Category Archives: Language
Easy Peasy – A childish term for something very easy. You might say it’s a snap.
Engaged – When you ring someone and they are already on the phone you will get the engaged tone. In other words, they will be engaged. You would say you get the busy signal or the line is busy.
Excuse me – This is a great one! It’s what kids are taught to say when they belch in public. We are also taught to say “pardon me” if we fart out loud. Unfortunately in American “excuse me” means you are encroaching in someone’s personal space and you say “pardon me” when you don’t hear someone properly. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that actually Americans are not belching and farting all the time.
Faff – To faff is to dither or to fanny around. If we procrastinated when getting ready for bed, as kids, our Dad use tell us we were faffing around.
Fagged – If you are too lazy or tired to do something you could say “I can’t be fagged”. It means you can’t be Bothered.
Fagging – Fagging is the practice of making new boys at boarding schools into slaves for the older boys. If you are fagging for an older boy you might find yourself running his bath, cleaning his shoes or performing more undesirable tasks.
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!!!
Fanny – This is the word for a woman’s front bits! One doesn’t normally talk about anyone’s fanny as it is a bit rude. You certainly don’t have a fanny pack, or smack people on their fannys – you would get arrested for that! Careful use of this word in the UK is advised!
Fanny around – I’m always telling people to stop fannying around and get on with it. It means to procrastinate. Drives me mad!
Fiddle sticks – I have an old Aunt who is much too well mannered to swear. So when the need arises for a swear word, she will substitute “fiddle sticks”.
Filch – To filch is to steal or pilfer. The origin is apparently unknown.
Fit – Fit is a word that I have heard a lot recently – it seems to be making a comeback. A fit bird means a girl who is pretty good looking or tasty! A fit bloke would be the male equivalent.
Flog – To Flog something is to sell it. It also means to beat something with a whip, but when your wife tells you she flogged the old TV it is more likely she has sold it than beaten it (hopefully!).
Fluke – If something great happened to you by chance that would be a fluke. When I was a kid my Mum lost her engagement ring on the beach and only realised half way home. We went back to the spot and she found it in the sand. That was a fluke.
Flutter – I like to have a flutter on the horses. It means to have a bet, usually a small one by someone who is not a serious gambler.
Fortnight – Two weeks. Comes from an abbreviation of “fourteen nights”. Hence terms like “I’m off for a fortnights holiday” meaning “I am going on a two week vacation”.
Fruity – If someone is feeling fruity then they are feeling frisky. Watch out!
Full monty – Since the movie has come out of the same name I have heard some odd Texan descriptions of what the full monty means. It really has nothing to do with taking your clothes off. It just means the whole thing or going the whole way. That’s it. Clearly when applied to stripping it means not stopping at your underwear! The origins of the expression are still under discussion. There are many theories but no conclusive evidence at the moment.
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!
- a, ah – I
- aboot – about
- ahyacunt – Ouch, that hurt
- airt – Art or culture
- am ur – I am
- am’no – I am not
- amurNay – I am not
- aslaat – “I was like that”; i.e., I was remarked to say (So the boss sez tae me that I was lazy, and aslaat “Naw amurNay!”)
- Auld Reekie – Edinburgh (Scotland’s capital city)
- awiznae – I was not
- awrite – alright
- aye – Yes
- arse bandit – a gay man
- anno – I know
Daft – My Dad used to call me a daft ‘apeth which is short for a daft half penny (in old money). It basically means stupid.
Dekko – To have a look at something.
Dear – If something is dear it means it is expensive. I thought Texan insurance was dear.
Dicky – Dicky rhymes with sicky and means you feel sick.
Diddle – To rip someone off or to con someone is to diddle them. When you visit England, check your change to make sure you haven’t been diddled!
Dim – A dim person is stupid or thick or a dimwit. Dimwit – Someone a bit on the dim side.
Dishy – If someone is a bit of a dish or a bit dishy it means they are attractive or good looking.
DIY – This is short for do it yourself and applies not just to the DIY stores but also to anything that you need to do yourself. For example, if we get really bad service in a restaurant (oh, you noticed!) then we might ask the waiter if it is a DIY restaurant – just to wind them up.
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”.
Do – If you drive along a motorway in the wrong lane the police will do you. You could then tell your friends that you have been done by the police. Prosecute is another word for it!
Doddle – Something that is a doddle is a cinch, it’s easy. Unlike ordering water in Texas with an English accent, which is definitely not a doddle!
Dodgy – If someone or something is a bit dodgy, it is not to be trusted. Dodgy food should be thrown away at home, or sent back in a restaurant. Dodgy people are best avoided. You never know what they are up to. Dodgy goods may have been nicked. When visiting Miami I was advised by some English chums that certain areas were a bit dodgy and should be avoided!
Dog’s bollocks – You would say that something really fantastic was the dog’s bollocks. Comes from the fact that a dog’s bollocks are so fantastic that he can’t stop licking them! Nice huh? Often shortened to just “The dog’s”.
Dog’s dinner – If you make a real mess of something it might be described as a real dog’s dinner. A bit like some joint Anglo-American approaches to Eastern Europe for example!
Donkey’s years – Someone said to me the other day that they hadn’t seen me for donkey’s years. It means they hadn’t seen me for ages.
Drop a clanger – When I asked a large lady on the tube if she would like my seat since she was so obviously pregnant, she took the seat then told me she was fat, not pregnant! Boy did I drop a clanger. You might make a gaffe. Either way it was horrendously embarrassing, especially as half the people on the tube had heard me!
Duck – In and around Leeds you will find older people might call you “duck” in the same way that they might call you “love” or “dear” in other places. Usually pronounced more like “dook”, which rhymes with “book”.
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.
Dull – You would say something that was no longer sharp was dull. We would say blunt. To us something is dull if it is boring. It can apply to things – like a film could be dull. It also applies to people – I can think of several people who are dull!
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”.
Baccy – Tobacco. The sort you use to roll your own.
Bang – Nothing to do with your hair – this is a rather unattractive way of describing having sex. Always gets a smile from Brits in American hair dressers when they are asked about their bangs.
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!
Beastly – You would call something or somebody beastly if they were really nasty or unpleasant. Most people would consider you a snob or an upper class git if you used this word. People like Fergie can get away with it though.
Bees Knees – This is the polite version of the dog’s bollocks. So if you are in polite company and want to say that something was fabulous, this phrase might come in handy.
Belt up – For some reason I heard this quite a lot as a kid. It’s the British for shut up.
Bender – I used to go out on a bender quite frequently when I was at university. Luckily bender doesn’t only mean a gay man, it also means a pub crawl or a heavy drinking session.
Bespoke – We say something is bespoke if it has been created especially for someone, in the same way that you say custom. For example a computer program might be bespoken for a client, or you may order a bespoke holiday, where the travel agent creates an itinerary around your exact requirements.
Best of British – If someone says “The best of British to you” when you are visiting the UK, it simply means good luck. It is short for “best of British luck”.
Biggie – This is unusual. A biggie is what a child calls his poo! Hence the reason Wendy’s Hamburgers has never really taken off in England – who would buy “biggie fries”? Yuck – I’m sure you wouldn’t buy poo fries! The other meaning of Biggie is erection. It just gets worse!
Bite your arm off – This is not aggressive behaviour that a football fan might engage in. In fact it just means that someone is over excited to get something. For instance you might say that kids would bite your arm off for an ice cream on a sunny day.
Bladdered – This rather ugly expression is another way of saying you are drunk. The link is fairly apparent I feel!
Blast – An exclamation of surprise. You may also hear someone shout “blast it”, or even “bugger and blast”!
Blatant – We use this word a lot to mean something is really obvious.
Bleeding – An alternative to the word bloody. You’ll hear people say “bleeding hell” or “not bleeding likely” for example.
Blimey – Another exclamation of surprise. My Dad used to say “Gawd Blimey” or “Gor Blimey” or even “Cor Blimey”. It is all a corruption of the oath God Blind Me.
Blinding – If something is a blinding success – it does not mean that any eyes were poked out with sharp sticks – it means it was awesome.
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.
Bloody – One of the most useful swear words in English. Mostly used as an exclamation of surprise i.e. “bloody hell” or “bloody nora”. Something may be “bloody marvellous” or “bloody awful”. It is also used to emphasise almost anything, “you’re bloody mad”, “not bloody likely” and can also be used in the middle of other words to emphasise them. E.g. “Abso-bloody-lutely”! Americans should avoid saying “bloody” as they sound silly.
Blooming – Another alternative to the word bloody. You might hear someone say “not blooming likely” so that they don’t have to swear.
Blow me – When an English colleague of mine exclaimed “Blow Me” in front of a large American audience, he brought the house down. It is simply an exclamation of surprise, short for “Blow me down”, meaning something like I am so surprised you could knock me over just by blowing. Similar to “Well knock me down with a feather”. It is not a request for services to be performed.
Blow off – Who blew off? Means who farted? Constant source of amusement to us Brits when you guys talk about blowing people off. Conjours up all sort of bizarre images!
Blunt – If a saw or a knife is not sharp we say it is blunt. It is also the way most of us speak! In America the knife would be dull.
Bob’s your uncle – This is a well used phrase. It is added to the end of sentences a bit like and that’s it! For example if you are telling someone how to make that fabulous banoffee pie you just served them, you would tell them to boil the condensed milk for three hours, spread it onto a basic cheesecake base, slice bananas on top, add some whipped double cream, another layer of banana and Bob’s your uncle!
Bodge – We bodge things all the time here. I’m sure you do too! To do a bodge job means to do a quick and dirty. Make it look good for the next day or two and if it falls down after that – hey well we only bodged it! Applies to building, DIY, programming and most other things.
Bogey – Booger. Any variety, crusty dragons included!
Bollocks – This is a great English word with many excellent uses. Technically speaking it means testicles but is typically used to describe something that is no good (that’s bollocks) or that someone is talking rubbish (he’s talking bollocks). Surprisingly it is also used in a positive manner to describe something that is the best, in which case you would describe it as being “the dog’s bollocks”. Englishmen who live in America take great delight in ordering specialised registration plates for their cars using the letters B.O.L.L.O.X. Good eh?
Bomb – If something costs a bomb it means that it is really expensive. We say it when we see the price of insurance in the US, you could try saying it when you see how much jeans or petrol cost over here!
Bomb – If something goes like a bomb it means it is going really well or really fast. Or you could say an event went down like a bomb and it would mean that the people really enjoyed it. In the US the meaning would be almost exactly the reverse.
Bonk – Same meaning as shag. Means to have sex. E.g. “Did you bonk him/her?”.
Botch – There are two expressions here – to botch something up or to do a botch job. They both mean that the work done was not of a high standard or was a clumsy patch. My Dad used to always tell me that workmen had botched it up and that he should have done the work properly himself.
Bottle – Something you have after twenty pints of lager and a curry. A lotta bottle! This means courage. If you have a lotta bottle you have no fear.
Box your ears – Many young chaps heard their dads threaten to box their ears when I was a littlun. Generally meant a slap around the head for misbehaving. Probably illegal these days!!
Brassed off – If you are brassed off with something or someone, you are fed up. Pissed perhaps.
Brill – Short for “brilliant”. Used by kids to mean cool.
Budge up – If you want to sit down and someone is taking up too much space, you’d ask them to budge up – move and make some space.
Bugger – This is another fairly unique word with no real American equivalent. Like bloody it has many uses apart from the obvious dictionary one pertaining to rather unusual sexual habits. My father was always shouting “bugger” when he was working in the garage or garden. Usually when he hit his thumb or dropped a nail or lost something. Today we might use the sh** or the f*** words but bugger is still as common. The fuller version of this would be “bugger it”. It can also be used to tell someone to get lost (bugger off), or to admit defeat (we’re buggered) or if you were tired or exhausted you would be buggered. You can also call someone a bugger. When I won £10 on the lottery my mate called me a “lucky bugger”.
Bugger all – If something costs bugger all, it means that it costs nothing. Meaning it is cheap. If you have bugger all, it means you have nothing.
Bum – This is the part of your body you sit on. Your ass! It might also be someone who is down and out, like a tramp. You might also bum around, if you are doing nothing in particular, just hanging out. Finally to bum something means to scrounge it from someone.
Bung – To bung something means to throw it. For example a street trader might bung something in for free if you pay cash right now! Or you could say “bung my car keys over, mate“.
Bung – A bung is also a bribe.
Butchers – To have a butchers at something is to have a look. This is a cockney rhyming slang word that has become common. The reason “butchers” means a look even though it doesn’t rhyme is because it is short for “butchers hook” and “hook” of course, does rhyme.
bags (n) – A botched job (also see “hames”)
Eg: That guy made a right bags of me corned beef and cabbage.
Bowsie(n)- Person (esp. male) of very disreputable character. A useless good-for-nothing?
Eg:Hey, that Bowsie totally just cut me in the bathroom line.
Bollixed (adj) (see fluthered, gee-eyed, rat-arsed) – Somewhat in excess of the legal alcohol driving limit.
Eg:I think thats my last Baileys dude. I am way bollixed
Chisseler (n) – young child
I cant believe Snooky has a chisseler on the way.
Cute hoor (n) – suspiciously resourceful gentleman
Eg:Speaking from his villa in the Alps, the cute hoor denied making any payments to politicna for favorable contracts.
Donkeys years (n) – Inordrdinately long amount of time. An epoch. A time memorial.
Eg:I haven’t marched in a parade in donkey’s years.
Fanny (n) – Females genitals
(Not a woman’s rear as usually assumed. Take note)
Flahulach (adj) (pronounced Flah-hule-uck) – generous
Eg: Wow. You left a tip. You must be feeling rather flaulach today.
Gaff (n) – Home. Place of residence.
Eg: Thats some pretty fancy gaff you got there with that yard and those trees.
Ganky (n) – repulsive, ugly
Eg: This green corned beef is rather ganky.
Gollier (n)- A mass of phglem expelled from mouth at high speed.
Eg: Watch it man! You just got a gollier in my beer.
Gurrier (n) – Hooligan. Ruffian. Delinquent.
Eg: Hey I think I’ve spotted the Gurrier who ran off with my kids shamrock balloon.
Heavin’ (adj) – Thoroughly packed.
Eg: Wow! O’Reillys is heavin’ tonight.
Hockeyed (v) – heavily deafeted
Eg:Is it me or are the New Jersey Nets hockeyed every night?
Hop (v) – Play truant from school.
Eg: Lets go the hop and see the parade in the city?
Jacks (n) – toilet, restroom
Eg: C’mon man hurry up. You’re not the only one who has to use the jacks pal.
Jo Maxi (n) – cab
Eg: I think you’re pretty bollixed. I’m calling you a Jo Maxi.
Me oul’ segotia (expression) – Term of endearment. My old flower.
Eg: I’ll see you at the parade with me oul’ segotia.
Ace – If something is ace it is awesome. I used to hear it a lot in Liverpool. Kids thought all cool stuff was ace, or brill.
Aggro – Short for aggravation, it’s the sort of thing you might expect at a football match. In other words – trouble! There is sometimes aggro in the cities after the pubs shut!
All right? – This is used a lot around London and the south to mean, “Hello, how are you”? You would say it to a complete stranger or someone you knew. The normal response would be for them to say “All right”? back to you. It is said as a question. Sometimes it might get expanded to “all right mate”? Mostly used by blue collar workers but also common among younger people.
Anti-clockwise – The first time I said that something had gone anti-clockwise to someone in Texas I got this very funny look. It simply means counter-clockwise but must sound really strange to you chaps! I think he thought I had something against clocks!
Any road – Up north (where they talk funny!!) instead of saying anyway, they say “any road”! Weird huh?
Arse – This is a word that doesn’t seem to exist in America. It basically means the same as ass, but is much ruder. It is used in phrases like “pain in the arse” (a nuisance) or I “can’t be arsed” (I can’t be bothered) or you might hear something was “a half arsed attempt” meaning that it was not done properly.
Arse about face – This means you are doing something back to front.
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!
Arse over tit – Another version of arse over elbow, but a bit more graphic!
Arsehole – Asshole to you. Not a nice word in either language.
Arseholed – Drunk! Usually in the advanced stages of drunken stupor, someone would be considered “completely arseholed”. Never me, of course!
As well – You chaps say also when we would say “too” or “as well”. For instance if my friend ordered a Miller Lite, I would say “I’ll have one as well”. I often heard people saying something like “I’ll have one also”. You’d be more likely to hear someone in England ordering a pint of lager!
Ass – Your backside, but mostly a donkey!
Au fait – Another one of those French expressions that have slipped into the English language. This one means to be familiar with something. I’d say at the end of reading all this you’d be au fait with the differences between American and English!