Skip to main content


I was teaching on supply in a girls' school in Birmingham some three or four years ago.

At the end of a lesson two or three girls approached me and asked me if I knew what "bitch willy" meant. I was a little fazed, but I took it all in my stride.

"Well," I said, "a bitch is a female dog and 'Willy' is I the shortened, vernacular version of the first name 'William'."

"Oh I" Still puzzled looks.

I could see the explanation had not hit the mark, so I asked in what context the word had been used.

"Well, every morning at Registration, Miss P tells us off for being 'bitch willy' late."

"You mean habitually late?" "Yes, that's it!"

I learnt something from that exchange, not least about the casual use of difficult words.

Send your soundbite to Sarah Bayliss, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171 782 3000

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you