Short for aggravation. Generally means trouble, usually involving violence. Many of Britain’s quaint market towns are full of aggro on Friday and Saturday nights.
ALL OVER THE SHOP
Something that’s a mess or is directionless. “Their defence is all over the bloody shop.”
A general greeting. Saying “All right?” (more usually pronounced “Orwight?”) is the equivalent of “Hello!”. Saying “Are you all right?” is generally reserved for talking to someone who’s just fallen off a ladder.
A small child.
What Americans call a geek or nerd. Named after the kind of coats worn by trainspotters. Can also be used to show your contempt for anoraks by interrupting their debate on the best kind of video card by saying, “Hang on, I’ll get me anorak.”
Your backside. In American this is “ass” but “arse” just sounds better. Can also be to describe laziness, as in “I couldn’t be arsed to go to the shops” or if you’ve messed something up - “That was a right half-arsed attempt”.
Exasperation upon, say, dropping your keys down the toilet: “Oh arseholes!”
ARSE ABOUT FACE
Something that’s back to front, eg: “We were putting the bookcase together when I realised the shelves were arse-about-face.”
An expression of disgust, far more colourful than just saying “shit”. Typical usage: “I’ve run out of cigarettes! Oh, arse biscuits!” As biscuits are what Americans call cookies and your arse is your backside, the very concept of an arse biscuit is just superb. No idea where this one came from, except Flynn uses it a lot and he’s got a doctorate so he must know what he’s on about.
ARSE FROM ELBOW
Generally used to describe someone (usually in management) who doesn’t have a clue what he/she is doing: “Jesus, so-and-so doesn’t know his arse from his elbow.”
The Welsh pronounciation of “by there”.
The Welsh pronounciation of “by here”.
BACK END OF A BUS
If you see a woman whose visage could turn humans to stone, she has a face like the back end of a bus.
Something that’s gone really badly wrong: “Spurs made a right balls-up of that attack.”
Slang for a sausage, can also refer to a crappy old car.
Used to describe someone who’s mad. A person who’s barmy is a nutter.
A polite way of saying something’s great or the best: “That tea party was the bee’s knees!” The ruder version is coming up in a minute.
The end of your willy.
Shut up, stop talking.
It’s got two meanings: a gay man (“He’s a bit of a bender”) or a piss-up (“We were out on a bender last night and my head’s killing me.”) The second one is less used, for obvious reasons. Then again, this is coming from someone who stood up in a Californian restaurant and announced he was going outside for a fag.
A classic British one, if you call someone a berk then they’re an idiot.
Girlfriend, or just women in general.
BIT OF STUFF
A bird or mistress, usually younger than the man she’s seeing.
Means the same as “bloody”. Things can be bleeding awful, someone can be bleeding stupid, and people can state the bleeding obvious. Leave the “g” off for the full British effect.
A mild statement of suprise: “We beat England? Blimey!” It’s a mutation of the 17th-century curse “God blind me!”
Something that’s a blinding success means it went fantastically well. Can also be used as a general sum-up word: “How was the game against France?” “Blinding!” Again, the final “g” is optional.
Christ, where do I start? One of the greatest all-round swear words in existence. You name it, it can be bloody: bloody marvellous, bloody great, bloody awful, bloody stupid, bloody crap… the list goes on. Also used to denote surprise (“bloody hell!”) or for emphasis (“you’re bloody joking”, “not bloody likely”). Truly the Swiss Army Knife of swear words.
Substitute “blooming” for “bloody” if you’re in polite company.
To get something wrong: “The plumber did a right bodge-job on those pipes.”
Slang for an Irish person.
An ugly woman. However, a tidy boiler is a good-looking woman.
Again, one of the top-rank British swear words, up there in the pantheon of the gods with “bloody” and “bugger”. Bollocks are your testicles and the word itself dates well back to the middle ages. If something’s bollocks, it’s crap. If it’s really crap, it’s a load of steaming bollocks. If someone tells you something you think is lies, you’re well within your rights to reply with “You’re talking bollocks!” However (and this just shows the greatness of the word) if something is the dog’s bollocks it’s the best thing ever. A quick reference: Rap is bollocks, whereas anything by The Smiths is the dog’s bollocks. See? Easy.
To give someone a bollocking means to give them a severe telling off. “I got a right bollocking for crashing the car.”
Extremely drunk. Thanks for that one, Laura!
If something’s expensive, it costs a bomb. If a car goes fast, it goes like a bomb. If an event went really well, it went down like a bomb.
Crazy or mad.
What Americans call a hood, we call a bonnet.
What Americans call a trunk, we call a boot.
Same as bodge.
Courage. Walking into a paratroopers’ mess and announcing you thought only fairies had wings takes a lot of bottle.
Losing your courage. If you told your mates you were going to walk into a paratroopers’ mess and announce you thought only fairies had wings and changed your mind at the last minute, you bottled it.
The kind of teenage male who buys a crappy 400 quid Ford Orion and immediately attempts to make it look like a racing car by adding stickers, neon pink windscreen wiper covers, spotlights, spoilers, fake alloy wheels, a 200 gigawatt stereo and tinted windows in the belief that this makes their nob bigger. Can be found in their natural habitat of Safeway’s car park comparing stereo power, racing each other around the streets of small market towns or hanging around schools trying to impress 14-year-old girls.
Northern England slang for money.
Short for “brilliant”.
Name for anyone from the city of Birmingham or anyone with a Birmingham accent. People from Wolverhampton hate being called Brummies (even though they sound just like them), so if you know one make sure to call him a Brummie at every available opportunity.
Another one that deserves a website all to its own. This word has more uses than something that’s very useful indeed. At its most basic, a general exclamation of anger: “Bugger!” When you’re putting up shelves and you whack your thumb with a hammer, “bugger it!” is a perfectly acceptable way to announce that you’re annoyed. If you want someone to go away, tell them to bugger off. If you’ve had a long day at work/driving/shopping and you’re tired out, you’re buggered. If you’re 22-0 down and there’s five seconds left on the clock, your team’s buggered. When you realise you’ve won twenty million on the lottery, you’re a lucky bugger. I can honestly say (given the number of times I’ve heard this over my life) that this is is my dad’s favourite swear word. And if you want to know the original meaning of bugger, use Google.
Nothing, next to nothing. “Are you sure I can’t buy this CD? It costs bugger all.” Currently in use as the best way to describe England’s chances of winning anything in the Six Nations.
Go away, get lost.
Either something that’s messed up (“it’s buggered up”) or something you’ve made a mess of (“I’ve buggered it up.”)
A gay man.
What gay men do.
A birthday celebration involving a bunch of your mates picking you up and throwing you up and down according to how old you were that day. The number of bump celebrations that ended in postings meant kids would rather skive school than go in on their birthday.
BUNCH OF ARSE
Something that’s crap or a waste of time.
Throw. If your wife is watching a load of crap on telly and you want to change the channel but she has the remote, you’d say “Bung the remote over.” She’d refuse, but at least you tried.
From the Cockney rhyming slang “butcher’s hook” for “look”. “Let’s have a butcher’s” means “Let me have a look.”
Used to describe a job that’s been botched or someone who’s hopeless at DIY. “Don’t let him put the shelves up, he’s right cack-handed.”
Yet another term for a fat person.
To chat someone up is to try to pick them up. If you saw a bloke/bird you fancied across a smoke-filled pub, you’d chat them up.
A recent one, used to describe the kind of council-estate dwelling, benefit-scrounging scumbags who seem to be Britain’s only growth industry. Chavs can be spotted by their baseball caps, hooded tops, gold jewellery (the more tasteless the better), branded sportswear and white trainers. Their ages range from 10 and up. Will usually be seen driving an Escort, Cavalier, Nova (not the Chevy kind) or Orion adorned with stickers, crap spoilers, a fake tax disc and alloy wheels worth more than the actual car. Will generally have a mobile phone with a hideous cover superglued to one ear. Musical tastes include dance, R’n’B and rap, although all Chavs are white and would last about 0.05 nanoseconds in Compton. Female chavs are even worse, and invariably blonde.
If you’re being flippant or you’ve said something out of turn, you’re cheeky. Usually lengthened to “you cheeky monkey”.
Goodbye. “I’m off now.” “Cheerio.”
Not just used as a toast when drinking, it can also mean thanks. “Here’s your lighter back.” “Cheers.”
A far more polite way of saying you’re pissed off.
A British delicacy. Take two slices of bread, slaver them liberally with butter, put a handful of chips (steak fries to the Americans) on one slice, put the other on top and mash down with the palm of the hand. Tomato or HP Sauce is optional, but always welcome.
The fish-and-chip shop.
Full up. “Can we get any more shopping in the boot?” “No chance, it’s chocker.”
Something that was a massive disappointment. “We should have won that game, it was a right choker.”
Throw, as in “Chuck it over here”. Used as a term of endearment in the north of England: “Thanks, chuck.” But that’s Northerners for you.
To throw up, vomit.
Pleased with something. If you’re really pleased, you’re chuffed to bits.
A very new term meaning charity mugger. I haven’t seen these in California yet, but the buggers plagued Cardiff like crappy ringtones at a teenager’s birthday party. A chugger is one of those people who stands in the street with a big brightly-coloured top and a clipboard soliticing donations to some worthy cause. The only time a mobile phone comes in handy is when you pretend you’re talking on one to evade chuggers.
The little bits of fluff that get stuck to the inside of your bumcheeks. Also knows as winnits or tangleberries.
If something’s classic, it’s good, great, fantastic. Also used to describe something that’s typical: “I see your dad’s put the shelves up at an angle again.” “Yeah, that’s classic dad.”
Get lost, sod off.
To spot something or to be seen. “I think he’s clocked us.”
Basically the same as bollocks, although a tad more polite. You can talk cobblers, something can be complete cobblers.
A mistake, something that’s gone wrong. If you attempted to install a digital radio receiver in your Subaru and got the wires the wrong way round, you cocked it up.
No idea where this one originates from, but “that’s a load of codswallop” means you’re talking rubbish.
COME AND HAVE A GO IF YOU THINK YOU’RE HARD ENOUGH
If you’re leaving a soccer match and one group of supporters shouts this at a group of the opposing team’s supporters, leg it.
COP AN UNFORTUNATE ONE
To be hit or threatened with violence. “You’ll cop an unfortunate one if you don’t stop winding me up!”
Copping hold of something means to take hold or have a look at it.
To get in trouble. “Let’s get out of here before we cop it.”
To back out of something, go back on a promise or chicken out. Most Hollywood endings are cop-outs.
An expression of surprise. Usually heard in the classic “cor blimey!” team-up.
Something that leaves you gobsmacked. “That goal was a right corker.” Not used that much these days.
Either used to describe something great, or used sarcastically to describe something not great.
COULDN’T GIVE A MONKEYS
Use this as a response if someone’s asked you about something you couldn’t care less about.
COULDN’T GIVE A TOSS
Derogatory term for a woman, usually one who’s moody or a pain in the arse.
Something that’s great. Can also be used to describe a good-looking girl (“she’s a right cracker”).
If it’s cracking, it’s the best. My nan made cracking gravy, a skill my mum sadly failed to inherit.
Another exclamation of surprise.
An archaic exclamation of surprise. Briefly came back into use on the Celtic Newspapers design desk circa 1997 when Matt Merritt valiantly tried to get it into a headline, defeated only by our verbal abuse and a rapidly-approaching deadline.
A cup of tea.
If you’re daft, you’re stupid or silly.
Finally a Welsh one. What Americans call sneakers the English call trainers, and what the English call trainers the Welsh call daps.
If you do a degree and get a 2:2, you’ve got a Desmond. Named after Desmond Tutu.
If you diddle someone, you ripped them off.
Someone who’s dim is thick or stupid.
A wally or plonker. Someone who’s stupid.
If someone’s dishy, they’re attractive.
An event or party. A wedding qualifies as a “do”, as does a birthday party: “I’m going to a do tonight.” Also used for as a slang term for prosecute - if the police do you, you’ve been charged with something.
Something that’s easy or went well is a doddle. “How was the drive home?” “A doddle.”
Either something or someone who isn’t to be trusted (“Don’t go to Brixton, it’s a dodgy area”) or something that doesn’t look/feel safe (“That car looks a bit dodgy”).
Something that’s a complete and utter mess. “How’s the page looking?” “Like a dog’s dinner.”
DOING MY HEAD IN
“Get him away from me, he’s doing my head in” means “Kindly remove this person, he is driving me insane.”
DOING YOUR NUT
If you’re doing your nut it means you’re going mad, usually over a problem you’re trying to solve. I’m currently doing my nut writing this page.
DON’T FANCY YOURS MUCH
Not the most diplomatic thing to say if one of your mates turns up with a minger on his arm.
If you’ve been done, you’ve been conned.
DONE UP LIKE A KIPPER
If you’ve been done up like a kipper, it means you’ve been framed.
I have no idea where this one came from but it means a long time or ages. You’d be safe in saying “I haven’t seen you in donkey’s years!” to someone you hadn’t seen in ages. Update: The esteemed Dr JP Flynn Esq seems to think “donkey’s years” is a pun on “donkey’s ears”, which are long. He’s the one with the doctorate, so who am I to argue?
Rhyming slang for a third-class degree. Douglas Hurd = third.
DROP A CLANGER
To make a mistake. “Who’s that old bag?” “That’s my mother.” “Christ I’ve dropped a clanger.” Has nothing to do with the classic BBC kids’ show.
DROP ME BACON SANDWICH
Massively popular in 1995 thanks to “Loaded” magazine. An exclamation of surprise. “Here’s that twenty quid I owe you.” “Drop me bacon sandwich!”
Something that’s broken or doesn’t work properly. “Up the duff”, however, means pregnant.
An old person, eg: “How many points to you reckon that old duffer’s worth if I run him over?”
An idiot. I remember this one could be shortened to “duuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrr!!” if someone had spacked up.
A source of money, usually extended to “a nice little earner”. Generally received by doing something dishonest.
Not just the beginning of the end of your life, to be engaged also means to be on the phone. “Did you get through to Gareth?” “No, the git’s engaged.”
To throw a fit, get in a temper.
FACE ON A STICK
A skinny woman.
Another old one, pretty much out of use these days. People can be told to faff off, if you’re messing around you’re faffing about.
Cigarette. Asking someone in Britain where you can get fags will not result in the reaction I got when I asked an American.
To like or want something, eg: “I fancy a cuppa.” Also, if you see a bird/bloke you really like, you fancy them.
Probably unknown in mainland Britain until the TV show “Father Ted”. Whether this is a real word or just made up to allow loads of pseudo-swearing on telly I don’t know, but it’s great. Like bloody it has a million billion uses - feck it, feck you, fecking hell, for feck’s sake. I take no responsibility if one of you decides to tell your mum to feck off.
Your brain. “Use your filbert!” Comes from a nut-bearing tree grown in Europe. Thanks to Ga for this one.
To steal something. “Where’s the car?” “Some bastard’s filched it.”
An attractive bird. “Seen that new girl in advertising?” “Yeah, she’s well fit.”
Short way of saying five pounds (sterling, not the weight). “Can anyone lend me a fiver?”
A person or a thing that’s showy, brash. For example, a Ferrari is a flash car.
A person who is ostentatious in their choice of clothes, jewellery, cars. “Do you know so-and-so? He’s a right Flash Harry.”
If you’re in polite company and you can’t use a certain f-word, use flipping hell or flipping heck.
To sell something - you can flog your car, your telly etc.
A chance happening that’s good - potting all the pool balls on the first shot would be a fluke.
A bet. To have a flutter on the gee-gees means you’re putting a bet on a horse race.
To have a Forrest is to take a dump.
To be brash, have a load of confidence. “Look at him, he’s got more front than Blackpool.”
A traditional English breakfast is bacon and eggs. A “full English” is the works: bacon, eggs, sausage, fried bread, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast, black pudding, tea, HP Sauce, all cooked in three inches of lard.
Around for donkey’s years before becoming known for getting your kit off. Basically means to go the whole way. Can also be used to describe a full English: “What do you want for brekkies?” “I’ll have the full monty, please.”
Information. “I got the full SP off the copper.”
A house or home. “I’ll pop round your gaff later.”
Desperation. If you’re gagging for something, you want it very very badly. Usually used to describe women: “Look at her - she’s gagging for it!”
To take a look. “I’m just going for a gander round town.”
The result of eating too hot a curry the night before. The shits.
Someone who eats a lot.
A first-class degree. Geoff Hurst = first.
An abrupt but not too rude of telling someone to go away. “Can I borrow a fiver?” “Get stuffed!”
GET YOUR KIT OFF
To take your clothes off. A chav’s idea of foreplay.
GETTING ON MY TITS
“You’re getting on my tits” means “You’re annoying me greatly”.
Someone who’s a pain in the arse or who you don’t like.
GIVE US A BELL
If someone asks you to give them a bell, it means they want you to phone them.
A head-butt. Named after the delightful Scottish city of Glasgow and the nutters who live there.
Your mouth. “Shut your gob!” means the same as “Shut up!” But to gob on someone means to spit on them.
Someone who shoots their mouth off.
Used to refer to a girl who’s easy. “She’s a right goer.”
Someone or something that’s died or stopped working. “Your PC’s a goner, I’m afraid.”
A clueless or clumsy person.
Kids in Britain don’t graduate from high school, we leave. To be more precise, we go to the pub, get legless, come back to school, set the fire alarms off, have a food fight on the playing fields and go back to the pub. We only graduate from uni.
A police informer.
Rhyming slang. Gregory Peck = neck.
Dinner is served.
Your underwear, more specifically male underwear. I remember this one from school, but have no idea where it came from. Doesn’t really apply to silk boxer shorts, more used to describe early 80s nylon Y-fronts from C&A.
Fart. “Christ, who guffed?”
To be massively disappointed or let down.
Shortened version of governor, or “guv’ner” as it’s pronounced in Britain. Brought into popular use thanks to 70s TV show The Sweeney, as Dennis Waterman said it every other bloody word.
Short for gypsy, gyppos nowadays live on council estates and breed chavs. When I was in school, “gyppo” referred to the poor kids whose clothes smelled of bad milk.
More polite term for pissed off.
Usually applied to an ugly woman. “How can you fancy that? She’s hanging!”
HAPPY AS LARRY
I have no idea who Larry is, but if you’re over the moon with something you can be said to be happy as Larry.
Used to describe someone who’s tough, as in “Don’t go near him, he’s well hard.”
HAVE ONE ON
To be in a bad mood, to be pissed off. “Did you see the state of her? She didn’t half have one on her.”
HAVING A LAUGH
If someone’s trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do, you can respond with: “You’re having a laugh, aren’t you?” In other words, I’m not taking you seriously.
HER MAJESTY’S PLEASURE
To be detained in prison with no release date. And you were expecting a dildo joke!
Dodgy stuff, usually stolen.
Where hookey gear comes from.
What we call a vacuum cleaner. Named after the Hoover company.
“He’s giving me the right hump” does not mean “This gentleman is attempting intercourse with me.” It means the person in question is getting on your nerves, annoying you.
I’LL GET ME COAT
A useful phrase if you’ve made a terrible faux pas and need to leave in a hurry.
Doesn’t mean the person will leap into bed with you, just means they don’t really care. “Do you want tea or coffee?” “I’m easy.”
Contraction of “isn’t it”.
A BBC kids’ TV show from the 70s involving actors reading popular books (Bernard Cribbins doing The Hobbit was a standout show). Nowadays if someone tells you something you think is porkies, you can just chant “Jackanory! Jackanory!” at them to express your disbelief.
JACKIE BARR’S MINI
Not a slang term, just a game we played in sixth-form. Four of us would each grab a corner of Jackie Barr’s Mini and move it into new and interesting positions in the car park. This went on for a while before Jackie sussed out who was doing it. She once gave me a lift home on a hot day, and on opening the dashboard air vent I was showered in dead flies.
A sterile man. Jaffa oranges are seedless.
Older ickname for a British police car when they had a white top and bottom with a red stripe through the middle. Nowadays they’re coloured a vile yellow-green and have more stripes than a zebra.
Someone who’s lucky, usually undeservedly.
Biscuits which have two halves with a layer of jam (jelly to the Yanks) in between. Also used to describe someone who’s been incredibly lucky.
Cockney rhyming slang. Jimmy Riddle = piddle. “I’m off for a Jimmy” means you’re going to the bathroom to relieve yourself.
A person of Scottish persuasion.
A condom. Also called a rubber johnny.
Used to describe a certain kind of teenage girl who wears Kappa sportswear, loads of gold jewellery and generally looks like a chavvy scrubber.
Toilet, from the Swalhili “m’karzi” meaning bog.
A nap. “I’m knackered - I think I’ll go for a kip.”
Tired, wiped out, exhausted. Also used to describe something that’s broken or worn out: “The carpets are knackered.”
Slang for a slaughterhouse. If your car’s packed up, you could say it’s gone to the knacker’s yard.
Two meanings: either to steal something (“He knocked it off at Tescos”) or to finish work (“I knocked off at six.”)
Can be used to describe getting someone pregnant, but is generally used to mean make something up. “I’m starving.” “Hang on, I’ll knock up a sarnie.”
What barmen in British pubs shout to let you know it’s time to get the final 10 pints in.
To run away from something, usually to escape getting into trouble.
Drunk, pissed, hammered.
A mysterious and completely fictional disease the poor kids at school would be said to be suffering from, meaning they were rendered even more socially isolated than normal.
A classic example of a term entering popular use via a TV show. Means something’s fine and was used endlessly in Only Fools and Horses.
Short form of remote control. “Bung the ‘mote over!”
MAD FOR IT
A legacy of the early-90s Madchester music scene, saying someone’s mad for it means they’re up for it, whatever “it” happens to be. Usually pronounced “mad ferit”.
Not something that’s been invented, it means to be very happy and content. “He’s made up now his missus has dropped the sprog.”
Welsh pronounciation of “mum”.
Gone off, past its sell by date. “Don’t eat that, it looks manky.”
Nothing to do with wasting four hours running, a Marathon was what we in the UK had before the powers-that-be decided to go all global and rename it “Snickers”. Smaller in size and with less peanuts, the transatlantic impostor is resented to this day.
A very bad day/situation. A contraction of nightmare: “How was your day?” “An utter bloody mare.” Also used to describe an ugly woman: “That Camilla Parker-Bowles is a right mare”.
A friend, usually male. The plural can include girls.
Pronounced “ming-er” this means an ugly or just unsavoury woman. “Have you seen his new bird? What a minger!”
Either someone who’s ugly or who’s smelly, dirty. Also used to describe someone who’s wrecked after a night out.
Someone who’s loaded with cash.
Your mobile phone. “Hang on, I’ll call you on the moby.”
Five hundred pounds. Comes from soldiers stationed in India back in the days of the Empire - the 500 rupee note had a picture of a monkey on it, so on returning to Britain they used the phrase to describe 500 quid.
MORE E, VICAR?
What you should say immediately after burping.
Hammered, smashed. Either used to describe a state of drunkeness (“I was mullered last night”) or to express the defeat of your team (“Wales mullered Scotland”).
MULTI-STOREY CAR PARK
What Americans call a parking structure. All British multi-storey car parks are vastly overpriced - it used to cost me $25 a day to park in Cardiff and eventually I started illegally parking on double-yellow lines as it was cheaper to get two parking tickets a week. The stairways inevitably stink of stale piss, there’s usually a tramp asleep on one or more floors and they contain public urinals that go up and down, have buttons and sliding doors and in many other ways resemble lifts.
A Welsh one, used for emphasis as you’re yelling at someone. Sort of means the same as “man” but without the taint of hippiedom. If there are 72,500 Wales fans at the Millennium Stadium at least 72,498 of them will yell “Come on, mun!” at some point during the game.
Out of it, off your head. “Did you see the state I was in last night? Absolutely munted!”
Sort of an English version of “mun”. “Come on, my son!”
Cheap or tacky. Best used to describe the clothes you can buy at Aberdare Market.
Same as “grass”.
Annoyed, pissed off.
Another one from a TV show which entered public use. Porridge was broadcast from 1974-1977 and was set in the fictional HM Prison Slade. As the show was broadcast at 7.30pm the writers couldn’t use real swear words so invented “nerk” as a word the cast (mainly Ronnie Barker as Fletcher) could use without causing aggro.
A general comment in appreciation of something someone else has done. Mainly used if your mate lets rip a whopper.
To nick something is to steal it. Also used as a term for prison.
To be caught or arrested. “I got nicked taking a stereo out of Curry’s.”
A small child.
Cold, parky. Note: Sixty-five degrees is not nippy.
Your willy, or a stupid person, or a posh person.
To tamper with something, usually in order to change the outcome: “Someone’s nobbled their player.”
Boobs, usually the large kind.
A big meal or feast. “Christmas dinner was a great nosh-up this year.”
NOT DONE A HAND’S TURN
Used to describe someone who’s turned up to work but done bugger all. “Look at him - he’s not done a hand’s turn all bloody day.”
If you agree with someone to a great extent, you could reply with “not half!” The correct pronounciation is “not ‘arf!”
Money. “How much was the stereo?” “Three hundred notes.”
NOW IN A MINUTE
One not heard outside South Wales, unless it’s at my parents’ house. Means “I’ll do it now”, even if it gives the opposite impression.
A Northern way of saying “nothing”.
If you’re in the nuddy it means you’re nude.
A person who is mad, crazy. Every Tube train must, by law, contain at least two nutters. The trick is to get on the carriage they’re not.
OFF MY HEAD
“I was off my head last night” means “I was wrecked last night.”
OFF THE BACK OF A LORRY
How hookey gear is delivered to Hookey Street.
OFF YOUR TROLLEY
If you’re off your trolley, you’re a nutter. Also used to describe being drunk.
The off-license, the Brit version of a liquor store.
OGGIE OGGIE OGGIE!
A chant heard at rugby matches. If any one fan stands up and yells this, the supporters around him are obliged to respond with “OI! OI! OI!”
A shout for attention. “Oi mate! Your car’s on fire!”
Nickname for the British police.
ON THE SLATE
Slang for “put it on my tab”.
OUT OF ORDER
Usually seen on signs attached to phone boxes, vending machines and public bogs, to be out of order also means you’re acting in an inappropriate or disrespectful manner. Slapping your boss is out of order. Transcending “out of order” to “well out of order” means violence is about to come your way.
OVER THE MOON
To be over the moon is to be very happy indeed.
Someone of Irish persuasion, but can also be used to describe being in a bad mood. “Look at him! He’s in a right paddy!”
Your underwear. Also used to describe something crappy: “U2 are utter pants these days.”
Matt Merritt makes his second appearance on this page for this one, although I don’t think even he tried to get pagga into a headline. Pagga pretty much means the same as aggro, just sounds better.
Cold. Used to describe the British weather for approximately seven months of the year.
St Mary’s Street in Cardiff was usually covered in pavement pizzas on a Saturday morning. Means the large splats of vomit made by pissed-up chavs the night before. Extra points were awarded for consistency, pattern and overall artistic effect.
A situation or action that’s gone wrong. “We were doing OK until the second half, then it all went pear-shaped.” A ruder version is coming up a bit later.
Rhyming slang for “wrong”, named after a BBC Radio One DJ. I’m sure there’s more to this but I’m a work, so there.
Derogatory term for a fat person.
PIECE OF CAKE
Something that’s easy, a doddle.
PIECE OF PISS
A ruder term for something that’s easy or a doddle.
Means the same as gyppo and was another insult aimed at the poor kids in school (but from a safe distance as they all suffered from lurgie).
A stupid or dopey person.
Use this one to describe something that’s abysmal or a poor effort. “How was England’s defence?” “Piss poor as usual.”
A drinking session, a night in the pub. If someone’s badly organised you could say they couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery.
In American: angry. In British: drunk. If you feel you were beyond pissed the night before you may qualify “pissed” by adding “as a newt”, “as a rat” or “as a fart”.
If it’s pissing down it’s raining heavily. As you might imagine, this is used on an almost daily basis in Britain.
A parody or satire. “Airplane!” is a pisstake on disaster movies.
Someone who’s unusually dense is a plank.
Drunk, smashed, pissed as a newt.
PLAYING LIKE DONKEYS
If your team is not exactly performing well, they’re playing like donkeys. Global brand management company and part-time football team Manchester Utd usually play like donkeys before spawning a goal in the last minute.
Generic term for cheap wine.
Another one popularised by Only Fools and Horses. Means a stupid person.
Twenty-five pounds sterling.
PONY AND TRAP
Rhyming slang for crap. “You’re talking a load of pony” or “I’m off for a pony”.
A gay man.
Cockney rhyming slang. Pork pies = lies, so if someone’s telling an untruth they’re telling porkies.
Slang for prison, or doing a prison term.
An ancient sport found in many British schools. Posting involves two teams who each grab an ankle of their victim and drag him towards some kind of upright post in order to crush his nuts. For maximum effect the victim was sometimes picked up and swung into the post, thus cutting down on the friction between his arse and the carpet.
POT TO PISS IN
Broke, out of money. “Are you coming to the pub?” “Nah, I don’t have a pot to piss in.”
More polite way of saying the above.
An idiot, a stupid person.
Authentic. “Is that Rolex a fake or pukka?”
To go out on the pull means to go looking for a bird.
Sort of pronounced “pup”, this is Welsh for poo.
A gay person.
One pound sterling.
A lady’s front bottom.
In the UK this means horny. If a cute American girl was to go into a pub and introduce herself by saying, “Hi! I’m Randy!”, the judge would be forced to dismiss the case.
Drunk, hammered. “Christ I was rat-arsed last night.”
More polite way of saying rat-arsed.
RED RING DISEASE
What you’re afflicted with after a strong curry. Symptoms include walking gingerly and a continuing need to run to the khazi.
If you’ve had a good day and everything’s gone right, you could say you’ve had a result.
To call collect.
More Cockney rhyming slang. Richard the Third = turd, so saying “I’m off for a Richard” means you’re going for a crap.
Brits use this sort of in the same way as Americans use “totally”. Usually substituted for “very”, as in “right knackered” or “you look a right tit”.
To ring someone up means to phone them.
RIPPED TO THE TITS
Out of your face, smashed.
My mate Dave still believes England were robbed at the end of their game against Wales in 1999, whereas me and Blunty put it down to shit defending by the English and a masterful run by Scott Gibbs. Which it was. “Robbed” means you feel you’ve had victory unjustly taken away, usually at the last minute.
A roll-your-own cigarette.
Rhyming slang. Rosie Lee = tea.
Buying a round of drinks in the pub means getting everyone in your group a drink. Rounds usually go in turns, although you can usually guarantee there’s someone who’s purposely not brought enough money to buy more than one.
Ruby Murray = curry. More rhyming slang.
Short for rugby.
Another one meaning sex.
To sack someone is to fire them, although it takes a lot more to be sacked in Britain than it does in America.
Usually applied to someone’s hobby or to a person in general who is an anorak. “You’re a trainspotter? You sad bastard.”
A sandwich. “Do you want something to eat?” “I’ll have a bacon sarnie, thanks.”
To be sarcastic.
I always thought this was a term of endearment, as in “Hello, my old sausage!” But lifelong Ponty fan Mr J Cooper e-mailed me to say it also means someone who’s attractive: “She’s sausage”.
To be adept at something, or generally just bright. “Ask him, he’s computer-savvy.”
Another name for people from Liverpool. Has a kind of jaunty feel to it, which soon wears off once you visit the city and have your car nicked.
A fight or a punch-up. Any fight at school would immediately be surrounded by a cirlce of kids all yelling “SCRAP! SCRAP!” at the tops of their voices.
Someone who’s unsavoury.
If you send someone up you’re taking the piss out of them. “Top Secret!” is a send-up of spy movies, whereas the Austin Powers films are just shite.
Cockney rhyming slang for Yank.
Twenty pounds sterling. Also means to shag a bird: “I scored a cracker last night.”
Someone from the fine city of Liverpool. Scousers often leave their home town by train and return by car.
To have a shag is to engage in rumpy-pumpy.
Tired out, knackered. “I’ve had a long day at work and I’m shagged out.” Can be shortened to “shagged” if you’re too shagged out to say two words.
SICK AS A PARROT
The direct opposite of over the moon. To be gutted, devastated.
Same as shit, but more easily dragged out for emphasis: “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiite!!”
Brought back by British soldiers who served in North Africa during World War II. Based on an Arabic word and means to have a look. “This thing won’t work.” “Bring it over here, I’ll have a shufty.”
Americans skip class, we skive school.
Two meanings: To slag someone off is to talk trash about them. A slag is a slutty girl.
A slutty girl, or one who just looks like she is. We Brits don’t discriminate too much when it comes to insults.
I once observed a bloke taking a slash off platform three of Hounslow East Tube station. Means to have a piss.
Pissed as a newt, rat-arsed.
General comment used in the same way as “sorted”.
Means the same as the American phrase making out, only a lot more visceral.
If someone’s snuffed it, they’ve died. Can be applied to cars, cats, computers and just about anything else.
Another one with many uses. If someone’s a sod they’re a git. “Oh sod it!” is an exclamation of anger, “sod off” means the same as “get lost”. A useful one due to its usage to describe a chunk of lawn, although yelling “Sod off!” at someone in class could never be explained away as “I was just telling him to lawn off, miss.” A trip to the headmaster’s office invariably followed.
Nothing. “How much dosh do you have?” “Sod all.”
If it can go wrong, it will.
If you’ve got the job done, it’s sorted. A personal favourite.
To mess something up, usually in a spectacularly stupid manner.
Someone who’s not only incredibly dense but clumsy with it.
Stoned out of your tree.
A jammy person. “How did the spawny git pull her?”
Laughably ridiculous phrase bandied about by British politicians like Thatcher and Blair but unheard of outside the UK. Basically means Britain bends over backwards to help America, whereas the Yanks wouldn’t cross the road to piss on us if we were on fire in the gutter.
To spend money, usually on a one-off purchase. “I’ve splashed out on a new MP3 player.”
A baby or small child. Sprogs are never born, only dropped.
Nude. For the full effect it can be lengthened to “stark bollock naked”.
Slang for prison.
If you’re having some aggro with someone and they say, “Yeah? Well stitch this!” then duck as they’re about to swing a punch at you.
Good grief. “You’ll never believe this, but UFOs have landed in Kent.” “Stone me!”
STONE THE CROWS
An exclamation of surprise.
Something huge. Your typical menu item at Claim Jumper is a stonker.
“Christ, your house is stonking!” means “Good gracious, your house is very large.” Can also be used to refer to a good-looking bird: “Stone me, she’s stonking!” The alliteration is optional.
If you question something one of your mates told you and he replies “straight up!” it means he’s telling you the honest truth. Even if it is porkies.
Someone who’s in a strop is in a bad mood.
A moody or miserable person. “Don’t go near her, she’s a right stroppy cow.”
Sod it. Means you’ve had enough of something. “Stuff this, I’m going out.”
STUFF THIS FOR A GAME OF SOLDIERS
When you’ve absolutely had enough of something, saying this before storming out lets everyone know how you feel.
To work something out. “I think I’ve sussed the microwave” means you’ve worked out how to use it.
SWEET AS A NUT
“How did it go?” “Sweet as a nut.” Means everything went fine.
A wig. More Cockney rhyming slang - syrup ‘n’ figs = wig.
Short for thanks.
Term for a Welsh person, after the River Taff.
TAKES THE BISCUIT
If something takes the biscuit, it’s the best and can’t be bettered.
TAKE THE MICKEY
To make fun of someone.
TAKE THE PISS
If you take the piss out of something you make fun of it. Many Americans are perplexed as to why Brits have a built-in ability to take the piss. It’s because our sense of humour is based on irony and sarcasm.
Usually applied to good-looking girls.
Talent-spotting in Britain has more to do with going to the pub and checking out the birds than looking for the next movie star, although the results can sometimes be the same.
Pronounced “Taraaa!”, it means goodbye.
A scrubber or slapper.
To clean up or generally improve.
Normally applied to good-looking girls, can also be used to describe an inanimate object: “That new Audi is a tasty motor.”
Short for television.
Ten pounds sterling.
THROW A SPANNER IN THE WORKS
To mess something up, usually spoiling it for someone else.
THROW A WOBBLY
To get in a right temper. “Mum didn’t half throw a wobbly when she saw the state of the living room.”
THROW YOUR TOYS OUT OF THE PRAM
To get in a massive strop, the kind where you resemble a screaming baby. Hence the “toys out of pram” bit. Having snot running out of your nose is optional.
Another one used to describe a good-looking woman.
TIGHT AS A DUCK’S ARSE
Chocker. “Can you get this story on the page?” “No chance, it’s tight as a duck’s arse.”
When something goes wrong, it can be said to have gone tits up.
A person who’s a nasty piece of work.
TOM ‘N’ DICK
Rhyming slang for sick. “I can’t come to work, I feel a bit tom ‘n’ dick.”
One hundred pounds sterling. Also used to describe anything that’s 100, eg speed: “I was doing a ton down the M4 when the coppers nicked me.”
An attractive girl.
Smashed, hammered, pissed as a newt.
Same as trolleyed.
British police-speak for “taking without consent”; nicking a car to you and me. Twocking is pretty much a cottage industry in many parts of the UK, with the torched remains brightening up many an otherwise drab stretch of dual carriageway (the A470 near Rhydycar being a classic example).
Someone who twocks. See Chav for a description of your typical twocker.
An idiot. Pretty inoffensive.
Short for university. School in Britain is just for kids.
UP THE DUFF
UP THE SPOUT
Another one for pregnant.
A gay man.
To vegetate, chill out. Usually involves sitting on the sofa and staring at the telly.
Abuse. “He gave me a load of verbal, so I clocked him one.”
General term for wine, although more likely to be applied to a bottle of plonk picked up in Asda for four quid rather than a 1939 Chardonnay.
A bundle of money.
Massively popular in the 80s. Means a stupid person, but was also applied to the kind of man who never quite stopped being a boy racer - the kind who spots an outdoor TV broadcast and jumps up and down in the background shouting “hello mum”.
To get something via deception. “I wangled a day off by pretending to be ill.”
Either someone who’s horrible, contemptible, or an idiot. The first kind of wanker usually hangs around in groups of five because, as Eddie Izzard put it, they’ve only got a fifth of a personality each. The kind of bloke who thinks it’s fun to go out, get rat-arsed and then pick a fight with someone half his size is a wanker. The second kind of wanker is found everywhere.
Slang for crying.
A bit on the archaic side, it means an idiot or stupid person.
Used to add emphasis. Things can be well crap, well hot, well manky.
“Give it some welly!” means “try harder!”, usually at something like soccer. Can also mean acceleration (“Give it some welly now the road’s clear”). At its most basic, it’s short for Wellington boot.
When I was in high school in mid-Wales it was a pretty rural area with loads of farms. For some reason “werp” was the name given to anyone who lived or worked on a farm - the kind of kids who couldn’t read or write but could drive a 25-gear tractor by the age of eight.
If you’re going to give someone what for, you’re going to beat the crap out of them.
To hold a collection of cash for someone. “He’s leaving today and we’re having a whip-round to get him something.”
WHITE VAN MAN
It’s a given fact in the UK that you can take the meekest, mildest man alive, stick him in the driving seat of a white Ford Transit and he’ll turn into the biggest wanker on the planet. White Van Man syndrome afflicts 99.9% of all Transit drivers and is characterised by speeding, cutting people up, tailgating, excessive use of the horn and a tendency to shout “oi darlin’” at any passing girl. They truly are arseholes to a man, and guaranteed “Sun” readers.
WHO ATE ALL THE PIES?
An insult shouted at fat people.
To play a trick on someone
Wobbly. “Shit, we’ve picked the one wonky table in the whole place.”
Orwight? A general greeting.
To be aggravated or pissed off, usually because someone’s been winding you up.
Nothing for X yet.
YCH A FI
Welsh phrase meaing yuck.
A horrible or uncouth young man. Can also be applied to about 75% of England soccer fans.
A long time. “I haven’t seen him in yonks.”
YOU’RE NOT SINGING ANY MORE
Chant sang at soccer matches directed at the opposing team’s fans, usually after the opposing team has blown a lead.
How we pronounce the letter Z.
461 entries as of August 22 2005. Many thanks to Flynn, Jules, Laura, Gareth, Mark and Gareth for help with this. Copyright © Mut 2005.