The Devonshire Dialect Dictionary – guide to entries

Introduction · References · Bibliographic resources · Chronology · Guide · The Dictionary

1. Head-word

Entries are listed in Bold alphabetically, letter-by-letter. This means, for example, that ‘abusey’ comes after ‘abusevul’, and that dialect words for ‘yes’, for example, are given as ‘ace’, ‘ees’, ‘iss’, in that order.

When head-words are closely related, through sound or sense, they are usually grouped together, as with ‘accamo’ and ‘ackmal’, meaning ‘wren’. However, similar words with a different meaning, ‘ackmaul’, ‘ackmeel’ and ‘ackymal’, meaning ‘greenfinch’ or ‘blue-tit’, have their own entry, with the cross-reference ‘see also ‘accamo’. In other words, it is often worthwhile looking for variant forms. Where a head-word is considered to be merely a secondary or phonetic variation of another “main” head-word, then the cross-reference ‘see’ is given.

This is especially the case for voiceless (or ‘fortis’) consonants which are voiced (or ‘lenis’) in the dialect. For example, [p]→[b], [t]→[d], [k]→[g], [f]→[v] and [s]→[z].

Examples: awbo (apple), bad’r (better), glister (clyster), vather (father), zait (seat).

2. Part of Speech

In some cases, for purposes of clarification, the part of speech, such as ‘verb’ or ‘noun’ is given in italics.

3. Punctuation

Where the head-word has an additional meaning, this is given after a semi-colon.

Where an entry is given as a possibility but not as a certainty, it is followed by a question-mark.

If a word’s derivation is supposed but not attested, or is logically reconstructed, then it is marked by an asterisk.

Round brackets give a more precise location of the word or phrase’s incidence, such as an area or town.

4. Meaning

Meanings or synonyms in “standard” English follow the head-word immediately. There may be explanatory notes such as “ironic expression”, “nickname”, etc.

Square brackets with capital letters refer to the source of the information, e.g. [EDD] refers to Joseph Wright’s ‘English Dialect Dictionary’. These are all listed in the References.

5. Dates and Derivation

Dates of first attestation are given where possible, most often from the Oxford English Dictionary [OED]. These are usually preceded by the symbol < denoting ‘comes from’.

Etymologies provided by the OED are also cited where available. Otherwise, works listed in the Bibliography are referred to by their abbreviation, e.g. ON = Old Norse; AN = Anglo-Norman; OFr. = Old French; Co = Cornish, and so on. Dictionaries of these languages are listed in the Bibliographic resources page:

  • Old Norse/Old Icelandic see Bjorvand & Lindeman; Cleasby & Vigfusson; Falk & Torp
  • Anglo-Norman see Trotter
  • Old French/French see TLFi
  • Old English/Anglo-Saxon see Bosworth & Toller; Griffiths; OED
  • Cornish see George
  • Friesian see Lexilogus; Von Richthofen; Wilts
  • Welsh see GPC
6. Pronunciation

Sloping brackets /…/ indicate a phonemic pronunciation or broader transcription than square brackets […], which indicate a phonetic or narrower transcription, using IPA (International Phonetic Association) symbols. In simple terms, a word such as chibble spring onion /tsh/ has a less precise guide to pronunciation than, say, bew bow [bju:].

7. Examples

Where available, illustrative quotations are given from the source listed in square brackets, e.g. witherly wayward, obstinate, clumsy “a witherly chap” [L].