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50 Awesome British Slang Terms You Should Start Using Immediately

50 Awesome British Slang Terms You Should Start Using Immediately

British slang is a niche of its own, evolving and transforming and adapting from city to city and from year to year, just as the English language itself has done.

While American slang has become nearly universal with the influx of TV shows, films, and other media filling the screens of a significant majority of the media-viewing global population, there is so much more available once you dig beneath the surface of British slang terms and can discover some real gems beneath the surface.

So, if you’re an aspiring Anglophile looking for some new lingo to help fuel your love for all things British, or you just fancy seeing what kind of words the British find themselves using their day-to-day, check out our 50 best British slang terms for you to start using and incorporating into your vocabulary immediately.

1. Ace

‘Ace’ – a British slang term that means something that is brilliant or excellent. Can also mean to pass something with flying colors.

For example, ‘Jenny is ace at the lab experiments’, or, for the latter definition, ‘I think I aced that exam’.

2. All To Pot

Slightly more of an outdated version, this British slang term is still used, and its meaning remains relevant today. ‘All to pot’ refers to a situation going out of your control and failing miserably.

For example, ‘The birthday party went all to pot when the clown turned up drunk and everyone was sick from that cheap barbecue stuff.’

3. Blimey

‘Blimey’ is used as a way of expressing surprise at something, often used when seeing or looking at something surprising or impressive instead of shocking or upsetting.

For example; you might say ‘Blimey! Look at that!’

    4. Blinding

    ‘Blinding’ – a slang term that is far from something that physically causes someone to lose their sight. ‘Blinding’ is a positive term meaning excellent, great, or superb.

    For example, ‘That tackle from the Spanish player was blinding.’

    5. Bloke

    Bloke is an extremely common term denoting a man, usually it is used in reference to an ordinary man, akin to the US ‘average joe’, but it it not uncommon to hear it used to describe a man generally.

    As such, you can use it like this, ‘That bob is a good bloke.’

    6. Bloody

    You probably don’t need me to describe this, out of all British slang, this is by far the most popular and most commonly used. In the past it was regarded as a swearword but now, due to its common usage, it is generally acceptable. It is often used as an expression of anger or is used to emphasize a comment.

    In anger you might say, “oh bloody hell!”

    Or to use it as emphasis, ‘that’s bloody cool!’

    7. Bob’s your uncle/Fanny’s your aunt

    The first form of this is far more common, and is sometimes used internationally. For those unaware, the expression essentially used in the end of a series of basic instructions. The origin of the expression is unknown, and is quite old, but is still in general use.

    In context, ‘Get the food, put in the microwave, heat it up, then bob’s your uncle, ready to eat.’

    8. Bollocks

    Perhaps one of the most internationally famous British slang terms, ‘bollocks’ has a multitude of uses, although its top ones including being a curse word used to indicate dismay, e.g. ‘Oh bollocks’; it can also be used to express derision and mocking disbelief, e.g. ‘You slept with Kate Upton last night? Bollocks…’; and, of course, it also refers to the scrotum and testicles.

    For example, ‘I kicked him right in the bollocks when he wouldn’t let me go past.’

    9. Bollocking

    Very different to the ‘bollocks’ of the previous suggestion, a ‘bollocking’ is a telling-off or a severe or enthusiastic reprimand from a boss, co-worker, partner, or anyone you like, for a misdemeanour.

    For example, ‘My wife gave me a real bollocking for getting to pick up the dry cleaning on my way home from work.’

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    10. Brass Monkeys

    A more obscure British term, ‘brass monkeys’ is used to refer to extremely cold weather. The phrase comes from the expression, ‘it’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey’.

    For example, ‘You need to wear a coat today, it’s brass monkeys outside.’

    11. Brilliant

    ‘Brilliant’ is not a word exclusively in the British lexicon, but has a very British usage. Specifically, when something is exciting or wonderful, particularly when something is good news, ‘brilliant’ can mean as such.

    For example, ‘You got the job? Oh, mate, that’s brilliant.’

    Sometimes brilliant can be shortened to just “brill” to give it a more casual feel.

      12. Bugger All

      ‘Bugger all’ – a British slang term used to be a more vulgar synonym for ‘nothing at all’.

      For example, ‘I’ve had bugger all to do all day.’

      13. Butchers hook

      This is the cockney rhyming slang version of having a gander, to look at something. Though it may seem strange at first, it’s pretty simple, it is constructed out of the expression’s second word, in this case the way ‘hook’ rhymes directly with ‘look’ however, perhaps contrary to expectations, the word ‘hook’ is often removed, so you may hear someone say ‘have a butchers at this.’

      But like most things cockney, it’s becoming less popular.

      14. Car Park

      One of the more boring and technical terms on this list, a ‘car park’ is in effect, the place outside or attached to a building where people park their cars. The British equivalent to the American ‘parking lot’ or ‘parking garage’.

      For example, ‘I left my car in the car park this morning.’

      15. Cheers

      ‘Cheers’ doesn’t quite have the same meaning that it does in other counties – of course, it still means ‘celebrations’ when toasting a drink with some friends, but in British slang, it also means ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you’.

      For example, ‘Cheers for getting me that drink, Steve’.

      16. Chuffed

      Chuffed is used more or less all over the UK, it seems to be decreasing in popularity, but is still in relatively common usage. Essentially, it is an expression of pride at your own actions or achievements.

      For example you could say ‘I’m feeling proper chuffed I won that.’

      If you’re talking to someone else you can use it as such, ‘I bet you’re pretty chuffed you won!’

        17. Chunder

        Not a wonderfully melodic word, ‘chunder’ is part and parcel of British slang terms. Meaning ‘to vomit’ or ‘to be sick’, ‘chunder’ is almost always used in correlation with drunken nights, or being hugely ill and sick.

        For example, ‘I ate a bad pizza last night after too many drinks and chundered in the street.’

        18. Cock Up

        ‘Cock up’ – a British slang term that is far from the lewdness its name suggests. A ‘cock up’ is a mistake, a failure of large or epic proportions.

        For example, ‘The papers sent out to the students were all in the wrong language – it’s a real cock up.’ Also, ‘I cocked up the orders for table number four.’

        19. Damp Squib

        More of an usual term, a ‘damp squib’ in British slang terms refers to something which fails on all accounts, coming from the ‘squib’ (an explosive), and the propensity for them to fail when wet.

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        For example, ‘The party was a bit of a damp squib because only Richard turned up.’

        20. Do

        A “do” is essentially a party, to my knowledge it doesn’t refer to a particular form of party, so feel free to use it as you like.

        For example, you might say ‘I’m going to Steve’s birthday do tonight.’

        21. Dodgy

        In British slang terms, ‘dodgy’ refers to something wrong, illegal, or just plain ‘off’, in one way or another.

        For example, it can be used to mean illegal – ‘He got my dad a dodgy watch for Christmas’; it can be used to mean something food-related that is nauseous or nauseating – ‘I had a dodgy kebab last night and I don’t feel right.; and it can also be used as a pejorative – ‘He just seems dodgy to me.’

        22. Fortnight

        ‘Fortnight’ – a British slang term more commonly used by virtually everyone in the UK to mean ‘a group of two weeks’.

        For example, ‘I’m going away for a fortnight to Egypt for my summer holiday.’

        23. Gobsmacked

        ‘Gobsmacked’ – a truly British expression meaning to be shocked and surprised beyond belief. The expression is believed by some to come literally from ‘gob’ (a British expression for mouth), and the look of shock that comes from someone hitting it.

        For example. ‘I was gobsmacked when she told me she was pregnant with triplets.’

          24. Grockel

          This is cheating, it is almost exclusively used in the English county Devonshire, but I’m including it as its fun to say. It is used as a derogatory word for tourists.

          For example, ‘I don’t go over there anymore it’s full of grockels these days.’

          25. Gutted

          ‘Gutted’ – a British slang term that is one of the saddest on the lists in terms of pure contextual emotion. To be ‘gutted’ about a situation means to be devastated and saddened.

          For example, ‘His girlfriend broke up with him. He’s absolutely gutted.’

          26. Have a gander

          I believe this expression originates in the English county of Cheshire. The word relates to the way a goose (a male goose is called a gander) cranes its neck to look at something. As such a form of this expression ‘Have a goosey’ also exists, but is much more uncommon.

          In context it works like this, ‘Come here and have a gander at what he’s doing.’

          27. Hunky-Dory

          ‘Hunky-dory’ – a neat little piece of British slang that means that a situation is okay, cool, or normal.

          For example, ‘Yeah, everything’s hunky-dory at the office.’

          28. Jammy

          Jammy is in semi-common use in the north west and south west of England. It is a descriptive word, used to describe someone who is extremely lucky for something, without putting in much effort for it.

          For example, ‘I can’t believe you won that, proper jammy.’

            29. Kerfuffle

            Another rather delightful and slightly archaic words in this list of British slang terms is ‘kerfuffle’. ‘Kerfuffle’ describes a skirmish or a fight or an argument caused by differing views.

            For example, ‘I had a right kerfuffle with my girlfriend this morning over politics.’

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            30. Knackered

            ‘Knackered’ – a great word and phrase used by Britons to describe their tiredness and exhaustion, in any given situation. Often substituted in friendly circles for ‘exhausted’.

            For example, ‘I am absolutely knackered after working all day.’

            31. Lost The Plot

            ‘Lost the plot’ is one that can actually be discerned by examining the words themselves. To ‘lose the plot’ can mean either to become angry and/or exasperated to a fault, or in a derogatory – if slightly outdated sense – to mean someone who has become irrational and/or acting ridiculously.

            For example, ‘When my girlfriend saw the mess I’d made, she lost the plot.’

            32. Mate

            ‘Mate’ – one of the commonly used terms of endearment and affection in British slang terms. Used when you are talking to a close friend, and is often easily substituted for the American ‘buddy’, ‘pal’, or ‘dude’.

            For example, ‘Alright, mate?’

            33. Minging

            Minging (pronounced: ming-ing) is a lovely alternative to the word “disgusting” or “gross”. I feel there is something appropriate about it.

            For example, ‘Don’t it that mate it looks minging.’

            34. Muck

            Muck is a substitute for “dirt” however, in many ways I find it a superior word. There is something oddly onomatopoeic about it and seems to have a dirty quality of itself.

            In context, ‘I can’t come in, my shoes are all mucky.’

            35. Nice One

            ‘Nice one’ – used almost always sarcastically in common British lexicon, although it can be used sincerely depending on the context.

            For example, ‘You messed up the Rutherford order? Nice one, really.’

            36. Our Kid

            I’m cheating a bit with this one, as this is used almost exclusively used around Manchester and the North of England. But there is something wonderfully tender and endearing about it.
            It is a term denoting your younger brother/ sister, or close family member such as a cousin.

            For example, ‘Did you hear about our kid Kevin? He got a new job.’

            37. Pork pies

            This term comes from cockney rhyming slang,[1] a form of communication originated in old east London by merchants to communicate with each other in a way that is disguised and incomprehensible to outsiders. Unlike most rhyming slang expressions, it is still in semi-popular use both in London and outside.

            The expression is a synonym for ‘lies’. Note how the second word ‘pies’ rhymes directly with ‘lies’.  As such when you hear it in use, even if you aren’t familiar with expression you can often tell what is being said by the rhyme and the context it is being used in.

            For example, ‘Don’t listen to him he’s telling pork pies.’

              38. Posh

              Generally, ‘posh’ denotes the English upper classes. However it can be used to describe anything flashy or needlessly classy or expensive. It is similar to the American word ‘fancy’, however it has a much more entrenched class basis.

              In this way “posh” can be used in the following two ways:

              • I’m going to a posh restaurant tonight.
              • Have you met Bob’s girlfriend? She’s pretty posh.

              39. Proper

              This has two different meanings depending on location or social classes. From a higher social class, ‘Proper’ denotes actions appropriate to certain circumstances. For example, ‘Don’t do that, it’s not proper!’ However such a usage is becoming less common.

              More common, and common in the north and southwest England. “Proper” is used as an alternative to “very” or “extremely”, something that can give a term extra weight. For example, ‘that meal was proper tasty’ or sometimes ‘that was proper.’

              40. Rubbish

              One of the most commonly-used British phrases, ‘rubbish’ is used to mean both general waste and trash, and to also express disbelief in something to the point of ridicule (in this sense it is a much-more PG-friendly version of ‘bollocks’.)

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              For example, it can be used respectively, in, ‘Can you take the rubbish out please?’, and ‘What? Don’t talk rubbish.’

              41. Scrummy

              One of the more delightful British slang terms in this list, ‘scrummy’ is used as a wonderfully effusive term for when something is truly delicious and mouth-wateringly good.

              For example, ‘Mrs Walker’s pie was absolutely scrummy. I had three pieces.’

              42. Sick

              This is a relatively newer entry to the lexicon of British Slang, most often used by youth. In this case something being “sick” is actually a good thing. It’s like a stronger form of “cool”

              For example, .Yeah I’d love to do that, it sounds sick.’

              43. Skive

              ‘Skive’ – (Pronounced sky-ve)a British slang term used to indicate when someone has failed to turn up for work or an obligation due to pretending to fake illness. Most commonly used with schoolchildren trying to get out of school, or dissatisfied office workers trying to pull a sick day.

              For example, ‘He tried to skive off work but got caught by his manager.’

              44. Taking The Piss

              Given the British tendency to mock and satirise anything and everything possible, ‘taking the piss’ is in fact one of the most popular and widely-used British slang terms. To ‘take the piss’ means to mock something, parody something, or generally be sarcastic and derisive towards something.

              For example, ‘The guys on TV last night were taking the piss out of the government again.’

              45. The Bee’s Knees

              The bee’s knees – a rather lovely term used to describe someone or something you think the world of.

              For example, ‘She thinks Barry’s the bee’s knees’. Can also be used sarcastically in this same sense.

                46. Throwing a wobbly

                This phrase means the same thing as having a tantrum. However there is one notable difference is that throwing a wobbly tends to be used when describing tantrums thrown by adults, or people who should otherwise know better.

                For example, ‘I left when Darren threw a wobbly.’

                47. To nick/nicked

                Depending on how it is used, “Nick” can mean one of two things (three including the name). The most commonly used form is as an alternative to “steal”. As in  “I accidentally nicked this pen from work.” Another way it can be used is as a term for being arrested.

                For example, ‘I got nicked a year ago.’

                What I like about this term and its two/three usages is that the following sentence, “Nick got nicked for nicking something” makes grammatical sense.

                48. Tosh

                A nifty little British term that means ‘rubbish’ or ‘crap’.

                For example, ‘That’s a load of tosh about what happened last night’, or ‘Don’t talk tosh.’

                49. Trainers

                Trainers are the British equivalent of the American sneakers denoting athletic shoes. In some ways, “trainers” is the more appropriate term, after all, athletes tend to wear them while training, not sneaking.

                In use, ‘I just brought some new trainers.’

                50. Wanker

                Oh, ‘wanker’. Possibly the best British insult on the list, it fits a certain niche for a single-worded insult to lobbied out in a moment of frustration, anger, provocation, or, of course, as a jest amongst friends. ‘Wanker’ fits the closest fit by ‘jerk’ or ‘asshole’, but to a slightly higher value.

                For example, ‘That guy just cut me up in traffic – what a wanker.’

                If you’re interested in languages and slangs, you shouldn’t miss these articles:

                Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

                Reference

                [1] Cockney Rhyming Slangs: What Is it?

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                Anna Chui

                Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Chief Editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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                Last Updated on July 3, 2020

                30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

                30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

                In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

                1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

                Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

                2. Focus on your breath

                Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

                3. Get organized and purge old items

                A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

                4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

                Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

                5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

                Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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                6. Smile more

                Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

                7. Don’t worry about the future

                As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

                8. Eat real food

                The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

                9. Choose being happy over being right

                Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

                10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

                Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

                11. Make use of filtering features on social media

                You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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                12. Get comfortable with silence

                When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

                13. Listen to understand, not to respond

                So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

                14. Put your troubles in a bubble

                Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

                15. Speak more slowly

                Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

                16. Don’t procrastinate

                Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

                17. Buy a coloring book

                Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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                18. Prioritize yourself

                You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

                19. Forgive others

                Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

                20. Check your expectations

                Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

                21. Engage in active play

                Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

                22. Stop criticizing yourself

                The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

                23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

                Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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                24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

                Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

                25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

                Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

                26. Manage your money

                Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

                27. Stop trying to control everything

                Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

                28. Practice affirmations

                Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

                29. Get up before sunrise

                Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

                30. Be yourself

                Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

                Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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