Eight words or phrases you’ll hear in Portsmouth but not in Southampton

Picture: Gerry Woodhouse
Picture: Gerry Woodhouse
Black Star Riders: from left, Scott Gorham, Chad Szeliga, Ricky Warwick,  Robbie Crane and Damon Johnson.  Picture by Richard Stow

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They’re less than 20 miles apart - but Portsmouth and Southampton have a long-held rivalry and to an extent different languages.

Here are eight traditional Portsmouth words and sayings you are unlkely to hear at the other end of the M27.

1. Mush

Pronounced Moosh. An old Romany word meaning ‘my good friend’.

2. Dinlo

A lighthearted insult meaning fool. ‘Din’, ‘Dinny’ and ‘dinny dinlo’ are also used. The term apparently has its roots among the Romany gypsies, who still use it.

3. Squinny

To complain, or be a complainer. This term can be used in a number of ways - as a verb: stop sqinnyin!, a noun: ‘stop bein’ a squinny, baby!’ or even as an adjective: ‘she’s well squinny’, meaning ‘she’s a real complainer’.

4. Gettin lairy

What someone is doing if they are losing their patience/temper.

5. Dockyard oyster

A pool of phlegm spat on the pavement.

6. Going deyn tayn on the Saith Dain for half a crane

Meaning ‘going down to town on the South Down for half a crown’ this sentence gives a good flavour of the sound of the Portsmouth brogue. South Down was a bus company.

7. Dip me ’ead for a sparsy!

Mudlarks - the children who dived about in the mudflats at The Hard in Portsea - used to call this out to people passing by as a plea for spare change. A sparsy was either threepence or sixpence, which the mudlarks would happily dip their heads in the mud for.

8. Pompey

Portsmouth’s slang word for the city itself - and its football club - has never been conclusively proven. A popular theory is that it comes from ‘Pom. P’, a shortened version of Portsmouth Point which was entered in ships’ logs as they entered Portsmouth Harbour. Others say the moniker comes from La Pompée, a captured French ship which was once moored in the harbour for use as a prison hulk. Other possible sources for the nickname include: a reference to the Roman general Pompey; the volunteer firemen, called pompiers, who used to train on Southsea Common; or Bombay, the former name for Mumbai in India, which had maritime links to Portsmouth.