This book will help you understand the unique and ancient Essex dialect and have you talking like a native in no time. The book includes a dictionary to help you develop an altogether new vocabulary, plus a wonderful collection of tales and anecdotes, all chosen to illustrate different aspects of the delightful local dialect.


Today when you mention Essex to a person, their first association is often with the hit TV programme, The Only Way Is Essex. Yet there is a whole lot more to Essex, as is revealed by this brief look at the county’s dialect.

The journey of researching this book has been a great reminder of the delight of the words that define a place – whether it is the vibrant language of the dialect poem John Noakes & Mary Styles or the evocative names of some of the traditional dishes of the area! They are all reminders that distance creates dialect. This means both the distant history recorded word for word in the language of a place and the geographical distance that creates sharp distinctions between the everyday words of one place and another. It is this distance – and dialect – that makes the world a more interesting place, as any ‘furriner’ (see glossary) reading this book will hopefully discover!

It has been fascinating to learn about ‘new’ old words such as ‘blatherskite’ and ‘goffle’ and to find out what a ‘fire-cat’ was once used for! It is also intriguing to see how certain turns of phrase may have their roots in the people and places of Essex. Yet even when this is fiction rather than fact, it reveals a great deal about the past and how we see it. For example, while the link between Old King Cole and Colchester may only be an appealing myth, it still tells a fascinating story.

As you will see, there is a great deal to the language behind Essex, far more than this book could ever cover. Much as I would have liked to have explored more deeply, this book provides just a brief – but hopefully colourful – look at the words and sayings created by the history of this county. Read on to see what you can discover about the dialect and past of Essex! Thank you to Essex Record Office for their help with my research for this book.

Camilla Zajac