Here’s What “Tickna Mora O’Beng” From Peaky Blinders Actually Means
After a parade of death and muddy suits, Peaky Blinders Season 6 finds Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) in Miquelon Island, Canada, four years after the events of Season 5. It’s the final days of Prohibition and Tommy plans to meet with Michael to discuss a new use for the shipping lanes, which they had been using to smuggle whiskey into America. The new use: shipping opium.
Tommy’s stay in Canada, however, comes to a quick end. At the end of the episode, Tommy receives a call from Birmingham where Lizzie has been tending to a sick Ruby.
And then the two have this intense exchange:
Lizzie: When she was delirious, she kept saying these gypsy words. ‘tickna mora. tickna mora o’beng.’ Over and over again.
Tommy: What, Lizzie? What? What did you say? What did Ruby say?
Lizzie: Tikna. Tikna mora. Something like that.
Tommy: Did she say any other words you didn’t understand?
Lizzie: O’Beng. O’Beng. I don’t know.
Tommy: No, Lizzie, did she say any other words in Romany. Fucking listen to me!
Tommy then asks if Ruby could see anything when she was burning up. Lizzie remembers Ruby saying she could see a man with green eyes. Tommy freaks out. He says to keep Ruby out of school, keep her away from the river, away from horses, and to put a black bandana around her neck.
Lizzie: Fucking gypsy stuff.
Tommy: YES, IT IS GYPSY FUCKING STUFF!
Tommy may be right to keep Ruby away from other kids; Ruby seems to have some type of contagious disease. But what about the gypsy stuff? Why is Tommy so scared?
What Does “Tickna Mora O’Beng” Mean?
The phrase “tickna mora o’beng” is in Romani (also spelled “Romany”), an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Romanichal Travellers in England as well as several other countries.
In an interview with Digital Spy, series creator Steven Knight explained the meaning.
“It’s difficult to translate from the Romani, but it means ‘devil.’ It means a bit more than that, but yeah. So it’s not good. It’s not a good thing.”
The phrase is so difficult to translate that google likely won’t help you find an exact translation.
The Angloromani dictionary breaks down each word:
“Tickna” – “little girl”
“Mora” – possible variation of “kill” or “death”
“Beng” – “devil”
Fans have speculated that the phrase is a kind of premonition or warning: either the devil will kill a little girl, or the girl/daughter of the devil will die. (The function of the “O” is linguistically unclear.)
Throughout the season, Tommy is referred to as the devil by multiple characters. His arc across Season 6 also requires him to befriend devils—most notably the fascists through Oswald Mosley. Ruby may be warning of a coming devil (Tommy, perhaps, or the fascist tide in Europe). Or, as some fans speculated, the warning is that the daughter of the devil will die. If the devil is Tommy, then the daughter is Ruby. If the devil is something vaguer like fascism, the “daughter,” too, becomes somewhat enigmatic. (Maybe Lady Diana?)
The season finale makes some of these themes clearer, especially the Tommy-as-devil bit (though, we won’t spoil that here). Still, the translation and nature of the premonition remains somewhat cryptic. It’s something fans will be discussing for some time.
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