The language of the Potteries .. or
"Ar ter toke crate"


On this page.... Potteries words... Other items....

  May un mar lady
  Potteries Sayings
  Duck Transactions
  Glossary of Terms
  Owd Grandad Piggott
  Say that agin

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D - G
H - L
M - Q
R - T
U - Y
Questions & Answers
Vowel pronunciation

    Where to buy books & tapes

| AUDIO - listen to an old miner recount his early days in the pit  |

see the BBC Radio Stoke
Voice Project on the
Potteries Dialect



The Potteries area of North Staffordshire has it's own particular dialect... as portrayed by

 "May un mar lady" ……

May un mar lady was created by Dave Follows and appears in The Sentinel newspaper. Reproduced by permission of Dave Fallows


"Hey up youth….. Ows thar lady?"
"Lend me that pound I saw you with earlier" "For pities sake, are you short again? I told you to cut down"

"I have cut down"

"I want it to toss for which one of us has the egg for dinner"


you're on your own for the others…..!


A few well known, and not so well known, sayings and the Potteries equivalent:

Give credit where credit is due. Gi credit weer credit is due.
When the cat's away the mice will play. Wen cats awee, mice 'll plee.
First things first. Fost things fost.
If you can't beat them, join them. If yer conna bate em, jane em.
A fool and his money are soon parted. A foo an eeze brass are soon patted.


Duck Transactions & their impact on Stoke-on-Trent.

On June the sixteenth 1960. a train spotter and a hedgehog trainer came down from Crewe to an address in Fenton in response to an advert in The Evening Sentinel for a 1953 Ford Prefect that was going for the bargain price of twenty pounds. After doing the deal, they went for some chips and happened upon a unique Potteries conversation.

"Woss want duck?"

"Giz thray sixes an' a fish duck."

"Sowt an' vinegar duck'?"

"No duck... Macks um goo cowd."

The transaction involved a quantity of fish and chips for the sum of two shillings and fourpence.

Standing agog with amazement, the intrepid pair had just witnessed a typical North Staffordshire four duck transaction. After making their own purchases, they stood eating chips in the shop and found that duck transactions were many, varied and sometimes colourful.

Spreading the word of this weird and wonderful phraseology, they made regular sorties to The Potteries accompanied by friends and curious people, visiting all kinds of establishments where people came into contact. Eventually, the train spotter, after witnessing an amazing sixteen duck transaction in a Wright's Pie shop near Stoke Station, put pen to paper and wrote a large thesis on the phenomenon. By this time. coach loads of visitors from all over the country were descending upon the Five Towns to hear it all for themselves.

That first visit to The Potteries by the train spotter all those years ago laid the foundations of The Potteries tourist industry. People now come from all over the world to stand in chip shops, newsagents and to hang around market stalls to hear this wonderful means of communication for themselves. Over the years, Wedgwood have set up a visitor centre as have The Gladstone Pottery factory and Shugborough Hall - the ancestral home of the Earl of Lichfield.

If it wasn't for the word 'duck', Alton Towers would be a rest home for gentlefolk, Bridgemere Garden World nothing more than a swamp and the head of Staffordshire County Council tourism department would be a bus conductor, but because bus conductors don't exist anymore, he probably wouldn't be anything.

"Hey up duck!! 'Ow at?"

Reproduced by permission from "Owd Grandad Piggott"
© Alan Povey

The origin of the term "duck"


Glossary of Terms:

Afe Crine Half Crown (Pre-decimal coin)
Back Road Toilet
Bay Chum Spiders Beecham's Powders
Bill Joe Nice Build your own house
Bow Ball
Chaise 'n' Pittles Cheese and pickles
Fow staith False Teeth
Goose low Go slow
Grain Green
Grey nice Greenhouse
Kine Slice Council house (housing rented from the local government)
Males Meals
Now tell sin Nothing else in
Rind abite Roundabout
Waite White
Woke Walk
Woss Worse

also see a full glossary of potteries words





"Owd Grandad Piggott"

Reproduced by permission from "Owd Grandad Piggott"
© Alan Povey. Artist - Dave Fallows




Say that agin!
A BITE as in "A bite tarm they gotst a job!"
ARM Part of the verb "to be" as in "Arm owrate Jack"
BACK ROAD "Weer thee goost when they't bostin"
BOW Round object. The most familiar Potteries catchphrase is: "Chuck a bow aggen a woe, yed it, kick it an bost it!"
BROCK Bost, Unusable. In need of repair
CROGGIN'IN Jumping the queue
DRUG UP The way we were reared "Weer wost they drug up?"
FANGED OWT Grabbed, with a view to inflicting injury or punishment.
GIZZIT Hand it over!
JED Lifeless
STOON JED Absolutely lifeless
KICKY SHED IT Inflict injury
OMMER Useful tool, often referred to as a 'Birmingham screwdriver'
OWE RATE Mighty fine!
PACKER DAFT Load of rubbish
PMT Stoke-on-Trent's leading bus company which has been serving the people of North Staffordshire since 1898. An integral part of Potteries history.

SHOT A PINK 'UN ITE Gave birth
WOSS Not better


As much a part of the Potteries as oatcakes, lobby and chaise on toast.





Want to know more? ….. you can purchase books and tapes on the Potteries dialect:

Where to buy books & tapes

questions/comments/contributions?  email: Steve Birks

18 Jan 2005