An inhabitant of Tyneside (also Northeastern English Dialect)

"Ah went to Blaydon Races , twas on the Ninth o' June
Eighteen Hundred and sixty two on a Summer's afternoon
A teuk the bus frae Balmbra's and she was heavy laden
Away we went alang Collingwood Street
That's on the road to Blaydon"
- Blaydon Races

Geordies are traditionally from Tyneside, specifically that area around the River Tyne in the region of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead. Fiercely proud of their culture, their region, their history, but most especially their dialect, their hybrid vigour comes from a racial mix of Scots, Anglo-Saxon and Viking blood.

There's a good deal of territoriality here, too. In the same way that Cockneys are supposed to be born within the sound of Bow Bells, a Geordie has to have been born within sight of the Tyne. Attempts by anyone outside these boundaries to call themselves Geordies are likely to bet into some bother. Even those from nearby Sunderland are known by the derogatory term "Mackem".


The word itself is more than likely a diminutive of "George", probably King George II, the locals supporting the Hanoverian kings (as opposed to their neighbours, the Northumbrians, who supported the Jacobites). The lyrics of the folk song "Cam Ye O'er Frae France" includes the lines "Saw ye Geordie Whelps, and his bonny woman". The German Hanoverians were not generally popular, even in England, and deriving "whelp" from "Guelph" (that being the name of a German political faction) demonstrates how many would have felt toward their supporters.

Another explanation is that the local coal miners used the "Geordie" safety lamps, designed by George Stephenson, rather than the more common Davy lamps.

Ye knaa what ah mean leik...

For those of us in the pansy South of England, their mode of speech is impenetrable yet fascinating. Most people south of Durham will struggle to understand a Geordie in full conversational flow, and yet this is one of the richest and interesting tongues in the UK. The footballer Peter Beardsley, when interviewed for British television, needed English subtitles to be understood during all his television interviews.

Much of the influence on the tongue is Scandinavian, but it also retains much of Anglo-Saxon language. Many of the words and much of the pronunciation hark back to around the 5th Century (AD), and some may draw comparisons with the Scottish tongue (although many Geordies may balk at that, even though in many ways it does bear a resemblance to Lowland Scottish).

Some examples of dialect words follow:

  • broon - brown, but especially Newcastle Brown Ale
  • canny - wise, cunning
  • claes - clothes
  • claats, clarts - mud, muck
  • dike - hedge, or ditch
  • divvent - don't
  • fash - trouble
  • haipeth - ha'penny, half-penny
  • hinny - a term of endearment to women and children (honey)
  • kipper - orginally smoked and dried salmon, now applied to smoked herring, and in general use
  • midden - dunghill, heap
  • netty - toilet
  • oot bye - outside
  • reave - to rob (see Border Reivers)
  • spelk - splinter in finger (usually of wood)
  • tor - hill
  • toon - town
  • whey aye - of course!

Native speakers include Sting, Jimmy Nail and the aforementioned Peter Beardsley, and the accent will be well-known to viewers of TV's The Likely Lads and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet in addition to the original Get Carter film.

It seems to be a wonderful language to insult someone in, as in "haddaway and shite" - "you may as well leave as I believe you are talking crap"! There is also an excellent Geordie lyric noded at The Lambton Worm, and an interesting folk lyric at

Thanks ferenczy and themanwho!

Feel free to make suggestions for additions