Thursday, 24 October 2013

Ket... carrion or sweeties?

On Twitter today, Richard Osman bemoaned the fact that British English lacks a word that covers both 'chocolate' and 'sweets'. I remembered this northeast word that I think has that meaning: ket. It's not in my personal vocabulary, and possibly not so common these days, but it does seem to mean this, according to Wiktionary:

But just look at the etymology! It's from the word meaning 'flesh' in Icelandic/Swedish/Danish, and in other parts of northern England it means 'carrion'. Eew, and also how? 

Wiktionary has two theories: either it comes via the term 'sweetmeats' (I don't know if they mean in the sense 'sweet treats' or 'testicles') or it could be that the word was used to put kids off eating too many sweets! 


  1. In the 80s we used ket (in Sunderland) to mean cheap sweets - the trashy mixture you would get from a pick n mix. It covered chocolate by that reasoning (but a very specific sort of chocolate ie bits shaped as frogs, or in little cupcake holders) but I would never use it to mean chocolate more broadly.

    1. I know exactly what you mean! I wonder if it's the same further north. I learnt the word from a Sunderland native actually, and I thought he had a broader meaning for it, but perhaps not.