8 Common Cornish Dialect Terms

Like most regions of the UK, Cornwall has thousands of quirky dialect words and phrases, and that’s not to mention the Cornish language itself.  Most visitors to the area will already be familiar with many, or will be able to understand based on context.  For this post, we’ve collected 8 of most common localisms from our part of the county.  Have we missed your favourite?  We’d love to know – pop a comment below.



Originally from the word ‘directly’, this common example of the Cornish vernacular actually means ‘later’ in a very vague way.  It’s increasingly used as a tongue-in-cheek way of suggesting it may never get done!  “When will you fix that fence?” “I shall be doin’ it dreckly, lover!”


One of the few words on this list to derive from the Cornish language, emmet technically means ant, but is nowadays only heard to describe the flocks of tourists that visit our region.  It may not sound flattering, but it isn’t necessarily an insult.  “What took you so long?”  “Some poor emmet broke down in their caravan.”

My ‘ansome / my lover

The Cornish aren’t known for pronouncing the H at the beginning of words, and it’s rarely more obvious than with the first of these terms of endearment.  It needs no translation – “Alright my ‘ansome?”

Dear of him / her

Pronounced in a one-word ‘dearovim’, it’s another example of dropping that initial H, and reflects sympathy or fondness about the subject – used in a similar way to ‘Bless him’, or sometimes ‘poor thing’.  “My nephew is still trying to put on his shoe, dearovim!” 


Perhaps the most famous Cornish-ism that one can regularly hear, it’s usually found in the phrase “proper job”!  Of course, it means anything good or done well, or sometimes just ‘very’.  “Tis proper busy in town today!”


Elsewhere in the country (and indeed the English-speaking world), it’s common to use the ‘hell of a’ expression with a noun  – ‘That’s a hell of a storm’ or ‘What a hell of a day’ – simply for emphasis.  In Cornwall though, it’s often used with an adjective – ‘Tis helluva cold today!’  “I’m helluva peckish!”


This is another one based on the old Cornish – in this case ‘tesek’ meaning hot (as in hot-tempered).  It is still used to describe someone who got out of bed on the wrong side and is grumpy and irritable. “Best leave him alone – he’s proper teasy today.”


Giss’on or gedd’on is used to say you don’t believe something, or you’re amazed by something, much like ‘get away’ in other parts of the country.  ‘I heard those Devon folk have learned to make pasties!’ – ‘Giss’on!’

Boutique Self-Catering in North Cornwall

The 4 boutique cottages are set within acres of lush Cornish countryside, with mature trees, lawns and an orchard.  

In the Tamar Valley, we are perfectly positioned to make the most of Cornish and Devon attractions – from the stunning heritage coastline a short-drive away, to the sweeping atmospheric Dartmoor.

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