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