British Slang is Ace!

Well, if you plan to visit UK, you should definetely know what kind of slang they use. We know most of American slang thanks to Hollywood movies and TV series 🙂 However, British media or movie industry is less exposing. When we turn the radio on, our chance to hear an American song is higher than a British song. Anyway… The point is we are less familiar with the details of British English. I tried to be picky while selecting the words from the list with the fear of offending someone. I hope my article is informative rather than rude 🙂 It is a very long list so I want to publish it in 2 or 3 parts.

Ace – If something is ace it is awesome. I used to hear it a lot in Liverpool. Kids thought all cool stuff was ace, or brill.

Aggro – Short for aggravation, it’s the sort of thing you might expect at a football match.

Anti-clockwise – The first time I said that something had gone anti-clockwise to someone in Texas I got this very funny look. It simply means counter-clockwise but must sound really strange to you chaps! I think he thought I had something against clocks!

Any road – Up north (where they talk funny!!) instead of saying anyway, they say “any road”! Weird huh?

As well – You chaps say also when we would say “too” or “as well”. For instance if my friend ordered a Miller Lite, I would say “I’ll have one as well”. I often heard people saying something like “I’ll have one also”. You’d be more likely to hear someone in England ordering a pint of lager!

Baccy – Tobacco. The sort you use to roll your own.

Barmy – If someone tells you that you’re barmy they mean you have gone mad orcrazy. For example you’d have to be barmy to visit England without trying black pudding!

Beastly – You would call something or somebody beastly if they were really nasty orunpleasant. Most people would consider you a snob or an upper class git if you used this word. People like Fergie can get away with it though.

Belt up – For some reason I heard this quite a lot as a kid. It’s the British for shut up.

Best of British – If someone says “The best of British to you” when you are visiting the UK, it simply means good luck. It is short for “best of British luck”.

Bite your arm off – This is not aggressive behaviour that a football fan might engage in. In fact it just means that someone is over excited to get something. For instance you might say that kids would bite your arm off for an ice cream on a sunny day.

ven “bugger and blast”!

Blatant – We use this word a lot to mean something is really obvious.

Bleeding – An alternative to the word bloody. You’ll hear people say “bleeding hell” or “not bleeding likely” for example.

Blimey – Another exclamation of surprise. My Dad used to say “Gawd Blimey” or “Gor Blimey” or even “Cor Blimey”. It is all a corruption of the oath God Blind Me.

Blinding – If something is a blinding success – it does not mean that any eyes were poked out with sharp sticks – it means it was awesome.

see one view on a subject. It comes from when horses that pulled carriages wore blinkers to stop them seeing to the side or behind them which stopped them from being startled and only let them see where they were going.

Bloody – One of the most useful swear words in English. Mostly used as an exclamation of surprise i.e. “bloody hell” or “bloody nora”. Something may be “bloody marvellous” or “bloody awful”. It is also used to emphasise almost anything, “you’re bloody mad”, “not bloody likely” and can also be used in the middle of other words to emphasise them. E.g. “Abso-bloody-lutely”! Americans should avoid saying “bloody” as they sound silly.

Blow me – When an English colleague of mine exclaimed “Blow Me” in front of a large American audience, he brought the house down. It is simply an exclamation of surprise, short for “Blow me down”, meaning something like I am so surprised you could knock me over just by blowing. Similar to “Well knock me down with a feather”. It is not a request for services to be performed.

Blunt – If a saw or a knife is not sharp we say it is blunt. It is also the way most of us speak! In America the knife would be dull.

Bob’s your uncle – This is a well used phrase. It is added to the end of sentences a bit like and that’s it! For example if you are telling someone how to make that fabulous banoffee pie you just served them, you would tell them to boil the condensed milk for three hours, spread it onto a basic cheesecake base, slice bananas on top, add some whipped double cream, another layer of banana and Bob’s your uncle!

Bodge – We bodge things all the time here. I’m sure you do too! To do a bodge job means to do a quick and dirty. Make it look good for the next day or two and if it falls down after that – hey well we only bodged it! Applies to building, DIY, programming and most other things.

Bomb – If something costs a bomb it means that it is really expensive. We say it when we see the price of insurance in the US, you could try saying it when you see how much jeans or petrol cost over here!

Bomb – If something goes like a bomb it means it is going really well or really fast. Or you could say an event went down like a bomb and it would mean that the people really enjoyed it. In the US the meaning would be almost exactly the reverse.

Bottle – Something you have after twenty pints of lager and a curry. A lotta bottle! This means courage. If you have a lotta bottle you have no fear.

Box your ears – Many young chaps heard their dads threaten to box their ears when I was a littlun. Generally meant a slap around the head for misbehaving. Probably illegal these days!!

Bung – To bung something means to throw it. For example a street trader might bung something in for free if you pay cash right now! Or you could say “bung my car keys over, mate“. A bung is also a bribe.

Butchers – To have a butchers at something is to have a look. This is a cockney rhyming slang word that has become common. The reason “butchers” means a lookeven though it doesn’t rhyme is because it is short for “butchers hook” and “hook” of course, does rhyme.

Cheerio – Not a breakfast cereal. Just a friendly way of saying goodbye. Or in the north “tara” which is pronounced sort of like “churar”.

Chinese Whispers – This a good one. It refers to the way a story gets changed as is passes from one person to the next so that the end result may be completely different from what was originally said. Sound familiar?

Chivvy along – When I’m standing patiently in the checkout queue at Tesco I like to chivvy along the old ladies in front of me. If only they would stop fannying around andhurry up!

Chuffed – You would be chuffed to bits if you were really pleased about something.

Cock up – A cock up means you have made a mistake. It has nothing to do with parts of the male body.

Cor – You’ll often hear a Brit say “cor”! It is another one of those expressions of surprise that we seem to have so many of. It will sometimes be lengthened to “cor blimey” or “cor love a duck”, depending on where you are. “Cor blimey” is a variation of “Gawd Blimey” or “Gor Blimey”. They are all a corruption of the oath “God Blind Me”.

Cracking – If something is cracking, it means it is the best. Usually said without pronouncing the last “G”. If a girl is cracking it means she is stunning.

Cram – Before a big exam you would be expected to cram. This simply means to study hard in the period running up to the exam.

Dekko – To have a look at something.

Dear – If something is dear it means it is expensive. I thought Texan insurance was dear.

DIY – This is short for do it yourself and applies not just to the DIY stores but also to anything that you need to do yourself. For example, if we get really bad service in a restaurant (oh, you noticed!) then we might ask the waiter if it is a DIY restaurant – just to wind them up.

Do – A party. You would go to a do if you were going to a party in the UK.

Do – If you go into a shop and say “do you do batteries?” it means “do you sellbatteries”.

Do – If you drive along a motorway in the wrong lane the police will do you. You could then tell your friends that you have been done by the police. Prosecute is another word for it!

Dodgy – If someone or something is a bit dodgy, it is not to be trusted. Dodgy food should be thrown away at home, or sent back in a restaurant. Dodgy people are best avoided. You never know what they are up to. Dodgy goods may have been nicked. When visiting Miami I was advised by some English chums that certain areas were a bit dodgy and should be avoided!

Donkey’s years – Someone said to me the other day that they hadn’t seen me for donkey’s years. It means they hadn’t seen me for ages.

Easy Peasy – A childish term for something very easy. You might say it’s a snap.

Fanny around – I’m always telling people to stop fannying around and get on with it. It means to procrastinate. Drives me mad!

Fluke – If something great happened to you by chance that would be a fluke. When I was a kid my Mum lost her engagement ring on the beach and only realised half way home. We went back to the spot and she found it in the sand. That was a fluke.

Full monty – Since the movie has come out of the same name I have heard some odd Texan descriptions of what the full monty means. It really has nothing to do with taking your clothes off. It just means the whole thing or going the whole way. That’s it. Clearly when applied to stripping it means not stopping at your underwear! The origins of the expression are still under discussion. There are many theories but no conclusive evidence at the moment.

Gen – Gen means information. If you have the gen then you know what is going on.

Give us a bell – This simply means call me. You often hear people use the word “us” to mean “me”.

Gormless – A gormless person is someone who has absolutely no clue. You would sayclueless. It is also shortened so you could say someone is a total gorm or completely gormy.

Grub – Food. Similar to nosh. I remember my Dad calling “grub’s up”, when dinner was ready as a kid. A grub is also an insect larva. Not usually eaten in England. Actually is available in some Australian restaurants!

Thanks for VousDeux for this precious information. This is all I know about the author. You can reach his/her posts on StumbleUpon by clicking here.

Visit our Facebook page for more posts about languages.

You can also follow me on Twitter.


16 responses to this post.

  1. Well, I’m from the UK, (up north where they talk funny!) 😉 and there are quite a few that I use, but some I have never heard of. It really does depend on where you go in the UK I think. Dialects and vocabulary change considerably from town to town.


  2. Posted by M. de la Luz Rayneld-Franco on May 27, 2012 at 18:11

    Really interesting… I loved it!


  3. Posted by Allison Wright on May 27, 2012 at 19:43

    Best of British luck to you: I have just used this very expression sincerely in an instant message to a friend who is trying to give up smoking. I have heard it used to mean “good riddance!” too, as in, “I told him to bugger off and wished him the best of British.” Can anyone else confirm this less complimentary usage?


    • Posted by Christine on May 28, 2012 at 10:20

      Yes, Allison, this is correct although I would not encourage the spoken or written use of the term ‘to ………….. off’ – an expression which is unfortunately still sometimes used (though less rarely probably than in the 50’s and 60’s) but which is not aesthetic either in meaning or sound.


      • I am sorry if I have offended you or any of your readers, Christine. I certainly would not encourage the use of the term “b– off” either. I felt I needed to use it to convey the sense of “Best of British luck” in this case.
        Having said that, one also has to bear in mind that many phrases lose their colour, or literal meaning with frequency of use, e.g. “You’re a lucky b–, aren’t you?”.
        By the way, this is possibly the first time I have ever sworn on the Internet. In my experience, this expression is much milder than many others I have heard.

      • Posted by Christine on May 28, 2012 at 14:52

        Allison, I did not mean you were offending me, simply that for non-native English speakers, that expression is not to be encouraged, particularly as I think it is not in as common usage as it once was. I’m afraid messages are often misunderstood in emails and such because it’s not always easy to understand the tone. Very sorry if I sounded so prudish!

      • Posted by Christine on May 28, 2012 at 14:56

        Allison, I did not mean you were offending me, simply that for non-native English speakers, the expression is not to be encouraged, particularly as I think it is not in as common usage as it once was. I’m afraid messages are often misunderstood in emails and such because it’s not always easy to understand the tone. Very sorry if I sounded so prudish!

  4. Posted by Christine on May 28, 2012 at 10:08

    Hello Müge,
    Thank you. I think your list of English slang is really great. However, the words below are not actually slang, but standard British English.

    • Anti-clockwise
    • Barmy
    For example you’d have to be barmy to visit Scotland without trying
    black pudding
    • Beastly
    • Blatant
    • Blunt
    • Gormless
    • Bodged has a more usual alternative spelling: ‘a botched job’.

    As well (usually ends the sentence) and is interchangeable with ‘too’ and ‘also’.

    A new one!
    ‘Budge up’ means move over (to the next seat)
    ‘He would not budge’ means he wouldn’t move, or can mean ‘he wouldn’t back down from hıs opinıon’.


  5. Funny! I had no idea that some of these were specifically Brittish!


  6. Posted by Carolyn on June 1, 2012 at 15:46

    I loved this. I found it was a real eye-opener!!!! Great opportunity for learning. The same thing happens in Spanish, from one country to another!!! I find this fun!!! Sorry if I sound like a nerd!!!!


  7. I thought “dodgy” as “bad” and “not to be trusted” was the only meaning of dodgy… Well, and also “risky”… 🙂

    Great list. It’s funny how in 8 years living in the UK, I have learnt some of those and gave for granted that “that is how all English speakers speak” XD looking forward to your next batch 🙂


  8. Nice, well done! 🙂
    I agree with Christine’s comments. I have another word to add to your B list (this morning I amused an Australian friend by using it):
    adjective Slang .
    mentally unbalanced; mad; crazy.


  9. Another great post of yours! I first read the part 3 of this series of posts. Thanks for sharing.


  10. I together with my guys came checking the excellent recommendations found on your web site and so before long got a terrible suspicion I never expressed respect to the website owner for those tips. The young boys were definitely certainly glad to see all of them and now have unquestionably been using those things. I appreciate you for genuinely so accommodating and for having certain essential themes millions of individuals are really wanting to discover. My honest apologies for not saying thanks to sooner.


  11. Posted by freaky on October 21, 2012 at 05:45

    thank u so much for ur list i found it fun. may be i’ll use it when i got opportunity to visit u.k some day this is the first time that i heard these terms. thanks for charing.;)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: