From Wikipedia:

The Yorkshire dialect refers to the varieties of English used in the Northern England historic county of Yorkshire. Those varieties are often referred to as Broad Yorkshire or Tyke.

Why is the Yorkshire dialect called 'Tyke'? Can the accent be referred to as tyke as well?

ODO's definition of tyke includes a number of negative senses. Is this sense also derogatory?

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    Thank you for this question. In Nick Park's animated short film, The Wrong Trousers (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrong_trousers), Wallace tells the thieving penguin, "I'll get you for this, you tyke." Nick Park coming from Lancashire, would this be an insult?
    – JAM
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 22:00
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    Racist in the extreme. What an insult to the penguin. Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 23:24
  • Look at the origin, from Norse tìk = bitch. Not sure if that's pejorative or a female dog.
    – David M
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 21:20

3 Answers 3


As OED says, tyke originally came from Old Norse tík - female dog, bitch. It's not exclusively reserved for Geordies (or people from Newcastle), but as OED also points out, it often does have that sense - "perhaps originally opprobrious; but now accepted and owned [by them]".

I recall that my grandmother, who never lived anywhere but Sussex for all her 99 years, used to sometimes call me a dirty little tyke. I doubt all "Novocastrians" are happy to be thus called.

FWIW here's the full relevant OED entry...

3. A nickname for a Yorkshireman: in full Yorkshire tyke.
(Perhaps originally opprobrious; but now accepted and owned.
It may have arisen from the fact that in Yorkshire tyke is in common use for dog.)

...but no mention of the word being used to mean the Yorkshire accent/dialect.

  • Thank you. Do people commonly call the Yorkshire dialect/accent tyke? I'd also appreciate it if you could include the OED entry (for this sense) in full. Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 20:40
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    @coleopterist: To be honest, until I read your comment on this earlier question, I doubt I've ever heard "tyke" used on its own to mean the dialect itself. Yorkshire is a huge county - but it doesn't even reach as far as Newcastle, even though they're sometimes called tykes too. Bearing in mind people from the whole general area have a reputation for being quick to take offence, and handy with their fists, I would strongly advise not calling one a "tyke" to his face, whatever OED may say. Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 21:27
  • Considering my own grandmother said the same, I’d say tyke is a common word for such little buggers as thee and me. And we haven’t seen the ancestral homelands of Hertforshire for many centuries now.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 22:34
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    As someone from Yorkshire I can tell you that I've never heard the Yorkshire dialect called 'Tyke'. The word is usually aimed at a child or dog who is cheeky or mischievous; a 'dirty little tyke' would imply they had come home with muddy clothes or feet, from playing outside all day and probably getting up to mischief. It could be used affectionately or pejoratively. In my experience it's unlikely to be aimed at an adult, but maybe it is in some parts of Yorkshire. I don't think the penguin counts as an adult, Wallace calls him a tyke precisely because he's not a human adult.
    – Mynamite
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 22:36
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    I always laugh when you Brits describe a place in England as huge! What you call an all-day excursion, most Americans would drive just to get a taco! And, no less of an authority than Bill Bryson said so!
    – David M
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 21:24

Im Yorkshire born and bred, the term tyke used to describe a yorkshire born and bred person is due to this :- Yorkshire people are called tykes to mean they are clever and skilled at the occupation or hobby they have adopted and also have a hint of cunning and mischief. The name tykes originally meant extremely active and quick-thinking dogs.

  • I find your last sentence the most interesting. Given FF's reference that the word was Old English for female dog, one could see where it might have transformed into "active and quick-thinking" ones (if female dogs got that rep for some reason). From there, the transformation to particularly energetic young children isn't too tough to picture.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 20:44

I have a feeling that a Yorkshirewman or woman usseing the word tyke . is rfering to someanother town or city inside yourkshire. im from east yourks and never realyheard the term Tyke,so much,mabe about leeds or even york.

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    While similar answers may be useful, this one is unlikely to help future readers because it is so hard to read. This can often be avoided by using spell check and grammar check before posting.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 21:18

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