Today I heard the word "nesh" used by an East Midlands (i.e. Nottingham) regional news presenter as a mildly pejorative term meaning "prone to feeling the cold". It was the first time I've heard it since I lived in North Staffs (1970s). A quick web search suggests it's also seen as a dialect word of Yorks, Lancs, Cheshire, Cumbria and mid Wales, though in some areas it just means soft.

It's not in COD (9th) but does seem to appear in 10th, acording to a Googled comment on another NG. The only dictionary I have which mentions it is the Imperial Dictionary of 1850 which gives it as an obsolete term meaning soft, tender, nice from AS "nesc". (Not a reliable source for etymologies).
Does anybody know more about its origin? I wonder if it's use is becoming more widespread - it is a genuinely useful term for which I can't think of an obvious synonym.

Phil C.
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Today I heard the word "nesh" used by an East Midlands (i.e. Nottingham) regional news presenter as a mildly pejorative ... is becoming more widespread - it is a genuinely useful term for which I can't think of an obvious synonym.

Did I really write its and it's in the same paragraph? Obviously an imposter or a typo. I have established, though, that "nesh" didn't extend as far down as north Northants. I've never heard it Lincs and can't find it in Lincolnshire Dialects by G. Edward Campion, 1976.

I think it was Lenin, by the way, who said that any author who doesn't include an index should be shot - wise words. Watch out G. Edward Campion.

Phil C.
Today I heard the word "nesh" used by an East Midlands (i.e. Nottingham) regional news presenter as a mildly pejorative ... is becoming more widespread - it is a genuinely useful term for which I can't think of an obvious synonym.

It is also a Yorkshire dialect word which I recognized immediately.

It is in The Yorkshire Dictionary by Arnold Kellett with much the same meaning. Derivation (Old English nesc)

Dave F
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Today I heard the word "nesh" used by an East Midlands (i.e. Nottingham) regional news presenter as a mildly pejorative ... is becoming more widespread - it is a genuinely useful term for which I can't think of an obvious synonym.

Definitely a dialect word from my youth, in Shropshire and one I still use occasionally.

Ray
Today I heard the word "nesh" used by an East Midlands (i.e. Nottingham) regional news presenter as a mildly pejorative ... is becoming more widespread - it is a genuinely useful term for which I can't think of an obvious synonym.

According to the big one, it's from OE nescian and connected to modern Flemish, neschen, to wet.
Earliest reference provided c. 897., latest 1471.
Three meanings given. 1. intr. to become soft, obs.; 2. trans. to make soft, obs.; 3. dial. with it. to turn faint-hearted (to funk it).

Also Neshhead, Neshly & Neshness.

http://www.dacha.freeuk.com/photo/0z02-0.htm
High Force
The Northern boundary of old Yorkshire
Today I heard the word "nesh" used by an East ... term for which I can't think of an obvious synonym.

According to the big one, it's from OE nescian and connected to modern Flemish, neschen, to wet. Earliest reference provided ... trans. to make soft, obs.; 3. dial. with it. to turn faint-hearted (to funk it). Also Neshhead, Neshly & Neshness.

Thanks. Did its use an adjective elude them? I wonder if it survived for centuries without being written down or if it's a more modern re-introduction to various dialects with a more specific meaning. The areas where its found don't seem to match OE dialect areas - a mixture of some Mercian and some Northumbrian(?)

Phil C.
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Thanks. Did its use an adjective elude them?

No. Viz (citations omitted):
Forms: a. 1 hnesce, (hnysce, hnisce; nesc, næsc), 2 nexce, neche, 3–5 nesche, nesshe, 4 ness(ss)e, 4–5 nessche, 5–6 neshe; 4–5 nesch, ness(h, 5– nesh. b. 3 neys(se, 4– 5 neische, -sshe, neysshe, (5 -ssche, neyshe), 4 neisch, -ssh, 5 neysch(e, naysch(e, 9 dial. naish, U.S. dial. nish. c. 5 nassh(e, 6 Sc. nasche, 7, 9 nash, 8 gnash. (OE. hnesce, = Du. (16th c.) nesch, nisch soft (of eggs), damp, sodden, foolish, Goth. hnasqus soft, tender; the ultimate etym. is unknown.)
1. a. Soft in texture or consistency; yielding easily to pressureor force; in later use esp. tender, succulent, juicy.

†b. transf. Not harsh or violent. Obs. rare.
c. Damp, moist, wet. rare.
2. a. Slack, negligent; lacking in energy or diligence.

b. Timid; wanting in courage; faint-hearted.
†3. a. Tender, mild, gentle, kind; inclined to pity, mercy, or other tender feelings. Obs.
†b. Easily yielding to temptation; inclined to lust or wantonness. Obs.
4. a. Tender, delicate, weak; unable to endure fatigue or exposure;susceptible to cold.
The most prevalent sense in mod. dialect use.
b. Dainty, fastidious, squeamish.
†5. absol. (usually in conjunction with hard.) a. That which is soft; soft ground; also pl. of persons (quot. c1330). Obs.

†b. Mild or gentle treatment. Obs.
†c. in nesh and hard, etc., under all or any circumstances. Obs.

†d. So for nesh or hard, etc. Obs.
†6. adv. Softly, gently, tenderly. Obs. rare.
Giles.
Today I heard the word "nesh" used by an East ... term for which I can't think of an obvious synonym.

Definitely a dialect word from my youth, in Shropshire and one I still use occasionally.

It was slightly pejorative in my youth in Nottingham. Nesh kids were also prone to be mardy - sulky and whining.
Both words are in COD10.

wrmst rgrds
Robin Bignall
Hertfordshire
England
Thanks. Did its use an adjective elude them?

No. Viz (citations omitted):

(Snip)
Oops! Mea culpa. I've got the two volume Compact Edition (4 pages reduced per page) and my sight isn't as good as it used to be (when I bought it in the early 70s, I hardly ever required the magnifying glass provided); I saw the verb entry on page 98 and totally failed to see the preceding adjectival and adverbial entries beginning on page 97.

I could offer in mitigation the Anglo-Saxon (OE) references from Bosworth & Toller but as they're generally the same meanings as provided by Giles from the OED, there's not much point.

http://www.dacha.freeuk.com / Dacha's Digital Domicile

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