Scouse: the regional accent of Merseyside UK.
The main city IS Liverpool.
It is also a form of meal that is made up mainly of spuds and veggies - the term Scouser thus comes from those that eat scouse!
A Liverpudlian Dish

The traditional dish of scouse is so much associated with Liverpool that Liverpudlians are known as Scousers, as is their dialect and regional accent It almost certainly originally had its origins in a sailor's dish, Liverpool being a major UK port, the origins possibly being Scandanavian.¹ It's served hot and thick and spicy - lots of pepper seems to be the norm here.

As with so much traditional fare, recipes vary wildy. Ingredients were always highly variable, depending on the economic state of the family - when things were tight, and the family were on a shoestring budget, there would be less meat (or even none) and more spuds. The base ingredients are potatoes, carrots and onions in varying quantities, and traditionally, mutton, although these days, goat or lamb are substituted. Often, the very cheapest cuts of meat were used, and the cooking time therefore reflects the need to produce meat that is tender despite the stringiness of the original cut. The recipe below is a favourite of a Scouse friend of mine, and is delicious in the extreme.


5 pounds of potatoes (preferably "floury" in texture)
2 pounds of meat (usually a cheap cut)
2 large onions
1 pound carrots
1 small turnip or swede (optional)
1 stick of celery (optional)
1 pound tin tomatoes
2-3 stock cubes to taste
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste


Cut the meat into small cubes (some people mince the meat), the potatoes into cubes, and the other vegetables into dice. Fill a pan with 4 or so pints of water, and add everything to the pot. Bring to the boil and simmer for as long as you can bear to - the potatoes break down, thickening the gravy and the meat tenderises and may even melt in the mouth rather than be eternally chewable.

Serve with cabbage or sprouts and some bread. Did I say it was delicious?

¹ SharQ says You can always add that the word "scouse" comes from the norwegian word "lapskaus" which is stew.

Scouse (to rhyme with mouse) is the accent of the city of Liverpool and environs. Liverpool being squarely in the north of England, it has characteristic northern features, but it also has other features different from the surrounding country. Some of these it has in common with Irish accents, since Liverpool was the main port of entry from Ireland into England. The distinctively local accent is a recent development, arising from the huge influx of Irish in the mid nineteenth century.

The general northern vowel features include the use of [U], the vowel of put, full in words such as cut, fun, where southern accents have split into two sounds. (It may be considerably forward, [u], as with Scottish.) It also uses [a] in words like bath, pass, chance, the same vowel as in cat, had, where southern accents have shifted the bath words further back to [A] as in palm.

A vowel more specific to the region near Liverpool is the merger of the sounds of fare and fur. The native sound is more like the fur vowel [3:] but under southern influence it may be more like a retracted fare vowel [E:]. There is considerable class variation in the exact realizations of sounds: some speakers are much more influenced by prestige southern pronunciations than others. So all the following are merely generalizations about a 'typical' Scouse accent.

For some speakers the vowel of go has a very fronted first element, [eU]. This makes it resemble a very upper-class (and old-fashioned) Received Pronunciation version of that sound, but it does not have that class connotation in Liverpool.

One of the most noticeable things about the consonants is that they have greater friction. At the beginnings of syllables stops tend to become affricates, so [tsen] and [dzad] for ten and dad. After a vowel stops may be opened out into fricatives: [k] becomes [x] and [t] becomes a slit fricative, like an [s] but without the sibilance. This unusual sound is also an Irish feature. But between vowels it may become an [r], as in get it said as gerit.

As with Irish, the dental fricatives [T] and [D] of thin and then are not used, becoming stops [t] and [d], though with the characteristic Scouse friction described above.

In common with much of the north-west, the consonant [g] is always pronounced in words such as sing, singer.

It shares with both Irish and Northern accents that the [l] sound is clear in all positions, that is not velarized: so both L's in Liverpool are pronounced alike.

The intonation of Scouse is different from the southern accent RP, using more rises in statements, and a fall in questions: so in the question Are you from Liverpool? has a rise in Li- then falls, whereas an RP speaker would use a continuing rise.

Lectures by Professor John Wells, UCL, author of the standard guide Accents of English, 1982, Cambridge.
Knowles, G. 1978. 'The nature of phonological variation in Scouse', in Trudgill, P. (ed.) Sociolinguistic Patterns in British English, Edward Arnold. Also available at

The phonetic symbols used here are SAMPA.

Scouse (?), n. Naut.

A sailor's dish. Bread scouse contains no meat; lobscouse contains meat, etc. See Lobscouse.

Ham. Nav. Encyc.


© Webster 1913.

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