Fine Fettles

Are you in fine fettle?

If you’re in fine fettle, you are in a good state or condition, according to It apparently comes from a Lancashire dialect word meaning “to shape, prepare, fix, arrange”.

Fettle may come from Middle English fetlen (to shape, fix, put, bestow), possibly from the Old English fetian (to fetch, bring to, marry), or from the Old English fetel (belt, girdle).

According to Wiktionary, fettle as a noun means:

  • A state of proper physical condition; kilter or trim.
  • One’s mental state; spirits.
  • Sand used to line a furnace.
  • A person’s mood or state, often assuming the worst (Geordie / Cumbrian dialect): e.g. What’s yer fettle marra?
  • a seam line left by the meeting of mold pieces (in ceramics)
  • The act of fettling (British dialect)

As a verb, fettle means:

  • To sort out, to fix, to mend, to repair (Northern England)
  • To make preparations; to put things in order; to do trifling business
  • To line the hearth of a furnace with sand prior to pouring molten metal.
  • To be upset or in a bad mood (Geordie dialect), e.g. Divint fettle yersel ower that!
  • To remove (as by sanding) the seam lines left by the meeting of two molds (in ceramics)
  • To prepare (archaic)

Fettle is usually used in the phrase ‘in fine fettle’. Have you seen/heard it used with other words or in other contexts?

One thought on “Fine Fettles

  1. My other half likes watching a British car restoration show where the mend/repair meaning is frequently used.

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