Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Wed Apr 12 18:42:49 UTC 2000

Here and on the English Dialects list, I wrote:
> Have I actually hit on an English regionalism here that's not in
> the OED, or was I just overlooking late at night something that
> would be totally obvious if I were awake?

Neil Fulton of the Oxford University Press replied on EDIE:

It's listed under the double headword "gennel, ginnel", with
example quotations in this sense from 1669 to 1855.  The third
edition will extend that date range to show that it's still
current - we have examples on file from at least ten different
sources over the last fifteen years. The normal spelling is
apparently "ginnel", though there's one instance of "ginnell".

Other pertinent replies:

I think there have been discussions here in the past about local words
for a passage between houses.  If not here then certainly on the
newsgropup alt.usage.english.

In Cheshire in the fifties and sixties, the word was "snicket".
"Ginnel" was used to the north, in Manchester.  "Alley" is favoured in S
Wales, and "Ash Path" in Geordieland.

I would love to hear about any other words used for this.


In Grimsby in the 1950s/60s, an access path between rows of houses wide
enough to take a car was called an eight-foot, presumably from the standard
width - not that I ever measured it! (An ordinary pedestrian path was just
called a passage.)

   Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist and Manager of Acoustic Data
         Mark_Mandel at : Dragon Systems, Inc.
 320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02460, USA :
                     (speaking for myself)

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