What is Smashing about British Slang? (British Slang is Ace- Part #3)

Part #3! We have still one more part to go! For those who did not read the previous two, here is the introduction. You can find the links at the bottom of this article:

Well, if you plan to visit the UK, you should definetely know what kind of slang they use. We know most of the American slang thanks to Hollywood movies and TV shows :) However, the British media or movie industry is less exposing. When we turn the radio on, the probability of hearing 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.”

Parky – Either short for Michael Parkinson, a famous chat show host, or more likely a word to describe the weather as being rather cold!

Pass – This means I don’t know and comes from the old TV show, Mastermind, where contestants were made to say “pass” if they did not know the answer to the question.

Pavement pizza – Well here the pavement is the sidewalk and a pavement pizza is a descriptive way of saying vomit. Often found outside Indian restaurants early on a Sunday morning.

Peanuts – I hated one of my summer jobs as a kid because it paid peanuts. The full expression is that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. It is a fairly derogatory way of saying that manual labour doesn’t need to be bright and doesn’t need a lot of pay. Typically these days peanuts means something is cheap. For example we would say the petrol in the USA is peanuts or costs peanuts. Compared to our prices it is.

Pear shaped – If something has gone pear shaped it means it has become a disaster. It might be preparing a dinner party or arranging a meeting, any of these things can go completely pear shaped.

Piece of cake – I remember saying it’s a piece of cake in front of one of my American friends, who then started looking around for the cake! It means it’s a cinch!

Pinch – This means to steal something. Though when you say “steal” it is a bit more serious than pinch. A kid might pinch a cake from the kitchen. A thief would steal something during a burglary.

Pip pip – Another out-dated expression meaning goodbye. Not used any more.

Piss poor – If something is described as being “piss poor” it means it is an extremely poor attempt at something.

Piss up – A piss up is a drinking session. A visit to the pub. There is an English expression to describe someone as disorganised which says that he/she could not organise a piss up in a brewery!

Pissed – This is a great one for misunderstanding. Most people go to the pub to get pissed. In fact the object of a stag night is to get as pissed as possible. Getting pissed means getting drunk. It does not mean getting angry. That would be getting pissed off!

Pissing around – Fooling about, in the sense of messing around or making fun or just being silly. Not terribly polite.

Plastered – Another word for loaded. In other words you have had rather too much to drink down your local. It has nothing to do with being covered with plaster though anything is possible when you are plastered.

Porkies – More cockney rhyming slang. Short for “porky pies”, meaning “pork pies”. Rhymes with lies. My Mum always used to tell me I was telling porkies! And she was right!

Porridge – Doing porridge means to serve time in prison. There was also a comedy TV series called Porridge about a prisoner starring Ronnie Barker of The Two Ronnies fame.

Posh – Roughly translates as high class, though if you look at Posh Spice there are clearly exceptions to the rule! Comes from the cabins used by the upper class on early voyages from England to India. The coolest (and most expensive cabins) were Port side on the way Out and Starboard on the way Home.

Potty – This isn’t just the thing you sit a toddler on – if you are potty it means you are a little crazy, a bit of a looney, one card short of a full deck.

Pound sign – Ever wondered why Brits flounder when voicemail messages say to press the pound sign? What on earth is the British currency doing on a phone anyway? Well, it isn’t. To a Brit, the pound sign is the wiggly thing we use to denote the UK pound (orquid), in the same way you have a dollar sign.

PTO – This is an abbreviation for “please turn over”. You will see it on forms in the UK where you would see the single word over in the USA.

Pukka – This term has been revived recently by one of our popular young TV chefs. It means super or smashing, which of course is how he describes all his food.

Put a sock in it – This is one way of telling someone to shut up. Clearly the sock needs to be put in their loud mouth!

Put paid to – This is an expression which means to put an end to something. For example you could say that rain put paid to the cricket match, meaning it stopped play.

Quid – A pound in money is called a quid. It is the equivalent to the buck or clam in America. A five pound note is called a fiver and a ten pound note is called a tenner.

Quite – When used alone, this word means the same as absolutely!

Read – If someone asks you what you read at university, they mean what was your major at school.

Really – This is one of those words where you say almost the same thing as us, but just can’t be fagged to finish it off. The word is “really”, not real. You say things like it’s real hot, something’s real cool, a baby is real cute. If we said that we would be sent to the back of the class for our grammar – or lack of it!

Redundancy – If you are made redundant it means you are laid off.

Reverse the charges – When you want to ring someone up and you have no money you can call the operator and ask to reverse the charges in the UK. In the US you would call collect.

Right – I’m feeling right knackered. That would mean you were feeling very tired.

Ring – You would ring someone on the phone not call them, in the UK. Try saying “give me a ring” to the next Brit you meet. This does not work well in reverse. I asked someone in a shop to ring me up and he dragged me to the till and pulled my head across the scanner!

Round – When you hear the words “your round” in the pub, it means it is your turn to buy the drinks for everyone in the group – nothing to do with the size of your tummy! Since beers are more and more expensive these days, the art of buying the rounds has developed into ensuring you buy the first one before everyone has arrived, without being obvious!

Row – Rhymes with “cow” this means an argument. You might hear your Mum having a row with your Dad, or your neighbours might be rowing so loud you can hear them!

Rubbish – The stuff we put in the binTrash or garbage to you. You might also accuse someone of talking rubbish.

Rugger – This is short for “rugby”. It is a contact sport similar to your football but played in muddy fields during winter and rain. Not only that, but the players wear almost no protection!

Sack/sacked – If someone gets the sack it means they are fired. Then they have been sacked. I can think of a few people I’d like to sack!

Scrummy – This is a word that would be used to describe either some food that was particularly good (and probably sweet and fattening).

Scrumping – To go stealing – usually apples from someone elses trees!

Send-up – To send someone up is to make fun of them. Or if something is described as being a send-up it is equivalent to your take-off. Like Robin Williams does a take-off on the British accent – quite well actually!

Shambles – If something is a shambles it is chaotic or a real mess. It’s also a very old name for a slaughterhouse. So if you ever visit The Shambles in York, then the name does not refer to the somewhat shambolic nature of the buildings; it’s a reference to the site it’s built on – an old slaughterhouse!

Shambolic – In a state of chaos. Generally heard on the news when the government is being discussed!

Shirty – “Don’t get shirty with me young man” was what my Dad used to tell me when I was little. He was referring to my response to his telling off for doing some terrible little boy thing. Like tying my brother to the back of Mum’s car or putting my shoes in the toilet. It meant I was getting bad tempered.

Shufti – Pronounced shooftee, this means to take a look at something, to take abutchers! It’s an old Arabic word, picked up by British soldiers during World War II, in North Africa.

Sixes and sevens – If something is all at sixes and sevens then it is in a mess, topsy turvy or somewhat haywire!

Skive – To skive is to evade something. When I was a kid we used to skive off school on Wednesdays instead of doing sports. We always got caught of course, presumably because the teachers used to do the same when they were fourteen!

Sloshed – Yet another way to describe being drunk. Clearly we need a lot of ways to describe it since getting plastered is a national pastime.

Smart – When we say someone is smart, we are talking about the way they are dressed – you might say they look sharp. When you say someone is smart you are talking about how intelligent or clever they are.

Smashing – If something is smashing, it means it is terrific.

Snap – This is the name of a card game where the players turn cards at the same time and shout “snap” when they match. People also say “snap” when something someone else says has happened to them too. For example when I told somebody that my wallet was stolen on holiday, they said “snap”, meaning that theirs had too!

Sod – This word has many uses. My father always used to say “Oh Sod!” or “Sod it!” if something went wrong and he didn’t want to swear too badly in front of the children.

Sod all – If you are a waiter in America and you serve a family of Brits, the tip is likely to be sod all or as you would call it – nothing. Because we don’t know about tipping.

Sod’s law – This is another name for Murphy’s law – whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Sorted – When you have fixed a problem and someone asks how it is going you might say “sorted”. It’s also popular these days to say “get it sorted” when you are telling someone to get on with the job.

Spend a penny – To spend a penny is to go to the bathroom. It is a very old fashioned expression that still exists today. It comes from the fact that in ladies loos you used to operate the door by inserting an old penny.

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. If you come across this book, please give me the link so that I can buy! :)

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For the first part, click here.

For the second part, click here.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. 1) Interestingly enough, a pavement pizza is a galette in French.
    2) Once again, I had no idea that some of these idioms were specifically British. The peanuts thing for instance… which makes me think about the No peanuts for translators movement!
    3) Really? Saying that so and so read law at whatever univerisity is slang? As a non native speaker, I completely misread the register for years!

    Reply

  2. I like your post! Very informative indeed. I learn a lot from your post. Currently, I am working for a British Boss, yes, sometimes, I have a hard time understanding him. Now, I have the meanings of some of the British slang. Very useful for me. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Delila on June 14, 2012 at 14:03

    Again, loads of these are used in the US, and have been for a long time, such as “pass”, “peanuts”, “piece of cake” (famously used in a US space movie which name escapes me – the Russian cosmonaut says “Piece of pie”, “Easy as cake” mixing the 2 expressions), and many others.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Cary on June 16, 2012 at 09:27

    Can’t remember ever saying “Smashing” – hope you’re using it tongue in cheek. “Sod” is in fact a pretty strong swear word (linked originally to “sodomise”).

    Reply

  5. Posted by F I MacIllFhinnein on July 7, 2012 at 04:02

    “Smashing” comes from Scottish Gaelic: “‘S math sin!” It means literally: “That’s good!”
    I know “shufti” only with the short pronunciation of “u” – not as “oo”.

    Reply

  6. Posted by abdo ramadan on September 11, 2012 at 17:22

    thanks

    Reply

  7. […] What is Smashing about British Slang? (British Slang is Ace- Part #3) […]

    Reply

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