Words for the Week

Hello again, folks! This is my new Sunday thing – I’ve got so many books full of great words, and I so rarely have an excuse to delve into them. So I thought I’d give you a small selection of these lovely words once a week, in the hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. And for a little more interest, I’m going to go through the alphabet! So this week’s words begin with ‘B’. 

Batterfang (verb): Lincolnshire, Yorkshire. To attack with the fists or nails; to beat and claw at. Batterfanged (adjective): Bruised, beaten, scratched – as if ‘battered by fangs’.

This sounds so bizarre. Would you even know what this is without the definition? But the word itself makes such a good sound that I couldn’t resist including it in this week’s list – even if it does sound like someone’s deep-frying bits of snake!

Begrumpled (adjective): Cornwall, Devon, Somerset. Displeased, affronted. If you ‘took the grump’ you would have lost your temper. In Scotland, a surly person was said to be ‘grumply’.

I love the sound of this one, as well. It feels exactly right for when you’re not annoyed exactly, but you are certainly not happy with the situation. You are, in fact, begrumpled. 

Bull-pated (adjective): Northamptonshire. Applied to a tuft of grass driven by the wind into a quiff, i.e. standing up like the tuft on a bull’s forehead.

I really like the association here, between the bull and the shape of the grass, perhaps in the field in which the bull is standing. It also reminds me of ‘cowlick’ – for a long time, I just didn’t know what this referred to. Now that I do, describing the grass as bull-pated makes it sounds as if the bull himself as licked the grass into that shape, rather than the wind.

Beek (verb): Old Scandinavian. To warm, to make comfortable. Or to bask in the warmth of the sun or a fire. 

Again, a word that for me doesn’t quite match the meaning. But it’s very hygge. And a very attractive prospect right now. 

Baltiorum (noun): Yorkshire. Boisterous merry-making which often accompanies a bonfire – and thus, any kind of riotous proceedings. The ending is seen in other mock-Latin coinages such as ‘cockalorum’ and ‘jiggalorum’.

This just sounds like good fun! I’d like to see more events advertised as a ‘baltiorum’, please. 

This week’s words were sourced from Foyle’s Philavery, collected by Christopher Foyle; The Disappearing Dictionary: A Treasury of Lost English Dialect Words by David Crystal; Landmarks by Robert MacFarlane.


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