12 words every Southerner needs to know to get on with Northerners from Tyne and Wear

This ‘beginner’s guide’ is for any Southerner who plans to visit the Tyne and Wear. It includes everything you will need to know to safely negotiate your way through a conversation with the Tyne- and Wearsiders.

This list, below, presents the most popular words in Newcastle, the home of the Geordies, and Sunderland, the home of the Mackems.

With this short, simply explained list, anyone can successfully make it through a discussion without getting lost in translation.

We look at what the Southerners think the word means and then pass it over to the Northerners for their definition. The results are rather amusing. See for yourself:


What Southerners think it means: “It sound’s similar to ‘alright’, is it closely related to that by any chance?” 
What it actually means: This is a common greeting in Sunderland and Newcastle. However, it can also be used to answer the question: “how are you?” with “I’m alright/I’m okay.”


What Southerners think it means: “The meal you have anywhere between 5pm and 8pm.”

What it actually means: Dinner is the midday meal, it takes place between 12pm-3pm and is not to be confused with tea-time, which takes place between 5pm and 8pm. Guaranteed you will have a heated debate about what is lunch/dinner/tea/supper.


What Southerners think it means: “That must be a baby!”

What it actually means: Bairn is a child or baby, it is often used by Northerners when they are unable to remember a child’s name and refer to them simply as “the bairn”, but it is also a term of endearment used by parents when discussing their children.

4. Ket

What Southerners think it means: “The nickname given to the drug Ketamine, an illegal drug that causes muscle paralysis and hallucinations.”

What it actually means: This is actually the word for candy or sweets. You will often find a “ket cupboard” (sweet cupboard) in most North East homes.


What Southerners think it means: “Getting a bit hot and bothered? Or being chatty?”

What it actually means: In Sunderland, this is the word for being hungry, or sometimes even starving! A common sentence heard among the younger population is: “I’m clamming for some ket”, translated to “I’m hungry for some candy.”

6.The Toon

What Southerners think it means: “A shortened word for cartoons which children will often watch.”

What it actually means: This is in fact reference to Newcastle town. As a tourist to the area, if you ever hear someone discuss the Toon – this is Newcastle. “I’m gan t’Toon” translates to “ I am going to Newcastle.”


What Southerners think it means: “A battle between two or more countries, often over land and power. Examples include World War I and II.”
What it actually means: The term used to describe a ‘belonging’, often used by men in replacement of ‘my’ when referring to their girlfriend: “Wor lass” meaning ‘my girl’.


What Southerners think it means: “Isn’t it when you hit someone with something. Like with those things the Flintstones had?”

What it actually means: Clobber can mean two things in Sunderland: it can either mean clothing, or to hit someone with something: “I’m gan clobber ye in a minute.”


What Southerners think it means: “The winner of a cup or competition, also a stage of several sports divisions including the Championship in Football.

What it actually means: A word often used to describe something being good, great or excellent. For example: “That was absolutely champion” often said with an odd twang at the end of the word.


What Southerners think it means: “When you have to make a shrewd decision or judgement on something, like with money?”

What it actually means: Canny has several meanings in the Geordie/Mackem dialect: 1) It means I’m okay, 2) Everything is fine -“everything is canny” or 3) When discussing a person, “she’s canny!” to say they are nice or are good people.


What Southerners think it means: “Sounds like something you have with your Indian!”

What it actually means: Radgie is to be angry or in a rage about something, often if someone is behaving erratically they are described as being a bit radgie. A fun phrase is a “radgie gadgie”, also known as an enraged gentleman.


What Southerners think it means: “This must be similar to a cowboy saying ‘howdy’.” 

What it actually means: ‘Howay’ has two meanings in Newcastle and Sunderland, both meaning two very different things. 1) Is the encouraging phrase meaning ‘come on’, a classic combination is ‘Howay the lads’ used to cheer on the football teams in the area. 2) Is used as an exclamation, ‘howay man!’

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