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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

WW1 Slang?


10th Batt RWS
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I've got a large collection of letters written by a Private in the 2nd Border regiment to home during 1917 and in them he refers to lice as Higgies or Tiggies (still having trouble deciphering his T's, P's & H's) Has anybody ever heard of this word as a reference to them before? Many thanks in anticipation.

Excellent forum, glad I stumbled across it.

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Welcome to the forum. I haven't come across Higgies or Tiggies before, but I did a Google and the first suggested link for "Tiggies" proved to be somewhat unfortunate. I also Googled "slang for lice" and came across

this page

"The original cooties were very real and extremely nasty, since the word was first applied to body lice. It’s a slang term intimately (and I mean that sincerely) associated with the military in World War One. It’s first recorded in print in 1917, but is presumably older."

Which is a bit peripheral to your question, but no doubt GWF members with personal knowledge of the subject will be able to pass on their awareness.

Moonraker

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Not in the Oxford English Dictionary as Higgy or Tiggy (or the same with -ie ending)!

Was the said Private native Scots? In which case I'll try a Scots dialect dictionary.

sJ

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Hello, thank you both for your replies, much appreciated. I couldn't find the term anywhere either other than in his letters. The context is correct as he suggests Harrison's Pomade had helped in a small way, although I think the new vest probably helped moreso.

Itchy / hedgehog? Might fit? Anyway, apart from the first letter, it is definitely '_iggies'

My chap was from Battersea, not sure it is a local nuance?

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Welcome to the forum. I haven't come across Higgies or Tiggies before, but I did a Google and the first suggested link for "Tiggies" proved to be somewhat unfortunate.

Moonraker

So of course I Googled.

:blush:

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So of course I Googled.

:blush:

As did I....

Don't follow the above examples!

Was it a "regional" name for the little blighters? I have checked my WW1 slang dictionary and the name does not appear.

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It's not in the Dictionary of the Scottish Language online dsl.ac.uk.

I'll check Joseph Wright's Dialect Dictionary of the English Language when I have a bigger screen to read archive.org.

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I can remember when a lad being told to watch out for "chiggers" when playing in the fields, it's another name for the harvest mite which gives a little nip that comes up as a rash. It might just be a colloquial name for the same thing.

John

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Higgies/tiggies not in the Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang either.

Any chance you could post an image of the word as written?

sJ

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Just googled it myself, not the best idea! ha

Ok, I will post an image of it as it is written by the man himself.

Thanks for the interest on the topic


Chiggers is the closets so far, thanks John

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Worth remembering that some words were family inventions and perhaps only known to a handful of people.

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So far the only thing I've found that might be relevant is in Joseph Wright's English Dialect Dictionary (1898) - tiggy-hog for a wood-louse, from Northamptonshire.

https://archive.org/stream/englishdialectdi06wrig#page/n151/mode/2up

I've only been looking at head-words rather than searching the text, so if I start from the suspected definition I may track back to a possible headword for that. But I'll do that later!

sJ

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Great, thanks seaJane, I thought there must be some relevance to the creature itself in the term but of course, it could also be a family name for them. I can't seem to find how to upload an image of the written word, can someone enlighten me? Thanks, as always AC

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Hi AC,

Have you got an image less than 250 KB in size for a start? Then click "More Reply Options" at the lower right corner of this box.

On the lower left you will see a Browse button; click that and select your image; then click "Attach This File" below it; then click "Add To Post".

Then "Add Reply" and, we hope, bingo.

sJ

PS: if your word is by any chance in fact "biddy / biddies", that too is a word meaning a louse or flea.

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To give the above image some context, these are the words around the word in question;

I went to a church service yesterday morning. The church is like a dug out and holds about 20. It is a pleasant little place. And also had a bath yesterday which is very necessary as the Higgies are abundant.

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Looking at some of the other letters I'm inclined to think "tiggies" - an upward stroke to the top of the t, the t cross-stroke beginning low and rising to the next letter, and the dot for the i off to the right... but my post #13 is still as near as I've got to a matching spelling.

Edit: Could the church description be "peculiar" rather than "pleasant"? I see another i-dot ...

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I'm still checking a lot of the words and some of these were dictated via a voice recognition package so I need to go over them. Peculiar does look correct - Long way to go yet. Like I said, I'm still having trouble with the T', P's and H's.

Thanks SJ

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Do you know where the writer came from?

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