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Geordie Guide: Defining Geordie

Noo tha ya heor at The Toon University yee might want te knaa a bit more aboot Geordies an stuff

The Theory


"Geordie goes beyond mere geography & is a quality of heart" - Jack Common


 So what exactly is a 'Geordie'? There are several different defintions of what constitutes a Geordie. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a Geordie is 'A native or inhabitant of Tyneside or a neighbouring region of north-east England', or 'The dialect or accent of people from Tyneside, esp. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, or (more generally) neighbouring regions of north-east England.'

Other possibilties include:

The name comes from the Northumberland and Durham coal mines. Poems and songs written about, and in the dialect of, these two counties speak of the “Geordie”.The term  first used to describe a local pitman or miner in 1876 (OED)

 A form of the name George, a common name among the pitmen in the northeast of England.

In 1826 George Stephenson gave evidence to a Parliamentary Commission on Railways at which his blunt speech and dialect drew contemptuous sneers. From that time Londoners began call the colliers “Geordies”.

North East miners used Geordie safety lamps, designed by George Stephenson, instead of Davy lamps which were used in other mining communities.

The name originated during theJacobite Rebellion of 1745. The Jacobites declared that Newcastle and the surrounding areas favoured the Hanovarian King George and were “for George”. Hence the name Geordie used as a derivation of George.

Frank Graham, a local writer and publisher, states that the name originally was a term of abuse meaning “fool”. In 1823 local showman Billy Purvis used it to put down a rival. He is quoted as saying “Noo yor a fair doon feul, not an artificial feul like Billy Purvis! Thous a real Geordie!” ( Now, you're a fair downright fool, not an artificial fool like Billy Purvis! You're a real Geordie!).

There is also the quite specific belief that only people born on the North of the Tyne within 1 mile of Newcastle are entitled to call themselves a 'Geordie'.

A Plan of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1778 (Special Collections: Maps collection)