Biddy (was Peter)

Gordon Selway gordonselway at
Fri Apr 20 11:22:19 UTC 2001

This thread seems to be particularly anecdotal, so here goes.

Well (and 'infandum, regina, iubes renouare dolorem', as the pupil at
Westminster School is reputed to have replied to Elizabeth of England when
she visited the place and asked about a particularly whippy piece of wood
hanging on the wall), in my youth (1950's) our hens were 'biddies' - and I
was struck over the hand by the head teacher at my infants' school when I
gave that as the reply to where eggs come from), but this was in
Worcestershire, my/our use of the term at home was definitely Scots (or
north of Ireland), and the teacher was over-assertively from the north of
England (well, probably rural Yorkshire or Lancashire, so quite possibly
technically a midlander in terms of English English dialect) and she may
have presumed I was taking the mickey.

I had assumed the word was the same as 'Biddy' as a hypercoristic for
'Brid' or 'Bridget', though the links are not obvious.  I do not know if
the word is used in the north of England for poultry.

And is this thread a substitute for reading the works of SJ Gould, btw?

Some notable cricketers (eg Dr Grace) had substantial legs - and were
distincgtly on the large side too, as well as having heroic beards.

It may be that the overall aggregate of attributes is enough to deliver the
goods - after all, you are not going to be required to run more than about
60 yards (55 metres for those who have been dragged unwillingly into the
late 18th century from earlier eras) if you are batting.  So stamina and a
physique for running more than 110 yards/100 metres may not be needed.

Best wishes,

Gordon Selway
<gordonselway at>

At 6:11 pm +0100 19/4/01, David Salmon wrote:
>According to Webster's and my recollection of my grandfather's Texas farm,
>"biddy" is a name for a young hen or chicken, I suppose the female
>equivalent of banty, as in banty rooster.  OED suggests it traces to Gaelic,
>not bitty.  Back when people had chickens, it could have been a good
>nickname for someone who was small.

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