20 Awesome British Slang Words You Need To Know
If you’re heading to the UK any time soon, then the chances are that you more or less know what you’re in for. However, whilst queuing, drinking tea and saying sorry are all stalwart parts of the British identity, there are a whole load of things out there which aren’t in the guidebooks and unless you know a British person, will probably never have heard.
Whilst the British people do indeed speak a little language known as “English”, it is a bit different to most versions spoken across the world. There are a whole list of British slang words and sayings that only seem to circulate around the United Kingdom and if you’re an outsider, it can be a little hard to grasp. Take note, then, of these 20 British slang words you need to now in order to function successfully in the UK. And yes, they are all real.
James Gordon Bennett was a Scottish journalist who emigrated to America to found the New York Herald in 1835. “Gordon Bennett” is also a polite way in which the British people exclaim at something, replacing less genteel alternatives. Used interchangeably with “Cor blimey”, “Gordon Bennett” should be enforced when you are shocked at something but want to remain polite.
There’s no end of disastrous scenarios in the UK and many of them seem to revolve around the refined art of tea drinking. If you hear someone exclaim “crumbs” rather loudly, it’s normally because something has just gone wrong. Another polite way in which to voice shock and irritation.
“Git” is a wonderful British slang words as it can be used in pretty much any situation. A “git” is an unpleasant or contemptible (usually male) person; you don’t like them and they probably don’t like you. An “old git”, whilst also dreary, can be used to describe an older male who is a just a little difficult.
If someone proclaims loudly to have been hit in their “goolies”, get them to a doctor. The word is used to describe testicles and if you hear it being said loudly, it’s probably because something has gone wrong. Remove yourself from the situation.
“Snog” is one of those great British words that sounds completely alien unless said by someone with a strong English accent. If you have “snogged” someone, it means that you have kissed them, or made out with them. Wet, slurpy noises apply.
If you’re out in the UK and someone describes you as being a “fitty”, count yourself lucky. If someone is really “fit”, or a “fitty”, it means that they are very attractive and of interest to the person describing them.
Unless you find yourself in fairly posh company, “butters” probably won’t come up; it just doesn’t sound right unless you speak with an accent like the Queen. However, if you do hear someone being described as “butters”, shake your head in disgust. The person is talking about someone very ugly, using a warped version of “butt ugly”.
Hair of the Dog
If you’ve been out drinking the night before and have woken up with an awful hangover, don’t be surprised if a British person offers you “hair of the dog”. The expression is used to describe an alcoholic beverage taken after a drinking binge, which reportedly alleviates a hangover. No dog hair included.
When something is utter nonsense, feel free to proudly proclaim “codswallop” in the face of the other person. Whilst a little antiquated even amongst British circles, it’s just so much fun to say.
If something’s an utter “cock up”, it’s gone completely wrong and is beyond all hope. The terms can be used to describe someone else’s mistake or your own. If someone says that you’ve really cocked things up, prepare to do some serious apologizing.
Things in Britain never seem to run smoothly and if someone describes a task as being a really “faff”, they’re describing something difficult and arduous. On the other hand, if someone is “faffing about”, they’re normally not doing what they should be and are wasting serious time.
How’s Your Father
If someone asks you for a bit of “how’s your father” and then winks at you, walk away very quickly. Whilst it might sound meaningless, “how’s your father” is a very slangy way of asking someone to have sex.
If you’re really lucky and always manage to get the best deals, you might be described as being “jammy”. If you’re even more lucky than that, you’re probably a “jammy bugger”. Note: British people will resent you.
“Cream crackered” is used as a variant on an already very slangy British word, “knackered”. If someone describes themselves as being “knackered” or (more politely) “cream crackered”, it means that they are completely exhausted.
On Your Bike
If you get into an argument with a British person, they might shout angrily “on your bike”. Instead of standing there and politely enquiring what they actually mean by this, it’s best to just leave; they’re telling you to clear off.
On the Pull
British men and women everywhere might proclaim to be “on the pull” on a weekend or in a club. If friends of yours suggest that you go on a night out, “on the pull”, it means that you are trying to pick up either men or women for brief, steamy encounters. Don’t expect to find the man/woman of your dreams.
A “sod” is another word for an idiot or a creep. Similarly, if someone tells you to “sod off”, they’re basically demanding that you leave the situation immediately. Don’t try and argue with them.
If you find yourself in a queue in Britain, expect to hear natives complaining that they’ve been waiting for “yonks” to get to the front. “Yonks” means a really, really long time and if you spend any time queuing in the UK, you will become very familiar with this phrase.
If a British person invited you out for a cup of tea and a “chin wag”, don’t be alarmed. “Chin wag” means to have a chat with someone; no body parts involved.
Beware of the person who tells “porkies” in the UK; you can’t trust them. Shortened from “porkie pies”, if someone is telling you “porkies”, it means that they’re lying to you.