My grandfather's family were from Somerset in the southwest of England and one of his favourite pieces of Westcountry dialect was 'emmet-butt', which apparently meant/means a 'mole hill'.

However, I can't seem to find any reference to this term online. The closest thing that I have found is 'emmet-batch', which apparently is an 'ant hill' (Dialect of the West of England)

Is it possible that my grandfather got confused? Or maybe I have made a mistake in my recollection? Any Westcountry dialect specialists out there?

  • 1
    Since an "emmet" is an "ant" (see dictionary), an "emmet-butt" really should be an "ant-hill". – Peter Shor Jul 8 '14 at 23:06

Emmet is an old word for an ant, and Butt (or Butte) is a hill, in both cases not just in the west country dialect, so you are right to think that an emmet butt is an anthill.

In the west country a batch is a low hill, there are many place names in Somerset for example which incorporate it. However, batchy is an adjective meaning stupid.

You should also consider that there is more than one west country dialect. Words are not necessarily the same as you move further west. I would suspect both are correct in different counties. Unfortunately I can't be more specific as, although I'm Somerset born and bred, I can't say I remember hearing either used.

  • I think I must have recalled it incorrectly. My grandfather probably said ant hill rather than mole hill. Thanks Chenmunka and Peter! – thecrease Jul 8 '14 at 23:30

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