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.
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.
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Bird-outdated term for a woman, normally considered sexist.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’.
Boffin-a very brainy person or geek.
Bog-slang for toilet.
Bonnet-the hood of a car (as well as an old-fashioned hat).
Boot-the trunk of a car.
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.
Bubble and Squeak-a meal made from fried mashed potatoes and greens.
Bung-to carelessly put or shove something somewhere.
Butty-a sandwich eg. jam butty (jelly sandwich) or chip butty (french fry sandwich).
-mobile home/trailer.Car park
-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’.Cheerio
–fish and chip
-happy or pleased.Chum
-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
-excellent or splendid. We don’t normally use this one seriously any more, only sarcastically.Courgette
-an expression of surprise like ‘Blimey’.Crisps
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”.Curtains
– 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”.
Flutter– a brief, low stake gamble.
Football-soccer. Also refers to the actual ball.
Fortnight-a period of two weeks.
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.
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.
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.
I and J
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.
Pillock-a stupid/useless person eg. “What did you do that for you complete pillock?”
Ploughman’s-a traditional lunch consisting of cheese, onion and pickles.
Prat- a stupid or foolish person.
Pub-slang for a public house. Similar to a bar, that serves beer and often food.
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’.
Solicitor-a lawyer. (Nothing to do with ‘ladies of the night’!)
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.
Steady on– calm down/slow down or ‘whoa!’
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!”
-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
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?