G is for Glossary

Posted April 8, 2014 in A-Z Challenge / 15 Comments

Today I’m continuing with the A-Z Blogging Challenge. The aim is to write a post for every day of the month except for Sundays, with each post representing a different letter of the alphabet. This year I’m doing an A-Z of Great Britain, covering as much as I can about British music, literature, TV and film, food, wildlife and culture.

For the letter ‘G’, I’ve decided to write a Glossary of some popular British words and phrases (an A-Z within an A-Z! So meta!) This list is not comprehensive but includes the words I think most relevant. If you notice any mistakes please feel free to tell me in the comments so I can correct them. I apologise in advance for the length of this post!


A-Levels-Exams taken at age 18, usually in order to attend university.
Afters-dessert, pudding.
Aubergine (oh-ber-jean)-eggplant.


Bagsie– to stake your claim for something eg. “I bagsie the last slice of pizza!”
Bairn-Scottish for baby.
Bangers-Sausages. ‘Bangers and mash’ (sausages with mashed potatoes) is a popular meal.
Bank Holidays-individual days when the banks and businesses are closed and schools are shut.
Barmy-crazy or strange.
Berk-an idiot.
Bin-a trash can/waste paper basket.
Bird-outdated term for a woman, normally considered sexist.
Biscuit-a cookie or sometimes a cracker (as in ‘cheese and biscuits’).
Bitter-a type of British beer.
Black Pudding-this is actually a type of blood sausage, not a dessert!
Blancmange (blah-mahn-je)-a wobbly pudding similar to custard or jello.

Blimey-an expression of surprise like ‘wow’.
Bobby-an old-fashioned word for a policeman, named after their founder, Robert Peel.
Bob’s Your Uncle-a way of saying ‘there you have it’ or ‘everything’s done/complete’.
Bloke-a guy.
Boffin-a very brainy person or geek.
Bog-slang for toilet.
Bogey-a booger.
Bonnet-the hood of a car (as well as an old-fashioned hat).
Boot-the trunk of a car.
Bloke-a guy.
Braces-suspenders (as well as dental devices to straighten teeth). But in the UK, ‘suspenders’ are things that attach to women’s underwear to hold up their stockings. 
Broke-having no money.
Brolly-an umbrella.
Bubble and Squeak-a meal made from fried mashed potatoes and greens.
Buggy-a stroller.
Bum-your backside/butt.
Bung-to carelessly put or shove something somewhere.
Butty-a sandwich eg. jam butty (jelly sandwich) or chip butty (french fry sandwich).


Candyfloss-cotton candy.
Caravan-mobile home/trailer.
Car park-parking lot.
Chap-a guy.
Chav-a slang term for a ‘common’ person, assumed to have low-ish intelligence who wears designer-label copies and lives off MacDonalds. They are often teased, much like Rednecks are in the US.
Cheers-what we say when we make a toast and clink glasses, or another way of saying ‘thanks’ or ‘bye’.
Chemist-drug store/pharmacy.
Chippiefish and chip shop.
Chuffed-happy or pleased.
Chum-friend, pal.
Chutney-a vegetable preserve, usually spiced and eaten with cheese and crackers.
Clotted cream-a cream so thick you can spread it with a knife. Usually eaten with scones and jam (known as a ‘Cream tea’).
Coach-a kind of bus for long distance journeys that you book in advance.
Cockney-anyone born within the sound (hearing distance) of the Bow bells in London (the East end). They have a very recognisable accent (think Bert from Mary Poppins) and slang terminology (Cockney Rhyming Slang). People from other countries seem to think all English people sound like this!
Conk-the nose.
Cooker-oven, stove.
Cotton buds-Q-tips.
Corking-excellent or splendid. We don’t normally use this one seriously any more, only sarcastically.
Crikey-an expression of surprise like ‘Blimey’.
Crisps-potato chips.
Crumpet-a savoury griddle cake with holes in made from flour and yeast. We usually toast them and eat them with butter and/or Marmite. Also an out-dated slang word for an attractive woman, usually only used in parodies of the upper class eg. “She’s a nice bit of crumpet”.
CV– a resumé. It stands for ‘Curriculum Vitae’ which means ‘life’s work’ in Latin.


Daft-silly, absent minded or stupid.
Dapper-well dressed or well spoken.
Dead on-exactly at a certain time eg. “We’re meeting dead on 12 o’clock.”
Digs-rented accommodation used by students.
Divvy-silly or stupid eg. “Don’t be so divvy”. Also slang for dividing something eg. “Let’s divvy up the bill between us”.
Dodgy-dishonest or unreliable eg. “that man in the stripy shirt with the swag bag and mask looks a bit dodgy” or “I had a dodgy van  that kept breaking down and eventually the wheels fell off”.
Dozy-slow to grasp things.
Dressing gown-bath robe.
Driving me spare-sending me crazy, to my wit’s end.
Dual carriageway-divided highway.
Dummy-a baby’s pacifier (as well as an idiot or a manikin).


Engaged-busy or taken (said of telephones and toilet cubicles etc.)


Faff about-to go around doing little things that aren’t relevant, to procrastinate eg. “stop faffing about and get ready to leave”.
Fancy-to be attracted to someone eg. “she really fancies you”.
Fete (fate)-a small village festival.
Fish fingers-fish sticks.
Fit-modern slang for being attractive eg. “that bloke is well fit”.
Flat-an apartment.
Flutter– a brief, low stake gamble.
Football-soccer. Also refers to the actual ball.
Fortnight-a period of two weeks.
Fringe-hair bangs.
Full stop-a period.


Gander-to ‘have a gander’ means to take a look at something.
Gateau (ga-toe) a rich cake, usually chocolate or berries (a ‘black forest gateau).

Gear stick-stick shift.
Git-a jerk.
Give over-similar to ‘give me a break’. You say ‘give over’ when you want someone to stop teasing or messing around.
Gob-slang for the mouth or to spit.
Gobsmacked-completely surprised, astonished eg. “When he proposed I was utterly gobsmacked”.
Gormless-a bit brain dead.
Grass up-to inform on someone eg. give them away to the law or tell a teacher/parent about someone’s wrong doing and getting them into trouble.
Grotty-dirty or unpleasant.


Headmaster-school principal.
Higgledy-Piggledy-messy, disorganised. eg. “The clothes were thrown across the bed all higgledy-piggledy”.
Holiday-time off work/school or a vacation.
Homely-pleasant or comfortable.
Hooter-a horn or slang for the nose.
Hoover-vacuum cleaner.

I and J

Jumper-sweater, pullover.


Keep schtum-keep quiet, keep your mouth shut.

Kick the bucket-to die.
Kip-a short sleep or nap.
Knackered-tired, worn out.
Knickers-girls’ underpants, panties.


Lay-by-roadside rest area.
Lead (leed) a leash.
Lolly-a popsicle or slang for money.
Loo-slang for toilet/restroom.
Lounge-living room, sitting room.


Manky-dirty, old and/or rotten
Marmite-a savoury spread made from yeast extract, which you either love or hate!
Mobile phone-cell phone.
Moreish-when a food has an almost addictive quality that makes you want to keep eating more eg. jaffa cakes, pringles.


Naff-tacky and rubbish.
Nappy-the equivalent of a diaper.
Narked-annoyed about something.
Nick-to steal. But ‘to be nicked’ can also mean to be arrested.
Nip-to go quickly to a place eg. “I’m just nipping out to get a loaf of bread”.
Noughts and crosses-tic tac toe.
Nutter-a crazy person.


Off-Licence-a liquor store.
Over the Moon-very happy, delighted.


Pants-underwear, not what you wear on your legs.
Parliament-the government that rule the UK.
Pastie (past-ee)-a meat or vegetable filled pastry.
Pear-shaped-when something has gone horribly wrong eg. “I’ve missed my train, it’s all gone pear-shaped.”
Peckish-a little hungry.
Pensioner-a senior citizen.
Plaster-band aid.
Plonker-an idiot.
Postboxmail box.
Pillock-a stupid/useless person eg. “What did you do that for you complete pillock?” 
Plimsolls-gym shoes.
Ploughman’s-a traditional lunch consisting of cheese, onion and pickles.
Pram-stroller/baby carriage.
Prat- a stupid or foolish person.
Pub-slang for a public house. Similar to a bar, that serves beer and often food.
Pumps-gym shoes.
Purse-a small bag to put your money into-the male equivalent of a wallet. The larger bag used for putting your keys, phone, make-up etc. into is called a handbag. 
Push chair-stroller/baby carriage.


Quid-slang for a pound coin. Similar to the US ‘buck’.


Roundabout-a traffic circle/rotary.
Rubber-eraser. No rude connotations as in the US!


Sack-to fire someone from a job.
Scone-a kind of cake with raisins or cherries that is traditionally eaten with clotted cream and jam (jelly). Apparently similar to what those in the US would call a biscuit.
Scrumpy-home brewed cider.
Sellotape-adhesive/sticky tape/scotch tape.
Shirty-irritable or bad tempered eg. “Hey, don’t get shirty with me, I was only trying to help!”
Skint-having no money.
Skive-to avoid working/going to school, ‘playing hookie’.
Snogging-kissing/making out.
Solicitor-a lawyer. (Nothing to do with ‘ladies of the night’!)
Spanner-monkey wrench.
Spend a penny-go to the toilet (you used to have to pay a penny to enter a public convenience).
Spew-vomit. Not the same as what it means in California I’m told!
Spiffing-excellent or first rate. Rarely used now except sarcastically.
Sprog-an infant.
Starter-an appetizer. 
Steady on– calm down/slow down or ‘whoa!’
Stroppy-unfairly grumpy.
Suss out-to figure something out. 
Swizz– a small con or swindle, a rip-off, eg. “£1 for a packet of crisps, what a swizz!”


Tea-As well as the hot drink, it also describes a light meal in the early evening.
Tippex-equivalent to whiteout.
Toasted teacake-a kind of sweetened bread (like a muffin) made with raisins.
Tea towel-dish towel.
Toff-a derogatory term for an upper class person.
Tosh-foolish nonsense, eg. “You think your team will win tomorrow? That’s utter tosh”.
Totty-another outdated and rather sexist word for attractive women.
Trolley-a shopping cart. To be ‘off your trolley’ is to be mad/crazy. To get ‘trollied’ means to get utterly drunk.
Twig-to realise or catch on to something.


Underground-the London subway system, also called ‘the tube’.


Vacant-free or not occupied. We also say someone looks ‘vacant’ when they are staring at nothing or daydreaming.
Vest-undershirt with straps, a cami top.


Waistcoat-sleeveless garment worn over a shirt and underneath a man’s jacket (what those in the US would probably call a vest). 
Wee-Scottish word for small.
Wellies-Wellington boots, rubber boots/galoshes.
Whacked-tired out, exhausted.
Whinge-to whine or moan about something.
Whoops-a-daisy– similar to ‘oops’.
Wicked-modern slang for great, excellent.
Wonky-crooked or not straight.

X, Y and Z

Yob-a hooligan.
Yonks-a long time eg. “I haven’t seen you in yonks!”
Yorkshire pudding-a savoury baked batter usually eaten with Sunday dinner.
Zebra crossing-a pedestrian crossing with black and white stripes where cars should automatically stop to let you walk across.
I’m a little concerned that we have so many British words and phrases for ‘crazy’ and ‘idiot’!
Were any of these words/phrases new to you? Have you ever had an amusing mix-up? What’s your favourite British expression?

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15 responses to “G is for Glossary

  1. I LOVE learning the colloquial terms. I often chat with another author who lives in the UK. She baffled me the first time she said she was cooking Tea (dinner) and then for pudding (dessert) they were going to have Ice Cream. o.O I think I've got the hang of it now. A few more conversations and I just may be ready for that trip I've been dreaming about for years. I love to tease her about putting ice in her tea…*giggles* sacrilege, I know. Thanks for the awesome list!

  2. Hi, thanks for visiting! A boffin is a really brainy person eg. "Brian Cox is that science boffin from the BBC". It can also be a mild, friendly insult directed at a geek/nerd eg. "You scored 100% on the test? You little boffin." I will add it to the list!

  3. I love it when funny misunderstandings arise. It's particularly hilarious to me when a TV show like The Simpsons intentionally says something with rude connotations in the UK. You should totally make that trip one day! Thanks for dropping by.

  4. Blimey, I loved this! I'm all set to go to London now. 😀

    I always wanted to know what a fortnight was, but never bothered to look it up. Haha. Now I know. 😉

  5. This is awesome. I laugh about the terms that Yanks and Brits use and tho we use the same language we don't. I co-published a book with a British friend our second edition is in two languages: British and American.

    Happy A to Zing
    hopeful for spring

  6. Tizzie – I'm so chuffed that Gail recommended your blog in her post today. I'm in the US, but have made more blogging buddies in the UK than anywhere else. I am going to bedazzle them with my new-found British lingo. Great job!!

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