As a writer and translator I deal with language all day, everyday. And the longer I live in the UK, the more my eyes are opened to the huge chasm between US English and UK English. While (or is it whilst?) there’s certainly a lot of overlap, there is still no shortage of words and phrases originating the UK that would have the average American scratching his or her head, so I’ve decided to highlight one per week in attempt to share with you all the wonderful world of UK English.
This should be a lot of fun for all you Anglophiles and word nerds out there.
I’m kicking off the series with a truly bizarre term: Sheep-Worrying
Noun – (agriculture) the act (of a dog, sheepdog, wolf, etc) of chasing a flock of sheep and biting or injuring the sheep.
Ex. Farmers were allowed to shoot other men’s dogs if they were caught sheep-worrying.
Yep, sheep worrying. I know what you’re thinking: surely this is some sort of archaic term no one uses anymore. Nope. Sheep-worrying actually pops up quite a bit in newspaper articles here in the UK, especially around lambing season.
Here are a few examples:
“Farmer shoots £800 family dog for worrying sheep.” (Full article here)
“DOG owners in Derbyshire are urged to keep their pets under control following complaints of sheep worrying.” (Full article here)
“We are urging dog owners to be responsible around sheep and warning them that sheep worrying is a crime.” (Full article here)