Friday, December 26, 2014

Regional language request

Regional language request

Thanks to a phone call from Dennis Rogers of Pflugerville, Texas, I’ve been reminded of my interest in regional language use. This week’s brief post includes some examples I hope this taste will get you sorting through your memories for regional usage you can send my way for a future post.

Dinkum entered English n 1888, meaning hard work. Hailing from Australia, dinkum added the meaning honest & genuine by 1894. Though it may have its roots in Lincolnshire, nobody’s really sure where dinkum came from.

The Old English word for ant was æmete, which explains why in some parts of England ants are called emmets, Interestingly, holiday tourists in & around Cornwall are also known as emmets.

Swivet appears to have come from the Kentucky environs in at late 1800s and nobody’s sure about its roots. A swivet is a fluster, a confusion. A related idiom is “Don’t get your knickers in a swivet.”

May your week find you avoiding emmets & swivets of all kinds, enjoying good company and good food, & getting a restful respite from dinkum (first meaning).

In the meantime, please send any regional words, idioms or turns of phrase my way.

Big thanks to this week’s sources: Suko’s Notebook,  Wordnik, Etymonline & the OED.


  1. Hey, Charlie, another fun and thought provoking post. Down under does "fair dinkum" have the same meaning as dinkum alone? Not sure. Right now I'm in a swivet about my WIP. A romantic comedy that is neither romantic nor funny. Such are the woes of those who switch genres too quickly. Happy, Happy New Year to you and yours! And do keep those pesky emmets away.

  2. I've never heard of any of these interesting words. Thanks for the lesson and Happy New Year to the Wordmonger!

  3. Howdy Paul & Christine,
    Paul, may your knickers be swivet-free soon. I imagine you & your muse will figure things out & break out in a serious case of funny & romantic soon. Happy new year to you, Bob, Christine, Steve & anyone else reading this.

  4. Moxie is (was?) also a brand of soda found in Boston/New England. Tasted a bit like gutter water. (Don't ask how I know.) I spent four years in Georgia and heard "jarhead" in context of those who were overly fond of white lightning. (But that may be reflection on the company I kept.) Juke was something that particularly fancy-footed basketball players would do to the guys defending against them. I guess I've lived a wild and dissolute life. Happy new year, and many more (happy ones).