A glossary of words used in the neighbourhood of Sheffield/Area comprised


Before giving an account of the work of others who have preceded the Author in this field of observation it will be convenient to define the area or district in which the words given in the Glossary have been found.

The parish of Sheffield is situate at the point where the most southern extremity of the county of York touches or borders upon the county of Derby. At this juncture, with the exception of two streams, the Sheath[1] and Mesebrook,[1] and the hills which begin to rise from Dore and Totley, there are no natural barriers, and the dialect spoken for five or six miles to the south of the line which divides the counties differs in no sensible degree from that which is spoken on the northern or Yorkshire side. I have thought it best to entitle this work 'A Glossary of Words used in the Neighbourhood of Sheffield,' rather than 'A Glossary of the Dialect of Hallamshire.' The reasons which have influenced my judgment in making this choice are these: 1. The district which bears the name Hallamshire is not well defined. Though the word 'Hallamshire' is pleasing to the ear, and though its use would be agreeable to the fancy of many, it is necessary in a work of this kind to define clearly the area in which the words have been collected, and in which they are commonly used. 2. The word 'Hallamshire,' though well known, in a some-what vague and shadowy way, to people living in the neighbourhood, conveys no sense of geographical limitation to a stranger.

The words have been collected in the parishes of Sheffield, Ecclesfield (which includes the chapelry of Bradfield), Handsworth, and to a very slight extent in Rotherham. It must, however, be understood that most of these words are to be found in a few of the hamlets lying to the south of Sheffield, and in another county. The most careful observer would hardly find any difference between the dialect spoken five miles to the south and that spoken five miles to the north of the river Sheath. This work, however, in no way pretends to deal with the dialect spoken in the county of Derby. Ten miles to the south of Sheffield, and especially to the south-west of that town, the dialect begins to change; indeed the difference between the dialect spoken in the villages of the northern High Peak and that spoken within a circuit of five miles or more round the Parish Church of Sheffield is very marked. Although, therefore, for dialectal purposes and for scientific convenience this glossary is strictly confined to the parishes of Sheffield, Ecclesfield, Handsworth, and Rotherham, it must not be supposed that the words to be found in it are excluded from the northern fringe of the county of Derby by the geographical line which separates the counties. A few Derbyshire words have been inserted. Such as these as could not be found to exist within the defined district have been marked 'Derbyshire?[2] A few place-names in the parishes of Norton and Dronfield have also been introduced, and accounts are occasionally given of customs and games now existing, or which within my memory, or the memory of my informants, have existed in those parishes.

The town of Sheffield has overspread a large area of ground, and the great increase of streets, together with the influx of strangers, has done much to obliterate old words, manners, and customs, so that it is rather amongst the people living in the outlying villages than in the town itself that the remains of ancient language and customs fast fading are to be found. The immigration of strangers, owing chiefly to the development of the cutlery trade and to the large number of apprentices who, as the books of the Cutlers' Company show, have for at least two centuries come into the town from various parts of England, has probably also tended to adulterate the dialect. Care has been taken not to admit words which, on the evidence presented, do not belong to the district comprised within the glossary. Such words have been few, but it has occasionally, though rarely, happened that admission has been asked for a word which was clearly a foreign importation, and in no way indigenous in the district. Whilst excluding such foreigners, I have been careful not to reject words in cases where there was the least doubt on this head.


  1. 1.0 1.1 See the words Sheath and Meresbrook in the Glossary, and the Introduction, postea.
  2. Most of these have been kindly supplied by Mr. B. Bagshawe, of Sheffield.