Talking Teesside and the quirks of our local lingo

Now then! Yerjokinarnyer. Worritisright. Knoworrameanlike…

Whether you’re new to Teesside or you’ve lived in this fine region all your life, one thing that is certain – there’s no mistaking that familiar Teesside twang.

Like every region, Teesside has its own rich dialect, and our location, nestled along the North-East coast, has led to the Teesside accent being recognised as almost a mishmash of a few others. We’re located south of Tyneside, with its familiar Geordie accent, and north of Yorkshire, which also has its own distinct tones.

Comedian Bob Mortimer, broadcaster Steph McGovern and actor Mark Benton are among those who regularly bring the Teesside accent to our television screens. But those not familiar with the quirks of our local dialect could easily remain stumped about certain phrases or words when chatting to anyone who is native to Teesside.

Here at Teesside University, we’ve launched our Belonging campaign, which aims to foster inclusivity and a sense of home within our campus community. We realise that some phrases you might hear when you’re out and about in the wider Teesside area may not be familiar.

Through the campaign, you can submit your favourite Teesside phrases, along with those which might have been lost in translation, via our Lost in Translation survey, as a way of helping the campaign team to build a Teesside lexicon.

As a local myself, and a lover of all regional accents, the familiar sound of a Teesside voice is as delicious to me as a just-out-of-the-oven Parmo.     

Here are just a few examples of phrases and words you might come across.

Now then!
Often used as an informal greeting or way of saying hello.

Adding the word ‘like’ and ‘right’ after almost everything
A familiar quirk you might notice, is a tendency to add the word ‘like’ or ‘right’ to the end of sentences or sprinkle them into the conversation.

A familiar phrase in conversation, when the speaker is trying to emphasise a point. 

‘Do you know what I mean?’ With the added inclusion of the obligatory ‘like’.

You must surely be joking? 

Dead good an’ that
When something is really pleasing. See also Mint. 

Swear down
To emphasise something and hammer home that the point being made is truthful.

Eeya, mate!
A typical phrase you might hear when someone out and about in Teesside is trying to catch your attention.

A gentle Teesside insult, akin to, ‘You silly person.’ 

That’s mint!
A compliment of the highest order.

Abbreviated way of saying devastated. Usually and often an over-statement, when the situation isn’t at all devastating.

Proper Baltic
A cold blast of wintry weather. Usage: ‘It’s proper Baltic out there’ = it’s rather chilly outside. 

This arvo
A simple abbreviation of ‘this afternoon’. We do like an abbreviation.

I wouldn’t dare!
A frequently used phrased which might make the uninitiated think someone is frightened by something. A disdainful remark to suggest something is undesirable.

Image of the Transporter Bridge with summer wildflowers in the foreground.

Sarah Bishop, from Teesside University’s Student and Library Services, said: “Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds and study for many different degrees, many of which take them out into the local community.

“Language forms a bond, but it can also separate us, so our Belonging campaign aims to give students space to share something that makes them feel at home with their peers and to provide a space to ask questions about some of the colloquialisms and cultural differences that exist in the North-East.

“Everyone brings something to the mix at Teesside and we want our university community to celebrate that and learn from it. We think of it as developing our Teesside Steel.”

What are your favourite Teesside-isms and are there any words or phrases which had you stumped on first hearing? Find out more about our Belonging campaign – and take part in the Lost in Translation survey.


Author: Michelle

Michelle is a former regional newspaper journalist now working as a Communications Co-ordinator at Teesside University. She’s happiest when listening to music and has a soft spot for indie-rock, house and 90s rave.

2 thoughts on “Talking Teesside and the quirks of our local lingo”

  1. Hi Stuart. ‘Just to say’ can mean ‘very nearly’ or ‘only just’. A good example would be:

    Helen was just to say tall enough to ride the rollercoaster.

    Another great quirk of our local lingo…

  2. Hello,
    I am interested in the expression ‘just to say’. I grew up in Darlington in the 1950s, and I think it meant ‘nearly’ or ‘almost’.
    Can you enlighten me?

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