From Academic Kids

Geordie refers to a person originating from Tyneside and the former coal mining areas of northern County Durham or the dialect spoken by such people. There are a number of rival theories to explain how the term came about, though all accept that it derives from a familiar diminutive form of the name "George".

In recent times Geordie has also been used to refer to supporters of Newcastle United football club no matter their origin, including people from outside the traditional area.

Derivation of the term

One explanation is that it was established during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. The Jacobites declared that the natives of Newcastle were staunch supporters of the Hanoverian Kings, in particular of George II during the 1745 rebellion. This contrasted with rural Northumbria, which largely supported the Jacobite cause. If true, the term may have derived from a popular anti-Hanoverian song, which calls the first Hanoverian king "Geordie Whelps", meaning "George the Guelph".

An alternative explanation for the name is that local miners used "Geordie" safety lamps designed by George Stephenson, rather than the "Davy Lamps" designed by Humphry Davy which were used in other mining communities.

The term Geordie is often incorrectly used to cover all the peoples of the North East of England, though this usage is generally confined to people from other parts of the United Kingdom, and is considered an insult by North-Easterners who do not come from Tyneside, due to intense local rivalries. To North-Easterners the term exclusively refers to persons from Tyneside; people from Wearside are termed Mackems (alternative spelling: Maccam), people from Hartlepool are known as monkey-hangers, whilst natives of the Teesside conurbation are generally referred to as Smoggies. People from the countryside in between these urban areas are generally referred to as 'farm yackers'.

The Geordie dialect

Geordie derives much less influence from French and Latin than does Standard English, being substantially Angle and Viking in origin. The accent and pronunciation, like in Lowland Scots, reflect old Anglo-Saxon pronunciations, accents and usages.

Personal pronouns differ markedly from Standard English: Geordies use "youse" for plural "you", "me" for "my", "us" for "me", "wor" for "our". The word "wor" is sometimes placed before the given name of the person being the subject of conversation to denote that they are a family member, for example "wor Allan" or "wor da" (father). It is also quite common for Geordies to use the word "man" for both men and women, as in "howay man" (c'mon you).

Vowel sounds are also quite unusual. "er" on the end of words becomes "a" ("father" is pronounced "fatha", both "a" sounds as in "hat"). Many "a" sounds become more like "e": "hev" for "have". Double vowels are often pronounced separately: "boat" becomes "boh-ut". Some words acquire extra vowels ("growel" for "growl", "cannet" for "can't"). The "or" sound in words like "talk" becomes "aa", while "er" sounds in words like "work" becomes "or". The "ow" in words like "down" or, most famously, "town" becomes "oo", hence "the Toon" meaning Newcastle. In Wearside, the "oo" in words like "cook", "book" or "look" becomes "uu".

Geordie also has a large amount of vocabulary not seen in other English dialects. Words still in common use today include "canny" for "pleasant", "gadgie" for "man", "hyem" for "home", "divn't" for "don't", "bairn" and "grandbairn" for "child" and "grandchild", "hacky" for "dirty", and "gannin" for "going". "Howay" is comparable to the French "voila", in taking almost any meaning depending on context. Examples of common use include "Howay man!", meaning something like "come on" or "hurry up", "Howay the lads!" meaning "well done", or "Howay!?" expressing incredulity or disbelief. When a Geordie uses the word "larn" for teach, it is not a misuse of the English word "learn"; the word is derived from the Anglo Saxon word "laeran", meaning to teach.

Geordie is also sometimes used to describe the distinctive dialect of the people of Northumbria. However strictly speaking, South East Northumberland (the mining area bordering Tyneside) has its own similar, but distinctive dialect known as Pitmatic.

In recent times, the Geordie accent has featured prominently in the national media, arguably more so than ever before. TV Presenters such as Ant and Dec, and Marcus Bentley, the commentator on the UK edition of Big Brother (who is often perceived to have a Geordie accent, despite growing up in Stockton on Tees), are happy to use their natural accents on air.

The accent was also popularised by the humorous comic magazine Viz, where the accent itself is often conveyed phonetically by unusual spellings within the comic strips. Viz magazine itself was founded on Tyneside by a couple of Geordie lads, Chris Donald and his brother Simon.

External links

Geordie was also the name of a band from Newcastle, who had a few hits in the UK Top 40 mid of the 1970s. Their vocalist Brian Johnson became known world wide in 1980 when joining the Australian band AC/ nn:Geordie


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools