What do you call a very small piece of wood that has got into your finger?

Describing the discomfort of a tiny piece of wood getting stuck in your finger unveiled a kaleidoscope of expressions. The prevailing term was splinter, which was used by 79% of survey respondents. This word stands as the universal choice in the majority of the south of England, with the northern part of the country offering more regional variation.

The word spelk was shared by 6% of respondents, the majority of who grew up in the northeast. The word continues to be used across all generations, bar those aged under 11. People described a spell across a range of regions, including Middlesbrough, Hull, North Lincolnshire, Sheffield, and across the Pennines into Huddersfield, Manchester, Blackburn and Burnley, and up through to Cumbria. Spell is, however, less common amongst young people than amongst their older counterparts. Meanwhile, if you venture into southern Lincolnshire and the northern Fenlands of East Anglia, your finger might be victim to a shiver.

This bar graph animation shows how the use of these words has changed over time.

Interactive words map

Click this button to view the different responses to this question on a map.

You can tick the boxes on the side to select a word and show the places the word was used by the people who completed The Great Big Dialect Hunt. This map is based on where people grew up, not where they live now.