Unusual regional words

16 September 2014

Away from the trials and tribulations of recent events, this week we have decided to look into some unusual regional words, located in research documents of yesteryear, to try to find out their meaning. All real words and, where possible, we have referenced them to location and also provided a ‘translation’!

Firstly, hotagoe which appears to be used as a verb. A Glossary of the Provincialisms in Use in the County of Sussex by William Durrant Cooper, provides a definition: 


Meaning literally ‘to speak quickly or babble‘, I am not sure this is a word which would pop up in common parlance nowadays, even in Sussex but do correct me if I am wrong!

And then we found bowssen – an odd word from the West Country, most commonly used in Cornwall. Documents make reference to ‘… many bowssening places for curing madmen …’ with definitions relating to immersion or ducking of an insane person in a holy well in the hope of ‘curing them’. The Western Morning News on 6 May 1938 stated in their quiz entitled ‘Do You Know the West?’ that the sudden immersion in water took place at St Nun’s Well, Altarnun.

Finally, we found the word peever which appeared to relate to some kind of children’s game of some sort, involving stones and it transpires that it is what the Scots call hopscotch – a game in which a child tosses a stone into an area drawn on the ground and then hops through it and back to regain the stone. Is this one of many steps towards independence? Speaking a different language…..? Hmmm….

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