Sunday, December 18, 2011


Regular visitors to Ocracoke, and frequent readers of this journal, may remember that "buck" is a common island word meaning "pal" or "friend." Ocracoke men use it frequently as a form of address, in sentences such as "Hey buck, how are you doing?" or "Thanks buck. I appreciate that."

To my knowledge, "buck" is not used anywhere else in the US in quite the same way as O'cockers use the word. However, some years ago I was told that "bach" is still used in Wales with much the same meaning.

This past week I was reading Ken Follett's novel, Fall of Giants. The story is set mostly in Europe from 1911 to 1924, and several of the characters are Welsh miners. Much of the action takes place on battlefields during WWI. I was surprised to read, on page 799, this short paragraph: "Farther along the trench he found Johnny Ponti. 'Deploy that Stokes mortar, Johnny bach,' he said. 'Make the buggers jump.'"

I did a little web searching and discovered that "bach" is in fact a Welsh slang expression meaning "little" or "wee"...but that it is also used to mean "love" as in "Alright, love, I'll be happy to do that for you."

So there you have it, buck -- one more confirmation of Ocracoke's Welsh roots.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and our connection with the "Lost" Colony of 1587. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous11:21 AM

    Wow I know that some people often use animal nouns to describe others. For example "you pig" What a turkey, Don't be a chicken, sly as a fox, quiet as a mouse, dirty rat, snake in the grass, drinks like a fish, eats like a bird, runs like a scalded cat, mad as a dog, a co-worker called a temp employee "young buck" either he could not remember the guys name or he was a former football player --they throw nicknames around alot I guess-- I thought it so annoying please try to remember someone's name and not say sweetie if you have been working with someone for years or put some effort out to remember a new person's name okay. For a writer to try to capture the essence of a character they often use literary license and have a spot on editor to be successful

  2. Anonymous1:26 PM

    I believe that should be " editor..."

    Jus' sayin'.


    Always appreciate your insights, Philip.


  3. Anonymous4:13 PM

    Philip has seen hundreds, if not thousands of mistakes in spelling, punctuation, and grammar since he started blogging in '04. Strangely enough, he has never felt the need to correct anyone. Jus' sayin'--kinda classy, doncha think ? I'll just sign-- Anonymous (you never know when the Grammar Nazis are monitoring)

  4. Anonymous6:14 PM

    thank you for helpin me better a better blog common tater

  5. Anonymous7:28 PM

    To Anon.6:14...Please clarify--I don't know if your comment was meant for Anon.1:26 or Anon.4:13.

  6. Philip,
    Loving reading your blog, which for some reason (self-absorption?)I have not yet done. Only a month in--reading back in time from the January 4 entry, and already you've offered me several significant insights into Ocracoke, and at least 3 moments where my heart felt bigger.
    I knew I liked and admired you for some reason.
    Jenny S.