The utility of a Provincial Glossary, to all persons desirous of understanding our ancient poets, is so universally acknowledged, that to enter into a proof of it would be entirely a work of supererogation. Divers partial collections have been occasionally made, all which have been well received, and frequently reprinted; these are, in this work, all united under one alphabet, and augmented by many hundred words, collected by the Editor in the different places wherein they are used; the rotation of military quarters, and the recruiting service, having occasioned him to reside for some time in most of the counties in England.

Provincial or Local Words are of three kinds, the first, either Saxon or Danish, in general grown obsolete from disuse, and the introduction of more fashionable terms; and, consequently, only retained in countries remote from the capital, where modern refinements do not easily find their way, and are not readily adopted.

The second sort are words derived from some foreign language, as Latin, French, or German; but so corrupted by passing through the mouths of illiterate clowns, as to render their origin scarcely discoverable; corruptions of this kind being obstinately maintained by country people, who, like the old Monks, will never exchange their old mumpsimus for the new sumpsimus.

The third are mere arbitrary words, not deducible from any primary source or language, but ludicrous nominations, from some apparent qualities in the object or thing, at first scarcely current out of the parish, but by time and use extended over a whole county. Such are the Church-warden, Jack-sharpnails, Crotch-tail, &c.

The books chiefly consulted on this occasion were Ray's Proverbs, Tim Bobbin’s Lancashire Dialect, Lewis’s History of the Isle of Thanet, Sir John Cullum’s History of Hawstead, many [a different edition says all here, not many] of the County Histories, and the Gentleman’s Magazine: from the last, the Exmore dialect was entirely taken. Several Gentlemen, too respectable to be named on so trifling an occasion, have also contributed their assistance.

In selecting the words, such as only differed from those in common use, through the mode of pronunciation, were mostly rejected; nor in the arrangement, except in a few instances, are they attributed or fixed to a particular county, it being difficult to find any word used in one county, that is not adopted at least in the adjoining border of the next; they are therefore generally arranged under the titles of North, South, and West country words, distinguished by the letters N. S. and W. (when not at length). Words used in several counties in the same sense, are pointed out by the letter C. to express that they are common; and sometimes these are distinguished by the abbreviation Var. Dial, signifying that they are used in various dialects. The East country scarcely afforded a sufficiency of words to form a division.

As the Local Proverbs all allude to the particular history of the places mentioned, or some ancient customs respecting them, they seem worth preserving, particularly as both the customs and many of the places alluded to are gliding silently into oblivion. For these Local Proverbs, I have consulted Fuller’s Worthies, Ray, and a variety of other writers; many of whose explanations I have ventured to controvert, and, I hope, amend.

The Popular Superstitions, likewise, tend to illustrate our ancient poems and romances. Shakespear [Shakespeare], in particular, drew his inimitable scenes of magic from that source; for, on consulting the writers on that subject, it will be found he has exhibited the vulgar superstitions of his time. Indeed, one cause of these scenes having so great effect on us, is their calling back to our fancies, the tales and terrors of the nursery, which are so strongly stamped on our tender minds, as rarely, if ever, to be totally effaced; and of these tales, spite of the precaution of parents, every child has heard something, more or less.

The different articles under this head, that are collected from books, are all from the most celebrated authors on the subject. Among them are King James I., Glanvil, Dr. Henry More, Beaumont, Aubrey, Cotton Mather, Richard Baxter, Reginald Scot, and Bourne’s Popular Antiquities, as augmented by Mr. Brand.

Other articles on this subject, and those not a few, have been collected from the mouths of village historians, as they were related to a closing circle of attentive hearers, assembled in a winter’s evening, round the capacious chimney of an old hall or manor-house; for, formerly, in countries remote from the metropolis, or which had no immediate intercourse with it, before newspapers and stage-coaches had imported scepticism, and made every ploughman and thresher a politician and free-thinker, ghosts, fairies, and witches, with bloody murders, committed by tinkers, formed a principal part of rural conversation, in all large assemblies; and particularly those in Christmas holidays, during the burning of the yule-block.

In this Second Edition, the Reader will find the whole Glossary more regularly arranged, and in many places corrected, with the addition of near two thousand words; for many of which the Editor is obliged to Mr. Marshall’s Trestises on Rural Oeconomy for Yorkshire, Norfolk, and Gloucestershire. The Topographical Proverbs and Vulgar Superstitions have also been corrected, and have received several additions, particularly the latter, from the well-known Poems of my ingenious friend Mr. Burns, the Airshire poet.

Since the printing of the first part of these sheets, a number of additional Provincial Words have been received from different quarters, or otherwise occurred; these have been thrown into an alphabet, and printed as a Supplement, at the end of the Glossary.

Title Page
A Glossary of Local and Provincial Words
Supplement to the Glossary
Local Proverbs
Popular Superstitions.