulars who used to tell us stories about this language – always fascinated me as a ‘newbie’ into Telford 20yrs ago now x

  • thee costner kick a ball up against the wall yed it and bost it thee nowst the caper

  • Fair point – will be amended in next version:)

  • Two old Dawley men were talking about the weather,”I think it’s gonna raren”, ” dust? “, ” no, wareter”.

  • Is how’bist in the dictionary?

  • Just love this thread. I still slip into speaking like that with old local friends.

  • Owd Dawley folk, quick witted, quick off the mark, you’d have to get up early to catch them out. the famous pig on the wall is a massive piece of Dawley history, When Captain Webb returned to Dawley after his successful swim of the English Channel a pig placed its front trotters on top the wall of its sty to watch the brass band as it went by.

  • there was a saying if you want to find a fool in the country youd best bring him with you. My dad and all my brothers and sisters were all born in dawley, he told me once of an interview his mate went to, when the bloke asked him if he could push a barrow full of steam he said yes if you can load it. dad told me this in broad dawley dialect it was hilarious.
    Two other things I noticed, mention of the pig on the wall which was a myth, it was a photo made up by a Mr Baldwin and publicised by Freddie (scoop) Bowdler who was the Wellington Journal reporter for the dawley area, and Ellis Peters is a nom de plume of Edith Pargeter
    R.I.P Ray good friend and wifes uncle.

  • “One for thee owd westlion (not sure its spelt right)”that phrase should be added

  • Weer, eer, ova theer. (Where, here, over there)

    Weerst guing now? I’m guing wum (where are you going now? I’m going home)

    theest a cairky/mardy wench (you’re a funny/fussy girl)

    I’m starved to jeff (I’m really cold)

    Thee wanst clemming (you deserve to starve /go hungry)

    a jockey is a male person younger than yourself, so you could say “ow bist owd jockey?” to anyone of any age so long as they are younger than you, although you would say “ow bist jockey?” to a young lad

  • ammer isn’t a hammer (that’s an ommer), ammer means arnen’t as in “I ammer guing to werk tuday” (I’m not going to work today)

  • Roy-I was born in Old Park and lived in a double deck bus by Cheshires scrap yard.Next to us was another decker bus ( The Green family) I went to a school called the Institute which not many people have heard of.We moved to Dawley into a new house in Winsor Road which was next to the gasworks. I went to Dawley C of E school, Headmaster was Eric Latham,teachers Mr Tart,Miss Lewis and mrs Stadam I think.
    Lots of good memories of Dawley

  • Wonderful stuff ! Reading the comments and getting to ‘nesh’ and ‘troughing’ (trowin) and just shouting yes!! as memories of a 60s and 70’s childhood in Oakengates (where close to identical dialect was used) came back – following the disused railway track down to the valley banks …. Wombridge CP in Mr Stallard’s days etc …. Some of these words ( like those 2) were used by people as everyday argot even if they didn’t speak in broad dialect. A chimney was pronounced ‘Chimerley’ as one additional contrib. from this Cambridge exile ;-((

  • A quote from my Dad said without humour to a noisy dog that I’ll always remember:
    ” Thee cust shut thy row or else I’ll sondpaper thee down to a pup”
    How Dawley is that?

    I live in the West Country now but was born and spent my childhood in Dawley. I went to Malins Lee (1952) and Langley Schools and was taught by Mrs Walker, Miss Evans and Mr Gall (BenGall!!) . This site has brought back many memories

  • Broseley vernacular very similar to Dawley in 1940’s

  • My mum and dad still use words like these . . . Always baffles me because I speak so differently. ><

  • The definition for “Jerry Rails – White Hart Pub” is not quite correct.

    The Jerry Rails is the old tramway leading from the line of the old canal at Hinksay (by the reservoirs), leading up past the old White Hart and then past the Langleyfields pits, emerging where the Dun Cow used to be, at the bottom of the High Street.

    The White Hart was at one time known as “The Tom & Jerry”, a common pub name back in the day and was shortened (in this case at least) to “The Jerry”.

    An old local name for plate-rail tramways such as this was a “Jenny Rail” or “Ginney Rail” or variations on that (Source: The Industrial Revolution in Shropshire by Barrie Trinder).
    Because this particular Jenny Rail passed by “The Jerry”, the tramway became know as “The Jerry Rails”. Basically, “Jerry Rails” is a 200 year-old joke, a play on “Jenny Rails”!

  • Benny wood local hitch hiker ? He was a convicted child molesterer who had attacked local school girls … An absolute insult to name this man on the same page as Captain Webb.

  • Puk – Pick
    worser – worse

    Being from a long line of Dawley folk, a conversation I had with me mother once

    me – Thats a lovely flower mother (I was taught proper english when growing up so Im bi-lingual)
    mom – whichun, thisun
    me – no thatun
    mom – arrr tis

    I guess you’d have to be there but we fell about laughing for ages after!

    Arrrr – can be used frequently, depending on how its said Im sure locals will know what I mean when I say sometimes its the only thing you say in a conversation when someone is rattling on!

  • I wrote a booklet in 1981 called Shropshire Words and Dialect based on my thesis when I did a Degree course at Kidderminster college. I sold out in the local area . I grew up in the Trench and realised when at college I used words and phrases that other students didn’t understand.
    I have really enjoyed reading about your Dawley Dialect best of luck with it

    • It was a great piece of research Valerie:)

  • The cosna kick a ball agen a wall n yed it back, I con cos thee jockey

    • Conna, wunna, shanna, amma giein to.
      Translate to English from Dawley dialect.

  • Glad I found this site again. I work with a lot of Black Country commuters and we find we have dialect words in common (not all). Some time ago (above) I wrote that the Potteries also has some dialect words in common, and someone else has mentioned that, too. I’ve looked into the Black Country dialect a bit and found that a scholarly gentlemen suggested that it is a really old version of English both in grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary – in fact similar to that of Chaucer’s time. All three areas grew to be heavily industrialised and could have had a lot of migration between them, or alternatively they are all the last outposts of old English. I’d love to hear “Canterbury Tales” in a Dawley accent, jockey.

  • Interesting to read of this route of the Jerry Rails.
    My father worked at the Randley BrickWorks from the early 1920’s until 1938, and I have memories of him telling me that the Jerry Rails ran along the lane by the “Jerry”, across the road and up another lane which went towards Malinslee church. I don’t know if those lanes still exist. I went to the Langley school during the 1930’s and 1940’s,
    and I remember a fellow pupil named Cureton, a relative?
    M. Allworth

  • Jossie Wetter = funny water (Beer)

  • Anybody heard of a Dawley sandwich? My mum use to eat them.


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