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A corpulent person. A bowdy, in Northumberland, was a large wooden bowl, and the kite, a bird of prey, was often used to describe someone who was greedy – hence the compound for a ‘fatty’ (all the recorded examples refer only to men). From Yorkshire: ‘Off he set, as hahd as ivver his bowdykite legs wad carry him’. Rather less obvious was bowdykite as a term of contempt for a forward or precocious child, especially one behaving stupidly. There may be echoes of ‘bighead’.

Found in: Northumberland, Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool, North Yorkshire, York, East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston upon Hull,

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