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An ill-natured or petulant person. An attercop was a spider, or a spider’s web. It’s an Old English word: attor was poison, and cop, from coppa, was a round head. Coppa itself seems to have been used alone for a spider, hence cop-web – or cobweb, as we say today. In the Middle Ages, attercop turns up applied to people, and seems to have been used in this way all over northern England and especially in Scotland. In Chapter 64 of Waverley, Walter Scott describes a character as ‘a fi ery etter-cap’. In Lancashire, the word turns up as natter-crop, having stolen the n from a preceding an (see also amplush, nazzard).

Found in: Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Wiltshire, Swindon, Cumbria, Lancashire, Blackpool, Liverpool, Salford, Blackburn with Darwen, Rochdale, Tameside, Stockport, Oldham, Trafford, Bolton, Merseyside, Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster, East Riding of Yorkshire, York, North Yorkshire, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Halton, Sefton, Wigan, Warrington, Knowsley, Bury, Manchester, Barnsley, Wakefield, Leeds, Northumberland, Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool, Kingston upon Hull, Highland, Argyll and Bute, Inverclyde, North Ayshire, South Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, East Lothian, Midlothian, Edinburgh, West Lothian, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, North Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire, Stirling, Perthshire and Kinross, Fife, Dundee, Angus, Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Moray, West Dunbartonshire,

About The Book

Wherever you go in the English-speaking world, there are linguistic riches from times past awaiting rediscovery. All you have to do is choose a location, find some old documents, and dig a little.

In The Disappearing Dictionary, linguistics expert Professor David Crystal collects together delightful dialect words that either provide an insight into an older way of life, or simply have an irresistible phonetic appeal. Like a mirror image of The Meaning of Liff that just happens to be true, The Disappearing Dictionary unearths some lovely old gems of the English language, dusts them down and makes them live again for a new generation.

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© Pan Macmillan 2015