Do you know what these british words mean

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88 very British phrases that will confuse anybody who didn’t grow up in the UK

Every language has a few phrases that don’t always translate well — and the British English has some absolute corkers.

The team at the Business Insider UK office have compiled a list of the best British slang and idioms that define the weird and wonderful British dialect we grew up with.

From our linguistic research, we’ve confirmed that above all, British people are sarcastic, unsympathetic, and often rather drunk.

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Each term is partnered with a description and example. Some entries also feature surprising facts about the phrase’s origins, with a few quintessentially British idioms not actually coming from British roots at all.

Whether you think this list is the “bee’s knees” or if it’s enough to make you want to “pop your clogs,” scroll on to discover 88 very British phrases — in alphabetical order — that will confuse anybody who didn’t grow up in the UK.

“A few sandwiches short of a picnic”


Someone that lacks common sense might be described as “a few sandwiches short of a picnic.”

The phrase was first documented in the BBC’s “Lenny Henry Christmas Special” in 1987.

“She’s great fun, but she’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic.”


Although it’s more often used as a synonym for raincoat, an anorak is something slightly different in playground slang.

Someone that’s a little bit geeky, with strong interests or expertise in a niche area, might be referred to as an “anorak.” This probably originates from the “uncool” appearance of anorak coats and the people wearing them.

“Thomas is such an anorak when it comes to train trivia.”


Calling “bagsy” is the equivalent of calling “shotgun” or “dibs” when something, like the front seat of the car, is offered up to a group.

Schoolkids might call “bagsy” on items from their friends’ pack lunches, like an apple or a cereal bar, that the friend isn’t going to eat.

“Does anyone want thi–“


“Bee’s knees”

This phrase became mainstream in the USA in the 1920s despite its British origins, but its popularity in the States has dwindled since the turn of the century.

The “bee’s knees” referred to small or insignificant details when it was first documented in the 18th century. Since then, the phrase has evolved and refers to something at the “height of cool.”

“The Beatles are the bee’s knees.”


Someone on a spree of excessive drinking and mischief is “on a bender.”

Benders often last over 24 hours, and so you might say that someone is on “a weekend bender,” or a “three-day bender.”

“I bumped into him towards the end of his four-day bender. He was a wreck.”


To “pull a blinder” involves achieving something difficult faultlessly and skilfully.

The phrase is most commonly used when the individual has been lucky and the person saying it is in disbelief that the first person has managed to pull it off.

“And did you see that equalising goal in the last minute of injury time? He pulled a blinder there.”

“Bloody” or “Bleeding”

This intensifier can be added to practically any sentence in order to demonstrate incredulity or anger.

Some people consider “bloody” offensive (the origins of the word are widely disputed, so we can’t be sure why) and it was considered a profanity until the mid-20th century.

The origins of the word are widely disputed. Some believe it’s derived from the Dutch word “blute,” meaning “bare.” Others believe the word is a contraction of the 17th century phrase “by our lady,” and is blasphemous. This second theory has been disproved, however, by the slang’s documentation predating the popularity of the phrase “by our lady.”

Nowadays, “bloody” is used widely — it’s even used in children’s films such as “Harry Potter” — and is arguably one of the most quintessentially British words on the list.

“That was bloody good.”

“Bob’s your uncle”

The very British equivalent to “Hey presto!” or “Et voila!”

This phrase is used to describe a process which seems more difficult than it actually is.

“Press down the clutch, put it into gear, then slowly ease off the clutch again. Bob’s your uncle — you’re driving!”


Something that is “bog-standard” is completely ordinary with no frills, embellishments, or add-ons.

Its origins are somewhat unclear, but a “bog” is another word for a toilet in British slang, adding to the connotations that something “bog-standard” is unglamorous and unspecial.

“How was the hostel?” “Oh, nothing exciting to report. Just your bog-standard dorm, really.”


The “boot” is the compartment at the back of the car known as the “trunk” in American English.

“Shove the shopping in the boot.”

“Botch job”

A repair job that’s been completed in a hurry and will probably fall apart reasonably soon is considered a “botch job.”

“Sam did a botch job on these shelves — they’re wonky!”



Abbreviation of “umbrella.”

“Grab your brolly, it’s drizzling outside.”

“Budge up”

An informal way of asking someone to make room where they are sitting for you to sit down, too, would be asking them to “budge up.”

It’s similar to “scoot over” or “move over.”

“Hey, there’s loads of room on that bench. Budge up and make some room for us, too!”

“Builder’s tea”

The name of a strongly-brewed cup of English breakfast tea with milk — the way that tea is most commonly drunk in the UK.

It’s common courtesy to offer a labourer or builder working on your house a builder’s tea while they’re working — especially if they’re working out in the cold. This is probably how the term came about.

“A bacon sandwich and a builder’s tea. Now that’s a proper breakfast.”


“Butcher’s hook” is Cockney rhyming slang for “look.” Therefore, if you’re “having a butchers,” you’re having a look at something.

“Would you take a butchers at this broken bike for me?”


A task performed in an awkward or uncomfortable fashion, usually clumsily, would be described as “cack-handed.”

“Cack” is old-fashioned slang for faeces.

“He handles a screwdriver very cack-handedly.”


An act which could be deemed as impolite or shameless, but for some reason comes across as funny or endearing to others, would be described as “cheeky.”

“Joe’s children are absolute rascals — they tied my shoelaces together last week!”

“Those cheeky monkeys.”

“Chinese whispers”

“Chinese whispers” are rumours that have been circulated and watered down until they only vaguely resemble the truth.

The phrase originates from the game “Chinese Whispers” commonly played at children’s parties. A phrase is whispered around a circle and the last person to hear the phrase has to guess what the initial phrase was.

“Simon heard from John that you were fired.”

“What? No. I just had Friday off work.”

“Oh. It must have been Chinese Whispers.”


(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A “good old chinwag” is a good chat, catch up, or gossip with someone.

The action of chatting away — with the jaw bobbing up and down — resembles a chin “wagging” like a dog’s tail.

“Those two are having a proper chinwag — I haven’t been able to get a word in edgeways for half an hour!”


Something full to the brim, or rammed, could be described as “chockalock.”

This is sometimes shortened to “chocka.”

“We should’ve taken the other route. This road is chocka!”


Overjoyed; full of pride.

“I heard you got the promotion. Congratulations! You must be chuffed.”


An obvious and indiscreet mistake or blunder.

Unrelatedly, “Clangers” was also a children’s TV show from the 1970s about pink mouse-like creatures that lived on the moon.

“You dropped a clanger there.”


Something untrue — often made up for dramatic effect.

Although no one is completely sure of the word’s origins, it could derive from the words “cod” and “wallop,” which historically meant “imitation” and “beer” respectively — implying that “codswallop” is the kind of rubbish you make up when drunk.

“Oh, what a load of codswallop!”

“Cost a bomb”


“Your watch is gorgeous.”

“I should hope so, it cost a bomb.”

“Cream crackered”

Cockney rhyming slang for “knackered,” if you’re “cream crackered” then you’re incredibly tired.

A “knacker” was the person that slaughtered worn-out horses in the 19th and 20th centuries for their meat, hoofs, and hide. So, if you’re “ready for the knacker’s yard,” you’re exhausted beyond relief.

“This week’s done me in already, and it’s only Tuesday. I’m cream crackered.”

“Curtain twitcher”

A nosey neighbour, often caught peering out on their street’s activities from a curtained window, might be referred to as a “curtain twitcher.”

“He’s obsessed with anything that happens on this street. He’s a bloody curtain twitcher, but he still won’t sign for our packages.”


Dame Judi Dench (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

An adjective used to advocate something that is impressive or agreeable, dench is the equivalent of “solid” or “cool” when used in response to someone else.

Its reported creator, British rapper Lethal Bizzle, elusively told the Guardian that the word “means anything you want.”

“I’m going to make us spaghetti carbonara for dinner.”



Someone that lacks common knowledge might be described as “dim,” whilst someone that’s intelligent might be described as “bright.”

“She’s a bit dim.”


An easy task is a “doddle.”

The word could be a variation of “toddle” — like a young child’s first steps.

“This will be a doddle.”

“Dog’s dinner”

A “dog’s dinner” is a mess or fiasco — sometimes also referred to as a “dog’s breakfast.”

“You’ve made a dog’s dinner of that.”


To “faff” is to waste time doing very little.

“Faff” comes from the 17th century word “faffle,” which means to flap about in the wind.

“We were just faffing about.”


A cigarette.

A “fag end” is also the ratty bits towards the ends of a reel of fabric, which are the worst and the cheapest bits of the reel. Historically, “fags” were the cheaper cigarettes made of lower grade tobacco, however, the slang has spread to encompass all cigarettes.

“Could I pinch a fag, please?”


Used to describe someone physically attractive, usually referring to their physique.

“He’s fit.”


To “flog” means to sell something — usually quickly and cheaply.

“Flogging” also refers to whipping a racehorse in order to make it move faster, so there is some speculation into whether you flog goods in order to make them shift faster, too. However, there is no proof for this theory.

“I’m trying to flog my old sofa. Do you know anyone that might be interested?”

“Full Monty”

The Full Monty (Rex Features)

After “The Full Monty” film was released in 1997, there was some international confusion over the phrase in which it was taken as a euphemism for stripping. However, “the full Monty” actually refers to pursuing something to the absolute limits.

“The full Monty” historically refers to an old tailor called Sir Montague Burton. Going “the fully Monty” meant purchasing a full three-piece suit, a shirt, and all of the trimmings.

“Our Christmas dinner had everything from sprouts to Yorkshire puddings. If you’re going to have a roast, have the full Monty!”

“Full of beans”

Someone that’s energetic, lively, or enthusiastic might be described as “full of beans.”

This phrase could be a reference to coffee beans, although these claims have been disputed.

“Goodness, you’re full of beans this morning!”


“Gaff” is an informal word for “home.”

Although the origins of this phrase are largely unknown, a gaff in the 18th-century was a music hall or theatre, and so it’s believed to derive from this.

“What are you up to this weekend? We’ve got a party at our gaff, if you fancy it?”


To “gallivant” means to roam, or to set off on an expedition, with the sole intention of having some light-hearted fun.

Historically, “gallant” described someone brave or valiant, so “gallivanting” is a carefree and confident act.

“Off they go again, gallivanting.”


A “geezer” is a man that could be described as “suave” or “dapper,” and is often suited and booted. Men from east London are also commonly referred to as “geezers.”

Geezer is thought to stem from the 15th century “guiser,” which meant well-dressed.

“That guy’s got such swagger — he’s a proper geezer.”

“Give me a tinkle on the blower”

“Give me a call” or “ring me.” The phrase is sometimes shortened to “give me a tinkle.”

“Tinkle” refers to a phone’s ring, while “blower” is slang or telephone and refers to the device that predated phones on Naval ships. Sailors would blow down a pipe to their recipient, where a whistle at the end of the pipe would sound to spark attention.

“Give me a tinkle on the blower.”


Astounded; bewildered; shocked.

“Gob” is slang for mouth, so if you’re gobsmacked, you’re shocked to the point of clasping your jaw in disbelief.

“I was gobsmacked!”


A football fan watches his team lose.Reuters/Eddie Keogh

Not to be confused with literally being disembowelled, someone that says they’re “gutted” is devastated or extremely upset.

“I was absolutely gutted.”

“Half past”

It’s unclear why Brits appear to favour analogue time-telling while Americans go for the digital format.

“It’s twenty past eleven.”

“Hank Marvin”

“Hank Marvin” is Cockney rhyming slang for “starving.”

“I’m Hank Marvin” means “I’m hungry” or “I’m ravenous.”

Hank Marvin is a British musician from the 1960s and 1970s, and is a pretty obscure reference nowadays. Marvin played guitar in Cliff Richard’s backing band in the 1960s.

“When are we going to eat? I’m Hank Marvin.”


“Innit” is an abbreviation of “isn’t it” most commonly used amongst teenagers and young people.

This phrase is used to confirm or agree with something that another person has just said.

“It’s really cold today.”


“Leg it”

Make a run for it; run away; scarper.

“That’s when all of the lights came on, and so we legged it.”


Something that takes a lot of effort and probably isn’t going to be worth all of the effort, either, could be described as “long.” This could be due to the lengths that the person will have to go to in order to complete the task.

Something that is “long” is probably also annoying or aggravating.

“Cleaning the kitchen is long.”



If someone’s “caught the lurgy,” they’re suffering from cold or flu-like symptoms.

“The dreaded lurgy” originates from 1950s British TV show “The Goon Show,” in which one character has to deal with a national epidemic of an unidentified illness.

“Lurgy” is probably based on a mispronunciation of the word “allergy.”

“She’s come down with the dreaded lurgy.”

Making random words past-tense to mean drunk

Brits are known for favouring a drink or two, so much so that almost any noun can be used as a substitute for “drunk.”

In his stand-up show, British comedian Michael MacIntyre said: “You can actually use any word in the English language and substitute it to mean drunk. It works.”

Examples include “trollied,” “smashed,” and “gazeboed.”

“I was absolutely car-parked last night.”


Slightly irritated or annoyed.

“Miffed” possibly derives from the German “muffen,” meaning “to sulk.”

“I was a bit miffed, I can’t lie.”


Something unpleasant, unappetising, or highly unattractive might be described as “minging.”

The term comes from the Scottish slang word “ming,” meaning faeces.

“What’s in that sandwich? Is that ham and tuna? That’s minging.”


“Mint” might be used when referring to something of the highest calibre.

Derived from “mint condition,” which refers to something pre-owned that retains its pristine condition, although something that’s just “mint” doesn’t have to be pre-owned.

“Those shoes are mint!”


Derived from the Newcastle sociolect, “mortal” was made widely known across the country in 2011 by reality TV show “Geordie Shore.”

“Mortal” describes someone highly intoxicated or drunk in a sloppy manner.

“Did you see Scott last night? He was mortal.”


“The Nick” can refer to prison, while “to nick” also means to steal.

The origins of the phrase are largely debated online, however, it’s believed that “to nick” as in to steal influenced the slang term for prison, as being imprisoned is similar to being “stolen” away.

“Did you just nick that?”

“Don’t get caught, or you’ll end up in the Nick!”

“On it like a car bonnet”

This colloquialism might be said by someone that has the situation under control.

“How’s the report going, Steve?”

“Don’t you worry, Alan, I’m on it like a car bonnet.”

“On the pull”

Someone that’s “on the pull” has gone out, usually on a night out, with the intention of attracting a sexual partner.

“Pull” can also be used as a verb. If you’ve “pulled,” you’ve kissed someone.

“You look nice. Are you going on the pull?”

“Over-egg the pudding”

“Over-egging the pudding” means embellishing or over-doing something to the extent that it’s detrimental to the finished product.

Although this sounds like an analogy about the chemistry of baking, or putting too many eggs in a cake batter, “egg” actually comes from the Anglo Saxon “eggian,” meaning to “excite.” This is still used in English in the phrase “egging someone on” to do something.

In “over-egging the pudding” analogy, someone is over-exciting, or over-mixing, the batter too much before it bakes — resulting in a tough or dense cake.

“We get it — you’ve injured yourself. Don’t over-egg the pudding.”


Rubbish; trash; garbage.

“That is pants.”


A “par” breaches social and common courtesy, eg, a disrespectful comment could be seen as a “par.”

“Par” can also be used as a verb, eg, “You just got parred.”

This slang term could be a British abbreviation of the French “faux pas,” meaning an embarrassing or tactless remark in a social situation.

“I don’t mean this as a par, but did you remember to wash this morning?”


A situation which has quickly evolved into an accident waiting to happen might be described as “gone pear-shaped.”

The phrase is reportedly old slang from the Royal Air Force and was used to described awry expeditions and flights.

“Well, this has all gone a bit pear-shaped.”



A “pea-souper” is a thick fog, often with a yellow or black tinge, caused by air pollution.

The idiom was first used to describe the thick, choking smogs that settled over London, caused by lots of people burning fossil fuels in a close vicinity, as early as 1200. The smogs were compared to pea soup due to their colour and density.

“Be careful when you’re driving — it’s a pea-souper out there.”

“Pinch punch first of the month”

“Pinch punch, first of the month. No returns of any kind” is a school playground rhyme often exchanged between friends on the first day of a new calendar month, accompanied by a pinch and a punch to the recipient.

If the joker forgets to say “no returns of any kind,” the recipient can say “a slap and a kick for being so quick,” accompanied by a slap and a kick.

According to the Metro, the playground ritual originates from the medieval times, when a “pinch” of salt was believing to make witches weak, and the “punch” resembled banishing the witches entirely. As a result, “pinch punch, first of the month” was a way of warding off witches and bad luck for the near future.

Nowadays, it’s mostly a way for kids to pull pranks on their friends.

“Pinch punch, first of the month!”

“Ha! A slap and a kick for being so quick!”


“Pissed” usually means “angry” in the US. However, in the UK, someone that’s “pissed” is most probably drunk.

“Oh leave him alone, he’s pissed!”

“Pop your clogs”

To “pop your clogs” means to die.

This cheery phrase is widely believed to originate from Northern factory workers around the time of the industrial revolution. When they were working on the factory floor, employees had to wear hard clogs to protect their feet.

“Pop” has evolved from “cock,” and when someone “cocked” their clogs, the toes of their clogs pointed up in the air as they lay down dead.

“Did you hear what happened to John’s old man? He popped his clogs, didn’t he…”


Something that is nonsense, rubbish, or simply untrue might be described as “poppycock.”

This quintessentially British idiom derives from the Dutch “pap” and “kak,” which translate as “soft” and “dung.”

“What a load of poppycock!”

“Quids in”

Someone who’s “quids in” has invested in an opportunity which is probably going to benefit them massively.

“Quid” is British slang for “pounds,” eg, “five quid” means £5.

“If it all works out as planned, he’ll be quids in.”


You might buy a “round” of drinks for your friends at the pub, in the understanding that they will each buy you a drink as part of their “rounds” later on.

“Whose round is it? Is it Steve’s?”

“No way, these pints were my round.”


A disorganised mess or chaotic environment might be described as a “shambles.”

“What’s happened here? This is a shambles!”


Someone short-tempered or irritated might be described as “shirty.”

The meaning of this slang has been debated at length. The word “shirt” is derived from the Norse for “short,” hence short-tempered. However, other people believe that “shirty” has connotations of being dishevelled.

“Don’t get shirty with me, mister.”


Something that is “skew-whiff” is askew.

“Is it just me or is that painting a bit skew-whiff?”


“Skiving” is the act of avoiding work or school, often by pretending to be ill.

“Skive” is derived from the French “esquiver,” meaning “to slink away.”

“He skived off school so we could all go to Thorpe Park on a weekday.”


Lacking in energy; usually after a long period of exertion.

“Do we have to go to the dinner party tonight? I’m slumped.”


Someone that comes across as scheming or untrustworthy might be described as “smarmy.”

Although the adjective’s origins remain largely unknown, early documented uses seem to use the word as synonymous with “smear,” further suggesting that someone who is “smarmy” is also “slick” or “slippery.”

“Don’t trust him — he’s a smarmy geezer.”

“Sod’s law”

A British axiom that boils down to the idea that: “If anything can go wrong, then it definitely will go wrong.”

“Sod’s law” is often used to explain bad luck or freakish acts of misfortune. This is more commonly known in the US as “Murphy’s law.”

“Of course my toast had to land on the floor butter-side-down. It’s Sod’s law.”

“Spanner in the works”

An event that disrupts the natural, pre-planned order of events could be described as a “spanner in the works.”

The phrase describes the mayhem caused when something is recklessly thrown into the intricate gears and workings of a machine.

“By getting pregnant, Mary threw a spanner in the works.”

“Spend a penny”

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

To “spend a penny” is a polite euphemism for going to the toilet.

The phrase goes back to Victorian public toilets, which required users to insert a single penny in order to operate the lock.

Although it sounds crude, the phrase is actually considered a polite way of announcing that you are going to visit the bathroom. Historically, only women would announce they were going to “spend a penny,” as only women’s public toilets required a penny to lock. Men’s urinals were free of charge.

“I’m going to spend a penny.”

“Splash out”

To “splash out” means spending significant amounts of money on a particular item or event.

If you’re “splashing out,” it’s implied that you’re spending money on a treat to mark a special occasion or celebration.

“Wow — you’ve really splashed out on this party!”


Similar to “nerd” or “geek” but less derogatory — someone that takes academic study very seriously might be described as a “swot.”

“Swot” can also be used as a verb.

“I haven’t seen Tom since he started revising for his exams. He’s turned into such a swot!”

“Yeah, he’s been swotting like mad for his Spanish exam.”

“Take the biscuit”

If someone has done something highly irritating or surprising in an exasperating fashion, you might say that they’ve “taken the biscuit.”

“Taking the biscuit” is the equivalent of taking the nonexistent medal for foolishness or incredulity.

“I could just about deal with the dog barking at 5:30a.m., but the lawnmower at 3 a.m. really takes the biscuit.”

“Take the Mickey”

To “take the Mickey” means to take liberties at the expense of others — and can be used in both a lighthearted and an irritated fashion.

“Take the Mickey” is an abbreviation of “taking the Mickey Bliss,” which is Cockney rhyming slang for “take the p***.”

“Hey! Don’t take the Mickey.”


Something that is “tickety-boo” is satisfactory and in good order.

This classic British idiom may seem stereotypically twee, however, some sources believe that “tickety-boo” in fact derives from the Hindu phrase “ṭhīk hai, bābū,” meaning “it’s alright, sir.”

“Everything’s tickety-boo.”


When someone makes a great speech while skirting around a subject or saying little of any value, you might say that they’re talking “waffle,” or that they’re “waffling.”

In the 17th century, to “waff” went to yelp, and quickly evolved to mean to talk foolishly or indecisively.

“I wish he’d stop waffling on.”

“What a load of waffle!”


Someone silly or incompetent might be described as a wally.

Although its origins are largely debated, the term’s meaning has evolved over the last 50 years alone.

In the 1960s, someone that was unfashionable might be nicknamed a “wally,” according to

“Don’t put down a leaking mug on top of the newspaper, you wally!”


If you’ve “wangled” something, you’ve accomplished or attained something through cunning means.

“I wangled some first-class seats by being nice to the cabin crew!”


Moaning Myrtle from the Harry Potter films (Warner)

To “whinge” means to moan, groan, and complain in an irritating or whiney fashion.

“Quit whinging.”

“Wind your neck in”

If you want to tell someone to not concern themselves with issues that don’t directly affect them, you might tell them to “wind their neck in.”

This classic phrase is another way of telling someone that their opinion is not appreciated in the given scenario.

“Wind your neck in and stop being so nosy!”

“Wind-up merchant”

Someone that makes comments just to spark controversy or argument might be labelled a “wind-up merchant.”

The “wind-up merchant” will often claim to be making their comments as a light-hearted jest when the recipients start becoming irritated.

If you’re “winding someone up,” you’re making them tense or irritated in the same way you wind up a Jack-in-the-box before it pops.

“Stop being such a wind-up merchant and be serious for one second!”


Exhausted; tired.

“I was going to go out tonight but when I finished work I was absolutely zonked.”

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If you go to UK to improve your English, or even just for a holiday, these 10 expressions might help you recognise some popular British phrases.

You might think you know the meaning of some of these British sayings, but the different situations where you can use them and their double meanings might just surprise you!

Here are our favourite 10 British phrases and what they mean:

1. Cheeky

Cheeky is a word used by English people to describe somebody who says something insolent or irrelevant in an amusing way. You might say “Don’t be so cheeky!”

2. Fancy

If a friend invites you for a drink, there isn’t a big chance you’ll hear the question: “Would you like to go out for a drink?”, instead, they are much more likely to say: “Fancy a drink?”

3. Knackered

Do you feel extremely tired or exhausted? Then you might say: “‘I am absolutely knackered!”

4. Being funny

“Being funny” can mean so many different things. As you probably know, it can mean something is comical, but a smell can also be funny: “it smells funny in here”. This means it doesn’t smell very nice, or there is a weird smell. Also the British expression: “ I am not being funny but…” is used to soften a complaint which follows the phrase.

5. Smash it!

Apart from its literal meaning (e.g. “I smashed a glass”) this expression can mean “Go for it!” or “to achieve/win something”. For example, if you have an exam and you feel pretty nervous, your friend might tell you: “Good luck! Smash it!”. On the other hand, if your friend gets a good mark, you might say “He smashed it!”.

6. Nice one!

British people will use this expression both sarcastically and sincerely. When being used sincerely, it can be used to express feelings of gratitude, recognition and likeability… But sarcasm? Imagine your friend spills a drink. You might say “Oh nice one!” – in this context, it loosely means “That was silly…”

7. Dodgy

When you hear the expression “this looks a bit dodgy!”, remember it is nothing about dogs!. It actually means that something doesn’t look very honest, legal or simply “not right”.

8. Loo

You will be surprised how many words you will find for bathroom and loo is one of them! Loo, toilet, washroom, bathroom, ladies’, men’s… the list goes on.

9. Bloody

Don’t worry, it’s not a violent word… it has nothing to do with “blood”.”Bloody” is a common word to give more emphasis to the sentence, mostly used as an exclamation of surprise. Something may be “bloody marvellous” or “bloody awful“. Having said that, British people do sometimes use it when expressing anger…

10. Boss

You might know the meaning of this word as your supervisor or person in charge at work, but it also has another meaning: you can say that something is “boss” to say something is extremely cool: “Dude, that’s so boss”. Also, if someone achieves something with a high level of success, you can say that they did it “Like a boss”.

So there you have it – as if the English language wasn’t complicated enough.

Listen out for these expressions, and enjoy using them!

Keen to brush up on your language skills? Start today for free with Busuu, the app that makes learning a language easier for everyone.

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This will get people’s attention when thinking about littering. (Penrith City Council)

While the big, punchy swears are the same all over the English-speaking world, some of our milder, more idiosyncratic slights will leave the uninitiated scratching their heads.

1. A two-fingered salute
This has come up before on MTG, but just to reiterate: stick two fingers up at an American and they’ll be no more affronted than if you’d waved hello or nodded. Should you feel compelled to use your hands to offend in the U.S., stick to the universally recognized raised middle finger.

2. Minger
Popularized by the late, great and hilariously foul-mouthed Big Brother contestant Jade Goody over a decade ago, the term meaning unattractive female is still fair game in Britain. If you’re looking for a way to insult an American woman without her realizing, this is ideal.

3. Pillock
To American ears, this might sound like some kind of unadventurous English fish. Alas, it’s merely one of many hundred words we’ve evolved to refer to a somewhat idiotic, oafish individual.

4. Twit
American Roald Dahl fans might be familiar with this one from reading The Twits – a wonderfully vile tale of a dysfunctional married couple who keep pet monkeys and systematically abuse each other. Curiously, however, the book doesn’t shed much light on what it actually means to be a twit. It’s one of those semi-affectionate insults we might throw at a family member or friend who’s behaving in a less than cerebral manner. Synonyms include: wally, berk, prat, numpty, knob-head, nincompoop and tit.

5. Twat
This is one of the harsher terms on the list, perhaps because of its literal meaning: lady parts. Still, it’s a less offensive version of the other single syllable word that means the same thing. Brits are want to precede either word with “you daft…” or “you utter…” I’ve used “twat” around Americans and who think it’s got a satisfying ring to it. Could be one to watch over here.

6. Billy no-mates
It’s mild and reassuringly vintage but roam a UK school playground on your own looking miserable and you might still have this barked at you from across the tarmac. Shout this at an American loner kid, however, and he’ll assume you’re a lunatic.

7. Chav or pikey
These unpleasant slang terms, originally used to refer to Irish or Romani gypsies, have evolved to mean a certain type of flashy working class kid clad in designer sportswear and gold jewelry. The closest U.S. equivalent would probably be trailer trash.

8. Muppet
When a British Goldman Sacs employee resigned last year in an open letter and said that some colleagues in London had called their clients “muppets”, Americans at the firm were left wondering what he meant. Brits have borrowed Jim Henson’s name for furry, be-stringed critters and tweaked it to mean someone who’s stupid, gullible and incapable of independent thought. Let’s not mention this to Miss Piggy.

9. Slapper or slag
In the UK, we’re unhealthily attached to nasty words that describe a “loose woman”. These two clangers are the most commonly used, yet they’re insults only the most dedicated American anglophile or British gangster movie aficionado will have encountered. In the U.S., “whore” and “slut” mean much the same thing.

10. Tosser
This term, meaning one who engages in self, erm, stimulation, is a milder version of w**ker, which – perhaps you’ve noticed this too – Americans have recently adopted but serially misuse. They seem to think it’s one of those British slurs that doubles as a term of endearment. It’s not.

Which term do you throw around the most? Ever get funny looks!

We’re chatting British and American language differences in our #MindTheChat Friday, August 9 at 1 pm/et. Follow us on Twitter and join in using #MindTheChat.

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The term seppo is Australian slang used to make fun of Americans. It’s said to come from rhyming slang, with Yank rhyming with septic tank. Septic tank was ultimately shortened to seppo, with the O-ending common in Australian slang (cf. avo for avocado). Seppo is attested to by at least 1967.

— Blunty (@BluntNate) September 2, 2015

And what do Americans have to do with septic tanks? Well, as mentioned above, Yank rhymes with septic tank, so there’s that. But also, this slang term implies some Australians’ view of Americans: that, like septic tanks, they’re full of shit.

More Rich Australian Vocabulary

American = Seppo = septic tank = full of shit.

— Michael A. Sherlock (@sherlockmichael) September 18, 2016

The United States was dubbed Seppo-land as early as 1996.

Just got kicked out of a facebook group for calling an American seppo in response to him calling me a limey

— Q̡̙u͚̮̲e̗̯̼̻e͜n ͉̭̱̗̫͓͠S̭͔̺̰͖͇̀m̫͉ò̫͈̮̟̗͉͙o̗ș̺͉h (@sheepdean) February 5, 2019

Less crappily, Seppo is the name of a Zen Buddhist Master mentioned in several koans.

Tokusan went to the dining room from the meditation hall holding his bowl. Seppo was on duty cooking. #Zen #Meditation #Koan

— Potomac Zen Sangha (@PotomacZen) September 14, 2012

Another famous Seppo is the nickname for the character Ilmarinen in the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. This Seppo means “smith” and is often used as a name in Finnish and other Scandinavian languages.

What is the origin of BrEng ‘bird’ meaning “young woman”?

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British terms of endearment: ‘Sweetheart’, ‘love’, ‘darling’…

Language has the power to convey all of our emotions, and when it comes to love, there’s often a lot we want to express. So it comes as no surprise to find that the English language is packed full of words of endearment – words that people use every day in conversations with the people that they love, be it family, friends, or that special someone.

In Britain, you’ll often find terms of endearment used casually among strangers – the guy that works in the newsagent, the woman who works in the baker shop, or the taxi driver taking you to the station – it may surprise you, but they’ll often use terms of endearment as a kind of casual, friendly greeting – it doesn’t mean they’re in love with you, they’re just trying to be nice!

So here we’re going to take a look at some of the most common, so you can add them to your own conversations and understand what Brits mean when they use them.


The term love in Britain is often written as luv, and it gets used simply as a title most of the time. For example, if a woman runs into a man in the street he might say “Watch where you’re going, luv!” Similarly, if you walk into a café, whether you’re a man or a woman, the waitress might as you “What are you having, luv?” This is a word that’s more often used to address strangers among the working and middle classes and not typically among the upper classes.

Because love is used regularly in everyday conversation, it’s very easy to transfer across when speaking to a partner, so many partners will call their loved one love, usually at the end of sentences – “How was your day, love?”, “Hello, love, would you like a cup of tea?”


Another word that tends to get shortened slightly in common usage – this happens often with terms of affection. Honey is a word that’s typically used between couples, but rarely by strangers. It’s far more common to hear the word hun used when someone you don’t know is talking to you, in much the same way as luv – “what can I get you, hun?”

It’s not unusual to find words relating to sweet foods used as terms of endearment, like sugar and honey pie. We find this in languages all over the world, like terron de azucar (sugarlump) in Spain, for example.


Another term that involves sweetness, sweetheart is used as a term of affection between loved ones and also as a familiar term of address, as in hun or luv. It can be traced all the way back to the 13th Century, where it comes from the Middle English swete hert. Because doctors knew little about our hearts and circulatory systems back then, figurative words were attached to the heart regarding people’s personalities, like heavy-hearted, light-hearted, and cold-hearted. As love makes us all giddy, often our hearts beat faster, and so the term swete hert came about to mean a fast beating heart. The term slowly grew into the term sweetheart – often used to address someone who makes your heart throb.


This is another old term of endearment, dating back to at least the early 14th Century. It comes from the Old English deore meaning precious, valuable, costly, loved, beloved. It’s believed that this is a shortening of dear one, which has been used as a term of affection to begin letters since the 1500s. Today, it’s typically used by older couples – not young people as much, and it’s another term that you find strangers using sometimes too – “What can I get you from the menu, dear?”


Darling is a word that truly crosses boundaries of class. It’s used as a term of affection by the upper classes – “I love you, darling”, down to the taxi cab driver on the street – “Where you goin’, darlin’?” It’s though that this term of endearment is really a reworking of dear, from the Old English deorling, becoming deyrling during the 1500s, and eventually darling.


This is one of the most common terms of endearment all around the world, and there’s a very good reason for this. Loved ones and babies tend to evoke the same kind of emotions in us – we want to care, love for and protect them – we view them as precious. And so the word baby came to be used for lovers too, particularly in the US. Babe is simply a shortening of baby and is heard far more commonly in Britain today. Calling a woman baby can be seen as being condescending, unless it’s being used comically or playfully. Unlike the rest of the words above, both babe and baby tend only to be used by couples and not by strangers.

Regional terms of endearment

These are common in specific areas of the country, and you’ll often only hear them used in certain parts of the UK.

  • Hen – Head to Glasgow in Scotland and, if you’re a woman, you’ll be called this all the time – “Salt and vinegar on your fish and chips, hen?”
  • Duck/me duck – Another example of a bird-based term of affection, this is one you’ll hear around the Midlands of England, usually when a man addresses a woman or a woman addresses a man – “Alright, me duck?”
  • Pet – See how the Brits like to use animals as terms of affection. Calling someone pet doesn’t mean you think they’re your little lapdog, it’s a typical way to end a greeting to someone in the North East of England – “How you doing, pet?”
  • My lover – Don’t be alarmed if you’re in the South West of England and anyone calls you this. It doesn’t mean that they want to take you to bed! It’s a common term of endearment and greeting in this area, so even the milkman might greet you with a “Good mornin’ , me lover!”
  • Babes – If you’re in Essex (just east of London) you’ll hear this at the end of sentences all the time – “Fancy going into town, babes?”
  • Boyo – Typically most of these terms of endearment are used to address women, but this Welsh term is primarily used between men, in much the same way as mate or pal – “Alright, boyo? What you been up to?”
  • Princess/treasure/beautiful – Have you encountered any Cockney yet? The language of East London, typically working class, if you’re a woman in the back of a black London cab the chances are that you’ve been called one of these. The use of these words can seem quite patronizing, but they are meant in a friendly, affectionate way, not really meant to offend – “Lovely chattin’ to ya, princess!”

Fancy taking a quiz to test your Dating English? Head over to Free Dating English Quizzes we prepared for you.

Want to Get Laid in England? Here Are the Right Words To Say

“Fancy a snog, hen?”

No, it’s not a line from an unpublished Dr. Seuss book. Actually, it’s fairly common British slang.

Translation: “Do you want to make out?”

While we may all technically speak the same language, North Americans and Brits have amusingly different ways of saying certain things, distinctions that become even more confusing (and hilarious) when it comes to sex and dating.

In an effort to bring some cultural harmony across the pond, here are a few terms to help decipher that British charm. Your newly-international Tinder will thank you.

“He was trying it on with me.”

What it means: “He was hitting on me.” If someone in the UK tells you they were trying it on at the pub, they’re likely not talking about their fashion choices. It’s a way of saying they were hitting on someone or chatting them up, albeit a little more slyly.

“You might say, ‘He was trying it on with me, the sleaze,'” Alex from the UK told Mic*, whereas being “chatted up” is a little less shady. Either way, “trying it on” has a bit of a nicer tinge to it than “being hit on” — especially when it comes with an accent.


“I pulled a tidy one last night.”

What it means: “I hooked up with an attractive person.” The goal of chatting someone up? To pull. “Pulling” in Britain is a way of saying you hooked up with someone. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear someone saying “I am going to pull tonight” or “I’m on the pull.”

And when a Brit says someone’s tidy, they are not referring to hygiene. That term denotes someone attractive or hot. You might also say “fit” – and not in reference to their physical fitness levels – as in, “Aye, that bird is fit.” So if you pull a fit one, you had a pretty good night.

“Man, I got the best jobby.”

What it means: “That was a great blowjob.” This one might be self-explanatory, but Brits are prone to shortening words (though not as much as those Aussies). If someone offers you a jobby, they are not interested in your employment status.


“I put my knob in her fanny.”

What it means: “I put my penis in her vagina.” Word of warning: Referring to that accessory called a “fanny pack” will earn you some raised eyebrows in Britain. That’s because fanny means vagina over there, used to refer to the actual anatomical part or, unfortunately, to be lobbed as an immature insult (e.g., “That guy is a such a fanny.”).

Knob is pretty similar. It can be used to describe a man’s anatomy, and calling someone a knob is the equivalent of saying they’re a dick, a phraseology Americans are more familiar with.

“He was up for a shag.”

What it means: “He was totally DTF.” While Jersey Shore may have made DTF a popular term in the United States, it didn’t quite make it across the pond. Shag — which in Britain is most definitely not a carpet — is something you would hear a lot of. Like boff and bonk, shag is basically sex. Remember Austin Powers? Someone who is ready for sex is up for a shag. Though “UFAS” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.


“I got off last night.”

What it means: “I made out with someone.” Don’t worry if a Brit tells you about how they got off. They’re not bragging about their masturbatory habits or latest orgasm, but rather boasting about making out with someone. Basically, “getting off” is the crasser way of saying you snogged someone.

While some people may confuse a snog with just a kiss, it’s really used more to describe a proper, long kiss, tongues and all. “When you’re snogging someone, you’re really going for it,” Jane from Scotland told Mic. Or, you know, getting off.

“I gave her a poke.”

What it means: “I got to third base.” Unshockingly, the Brits don’t use the American system of baseball terminology when talking about stages of sexual activity. And no, they don’t have a cricket-based system. Instead, they just refer to the act itself without the sports analogies. Novel, right?

While what the bases stand for is up for debate, third base – aka under the pants action – may be referred to as giving her a poke. “Aye, you give a girl a poke, you’re fingering her,” Jane told Mic.


“Kate Middleton is up the duff.”

What it means: “The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant.” No, the duff isn’t some river in England. Being up the duff is the very British way of saying someone is pregnant, or more idiomatically, “has a bun in the oven.” It may have started as Aussie slang, but the phrase has become quite popular in the UK.

“Oh bloody hell, the Johnny split.”

What it means: “Dammit, the condom broke.” Don’t want to be up the duff? Then be sure to wear a Johnny. No, we don’t mean have your friend named Johnny lend a helping hand — Johnny is a euphemism for a condom. It’s also important to note that in the UK, a rubber is an eraser, so if you ask for one of those in the drug store they’ll point you to the stationery section.


Bonus: Brits don’t really have wingmen.

While a lot of Brits have someone who fit that description, the word “wingman” is not really a common one in use. “We wouldn’t really use that. It’s very American,” Alex told Mic.

So do they have their own term for it? “Nope, not really,” according to Alex. Maybe Americans should take note.

* Some names have been changed to allow subjects to speak freely on private matters.

British slang words

Contrastingly, over the past few years, many researchers reported that the Confucian values practiced by Hong Kong Chinese, Korean Chinese, Vietnamese Chinese, Thailand Chinese, Singaporean Chinese, Malaysian Chinese and even Chinese in Western countries may vary slightly due to the influence of their local culture and nationality (eg. In addition, we will use two different samples with different conditions to determine if the work conditions affect the leadership styles or not. Doctors also use ultrasound to check whether a breast lump is a cyst or a solid mass. Furthermore, financial institution in Malaysia also changed the structure of lending into a more diversified type of loan. The mean for Malaysia Ringgit exchange rate, USD monthly exchange rate, EUR monthly exchange rate, JPY monthly exchange rate and also GBP monthly exchange rate are all positive. Employees today are willing to change the organization to have a good return, training and a development plan better for their careers (Jiang & Iles, 2011:98). It makes it more difficult for female sex workers to negotiate prostitution into the everyday life as opposed to men who have a greater level of freedom of expression with regard to sexuality. Bank risk managers must hold a comprehensive view of all types of risks on longer horizons and must be proactive in taking decisions when exposed to crisis or high level of risks. Less than 10 % of the mucilage gets hydrolyzed in the stomach where mainly free arabinose is well absorbed. Division five: Actions against manufacturers and importers of goods (deals with actions consumers can take in respect of: unsuitable goods, false descriptions, goods of poor quality, non-correspondence with samples, failure to provide facilities for repairs or parts, non-compliance with express warranty). The instrument was administered, in a pilot study, to ten of the sampled respondents; after one week the instrument was re-administered to the same respondents. The impact from a meteorite or an asteroid on the Earth’s surface form even a relatively small one would cause utter devastation on the Erath. Psychoactive drugs are substances that act on the nervous system to alter states of consciousness, alter perceptions, and change behaviour.

What is the meaning of British slang words?

Creating, creating, incorporating and conveying information in all the zones of learning and society are the mission and premise of the exercises of the University. Labbas (2013:62) also states that many scholars emphasize the importance of understanding modern pupils in terms of not only thinking, but the way they, for example, communicate (e.g. Consistent with the view of Carlsson, the idea is that radical innovation (an example could be ICT) allows for the creation of new sectors, producing new goods and services. Although the author presents the narratives with a high level of sensitivity and insight across the text, I consider the analytical framework throughout as underdeveloped. Maslow’s theory states that the more basic levels of needs should be met therefore, the individual strongly desires (or focus upon motivation). Images of doctors, nurses, relief and aid workers each saving a Rwandans life, vaccinating them, feeding them, providing them with clean water, loving them surfaced. Also, they emphasized the necessity for training programs to be based on the business strategy of the organization. Cambridge English Grammar

When should I use British slang words?

Survival was evaluated by plate count on MRS agar, after 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 h of incubation in MRS broth containing bile salts reflecting the time spent by food in the small intestine and subsequently the plates were incubated at 37ºC for 16-18 h. This group is more specific so it is not a full representation of a given community. So, firstly we shall discuss the importance of English language in general and also in specific keeping in terms with the Madrassa education. The leaves are what feed the plant, their main function is to produce food, and this is where photosynthesis takes place. Students are then allowed to attend a University for no cost along with money for living if they are not from the area. For instance, target shareholders may prefer stock offer if the capital gains tax is higher in the home country, or accept cash offer if they more concern about the risks of uncertain in the acquirer’s shares. This time Hemingway suffered several burns, another head injury and there was reported cerebral fluid leaking.

How do I use British slang words?

How can you thoroughly explain to a raging man they need to follow certain procedures to get the justice they are seeking? The old way of thinking was replaced by the Enlightenment ideas that were based on rationality. Their friends and “popular” students at schools encourage youth to get involved in an activity that will make them supposedly feel good. The children of those parents who are better educated, have better jobs, make more money, and live in a home with both parents present are more likely to achieve higher education levels than those who have less. They were Christians living under Muslim leaders, and as a result they were subject to unjust treatment. He said one tactic he often uses when interviewing people is to have them tell him something they are passionate about, such as the Green Bay Packers, then has you argue why the Minnesota Vikings (the Packers rivalry) are better. Some health care leaders believe that merger and acquisition can help address patient experience, cost reduction, the emphasis on being accountable in health care, disease management and improve quality of care as a larger organization. Although dysmorphy and IQ differences among groups were related to effect size in comparisons of FASD versus control groups, these variables did not account for executive function weaknesses observed in FASD groups relative to ADHD groups (dysmorphy: g=-0.27, 95% CI; IQ: g=0.00 per IQ point, 95% CI). While the 20th century brought the study of emotional conditions through the work of Binet, Bender, Strauss, Lehtinen, and Cruickshank, the years between 1970 and 2005 are the most notable in protecting the rights of the disabled and disadvantaged when the federal designation was designed to protect their rights. The establishment of the University of Chile on the 19th of November 1842 addressed the need to modernize the nation which somewhat more than two decades prior had get to be autonomous from the Spanish realm. The Indian diasporic community finds itself caught in between vacillating loyalties in which home becomes a metaphor and belonging becomes a utopia. The Cambridge Dictionary

Use of British slang words?

The physicians also feel less compulsion to act because the law “accommodates variation in clinicians’ willingness to participate” (Loggers et al., 2013, p. African American who took the long journey from the south to the north breaking every wall of racism and barriers made by community discrimination, started to sing louder and louder, reflecting their stories and feelings by music, melodies and poem. His calculations for the location of what was to be named Neptune were out by only 1°- the calculations of his next closest astrophysicist were out by 12°. Another way in which the Cold War affected space exploration by making one of the most outstanding missions from the Cold War possible. Carlyle linked his theory with the heroes/historians at this time to proof that they used their personal attributes or divine intervention to shape history.

Meaning of British slang words

Astronomy, to me, is the extraordinary study of the planets, moons, comets, and other celestial objects in the solar system. Ice-core δ18O records have been used to imply that during the LIA, West Antarctica was warm whereas East Antarctica was cold. The guillotine was a device consisting of a heavy blade held aloft between upright guides and dropped to behead a person condemned to die. Macquarie established economic growth in many forms as public works, churches and charitable institutions creating employment and commerce. According to Small Business (2010), “The term target market is used because that market is the target at which you aim all your marketing efforts. What was it about David that God chose him to be king and describe him as “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14)? There is three levels of regulations when it comes to the drug price control order (DPCO). The process of obtaining the parameter’s values consisted of running all the seven rate equations through the L-M method which requires giving an initial guess to the parameters so that iterations can run with the starting points given by us. The education system in Nigeria is long overage for full adoption in all sectors of the institutions life including information management. The thickens is measured at 4 random points over the wafer in order to obtain approx thickness of oxide. The study identified that they exist a myriad of challenges affecting information management in our institutions of Tertiary learning. The best possible option that Shondra should consider will involve advocating for educational program in the organization that will focus on educating every employee about healthcare fraud and abuse. In my opinion, there is still not developed particular schemes of control of this area of capital movements, so this becomes key source of instability in global financial markets, which, in recent years, turned into several regional crises in Europe.

Definition of British slang words

This method was based on an oxidation-reduction reaction in which phenolic compounds were oxidized with simultaneous reduction of a phosphotungsten-phosphomolyhdate complex in an alkaline medium. Quality management systems require that suppliers to a business have a formal quality management system of their own. The expression ratio of miR-221: miR-375 showed high sensitivity of 92% and specificity of 93% for OSCC prediction (56). For practical implementation of the proposed method, we assume that the initial data from all sensor nodes and other nodes in the sensor network to the routing table. Whenever a person stop using that particular resources, for example, a person having an opinion that the web is full of junk will not use the resource to find the information. Many times in the business environment, people are known to take work of others and use it as their own. The information overload also happen when a person cannot understand the information, this may due to the use of jargons or language barrier. One notable conclusion in this study finds that parents view themselves as being more involved in their child’s education than students or teachers perceive them to be (Clinton & Hattie, 2013, p.327). Rothfeder believes that such pervasive data acquisition and exchange can lead to a feeling of powerlessness in the face of privacy intrusion. Even after changing my major to social work, I was still stuck on never working with adolescents. The ratio decedendiof Shankari Prasad and Sajjan Singh to the veritable principles propounded in KeshavanandaBharti and I. On the ethical or moral grounds, Plato’s views are still very discouraging about poetry since he calls it to be a “pack of lies.” He says to this extent that poetry is only the outlet to one’s pent-up emotions. Pursuing innovation would help build up an environment that is favorable for mobilizing intellectual capital to reinforce the development of firms, and to improve the performance of enterprises through reinvigoration, adaptation and transformation.

Correct use of British slang words

According to the CDC, obese workers take more absentee days due to illness than normal weight employees. However, all the 4 mines are closed now by the Government, as it was accused that the mines were having an adverse effect on the flora and fauna and the wild life of the island. We are in a drought stricken state and it only looks to get worse, we are using 6.4 billion gallons of British Council English Grammar

Understanding Casual British: 18 Essential UK Slang Words for English Learners

Do you have a hard time understanding British people?

Maybe younger British people especially?

If so, you are not alone.

Being British, I learned this the hard way.

When I was 19, I was sharing a living space in Australia with four Americans and one Canadian.

I assumed that communication would be no problem! I was wrong.

At first, they thought I was Australian because of my “strange British accent.” (I don’t speak like the Queen of England.)

After a few weeks of living together, they finally told me that they could barely understand me sometimes.

“For a start,” one guy said, “What is a butty?” (Where I come from, this is a sandwich.)

It turned out that not only my accent, but also my British slang made our communication difficult.

Language is always changing, and new words are often added. A lot of the time, these words are slang. Slang is informal or casual language and is commonly used, particularly by teenagers and young people. Certain areas may have their own slang words that are not used in other areas where the same language is spoken.

Slang from the UK (United Kingdom, or Britain) is significantly different from American slang. English learners worldwide tend to be more familiar with American slang, just because American popular culture is so widespread.

American music, Hollywood films and American sitcoms can often be seen in other countries. When British television shows are sold to America, they are often remade to make them more understandable to American audiences.

It is no wonder that American English tends to be more understood.

So if even native English speakers (like Americans) find it hard to understand British slang, how can English learners hope to understand it?

How to Learn UK Slang

Exposure (seeing and hearing the language) is the key to learning British slang. You may have to look a little harder, but there are plenty of sources out there.

The problem with slang is that it is always changing and there are trends (like fashions or styles with clothes). A word that was commonly used in the ’80s or ’90s may sound dated (out of place) today. So when you look for slang, it is good to try to find recent examples.

Comedy is always a good place to look, as comedians like to play with words.

“The Inbetweeners” is a popular British comedy show about a group of teenage boys that uses a lot of casual language.

For the same reason, slang appears often in British music, especially in pop, rap and hip hop. Dizzee Rascal is a famous British rapper who uses a lot of modern slang in his music.

There are also some helpful podcasts that you can listen to for more examples of how to use slang in conversation.

On YouTube you can find explanations of British slang given by British teenagers themselves.

When you are finished looking through all of these, you can check your knowledge of both British and American teen slang with this quiz.

To watch videos of different kinds of spoken English from all over the world, you can check out FluentU. FluentU takes real-world English videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. Every video comes with clickable subtitles, flashcards and fun quizzes so you learn new words while you watch.

You can even type the specific UK slang words from our article into the FluentU search bar, and you’ll see videos that have the word. It’s a great way to hear UK slang words in natural contexts, the way British English speakers really use them. For example, here’s a video where you’ll hear the word cuppa (more on that word below!).

To watch that video and the full FluentU video library with all the learning features, sign up for a free FluentU trial.

The English Learner’s Guide to UK Slang: 18 Must-know British Words for Casual Use

Below are some slang words to get you started. Because slang is casual language, some of these might not be appropriate for younger learners. Also, some words that are fine to use in Britain may be considered offensive in other places! We will explain all of that, though. Have fun learning!

1. Chuffed

When someone is chuffed, they are very pleased or happy about something.

“I’m absolutely chuffed with my birthday present. Thanks!”

2. Knackered

Knackered (or sometimes “ready for the knackers yard”) means that someone is extremely tired. This comes from “knacker,” which is an older word. It refers to a person who slaughters old worn-out horses who can no longer work.

“I’ve been up half of the night with the baby. I’m totally knackered.”

3. Bants

“Bants” is an abbreviation (shortened version) of “banter.” “Banter” means to joke or to exchange witty (quick and fun) remarks with others.

“I’m going to Nando’s for some bants with the lads.”

4. Cheeky

When someone is cheeky, it means that they are being a little rude or disrespectful, but usually in a way that is funny and endearing (cute).

“That is a cheeky smile…are you up to something?”

“Did you just take the last biscuit? That was a bit cheeky!”

It can also be used if you are eating, drinking or doing something that you maybe should not or that is not good for you.

“I’m just going to have a cheeky burger on the way home.”

“Are you coming to the pub tonight?”
“On a Tuesday?! Well OK, just a few cheeky drinks.”

5. Fag

In American English, “fag” is a derogatory (insulting or mean) term for someone who is gay. In British slang, however, it just means a cigarette.

“I’m going outside for a fag.”

6. Cuppa

Cuppa comes from the phrase “cup of.” The implied (suggested) meaning is a cup of tea (because we love tea…sometimes stereotypes exist for a reason). The word “tea” is not actually needed. You only need to make it clear if it is a “cuppa” coffee or a “cuppa” something other than tea.

“Would you like a cuppa?”
“I’d love one. I’ll get the kettle on.”

7. Bum

You may already know that this word is the informal word for “bottom.” It also has another meaning. It is used when somebody uses or gets something from someone else without paying.

“Can I bum a fag?”

“How did you get here?”
“I bummed a lift with Tony.”

Here, “lift” means “ride.”

8. Mate

While in standard English a mate is a life partner, it is commonly used in Britain to mean a friend. It is also often used to address strangers in informal situations, such as in bars or on public transport. It is particularly used between men (but not always). A similar word is “pal” (which is also used in American English).

“What are you doing this weekend?”
“Hanging out with some of my mates.”

“Excuse me, mate, is anyone sitting here?”

“Hey pal, could I get a whisky and a beer please?”

9. Ledge

This is a shortening of the word “legend.” A legend is someone who is well-known, often for doing something great or incredible. The slang word “ledge” is often an exaggeration, or used to make things and people sound more important than they really are. It can be used not only to describe a famous person, but also a friend or family member who is not famous. It is often used when the friend or family member has done something particularly good or impressive.

“That final goal was amazing, mate. You’re a ledge!”

“Thanks for the tickets, mum. What a ledge!”

10. Gutted

The original meaning of “gut” is to remove the insides of an animal before eating it (gutting a fish, for example). It also has the meaning of being bitterly disappointed about something.

“I was gutted when I failed the exam.”

11. Sherbets

In Britain, “sherbet” is a word for a fizzy sweet or sweet powder. However, inviting someone to go to the pub for a few sherbets is not an invitation to eat sweets, but an invitation to drink a few beers. It is possible that this comes from the fizzy, frothy top on beers.

“Do you fancy a few sherbets after work tonight?”

Asking someone if they “fancy” something is a way of asking if they would like it.

12. Trollied

A “trolly” is the word the British use for a shopping cart. However, when the noun “trolly” is turned into the adjective “trollied,” it is used to describe someone as being drunk.

“I had a few too many sherbets last night, mate. I was trollied.”

13. Narky

Narky is another word for moody or bad-tempered.

“She won’t speak to me. She’s been narky with me all day.”

14. Fluke

A “fluke” is something caused by chance or luck. Something can also be described as being “flukey,” meaning that it is particularly lucky or coincidental.

“I hit the bullseye (the red target on a darts board)!”
“That was a total fluke! You wouldn’t be able to do it again.”

“I won 10 pounds on the lotto again!”
“That is so flukey!”

15. Arsed

“Can’t be arsed” is a less polite version of “Can’t be bothered.” It is used to express that someone really does not want to or has not got the energy to do a particular thing.

“Would you like go out today?”
“Can’t be arsed. It’s Sunday. I’m not getting out of bed.”

16. Gagging

The original meaning of this word is choking or retching (making movements and sounds like vomiting). However, it also means to desperately need or want something.

“I’m gagging for a cuppa. I haven’t had one all day!”

17. Cracking

When something is cracking it is particularly good or excellent. People can also be described as “cracking.” For example: “He’s a cracking lad.” It can also mean to get started on something (and this meaning is also used in American speech).

Another variation is the word “cracker.” Describing a person as a “cracker” means you think they are fantastic. (But watch out! This is completely different in American slang. In the U.S., “cracker” can be an insulting term for white people from rural areas.)

“That was a cracking dinner. Compliments to the chef.”

“I have lots of Christmas presents to wrap. I’d better get cracking!”

18. Bloody

In standard English, “bloody” usually refers to something covered in blood. In British slang, though, this is an intensifier (something that puts stress or importance on another word) and a mild expletive (swear word).

“Bloody British English is bloody confusing! Bloody hell! Why do they have so much bloody slang?”

British slang may seem confusing. It is not always the same as American slang. As you can see, the same words can mean very different things depending on whether you are talking to a Brit or an American, so be careful!

We all know improving language skills is no fluke—it takes practice. It doesn’t have to be boring, though. Just follow my advice and check out some of the clips in this article.

When you feel confident, you could always try some of your new words out on a real Brit (either in person or on the italki website).

I guarantee they will be chuffed with your efforts!

So what are you waiting for?

You’d better get cracking, mate!

And One Last Tip About Learning English

What’s the key to learning slang and other conversational English?

Using the right content and tools.

After all, a regular textbook isn’t going to teach you the casual English you need to know.

You need to learn from real English like it’s spoken on TV.

Well, there is a site designed to help you with just that: FluentU.

FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks and turns them into English learning experiences. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.

FluentU has a lot of fun videos—topics like popular talk shows, music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:

FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. Don’t understand a word? Just tap on it to see an image, definition, and useful examples.

For example, tap on the word “brought” and you see this:

And FluentU is not just for watching videos. FluentU is a complete system for learning English. Learn all the vocabulary in any video with useful questions. Multiple examples are always available for the word you’re learning.

The best part is that FluentU remembers your vocabulary. Using those words, FluentU recommends new examples and videos to you. Your experience is truly personalized.

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, or Google Play store.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.

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