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English dialect

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Roderick Jenkins13/09/2017 15:44:36
2176 forum posts
608 photos

This is way, way off topic. Over on another forum one of the members used the phrase " on the scunt" to mean crooked or out of alignment. The only other person I've heard use this phrase is my wife and she picked it up from a work colleague some years ago. Google only seems to recognise meanings for scunt that are, shall we say, unhelpful. However, the origin for the alignement meaning seems to be from the Midlands. Any body else recognise it?



Brian G13/09/2017 16:00:38
837 forum posts
37 photos

I recognise that one despite coming from Kent - I guess it comes from working with a 70-year old Brummie engineer for many years. He had almost gone metric, replacing "a couple of thou" with "a gnat's cock" and referred to any machine that broke down often as "up and down like Collins's cocks" which I took to be a reference to the famous galloper.


charadam13/09/2017 16:19:06
185 forum posts
6 photos

Is scunt not derived from squint?

Chris Evans 613/09/2017 16:22:08
2050 forum posts

Although born in Worcestershire I consider myself a Brummie having lived and worked in and around Brum all my life. The on the scunt expression is from the Black Country along with many other shall we say "choice" expressions.

Michael Gilligan13/09/2017 16:22:20
20097 forum posts
1042 photos

Conspicuous by its absence here Rod

... and it's not one I remember from my youth.



Astonishingly, however, it is the second entry here:

Edited By Michael Gilligan on 13/09/2017 16:28:47

Andrew Tinsley13/09/2017 16:23:53
1610 forum posts

I originally came from the Black Country and have never heard that expression before. If it were a common word, I certainly would have!


Mick B113/09/2017 18:03:51
2161 forum posts
119 photos
Posted by Brian G on 13/09/2017 16:00:38:

He had almost gone metric, replacing "a couple of thou" with "a gnat's cock" ...

I worked in a number of engineering shops around Nottingham in the 70s. I found I could gain a good idea of the normal standard of precision in each by asking how big a gnat's cock was in their shop. A couple of thou meant quite a good outfit. Fifteen thou meant worn machinery and rough work.

Nick_G13/09/2017 18:31:43
1808 forum posts
744 photos


English dialect can be very confusing to some not from a particular area or country.

e.g. the expression "The dogs bo11ocks"

"You have made a right dogs bo11ocks of that" generally means you have made a mess of it.

But said with a different tone of voice, expression and smile "That's the dogs bo11oks mate" would mean that it was very good and a compliment was being paid.

Same expression but different delivery means two totally different things. Perhaps it's just a north west / Warrington thing.!

This is why internet forums, text messages and places like facebook a reader can get the wrong impression of what the poster meant as there is no tone of voice, facial expression and regional differences often taken into account.


Fowlers Fury13/09/2017 18:52:41
404 forum posts
91 photos

"I worked in a number of engineering shops around Nottingham in the 70s. I found I could gain a good idea of the normal standard of precision in each by asking how big a gnat's cock was in their shop"

Originating from that same city as Mick B1 worked in; the unit of precision I most encountered but frequently couldn't work to was a gnat's cock hair !

Jeff Dayman13/09/2017 19:38:15
2223 forum posts
47 photos

"smaller than the hair on a gnat's a$$h^le" was one common expression in shops I worked in.

"smaller than a gnat's eyelash" was another more polite one.

larry Phelan13/09/2017 19:46:16
544 forum posts
17 photos

Perhaps I should replace my micrometer ?

Fowlers Fury13/09/2017 20:17:49
404 forum posts
91 photos

Some more precise definition of dimensions seems necessary here !

It would appear that the only published measurement is that the common adult gnat is (quote) "~6-7mm” in length.

If we (very) generously assumed that the male’s member was 10% of its body length then the unit of a “gnat’s cock” is a rather coarse 0.6mm or 0.026 inch. So perhaps not very demanding in terms of precision working after all?

However, the diameter of a single hair on that appendage is unlikely to represent more than say 1/100th of the appendage’s o/a length. Here then we encounter a much tighter standard of precision working i.e. 0.00026 inch.

Even given the gross estimates in the above derivations, I rather think engineering to a GCH, rather than to units of GCs represents a much better standard of workmanship.

Meunier13/09/2017 20:25:26
448 forum posts
8 photos
Posted by larry Phelan on 13/09/2017 19:46:16:

Perhaps I should replace my micrometer ?

And which part of a gnat's anatomy would you choose to replace it with, Larry ?

Brian G13/09/2017 21:03:41
837 forum posts
37 photos

This is reminding me of a story told by a colleague who was in the far East during the war. The close up pictures of mosquitoes in the film show given before shipping out had nothing to indicate scale. As a result he and his comrades just brushed 'gnats' aside whilst on the lookout for mosquitoes the size of dragonflies.


Harry Wilkes13/09/2017 21:45:34
1326 forum posts
65 photos
Posted by Andrew Tinsley on 13/09/2017 16:23:53:

I originally came from the Black Country and have never heard that expression before. If it were a common word, I certainly would have!


Hi Andrew I to come from the Black Country and in my working environment the term was used a lot so maybe it was down to where one worked !


Robert Dodds13/09/2017 21:46:27
318 forum posts
59 photos

As a North Midlander I recognise the "skunt" as a term for skewness but I also have come across those from Rose country who might refer to "Not wreck t' th ay"
In terms of scale, which is the greater, a gnats cock or a smidgin?
Can anyone elaborate on the difference between a Timper and a Spelcher?
I know that if it only a smidgeon out you can put it right with a Timper but big ones need a Spelcher to shift them
In the more refined Enginnering Shops the faulty part might be known as a cobble or clanger and finish up being "chucked on the shawd ruck" along with any other dingers.
Up and down the country there are many different dialects and workshops within each. They pick up words that associate with the particular industry or craft of the area and are meaningful there.
Its what makes the English language so colourful. Long may it last!

Bob D

norman valentine13/09/2017 21:56:30
280 forum posts
40 photos

Could it be a derivation of the word cant as used in shipbuilding to describe an angled frame?

Mark Rand13/09/2017 22:02:04
1239 forum posts
28 photos

I can't work to the precision achieved by some of our members. I only work to the nearest RCH...

Chris Gunn13/09/2017 22:23:15
429 forum posts
27 photos

I have often heard the term used and I am in the midlands. For example when installing machinery, if the machine was installed "on the squint", it needed "scunting" over a bit to get it in the right position.

Chris Gunn

Bill Pudney14/09/2017 04:05:26
608 forum posts
24 photos

Another one is "snape". Where I did my apprenticeship, on the Isle of Wight, I learn't that a "snape" was a chamfer at something other than 45 degrees, for instance 30 degrees.

Some years ago, in Australia, I put snape with dimensions on a drawing. When the drawing hit the workshop, the laughter could be heard back in the DO. Has anyone else heard of "snape", or was I sold a typical wind up the apprentice line??



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