I would like to ask about the meaning of "stage-cutch" in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. it appeared in my translation test this afternoon and I didn't find any definition of it. In my opinion, it may be the misspelling of "stage-coach" made by the character in the story. Is it correct?

  • 2
    It is indeed a spelling of "stage-coach" which represents Barkis' dialectal pronunciation. Mar 24, 2015 at 13:21
  • 6
    probably the cause of the phrase 'what the dickens does this mean!' Mar 24, 2015 at 13:25
  • I think that's a correct assumption. Mar 24, 2015 at 13:25

2 Answers 2


As StoneyB points out in a comment above, the cart driver C.P. Barkis—whose cryptic message for Peggotty, "Barkis is willin'" is so baffling to the young David Copperfield—has a strong dialectal pronunciation; and Charles Dickens is not shy about pushing accents and dialect speech to the brink of comic incoherence. Elsewhere in David Copperfield, Barkis says things like

"Chrisen name, or nat'ral name?"


"So she makes all the apple parsties, and doos all the cooking, do she?"


"I'm a friend of your'n."

So it can scarcely be doubted that when he tells David

"And there [at Yarmouth] I shall take you to the stage-cutch, and the stage-cutch that'll take you to—wherever it is."

he is referring in his C.P. Barkis way to a stage-coach.

  • 1
    It seems incredible to me that anyone would put archaic dialect in a translation test (unless the test were intended to measure how well you handle such dialect, in which case I'd expect some sort of warning).
    – Hot Licks
    May 23, 2015 at 20:17
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    That is strange, isn't it? In any case, I don't envy translators the task of mimicking the speech of Dickens characters like Mrs. Gummidge, who says things such as "I'm a lone lorn creetur' myself, and everythink that reminds me of creetur's that ain't lone an lorn, goes contrairy with me."
    – Sven Yargs
    May 23, 2015 at 20:21

I doubt that the question refers in any way to cutch (a preservative, made from catechu gum boiled in water, used to prolong the life of a sail) or cuitch (empty shells laid on oyster grounds to attract oyster spawn) and conclude we are seeing a misspelling of stagecoach. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/stage-coach#English

  • 5
    ...or intentional eye-dialect spelling.
    – Mitch
    Apr 23, 2015 at 15:36

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