British Slang | ‘C’

C of E – The Church of England. Our official protestant church – of which the Queen is the head.

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!

Cheesed off – This is a polite way of saying you are pissed off with something.

Chin Wag – This is another word for a Chat. You can probably tell why!

Chinese Whispers – This a good one. It refers to the way a story gets changed as is passes from one person to the next so that the end result may be completely different from what was originally said. Sound familiar?

Chivvy along – When I’m standing patiently in the checkout queue at Tesco I like to chivvy along the old ladies in front of me. If only they would stop fannying around and hurry up!

Chuffed – You would be chuffed to bits if you were really pleased about something.

Clear off! – This expression brings back memories of being a kid and stealing apples from people’s gardens. Sometimes we would get caught and some old bloke would come out and shout “oi clear off you lot”. It basically means get lost.

Cobblers – I have heard people say “what a load of cobblers” more than once. Maybe that’s because I talk so much rubbish. An equivalent would be what a load of bollocks. It means you are talking out of your butt and has nothing to do with any kind of dessert! Derived from the cockney rhyming slang where Cobblers Awls = Balls!

Cock up – A cock up means you have made a mistake. It has nothing to do with parts of the male body.

Cockney rhyming slang – There are lots of words that make up cockney rhyming slang. These are basically rhyming words like “butchers hook” which means “look”. If you are in London and you hear someone talk about a Septic they are probably talking about you – because it’s short for “Septic tank” which equals “yank”, which is our word for an American. How do you like that!

Codswallop – Another one I heard a lot as a kid – usually when I was making up excuses for how the window got broken or why my dinner was found behind the sofa. My Dad would tell me I was talking a load of codswallop. American kids might be talking baloney under the same circumstances.

Cor – You’ll often hear a Brit say “cor”! It is another one of those expressions of surprise that we seem to have so many of. It will sometimes be lengthened to “cor blimey” or “cor love a duck”, depending on where you are. “Cor blimey” is a variation of “Gawd Blimey” or “Gor Blimey”. They are all a corruption of the oath “God Blind Me”.

Cracking – If something is cracking, it means it is the best. Usually said without pronouncing the last “G”. If a girl is cracking it means she is stunning.

Cram – Before a big exam you would be expected to cram. This simply means to study hard in the period running up to the exam.

Crap – The same word in both countries – but less rude here. I loved watching Brits being interviewed on US chat shows and embarrassing the interviewer when they said something was “total crap”.

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About musingsofananglophile

Fran. 20. Anglophile. Daydreamer. English Literature Student.

Posted on June 17, 2012, in Language and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. An excellent round up: I thought you had missed out ‘chuffed’ but no, there it was….as a native, I salute your research 😀 Cheers!

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