5 Yorkshire words and their origins

 The Yorkshire dialect is well known for its phrases such as “ey up” and “ee ba gum” but where did they originate and how did they become part of the county’s language?

“Ey ‘up”

Words jack walton ey up
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This means “Hello” or “How are you,” and is thought to have derived from the Norse, “se up,” which means “watch out.”  It is used as a greeting in Yorkshire and the North Midlands. Sometimes the expression is added to in certain parts to “eh up me duck.” This means “Hello mate.” And derives itself from the old Anglo-Saxon word for mi Ducas, which mean” Lord or duke. Buy this T-Shirt here.



Words ginnel
The word “ginnel” has French origins. Source www.bbc.co.uk

Ginnel derives from the 17th century word French word for “channel,” meaning alleyway. This word is used mainly in West and South Yorkshire, while in other areas of the county these are called “snickleways,” (York), “snickets,” in East Yorkshire and “ghauhts” in the Whitby area.

“ee ba gum!”

Some Yorkshire folk replace swearwords with “ee ba gum”

“Ee ba gum,” means, “by god” and is a “minced oath,” which over the generations has become a phrase used by people who do not wish to use a swear word because it may be inappropriate. Therefore if something bad happens like hitting ones hand with a hammer accidently in the presence of children it is thought better to say “ee ba gum,” (by god) than a profanity.


Words dummy
A common word for babies or children

Bairn is a Yorkshire (and Northern) expression meaning “child.” There are several theories to its origins, but the most common is that the word came across the North Sea from German and Scandanavian languages, which means “to bear,” i.e to bear children.


Words beck
A small stream has different words throughout the country.

The word beck is used in Yorkshire and other parts of the North to describe a small stream, which runs over a stony bed and follows a rugged course e.g Wensleydale beck.” It originates from several sources including the Norse, “bekkr” and the Old English word, “bece.” The southern equivalent to this word is “brook.”

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