Lost Somerset words : Smeech

I’ve been unable to sit down and write in this blog over the past week, but I have so many things to write about now, I almost don’t know where to start.  So, I’ll start with my findings in the order in which I discovered them….

My mum sent me a text the other day, asking me if I knew what ‘smeech’ meant.  I had to confess, I didn’t, but I went back to my old faithful ‘Williams and Jones’ “Lost Words in the Somersetshire Dialect” to take a look, and there it was:

"Smitch / Smeech", as defined by Williams and Jones.
“Smitch / Smeech”, as defined by Williams and Jones.

“Smitch, Smit, Smeech: smut, or fine dust”

I thought it might have referred to snow, given my last post, and also the weather we’ve been having.  However, as my Mum informed me, it means “a smell that you can almost see”, a bit like the greasy smell you get after you’ve been making pancakes, or frying something greasy.  Which makes sense, as the greasy smoke that lingers in the air after making pancakes is both visible, and smelly!  So it is a kind of smut (not in the other sense!) or fine dust, if you take that to a sort of smoky conclusion.

But, I must confess, I’ve never heard this before, and it seems like the kind of word that would have been quite prevalent in the schoolyard in the eighties and early nineties.  That said, it seems my mum heard this word from work colleagues, who would be perhaps somewhere between her age and mine, so perhaps this is a word that was in common use up until the mid-seventies, but had fallen out of common use by the time I went to school (my Mum grew up in Lancashire, so wouldn’t have heard this before either).

So, is this an old word that has undergone a bit of a semantic change over the past century, but is now falling out of use, or is it actually in common use and I’ve just missed it, living as I do away from the county.

Would any fellow Somters care to enlighten me?

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