Manx Idioms & Phrases

Manx Idioms & Phrases

Some Manx idioms and phrases courtesy of W Walter Gill from his book Manx Dialect, Words & Phrases (1934).

Hallo the house! = is a greeting on entering which has perhaps replaced the old Celtic form of blessing on the house and its inmates.

Shoh Slaynt! = “Here’s health!”  Said when men drink together.

A moon of gobbags* = a long space of time, a blue moon.  “A quiet man living in the one place would navar hear in a moon of gobbags.

Talk to the birds = is the last resource of an incurable chatterbox who can get nobody else to listen.  “Talk?  That one ‘ud talk to the birds!”

Give a Manx answer = is to counter a question with another question.

Have a big song = is to have a lot to say about something, to exaggerate a matter.  “If his little finger aches, he’ll have a big song about it.”

Between the lights = the time between starlight (or moonlight) and sunrise.  This was the hour consecrated to lifting magical and medicinal herbs.

The day is with me = is that things are going well with me or, when used by an older person, that most of the day is still at my disposal and I have plenty of time in hand.

Till Peel Fair is in the harbour or held in the harbour.  Is a picturesque way of saying ‘for ever’.  Contrawise, When Peel Fair is in the Harbour means ‘never’.

Air one’s self  = is to give one’s self airs.  “A second mate he was an’ his wife airin’ herself as if she was Queen Victoria!”

You’ll not die in the North = was a sly allusion to the fact that capital punishment was carried out at Castletown, in the south of the Island.

A lie with a lid on = a well thought out falsehood, conscientiously constructed and complete in every detail.

Break a straw  = to clinch a bargain, to come to an agreement about the price or conditions of something.  “Let’s break a straw on it then.”

The fairies are doing their baking or their washing = is said when it rains with the sun shining.


* gobbags = dogfish

 

Bernadette Weyde

Bernadette Weyde

I'm a web designer, amateur historian and keen gardener and I enjoy bringing Manx history, folklore and poetry to a modern audience.


Tags assigned to this article:
language

Related Articles

The First Collection of Manx Ever Published

One of the great landmarks in the history of Celtic scholarship was the publication of the first volume of Edward

Manx Words – The Family

A few Manx words relating to family… MUMMIG – pron. mummig – mummy/mammy MOIR – pron. mawr – mother JISHAG

Manx Language and the Irish Folklore Commission

Over sixty years ago, the Irish Folklore Commission made recordings of the last native Manx speakers. In doing so, the

2 comments

Write a comment
  1. Manxroots
    Manxroots 30 September, 2015, 05:38

    I always heard to “make a great song and dance” about something, but had no idea it was especially Manx??

    Reply this comment
    • Bernadette Weyde
      Bernadette Weyde Author 30 September, 2015, 13:46

      I don’t know if that is especially Manx though I’ve heard it said over the years and I say it myself on occasion. Gill doesn’t mention the dance part, just about making a big song about something but I’d imagine both phrases stem from a common source. How are you getting on with your review of Manx surname origins?

      Reply this comment

Write a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*