Wednesday, September 09, 2015


Over the years I have heard islanders relate the story of one native (who died years ago, and shall remain unnamed) who was briefly married to  a floozy from up north. The young bride remained on the island for several months while her husband returned to Philadelphia to work on dredges on the Delaware River. While he was away she made the acquaintance of several island men. The husband's father was heard to remark with scorn about his new daughter-in-law, "She's fine cattle, she is." Although this is not a common expression nowadays, its meaning is clear enough.

The 1891 book, Slang and Its Analogues Past and Present: A Dictionary ... with Synonyms in English, French ... Etc., Compiled by J.S. Farmer [and W.E. Henley], Volume 2, defines "cattle" as "A term of contempt applied to human beings."

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in the early 19th century, had this to say about the Duchess of St. Albans: "Another Highgate neighbor ... complained about the noisy stream of 'Carriages, Coachmen and other such Cattle' convening on the spectacular house of the duchess...."

Just one more example of an expression on Ocracoke that lingers on from days gone by. Fortunately, there is not much occasion to use it today.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of whale and porpoise fishing on the Outer Banks. You can read it here:

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:11 AM

    Honestly, the charm of past residents of OI is overwhelming. "Made the acquaintance of several island men...." These island men, now were they natives from long time families--- that used their power and standing to acquaint themselves with this naive young bride?. I find this bit of island history compelling as a vestige of pirates and island booty.