Glossary of ‘Pompeyisms’

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‘POMPEYSPEAK’ may sound alien to anyone from outside the city, so we have put together a helpful glossary of ‘Pompeyisms.’

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A market trader serves a customer at his stall in Charlotte Street, Portsmouth

A market trader serves a customer at his stall in Charlotte Street, Portsmouth

Examples of ‘Pompeyspeak’


Expresses surprise. Can be used upon hearing something strange, incredible or horrible.


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


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.


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’.

Gettin lairy

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


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.

Pompey dot

Something young women used to wear on their fingers to indicate their availability.

Dockyard oyster

A pool of phlegm spat on the pavement.

I’m goin deyn ta Turk Tain

Turk Tain (or Town) was slang for Gosport. Dr Clark said the term stems from Turkish sailors who were there with a ship in the 1840s, died from cholera, and were buried at the local cemetery.

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.

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.


Going round the hill, meaning getting to Portsmouth from Gosport by road