Old Sussex Words And Phrases: Dallop to ‘Dutch Cousins’

Smuggling was big in the Weald.  It was a clear run up the Rother Valley from the coast around Winchelsea and Rye.

I was quite captivated when many years ago a local historian explained that quite a few local houses have smugglers windows, one in each end.  A candle would be put in each when the coast was clear so that word could pass down the entire route.

He then pointed out that our house only has one smuggler’s window.  It made me wonder whether barrels of brandy were stored in our cellar.  They reputedly were at the Mark Cross Inn, a notorious smugglers’ haunt at one time.

The Sussex Weald was once a much wilder place than it is now.  Then the Hawkhurst Gang just over the border in Kent terrorised the neighbourhood.  So it’s no surprise that there are a fair few smugglers’ words amongst this collection.

Dallop, A clumsy, shapeless lump of anything tumbled about in the hands or m. A parcel of tea packed for smuggling, weighing from six to sixteen pounds.

Darks, m. A word used by sailors, but more particularly by smugglers, to signify those nights when the moon does not appear.

Darling, or Dawlin, m. The smallest pig of a litter; an unhealthy child.

Dead Horse, e. To work for a dead horse is to labour for wages already received, or to work out an old debt.

Deese, e. A place where herrings are dried, now more generally called a herring-hang, from the fish being hung on sticks to dry.

Deeve. Dive. The pronunciation of the i like that of the French i is very common in Sussex.

Denial, m. A hindrance. “His deathness is a great denial to him.”

Dezzick, m. A day’s work. “I aint done a dezzick for the last six months.”

DISH OF TONGUES. A scolding. “He’ll get a middlin’ dish of tongues when his mistus comes to hear an’t.”

Dishabill. [Deshabille, French, an undress.] Disorder.

” My house is not fit for you to come in, for we’re all of a dishabill.”

Doddlish. Infirm.  “Old Master Packlebury begins to get very doddlish.”

Dole. [Dael, Ang. Sax., a portion.] Gifts; alms distributed on St. Thomas’ day.

Douters. Instruments like snuffers, used for extinguishing a candle without cutting the wick.

Dowels, e. Levels; low marshes in which the water lies in winter and wet seasons.

DOZZLE. A small quantity.

” He came in so down-hearted that I couldn’t be off from giving him a dozzle of victuals, and I told him if he could put up with a down-bed, he might stop all night.”

DRACLY-MINUTE. Immediately.

” Ye be to goo dracly-minute.”


DREDGE. A mixture of oats and barley, now very little sown.

DRIB. [Dripan, Ang. Sax, to drop.] A very small quantity of anything.

DROVE-ROAD. An unenclosed road through a farm leading to different fields.

Druv. Driven. “I wunt be druv” is a favourite maxim with Sussex people.

Drythe. [Drugath, Ang. Sax.] Drought.

“Drythe never yet bred dearth.” —Sussex Proverb.

Dubby, e. Short; blunt.

“I be dubersome whether she’ll ever make a needlewoman, her fingers be so dubby.”

Dubersome, m. Doubtful. This Anglo-Saxon form of termina­tion is not uncommon in Sussex; we find it in timersome for timid, wearisome, and other words.

Duffer, e. A pedlar. This word is applied only to a hawker of women’s clothes.

Dumbledore, w. The Bumble Bee.

DunnaMANY/much, m. I do not know how many/much.

Dutch Cousins, e. Great friends. This expression is only used along the coast.

“Yes, he and I were reg’lar Dutch cousins; I feels quite lost without him.”

Good old Sussex Words and Phrases: ‘Ardle to “cut your stick”‘.

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7 Responses to Old Sussex Words And Phrases: Dallop to ‘Dutch Cousins’

  1. Pingback: Good Old Sussex Words & Phrases | Land of Oak and Iron

  2. Found your blog whilst googling for old Sussex phrases. I was born in Burwash but invaded Scotland 12 years ago. Am suffering nostalgia since finding this.

  3. Bernard Wooller says:

    another old Sussex phrase ” a bit black over wills’ mothers (storm clouds on the horizon in any direction )

  4. Ann Carr says:

    Good to see some of the old words. Twitter was a common one when I was young, in the 50s and 60s. A small path between buildings/houses, leading to another open space or road.

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