Snickets and robots

Today’s word, snicket [‘snɪkɪt], is a narrow passage between buildings, walls or fences in some parts of northern England. It’s origins are shrouded in mystery.

There are quite a few other words for such passages, including: gennel/ginnel/jennel [‘dʒɛnəl, ‘dʒɪnəl, ‘gɪnəl], vennel, bunnyrun, close, wynd, jitty, alley, alleyway, passage, passageway, entry, lane, laneway, twitten and twitchel.

Do you have any others?

Source: languagehat

I’m listening to Fry’s English Delight while writing this and just discovered that traffic lights are called robot in South Africa.

This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

6 Responses to Snickets and robots

  1. Yenlit says:

    An alley is a ‘jigger’ in Liverpool which may be dated slang as I’ve never heard it?

  2. Christopher Miller says:

    I know the little narrow cross-streets are called dwarsstraten (sing. dwarsstraat) in Dutch: the dwars = (a)cross is, I assume, related to (a)thwart.

    I learned about robots some 15 years back at a conference when I was going to cross a street with some South African friends and one of them warned me (in her SA English accent): “Wohttch the rowbohtt!” I couldn’t see a robot anywhere in sight and had no idea what I was supposed to watch, until she explained to me she meant the pedestrian crossing sign across the way.

  3. Yenlit says:

    I grew up in the rural countryside so we didn’t have alleyways between houses because our next neighbour would be probably over half a mile away across the next field. The roads which are just glorified lanes were originally called ‘droves’ where farmers used to drove their cattle and livestock to different pasture.

  4. Drabkikker says:

    @ Christopher:

    Hey, I never thought of the dwars – thwart cognate, but I think you’re right.
    A dwarsstraat indeed tends to be smallish, but doesn’t necessarily have to be. The normal word for ‘alley’ in Dutch is steeg, but even there the width may vary from about 1 to, say, 10 metres. A regional term for the same thing is glop.

    But these terms all refer to passageways with at least some ‘official’ status (they usually have names). I wouldn’t know of any standard dutch words for haphazard pass-throughs between walls, fences and the like.

  5. Alan says:

    In Colchester they’re called folleys.

  6. Andrew says:

    Nook? Cranny? One of those two means something like that I believe, I forget which. I think it’s nook.

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