60 British phrases that will confuse anybody who didn’t grow up in the UK

british slang thumb

You do not wish to be referred to as a couple of sandwiches wanting a picnic.”Martin Rüßler/EyeEm/ master1305/Getty Photographs

  • From “chockablock” to a “full Monty,” the Brits have a variety of attention-grabbing phrases.

  • You do not wish to be described as “dim,” “a mug,” or “a couple of sandwiches wanting a picnic.”

  • Should you’re “zonked” or “cream crackered,” you would possibly wish to take a nap.

An earlier model of this story was written by Bobbie Edsor.

“A couple of sandwiches wanting a picnic” means somebody who lacks frequent sense.


A picnic with sandwiches.Malcolm P Chapman/Getty Photographs

The phrase was first documented within the BBC’s “Lenny Henry Christmas Particular” in 1987.

“She’s nice enjoyable, however she’s a couple of sandwiches wanting a picnic.”

“Anorak” refers to somebody who’s a bit of bit geeky, with sturdy pursuits or experience in a distinct segment space.

nerd fashion


Though it is extra usually used as a synonym for raincoat, an anorak is one thing barely totally different in playground slang. This phrase in all probability originates from the “uncool” look of anorak coats and the individuals carrying them.

“Thomas is such an anorak in terms of prepare trivia.”

“Bagsy” is the equal of calling “shotgun” or “dibs” when one thing, just like the entrance seat of the automotive or meals, is obtainable as much as a bunch.

chicken dinner people eating

Folks grabbing hen off a serving plate at a family-style dinner.EyeWolf/Getty Photographs

Faculty youngsters would possibly name “bagsy” on objects of their mates’ pack lunches, like an apple or a cereal bar, that the pal is not going to eat.

“Does anybody need thi—”


“Bee’s knees” refers to one thing on the “peak of cool.”

honey production bees

Beekeepers.Manuel Medir/Getty Photographs

This phrase grew to become mainstream within the USA within the Twenties regardless of its British origins, however its reputation within the States has dwindled because the flip of the century.

The “bee’s knees” referred to small or insignificant particulars when it was first documented within the 18th century. Since then, the phrase has advanced and refers to one thing well-liked or cool.

“The Beatles are the bee’s knees.”

A “bender” is an prolonged interval of consuming, often in extra.


Folks consuming cocktails.HEX/Getty Photographs

Somebody on a spree of extreme consuming and mischief is “on a bender.” Benders can final over 24 hours, and so that you would possibly say that somebody is on “a weekend bender,” or a “three-day bender.”

“I ran into him in direction of the tip of his four-day bender. He was a wreck.”

A “fowl” is a casual phrase for a woman or younger lady.

singing birds

Birds.Taufik Ardiansyah/Shutterstock

Whereas the phrase is misogynistic in nature, it is nonetheless generally used. It is often used to explain a girl between the ages of 18 and 50, significantly one who’s enticing.

“Take a look at that fowl over there. She’s match.”

To “pull a blinder” entails attaining one thing troublesome faultlessly and elegantly.

people playing soccer

Folks taking part in soccer.skynesher/Getty Photographs

The phrase is most generally used when the person has been fortunate and the individual saying it’s in disbelief that the primary individual has managed to tug it off.

“And did you see that equalizing aim within the final minute of damage time? He pulled a blinder there.”

“Bloody” or “bleeding” is used so as to add emphasis to adjectives, just like how “depraved” is utilized in New England.

ron weasley

Ron Weasley in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stoner.”Warner Bros

The origins of the phrase are extensively disputed. Some consider it is derived from the Dutch phrase “blute,” that means “naked.” Others consider the phrase is a contraction of the Seventeenth-century phrase “by our girl,” and is blasphemous.

This second concept has been disproved, nonetheless, by the slang’s first documentation predating the widespread use of the phrase “by our girl.”

These days, “bloody” is used extensively — it is even utilized in kids’s movies equivalent to “Harry Potter” — and is arguably one of the crucial quintessentially British phrases on the record.

“That was bloody good.”

“Bob’s your uncle” is the very British equal to “hey presto!” or “et voilá!”

snapping fingers

Snapping fingers.Nisara Tangtrakul/EyeEm/Getty Photographs

This phrase is usually used to explain a course of that appears harder than it really is.

“Press down the clutch, put it into gear, then slowly ease off the clutch once more. Bob’s your uncle — you are driving!”

One thing that’s “bog-standard” is totally unusual with no frills, elaborations, or add-ons.

empty dining room

Empty eating room.Emilija Manevska/Getty Photographs

Its origins are considerably unclear, however a “bathroom” is one other phrase for a bathroom in British slang, including to the connotations that one thing “bog-standard” is unglamorous and unspecial.

“How was the hostel?” “Oh, nothing thrilling to report. Simply your bog-standard dorm, actually.”

The “boot” of a automotive is the trunk in American English.

car boot

Automobile boot.supergenijalac/Shutterstock

A preferred pastime in the UK is attending or having your individual “automotive boot sale,” wherein individuals often promote knick-knacks and outdated private objects out of the again of their vehicles.

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“Shove the buying within the boot.”

A “botch job” is a restore job that is been accomplished in a rush and can in all probability collapse moderately quickly.

broken tv

A damaged TV on a shelf.rawf8/Shutterstock

A “botch job” also can discuss with something that is been performed haphazardly, like a piece project.

“Sam did a botch job on these cabinets — they’re wonky!”

A “brolly” is a shortened phrase for an umbrella.

meghan harry umbrella australia

Meghan Markle holding an umbrella over Prince Harry.Ian Vogler/PA Photographs by way of Getty Photographs

On a wet day in London, you’d undoubtedly need a brolly available.

“Seize your brolly, it is drizzling exterior.”

“Budge up” is just like “scoot over” or “transfer over.”

People sharing a park bench.

Folks sharing a park bench.Westend61/Getty Photographs

A casual manner of asking somebody to make room the place they’re sitting so that you can sit down, too, can be asking them to “budge up.”

“Hey, there’s a great deal of room on that bench. Budge up and make some room for us, too!”

“Builder’s tea” is the title of a strongly brewed cup of English breakfast tea with milk and sugar.

english breakfast tea

English breakfast tea.Emma Fierberg/Enterprise Insider

It’s normal courtesy to supply a laborer or builder engaged on your home a builder’s tea whereas they’re working — particularly in the event that they’re understanding within the chilly. That is in all probability how the time period took place.

“A bacon sandwich and a builder’s tea. Now that is a correct breakfast.”

“Butcher’s hook” is Cockney rhyming slang for “look.”


Butcher dealing with sausages.Westend61/Getty Photographs

Subsequently, should you’re “having a butchers,” you are taking a look at one thing.

“Would you’re taking a butchers at this damaged bike for me?”

“Cheeky” refers to an act that could possibly be deemed as rude or shameless, however for some purpose comes throughout as humorous or endearing to others.

child with marker on face

A toddler with marker on his face.Catherine Delahaye/Getty Photographs

“Being cheeky” means being humorous or humorous, however barely mischievous on the identical time.

“Joe’s kids are absolute rascals — they tied my shoelaces collectively final week!”

“These cheeky monkeys.”

A “chinwag” is a chat or dialog.

Couple talking

A pair having a dialog.Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Photographs

A “good outdated chinwag” is an efficient chat, catch-up, or gossip with somebody.

The motion of chatting away — with the jaw arising and down — resembles a chin “wagging” like a canine’s tail.

“These two are having a correct chinwag — I have never been capable of get a phrase in edgeways for half an hour!”

“Chockablock” could possibly be used to explain one thing that is full to the brim or rammed.

Bumper to bumper traffic

Bumper-to-bumper site visitors.Tetra Photographs/Getty Photographs

That is generally shortened to “chocka.” The phrase is most frequently used to explain heavy street site visitors.

“We must always’ve taken the opposite route. This street is chocka!”

“Happy” means overjoyed and stuffed with satisfaction.

happy group

A cheerful group of individuals.Klaus Vedfelt/getty Photographs

Should you get a promotion or meet somebody particular, you would possibly describe your self as “happy.”

“I heard you bought the promotion. Congratulations! You have to be happy.”

“Codswallop” means one thing unfaithful, usually made up for dramatic impact.

lie detector

An individual taking a lie detector check.Edward Kitch/AP

Though nobody is totally certain of the phrase’s origins, it may derive from the phrases “cod” and “wallop,” which traditionally meant “imitation” and “beer” respectively — implying that “codswallop” is the type of garbage you make up when drunk.

“Oh, what a load of codswallop!

“Cream crackered” is Cockney rhyming slang for “knackered,” or extremely drained.

man on computer tired

An individual drained at their desk.shapecharge/Getty Photographs

The time period in all probability took place attributable to the truth that it rhymes with “knacker.” A “knacker” was the one that slaughtered worn-out horses within the nineteenth and twentieth centuries for his or her meat, hoofs, and conceal. So, should you’re “prepared for the knacker’s yard,” you are exhausted past aid.

“This week’s performed me in already, and it is solely Tuesday. I am cream crackered.”

“Dench” is an adjective used to advocate one thing that’s spectacular or agreeable.

Spaghetti alla carbonara

Spaghetti alla carbonara.Nattaphat Littlekop/Getty Photographs

Dench is the equal of “strong” or “cool” when utilized in response to another person.

Its reported creator, British rapper Deadly Bizzle, elusively instructed the Guardian that the phrase “means something you need.”

“I will make us spaghetti carbonara for dinner.”


“Dim” refers to somebody who lacks frequent information.

dim lightbulb

A dim lightbulb.Oleksandr Filon/Getty Photographs

Alternatively, somebody who’s clever is likely to be described as “vibrant.”

“She’s a bit dim.”

A “doddle” is a straightforward job.

Math homework

An individual doing homework.NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty

The phrase could possibly be a variation of “toddle” — like a younger kid’s first steps.

“This will likely be a doddle.”

A “canine’s dinner” is a multitude or fiasco.

dog toilet paper mess

A canine making a multitude.Shutterstock

Additionally it is generally known as a “canine’s breakfast.”

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“You have made a canine’s dinner of that paint job.”

To “faff” or “faff about” is to waste time doing little or no.

Ordering food cell phone on couch

An individual sitting on a sofa on their cellphone.Oscar Wong/Getty Photographs

“Faff” comes from the Seventeenth-century phrase “faffle,” which implies to flap about within the wind.

“What did you do in your time without work from work?”

“We have been simply faffing about.”

“Match” is used to explain somebody bodily enticing, often referring to their physique.

zac efron

Zac Efron.Brendon Thorne/Getty Photographs for Paramount Photos

Should you see somebody you discover enticing, you’d name them “match.”

“He is match.”

To “flog” means to promote one thing, often shortly and cheaply.

Selling old books

A girl browses a field of outdated books.Westend61/Getty Photographs

“Flogging” additionally refers to whipping a racehorse with a view to make it transfer quicker, so there may be some hypothesis into whether or not you flog items with a view to make them shift quicker, too. Nonetheless, there isn’t any proof for this concept.

“I am making an attempt to flog my outdated couch. Have you learnt anybody who is likely to be ?”

A “full Monty” refers to pursuing one thing to absolutely the limits.

british roast dinner

British roast dinner.Emma Farrer/Getty Photographs

After “The Full Monty” movie was launched in 1997, there was some worldwide confusion over the phrase, which it was taken as a euphemism for stripping. Nonetheless, “the complete Monty” now often refers to taking one thing so far as it will probably go, just like “the entire 9 yards.”

“The total Monty” traditionally refers to an outdated tailor referred to as Sir Montague Burton. Going “the complete Monty” meant buying a full three-piece swimsuit, a shirt, and all the trimmings.

“Our Christmas dinner had every part from sprouts to Yorkshire puddings. If you are going to have a roast, have the complete Monty!”

“Filled with beans” can be utilized to explain somebody who’s energetic, energetic, or enthusiastic.

Spectators at the Gay Pride Parade in Greenwich Village.

Spectators on the Homosexual Satisfaction Parade in Greenwich Village.DanielBendjy/Getty Photographs

This phrase could possibly be a reference to espresso beans, though these claims have been disputed.

“Goodness, you are stuffed with beans this morning!”

“Gaff” is a casual phrase for “residence.”

house with artwork

A home with paintings and decorations.Andreas von Einsiedel/Getty Photographs

Though the origins of this phrase are largely unknown, a gaff within the 18th-century was a music corridor or theater, and so it is believed to derive from this.

“What are you as much as this weekend? We have a celebration at our gaff, should you fancy it?”

A “geezer” is a person who could possibly be described as “suave” or “dapper,” and is usually suited and booted.

man business suit texting

A person in a enterprise swimsuit texting.Shutterstock

Males from east London are additionally generally known as “geezers,” the place the time period is extra interchangeable with “lad.”

Geezer is assumed to stem from the fifteenth century “guiser,” which meant well-dressed.

“That man’s acquired such swagger — he is a correct geezer.”

“Gutted” means devastated or extraordinarily upset.

Sad children

A tragic baby.Ute Grabowsky / Contributor/Getty Photographs

In case your favourite soccer group have been to lose, you would be “gutted.”

“I used to be completely gutted.”

“Innit” is an abbreviation of “is not it,” mostly used amongst youngsters and younger individuals.

friends hanging out outside

Buddies hanging out exterior.iStock

This phrase is used to substantiate or agree with one thing that one other individual has simply stated.

“It is actually chilly immediately.”


A “kip” is slang for a brief sleep or nap.

Napping Airport

An individual napping on the airport.Thomas Lohnes/Getty

The time period is often used to discuss with a nap, however it will probably additionally imply an extended sleep.

“What an extended day. After we get residence, I will take a fast kip.”

“Leg it” means to make a run for it, run away, or escape.

bears iraq

Folks run away as Kurdish animal rights activists launch a bear into the wild after rescuing bears from captivity in individuals’s properties.Ari Jalal/Reuters

It is used mostly if you’re making an attempt to get out of a state of affairs by bodily working away.

“That is when all the lights got here on, and so we legged it.”

“Miffed” means barely irritated or irritated.

annoyed couple

An irritated couple.Tara Moore/Getty Photographs

“Miffed” probably derives from the German “muffen,” that means “to sulk.”

“I used to be a bit miffed, I can not lie.”

“Mint” is likely to be used when referring to one thing of the best caliber.


Mint.Oxana Denezhkina/Shutterstock

It is derived from “mint situation,” which refers to one thing pre-owned that retains its pristine situation — though one thing that is simply “mint” does not must be pre-owned.

“These footwear are mint!”

“Mortal” describes somebody extremely intoxicated or drunk in a sloppy method.

drunk texting at the bar

A person drunk texting at a bar.South_agency/Getty Photographs

Derived from the Newcastle sociolect, “mortal” was made extensively recognized throughout the nation in 2011 by the fact TV present “Geordie Shore.”

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“Did you see Scott final night time? He was mortal.”

A “mug” is somebody who has been made a idiot of.

clown clown shoes

Clown footwear.sturti/Getty Photographs

“Mug” seemingly originated in London with Cockney slang. It means a silly, usually gullible, one who is definitely taken benefit of.

“You signed that contract? You are such a mug.”

In the identical vein, to “mug off” somebody is to make a idiot of them, often by deceiving or dishonest on them.

Couple cheating

Peter Cade/Getty Photographs

The phrase is frequent on the hit British actuality present “Love Island.”

“He is happening a date with Amber? I really feel so mugged off proper now.”

“You are mugging me off.”

To “nick” one thing means to steal it.

stealing purse

Pickpocketing.Bildagentur-online/Common Photographs Group by way of Getty Photographs

“The Nick” can discuss with a jail. The origins of the phrase are largely debated on-line, nonetheless, it is believed that “to nick” as in to steal influenced the slang time period for jail, as being imprisoned is just like being “stolen” away.

“Did you simply nick that?”

“Do not get caught, otherwise you’ll find yourself within the Nick!”

Somebody who’s “on the pull” has gone out, often on an evening out, with the intention of attracting a sexual accomplice.

club, dancing, edm

Folks dancing at a membership.Reuters

“Pull” may also be used as a verb. Should you’ve “pulled,” you have kissed somebody.

“You look good. Are you happening the pull?”

“Pants” means one thing is garbage, trash, or rubbish.



It is most frequently used to say one thing is unsatisfactory, like “blows” or “reeks,” somewhat than precise trash.

“That’s pants.”

A “pea-souper” is a thick fog, usually with a yellow or black tinge, attributable to air air pollution.

Woman smog skyline pollution mask

A smoggy metropolis.d3sign/Getty Photographs

The idiom was first used to explain the thick, choking smog that settled over London, attributable to plenty of individuals burning fossil fuels in shut neighborhood, as early as 1200.

The smogs have been in comparison with pea soup attributable to their shade and density.

“Watch out if you’re driving — it is a pea-souper on the market.”

To “pop your clogs” means to die.


A morgue.Felipe Mahecha/Shutterstock

This cheery phrase is extensively believed to originate from Northern manufacturing facility employees across the time of the economic revolution. After they have been engaged on the manufacturing facility flooring, staff needed to put on arduous clogs to guard their ft.

The thought is when somebody popped, or cocked, their clogs, the toes of the clogs pointed up within the air as they lay down lifeless.

“Did you hear what occurred to John’s outdated man? He popped his clogs, did not he…”

“Poppycock” means one thing that’s nonsense, garbage, or just unfaithful.


Poppy flower.REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Not referring to precise poppies, this quintessentially British idiom derives from the Dutch “pap” and “kak,” which translate as “gentle” and “dung.”

“What a load of poppycock!”

“Quids in” means invested in one thing, generally — however not at all times — financially.

british pounds money cash

British cash.Matt Cardy/Getty Photographs

Somebody who’s “quids in” has invested in a possibility that’s in all probability going to profit them massively.

“Quid” is British slang for “kilos.” For instance, “5 quid” means £5.

“If all of it works out as deliberate, he’ll be quids in.”

“Shirty” could possibly be used to explain somebody who’s short-tempered or irritated.

Angry man arguing during conference call on laptop

Offended businessman arguing throughout video name over a pc.skynesher

The that means of this slang has been debated at size.

The phrase “shirt” is derived from the Norse for “quick,” therefore short-tempered. Nonetheless, different individuals consider that “shirty” has connotations of being matted.

“Do not get shirty with me, mister.”

“Skew-whiff” means askew.

crooked picture art

Crooked image body hanging on the wall.dja65/Getty Photographs

It means actually tilted on one facet somewhat than barely off or uneasy, as askew can imply within the US.

“Is it simply me or is that portray a bit skew-whiff?”

To “skive” is to keep away from work or college, usually by pretending to be sick.

thorpe park

Thorpe Park theme park.ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Photographs

“Skive” is derived from the French “esquiver,” that means “to slink away.”

“He skived off college so we may all go to Thorpe Park on a weekday.”

“Smarmy” is used to explain somebody who comes throughout as scheming or untrustworthy.

smirking man

A smirking man.Alexander Spatari/Getty Photographs

Though the adjective’s origins stay largely unknown, early documented makes use of appear to make use of the phrase as synonymous with “smear,” additional suggesting that somebody who’s “smarmy” can also be “slick” or “slippery.”

“Do not belief him — he is a smarmy geezer.”

“Take the biscuit” is used equally to “take the cake.”

tea and biscuits

Tea and biscuits.Shutterstock /mcmc

“Taking the biscuit” is the equal of taking the nonexistent medal for foolishness or incredulity.

If somebody has performed one thing extremely irritating or stunning in an exasperating trend, you would possibly say that they’ve “taken the biscuit.”

“I may nearly take care of the canine barking at 5:30 a.m., however the lawnmower at 3 a.m. actually takes the biscuit.”

To “take the Mickey” means to take liberties on the expense of others.

mickey mouse happy disney world reopen

Mickey Mouse leaps within the air whereas crossing the road with a fan in Toronto.Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star by way of Getty Photographs

It may be utilized in each a lighthearted and an irritated trend.

“Take the Mickey” is an abbreviation of “taking the Mickey Bliss,” which is Cockney rhyming slang for “take the p***.”

“Hey! Do not take the Mickey.”

To “waffle” means to speak at size whereas not attending to the purpose.

waffle and berry

Waffles.Rachel T./Yelp

When somebody makes a fantastic speech whereas skirting round a topic or saying little of any worth, you would possibly say that they are speaking “waffle,” or that they are “waffling.”

Within the Seventeenth century, to “waff” went to yelp, and that shortly advanced to imply to speak foolishly or indecisively.

“I want he’d cease waffling on.”

“What a load of waffle!”

A “wally” is somebody foolish or incompetent.

silly, goofy, young, surprise

Two individuals making foolish faces.iStock

Though its origins are largely debated, the time period’s that means has advanced over the past 50 years alone. Within the Nineteen Sixties, somebody who was retro is likely to be nicknamed a “wally,” based on dictionary.com.

“Do not put down a leaking mug on high of the newspaper, you wally!”

To “bitch” means to moan, groan, and complain in an irritating or whiny trend.


Clare Crawley on “The Bachelorette.”The Bachelor/ABC

It’s usually deemed as pointless or over-the-top.

“Stop whinging.”

“Wind your neck in” means to thoughts your individual enterprise.

giraffe and calves

A giraffe.brytta/Getty Photographs

If you wish to inform somebody to not concern themselves with points that do not immediately have an effect on them, you would possibly inform them to “wind their neck in.”

This traditional phrase is one other manner of telling somebody that their opinion shouldn’t be appreciated within the given situation.

 “Wind your neck in and cease being so nosy!”

“Zonked” means exhausted or drained.

Family sleeping in bedroom

A household sleeping.Ray Kachatorian/Getty Photographs

It might additionally discuss with somebody already asleep or below the affect of medication or alcohol.

“I used to be going to exit tonight however after I completed work I used to be completely zonked.”

“After I acquired residence, he was already zonked.”

Editor’s be aware: An earlier model of this story was revealed on November 3, 2017, on Enterprise Insider UK.

Learn the unique article on Insider