British Slang and Colloquialisms, English and United Kingdom Slang
Not What You Say But The Way That You Say It!
British slang, colloquialisms, idioms and funny euphemisms are sometimes peculiar to the United Kingdom.
However even across the countries of the U.K. there are variations.
Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England may have some common slang words but Scotland in particular has a strange range of its own street talk.
As an English resident and born and bred woman I have encountered some real odd words down the years but many are now out of fashion.
A new slang vocabulary exists for the younger generation and that category probably includes the under 40s!
But before I start I will offer my apologies here and now to any reader who takes offence at any words or phrases reproduced below as no offence is intended. I will also apologize for any strange words or sayings that I foolishly thought were unique to the U.K. but are more international.
So here goes:
How Very English?
What Language Is This?
- Round the hat rack, generally means a bit barmy, or not all there.
- Lost the plot means that you have no idea what is going on.
- As much use as a chocolate fireguard or as a chocolate teapot. Hopefully this one is self explanatory. No? Well it means the person or thing referred to is useless.
- I'll make you smile on the other side of your face. This generally refers to a cheeky grinning child, threatened with a slap. Hopefully this one is becoming extinct.
- Its like the black hole of Calcutta in here, refers to a place that is very dark. I guess this one dates back to the days of Empire. The black hole of Calcutta was where prisoners were held back then.
- A bit of Aggro or Bovver refers to a fight or some such trouble.
- If he or she has been ASBO'ed they have received an Anti Social Behaviour Order from the courts or police.
- As Mad as a Hatter.
- One of my mother's funny expressions was about a person who was not very nice looking. He, or she, looks as if his Mother stood on his face to wind the clock up. Sorry this is not a nice expression but it still makes me laugh.
- A lick and a promise is not as exciting as it may sound. It simply means a job done in a hurry and not thoroughly.
- Your not backward at coming forwards are you?, may be said to someone who is definitely not shy.
- I'll give you something to cry about. This used to be said to a child who was crying, for no reason, and could mean that the child was in for a slap.
OK so that's a few sayings to get us started. So what about rude expressions, that are not really swearing. How about:
- Get knotted
- Shut your Gob (mouth)
- Shut yer cakehole (mouth, again)
- Get lost
- Get stuffed
- This is one of Hubby's put downs, to moronic individuals. Go polish the bolt in your neck.
- Have you got verbal diarrhoea?, may be asked of someone who never stops talking.
So how about a few words?
- Fireballer is a creep. Someone who is trying to get round you (another expression I guess)
- Plonker simply means you silly thing.
- Skive off. This means to avoid work or chores.
- Bunk off. This could refer to a child who is playing truant from school.
- Twagging, is also a word for playing truant.
- Pulling a sickie refers to someone absent from work who is pretending to be sick.
- Titfer is a hat. Perhaps this is like the Cockney rhyming slang. Tit for tat.
- One yer Bike, means no chance, clear off and stronger phrases.
- Med up for yer. Pleased for someone.
- Yer not as daft as yer look, are you? Well really what a cheeky saying.
- Thick as two short planks, could refer to someone who is not that bright.
- Stop going round the houses, will tell someone that you want them to get to the point.
- Spuds are potatoes.
Fashions and times change and this means that slang words and phrases often change also. In the second world war a Spiv was a person who traded goods on the black market, for example.These days the British language has plenty of American expressions used on a daily basis.
When I was young and rather a chatterbox or natterbag, as my Dad would say, Dad had a pertinent expression about me. He used to ask "Was you vaccinated with a Gramophone needle?" I guess most youngsters these days will have no idea what I am talking about.
Teenagers Have Their Own Universal Language
© 2010 Ethel Smith