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A spide (also known as steek, particularly to the younger generation), is a pejorative stereotype in Northern Ireland, especially in Belfast, of someone who has a particular dress code and attitude. Spides are often young, unemployed, male adults from working class backgrounds.[1] The term predates "chav" (originally slang from south-east England, now widespread in the UK media) by at least a decade, and though similar is not identical. The female version of a spide is a "millie", a term that is decades old and formerly referred to girls work in the Belfast mills, but now is applied only to the spide counterparts. Many negative perceptions are associated with the stereotype. These include allegations that they engage in anti-social behaviour including housebreaking, car theft, joyriding, and publicly consuming alcohol and drugs, often underage. They are also often seen as boy racers, who loiter in car parks and public places playing music loudly from modified cars with up-rated hi-fis. Their dress code is commonly perceived as closely cropped hairstyles, tracksuits, baseball caps and Nike Air Max trainers.

Other slang terms for "spides" include "smicks", "mokes", "steeks" and "jants". The use of these terms often depends on the town, city or county within Northern Ireland.

Origin of the name[edit]

The name is thought to have originated in the late 1970s and early 1980s. During this time "tartan gangs" were popular in Belfast. Due to the tartan patterns of their jeans, they gained the nickname "spidermen", later shortened to "spide". While the tartan gangs of the time were closely associated with the Loyalist groupings of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Young Militants (UYM), the term spide is applied to youths from both the loyalist and republican communities, and appears to be wholly without sectarian bias. Spides may support the paramilitary organisations of their background, such as the UDA or IRA.

The name may also have originated as a reference to elbow or neck spider web tattoos before it gradually gained a more general meaning to cover young people from working class areas.

See also[edit]

Further similar terms at Bogan#See also.


External links[edit]