The Curious Autodidact

February 18, 2009

British Expressions to Learn and Laugh with

Filed under: Word Related — Honilima @ 8:47 pm

Here are some British Expressions you may or may not be familiar with, there are tons more but they aren’t so “family friendly”

Ace – If something is ace it is brilliant. I used to hear it a lot in Liverpool. Kids thought all cool stuff was ace, or brill.

Arse over elbow – This is another way of saying head over heels but is a little more descriptive. Usually happens after 11pm on a Saturday night and too many lagers! Some Americans say ass over teakettle apparently!

Baccy – Tobacco. The sort you use to roll your own.

Barmy – If someone tells you that you’re barmy they mean you have gone mad or crazy. For example you’d have to be barmy to visit England without trying black pudding

Blinkered – Someone who is blinkered is narrow minded or narrow sighted – they only see one view on a subject. It comes from when horses that pulled carriages wore blinkers to stop them seeing to the side or behind them which stopped them from being startled and only let them see where they were going.

Blooming – Another alternative to the word bloody. You might hear someone say “not blooming likely” so that they don’t have to swear.

Bottle – Something you have after twenty pints of lager and the curry. A lotta bottle! This means courage. If you have a lotta bottle you have no fear.

Chat up – To chat someone up is to try and pick them up. If you spotted a scrummy girly in a bar you might try to chat her up. Or a girl might try and chat up a chap!

Cheeky – “Eee you cheeky monkey” was what my mother said to me all the time when I was a kid. Cheeky means you are flippant, have too much lip or are a bit of a smart arse! Generally you are considered to be a bit cheeky if you have an answer for everything and always have the last word. My licence plate on my MX5 (Miata in American) was CHEEKY, which most Texans thought was something to do with bottoms – wrong!!

Cheerio – Not a breakfast cereal. Just a friendly way of saying goodbye. Or in the north “tara” which is pronounced sort of like “churar”.

Cheers – This word is obviously used when drinking with friends. However, it also has other colloquial meanings. For example when saying goodbye you could say “cheers”, or “cheers then”. It also means thank you. Americans could use it in English pubs, but should avoid the other situations as it sounds wrong with an American accent. Sorry!

Crikey – Another exclamation of surprise. Some people say “Crikey Moses”.

Dishy – If someone is a bit of a dish or a bit dishy it means they are attractive or good looking.

Do – A party. You would go to a do if you were going to a party in the UK.

Do – If you go into a shop and say “do you do batteries?” it means “do you sell batteries”.

Duff – Anything that is duff is useless, junk, trash. It usually means that the object doesn’t do the job it was intended for. Our last Prime Minister was pretty duff!

Duffer – Any person that is duff could be referred to as a duffer. The Prime Minister was a duffer.

Fancy – If you fancy something then it means you desire it. There are two basic forms in common use – food and people. If you fancy a cake for example it means you like the look of it and you want to eat it. If you see someone of (hopefully) the opposite sex then you might fancy them if you liked the look of them and wanted to get to know them a little better!!!

Full of beans – This means to have loads of energy. It is a polite way of saying that a child is a maniac. I was often described as being full of beans as a kid and now it is my wife’s way of telling me to keep still when she is trying to get to sleep. Strangely the same expression in some parts of the US means that you are exaggerating or talking bollocks!

Hunky-dory – My English dictionary tells me that hunky-dory means excellent. We would generally use it to mean that everything is cool and groovy, on plan, no worries and generally going well.

Nark – If someone is in a nark, it means they are in a bad mood, or being grumpy. It’s also the word for a spy or informant. For example a coppers nark is someone who is a police informant – which you might call a stoolie or stool-pigeon. The origin is from the Romany word, nak, meaning “nose”.

Off your trolley – If someone tells you that you’re off your trolley, it means you have gone raving bonkers, crazy, mad!

Read – If someone asks you what you read at university, they mean what was your major at school.

Row – Rhymes with “cow” this means an argument. You might hear your Mum having a row with your Dad, or your neighbours might be rowing so loud you can hear them!

Scrummy – This is a word that would be used to describe either some food that was particularly good (and probably sweet and fattening).

Shag – Same as bonk but slightly less polite. At seventies parties watch the look of surprise on the Englishman’s face when an American girl asks him if he would like to shag. Best way to get a Brit to dance that I know! You can even go to shagging classes!

Stonking – This weird word means huge. You might say “what a stonking great burger” if you were in an American burger joint.

Tickety-boo – If something is going well with no problems we would say it is tickety-boo.

Totty – If a chap is out looking for totty, he is looking for a nice girl to chat up. There is an Italian football player called Totti – which is pronounced the same. It’s really funny hearing the commentators when he gets the ball saying “it’s Totty for Italy”. It sounds like some beautiful Italian girlies have invaded the pitch.

TTFN – Short for “ta ta for now”. Which in turn means goodbye! Said by older folks and one Radio Two DJ in particular.

Twit – You twit! Not so rude as calling someone an idiot but it amounts to the same thing. Remember Monty Python’s “Twit of the Year” competition? Other versions include “nitwit”.

Wangle – Some people have all the luck. I know some people that can wangle anything; upgrades on planes, better rooms in hotels. You know what I mean.

Wank – This is the verb to describe the action a wanker participates in.

Wanker – This is a derogatory term used to describe someone who is a bit of a jerk. It actually means someone who masturbates and also has a hand signal that can be done with one hand at people that cannot see you shouting “wanker” at them. This is particularly useful when driving.

Watcha – Simply means Hi. Also short for “what do you” as in “watcha think of that”?

Wobbler – To “throw a wobbly” or to “throw a wobbler” means to have a tantrum. Normally happens when you tell your kids they can’t have an ice cream or that it’s time for bed.

Wonky – If something is shaky or unstable you might say it is wonky. For example I changed my chair in a restaurant recently because I had a wonky one.

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