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Chuffed to be visiting England? The meaning of unusual English expressions explained!

Updated on January 7, 2013

Separated by a common language?

If you're visiting England then you'll find that like any country, has it's own unique expressions which can be confusing for those not familiar with them - even if you're visiting England from an English speaking nation such as the USA or Canada. So, to help you on your way, here's a lighthearted look at 12 of the most common words or expressions you're likely to come across when visiting our shores or watching our exported TV shows.

Fancy a brew?

Brew = Hot Beverage
Brew = Hot Beverage

B is for...

Bevy - Used to describe an alcoholic drink. "Fancy a bevy?" = "Would you like to go out for a drink?". "I'll get the bevvies in." = "It's my turn to buy the drinks." From this we also get "Bevvied Up" which means drunk.

Brew - A hot drink, most commonly used in the north of England. "Do you fancy a brew?" = "Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?". Also used when making tea in the pot to describe the process of leaving it to get stronger. "I've just put the water in the pot, I'll leave it to brew a bit."

Butty - A sandwich as in "bacon butty" (breakfast), "jam butty" (lunch) and "chip butty" (dinner)

C is for...

Chinwag - To talk, most commonly used to refer to chattering or gossiping. "She's on the phone chinwagging to her mother again."

Chippy - The Fish & Chip shop, a British institution and no town or village is complete without one and neither is your visit to England. (Chips = fries). Often have humorous names such as "The Codfather". Posh ones exist in tourist spots where you're likely to get ripped off so ask a local where the nearest decent chippy is. Always sell fish, sausages and pies (and chips of course) but may also stock other local delicacies such as mushy peas, faggots (meat balls) and deep fried Mars bars. You must try a chip butty at least once in your life.

Chuffed - pleased, as in "She was chuffed with her new phone". Also used in the expression "Chuffed to bits" meaning really, really pleased. "She was chuffed to bits at winning the lottery."

Cuppa - Another expression for a hot drink but used more commonly right across England and generally refers to tea.

J is for...

Jammy - meaning lucky. "She was very jammy to win the lottery".

P is for...

Parky - meaning cold. "It's a bit parky out" = "It's cold outside"

Piece of Cake - Easy. "Signing up for Hub Pages is a piece of cake" meaning it's quick and straight forward to sign up for Hub Pages.

S is for...

Spend a penny - If you're visiting England and you need take a pee then this expression could come in handy. It's a polite way to say we want to visit the toilet. "I'm just off to spend a penny". It goes back to the time when public toilets cost 1p to visit. Probably one reason the Biritsh have fought the introduction of the Euro so hard as "I'm off to spend a Euro" simply doesn't sound the same, though it has been suggested by my husband that we could all "Euro-nate" instead.

W is for...

Welly - a wonderful word with many uses and meanings. A welly is an abbreviation for Wellington Boots (galoshes) and we all love our wellies! To welly means to travel at speed or put some effort in as in "Usain Bolt was giving it some welly up the 100m." During summer fetes and garden parties you can take part in "Welly Wanging" competitions, the object of the exercise being to throw (or wang) a welly as far as you possibly can. It even has its own World Championship. Apparently the current world record for men is 63.98m and for women it's 40.87m.

Wonderful Wellies!

Sorted?

I'm sure there will be many more strange and unusual phrases you'll come across when you're visiting England, but we're a friendly bunch so just ask someone, I'm sure they'll be happy to explain.

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    • SilkThimble profile image

      SilkThimble 5 years ago from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      I wasn't familiar with a number of these examples (despite many hours watching BBC America...). Interestingly, here in the states - at least in the northeast part of the country - we also use the expression "piece of cake" with the same meaning.

    • profile image

      twodawgs 5 years ago

      Loved this! I've always been fascinated with various regional slang expressions and their semantics, especially from the UK, since I was born there. I long have known what Wellies and chippies are. I even know what a "shooting break" is. The "bevy" I might have guessed, since we refer to "alcoholic beverages" quite a bit here in the US.

      The rest are pure enlightenment. Thanks for sharing, I was grinning the whole time I read through it.

    • Beth Pipe profile image
      Author

      Beth Pipe 5 years ago from Cumbria, UK

      Oh Mark you just made me laugh - my gran always used to say that!

    • profile image

      Mart Lawton 5 years ago

      As a Manchester guy living in the North East I use them all, except Parky, Chinwag, and Spend a Penny, these must be Southern phrases:-) Can I add the classic Northern phrase from my childhood of "Well I'll go to the foot of our stairs" - meaning surprise.

    • Beth Pipe profile image
      Author

      Beth Pipe 5 years ago from Cumbria, UK

      Thank you for all your kind comments. Yes, a chip butty is like a French fries sandwich and is divine. Only difference is or chips are usually thicker than fries. It's stodgy but fab!

    • Kristin Halsted profile image

      Kristin Halsted 5 years ago

      Love this! Had heard of a few of these, but never heard of a butty. So is a chip butty a french fry sandwich? How is it I had never thought of putting these two things together before? Brilliant! (And isn't that a British thing to say?) Thanks so much for this... it's well written and helpful. Voted up and useful!

    • Kate Frost profile image

      Kate Frost 5 years ago from UK

      We do have some great expressions in the UK! Great hub.

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom

      Beth, this made me laugh. There are some strange words knocking about. When I moved to England 3 years ago, I had a job learning different words. In Scotland a cob is a type of horse, but here it is a bread roll! At least I never got them mixed up here! Lol. Well written and very enjoyable hub.

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi Bethpipe! And welcome to Hubpages!

      Your hub made me smile so much. I'm originally from the UK and would do anything for a chip butty right now LOL. I'm looking forward to reading more of your hubs. Voted up!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, I love my wellys! lol we take them for granted, and forget that others don't have a clue what we English are talking about! only today on a hub I had to explain that I was 'gabbling on!' and he said, 'what the heck does that mean?' ha ha great list, cheers nell

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      From Canada here and there were a few that I did not know. Many that I've heard before. Chinwag is my favorite.

    • leroy64 profile image

      Brian L. Powell 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

      Thank you. You have cleared up some things for me.

    • itsmonkeyboy profile image

      itsmonkeyboy 5 years ago from London, UK

      Ha, very good, there are so many but you've picked some real pearlers. It depends where you're from as well as sometimes even my partner (who's originally from the south) can't understand some of my yellerbelly colloquialisms! Brilliant, thanks for a giggle :)

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      I really enjoyed this. I've always liked reading about regional language and customs. Nice job - interesting too.

    • Beth Pipe profile image
      Author

      Beth Pipe 5 years ago from Cumbria, UK

      Thank you! :-)

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Beth - you should be chuffed with this, it made me laugh :-)