In a recent article I talked about slang and I gave you a list of American slang words that are used a lot. Now here are some common British slang expressions that you will hear in movies or when you speak to natives of the United Kingdom.
UK (British) slang:
Arse = ass (behind).
A pain in the arse = a pain in the neck = a nuisance (a bother), as in: Jacob’s little brother is a pain in the arse because he won’t keep quiet during the movie.
Half-arsed = not done properly or seriously, as in: She made a half-arsed attempt to write the essay.
Arse-holed = drunk
Barmy = mad, as in: He’s gone barmy since his wife left him.
Beastly = mean, as in: The students have been beastly to the teacher.
Go on a bender = get drunk, as in: The pub patrons went on a bender on Friday night.
Blinkered = to see something from one side only. This word comes from the blinkers that horses (used to) wear on the side of their eyes to keep them looking straight on the road.
Bloody = blooming = swear words, as in: That movie was bloody awful. Or: I’ve lost my blooming keys again.
Chap = bloke = lad = guy (American)
Chat up = try to seduce someone, as in: Gabriel chatted up a scrummy girl he met at the salsa lesson.
Cheers = goodbye or thanks. When you’re drinking, you also say cheers.
Codswallop = nonsense, as in: My homework was eaten by the dog. – Codswallop!
Daft = stupid, as in: Martin had another one of his daft plans.
Dim = dumb, as in: She couldn’t figure out how to open the package because she’s a bit dim.
Do = party, as in: Where are you off to? – I’m going to a do.
Easy = don’t care, as in: Is this your seat, Daphne? – I’m easy.
Fancy = want, as in: Do you fancy a nice big slice of chocolate cake? Or: She’s talking to him all the time. I think she fancies him.
Fanny = a woman’s sexual organs. Careful, this is a rude word in the UK.
Filth = steal, as in: Could I filch some of your delicious strawberry pie?
Gobsmacked = very surprised, as in: I was gobsmacked when I heard the news.
Grub = nosh = food, as in: The grub isn’t bad in this eatery.
Hanky-panky = kiss and cuddle
Hiya = hello
Jolly = very, as in: Jolly good!
Knackered = tired, as in: The boys felt completely knackered after the football match.
Knock up = improvise, as in: With those beans and some vegetables I could knock up a decent meal. The meaning in American English is completely different (= make pregnant)!
Mate = friend
Morish or moreish = more of something, as in: This pudding is delightfully morish.
Nitwit = twit = idiot
On about = talking about, as in: Can’t understand what George is on about.
One off = unique, as in: Taking the kids to the theme park is a one off, because it’s insanely expensive.
Pass = I don’t know
Pissed = plastered = drunk
Pissed (off) = angry
Posh = high-class, as in: Did you get your posh accent while you were studying in Cambridge?
Potty = crazy, as in: Why are you moving my things? Have you gone potty?
Prat = a person who can’t do a lot (insulting)
Pussy = cat. It’s not what you thought it was, was it!
Ring = to call someone on the phone, as in: I’ll give you a ring after work.
Rubbish = garbage or nonsense, as in: Put that dirty tissue in the rubbish bin. Or: She’s talking rubbish.
Sack = fire someone from their job, as in: Priscilla got the sack./Priscilla got sacked.
Scrummy = delicious (of food or attractive people)
Shambles = mess, as in: After the fire-fighters had put out the fire, the house was in a shambles.
Smart = stylish (of clothes)
Snog = kiss a lover
Splash out = spend a lot of money, as in: They splashed out on a bigger and better TV.
Strop or stroppy = be in a bad mood, as in: I woke up feeling stroppy.
Swot = study hard for an exam
Ta = thanks
Take the mickey = take the piss = make fun of someone, as in: I don’t hate her, but I do like taking the piss out of her.
Throw a spanner in the works = to prevent something from happening, as in: We wanted to leave at 8 o’clock, but Jamey’s illness threw a spanner in the works.
Uni = university
Waffle [pronounce woffel] = to talk endlessly about nothing, as in: The old ladies waffled on about how tomatoes tasted much better when they were young.
Wangle = get better things than you deserve, as in: They wangled a better room in the hotel.
Wonky = unstable, as in: We asked to change our wonky table in the restaurant.
Here’s an exercise. Use words or expressions from the list above to fill in the gaps.
Do the quiz online here.
1 “What’s the capital of Mongolia?” “________.”
2 She called me a liar. I was _________.
3 Are you coming to Anna’s _________ Saturday night?
4 “Here is your bus ticket.” “_________.”
5 Here is my number. Give me a _________.
6 I made a ____________ attempt to read “Moby Dick” but fell asleep after five pages.
7 Dad ________ ________ a doghouse from a crate and some other pieces of wood.
8 Those preschoolers are _________ on about a stuffed pony they’ve spotted at the toy shop.
9 “I want to swim across the Channel.” “Don’t be _______.”
10 I think I’ll just go to bed. I’m ___________.
11 I can’t play handball tonight. Got to ________ for my biology exam tomorrow.
12 If I have a minute, I will need to take care of the garden. It’s a ___________.
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