What is British Slang?
British Slang is the special set of words and terms used in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries that have a unique meaning compared to the rest of the English-speaking world. It can often be confusing to non-native English speakers, as well as those who may have grown up in different parts of the world.
But, if you’re determined to sound like a local, the easiest way is to get your head around some of the most popular British slang words and phrases.
Here’s a list of the most popular British slang words to get you started.
Bap – rolls or buns.
Brew – a cup of tea.
Chuffed – pleased or happy with something.
Cup of tea
Cuppa – cup of tea.
Kip – an informal way of saying sleep.
Mate – term for friend or companion.
Pip pip – an informal way of saying goodbye.
Ta – short for thank you.
Cheers – thanks or expressing appreciation.
Blinder – a good performance.
Porky – a lie or untruth.
Bob’s your uncle
there you have it
Bob’s your uncle – there you have it.
Loo – toilet.
Bog – another word for toilet. This is usually more common among older generations.
Skive – to fool around or avoid something.
Make fun of
Send up – to make fun of someone or something.
Have a butcher’s
Have a look
Have a butcher’s – slang for have a look.
Randy – sexually excited.
Knackered – exhausted.
Briticism – a British-style expression or phrase.
Different Varieties of British Slang
Due to the large number of different dialects spoken in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and the British Isles as a whole, there are several different varieties of British Slang which vary from region to region.
For example, the British slang term “Brew” can mean a cup of tea in London, but it can mean beer in other places.
In addition, there are often phrases that exist only in certain regions or that carry different meanings based on the context in which they are used.
It’s important to keep in mind that although there are many varieties of British slang, the majority of it is shared by most English-speaking people living in the UK.
Here’s a list of different dialects of British slang:
London slang is all about having a good time and enjoying yourself. Most London slang words and phrases are used by young adults and are used in social situations.
Examples of London slang include:
Open the kimono – disclose secrets or private information
Plastered – very drunk
Loaded – have a lot of money
Dollar cab – taxi
Rum Tum Tugger – interesting and fun
Minger – unattractive person
Wagwan – Hey, what’s up
Scouse is the local dialect of Liverpool and the surrounding Merseyside area, and like any dialect it has its own set of slang words and phrases.
Examples of Scouse slang include:
Mint – great
Grub – food
Scran – food
Bubbler – drinking fountain
Eski – refrigerator
Bizzle – business
Brummie is the regional dialect of the West Midlands, around Birmingham and the surrounding areas. Since the dialect has been around for so long it has developed its own unique vocabulary which is often used in everyday speech.
Examples of Brummie slang include:
Bostin – great
Flick – a movie
Yampy – crazy
Purple Passage – to walk quickly
Putter – getting nowhere
Cab Bill – a bill for a taxi
Geordie is the local dialect of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the surrounding areas of North East England. Geordie is a very distinctive dialect and comes with its own distinct vocabulary.
Examples of Geordie slang include:
Howay man – Come on!
Gan canny – go easy
Divvint – don’t
Gadgie – man
Bevvy – beer
Clarty – dirty
Cornish is the traditional language of Cornwall, spoken by native Cornish people. This language has its own unique set of words and phrases which have been handed down through the generations.
Examples of Cornish slang include:
Blemmyn – friends
Chuggalug – to drink quickly
Bezza – a party
Dowrlow – down low
Chammy – muddy
Ardres – twice as much
Jocular expressions are popular slang terms used in the UK that are sometimes used to create a bit of humour or banter.
Examples of jocular expressions include:
Belly laugh – a very loud laugh
Cheesy grin – the act of smiling widely
Rubbish – terrible or nonsense
Rave on – to continue talking
Ag-lagger – someone who’s always angry
Tickety-boo – everything is great
Using British Slang
Now that you’ve got an understanding of what some of the popular British slang words and phrases are, it’s time to get into some more advanced tips to help you sound like a local.
When using British slang, it’s important to remember a few key points to ensure that you don’t make any embarrassing mistakes:
Consider the situation: Different slang words are used in different contexts and situations. For example, a phrase like “cheers” or “ta” might be considered too casual to use at a formal event.
Know who you’re talking to: Slang words and expressions can be seen as offensive or rude if used in the wrong situation or with the wrong people. Be sure to use slang with friends, family and people you are comfortable with.
Be aware of regional slang: As mentioned earlier, make sure to be aware of the regional language of each area. Different dialects of English may have different meanings for certain words and phrases.
Don’t use slang for every sentence: Remember that not everyone around you uses slang and some people may even be offended by it. Be sure to not use too many slang words per sentence and try to incorporate them naturally in your conversations.
British slang is an essential part of the culture and provides natives and visitors alike with an insight into the fascinating language of the UK. Although it can be confusing at first, mastering some of the popular words and phrases can be an entertaining experience and help you to sound like a true local.
It’s important to remember that each of the different regional dialects and the slang that comes with it is a reflection of a culture and way of life. As with all language, it’s important to be respectful when using slang, as it can often be offensive when used in the wrong way.
So, whether you’re a native of the British Isles, or a visitor trying to experience the culture, be sure to remember the slang of the region you’re in and keep this guide handy for reference when speaking.