80 British Words To Know Before Visiting the UK

80 British Words To Know Before Visiting the UK

If you're a tourist, or more specifically, an American planning to visit Britain, you should probably brush up on some of the local slang. Sure, you might think - it's just English - how confusing can it be? Well, don't worry, I'll tell you.

 

Some words are relatively obvious but others make you scratch your head and wonder where they ever even came from. Even if you're not an Anglophile, you've likely heard most of these terms before, unless you live under a rock and never watch any British tv or movies. Which is crazy. Because they're awesome. 

 

However, some of these terms you would have no way of knowing and would have to figure them out from contextual clues alone. Everyone may know what a loo or a lift is, but do you know what an aubergine or courgette or a hob is? Maybe not. I didn't. I was surprised to discover that rocket isn't an actual rocket. 

 

And watch out for some wildly inventive enunciations of words as well. Like the word aluminum, where they not only change the emphatic syllable, they also turn 4 syllables into 5. It's total mayhem.

 

Here I've collected some of my favorite slang words for any visitor to know before you go. If you want to get by as a local, that is. Or try to.

all right?  a greeting, asked in a question, as in hi / how are you. you're expected to repeat it back.

 

aubergine  eggplant 

 

bangars  sausages

 

bin  trash can

 

bits and bobs  items to do or buy 

  

bobby  police officer

 

bog  toilet. also called a loo. toilet paper is called bog roll or loo roll.

  

bonnett  hood of a car

 

boot  trunk of a car 

 

brilliant  excellent / awesome / well done

   

cheers  thanks / goodbye / see you later 

 

chips  french fries

 

coach  long distance bus

 

coriander  cilantro

 

courgette  zucchini

 

crisps  potato chips

 

cuppa  cup of tea, used as a noun with the prepositional phrase left off, as in 'do you want a cuppa?' 

 

drink driving  drunk driving, but in the present tense.

 

electric fire  space heater

 

fag  cigarette. not exactly politically correct, but sounds a lot better in a British accent. 

 

fairy lights  christmas lights. also: see above disclaimer for fag.

 

fancy  to like or love something or someone, as in "i fancy her'

 

flannel  washcloth 

 

flat  apartment 

 

fringe  bangs

 

footpath  sidewalk

 

gherkin  pickle 

 

grit bin  roadside box full of salt and grit to spread on snowy or icy roads 

 

gutted  devastated

 

hamper  picnic basket / gift basket. not for dirty laundry whatsoever.

 

hen night  bachelorette party. stag do for men. if you see these going into a pub, go to another.

  

hire  to rent someting, as in a car rental is a 'car hire'

 

hob  stovetop

 

hoover  to vacuum

  

jacket  baked potato / potato with it's skin (jacket)

 

jumper  sweater 

 

kitchen roll  paper towels

 

larder  storage pantry in a kitchen 

 

lift  elevator 

  

lorry  truck / semi

 

lurgy  a transmissible cold or flu, as in 'he caught the lurgy going around'

 

mange tout  snow or snap peas

 

mash  mashed potatoes or other root vegetables

 

mobile  cell phone. accent on the second syllable instead of the first and a long "I" sound.

 

moggy  cat

 

mushy peas  literal mushed peas. not bad or spoiled, instead purposefully pre-mushed.

 

pants  underwear. actual pants are called trousers

 

paracetamol  acetaminophen (tylenol) 

 

peckish  hungry 

 

petrol  gasoline. a gas station is a petrol station.

 

pissed  drunk

 

pram  stoller. also called a buggy. diapers are called nappies.

 

queue  a line or a wait 

 

quid  equal to a pound, as in currency. the equivalent of a buck to a us dollar. 

 

rashers  bacon

 

ring  to call someone on the phone, as in 'i'll ring you'.

 

rocket  arugula 

 

rubbish  trash. can be literal trash or something someone doesn't like, as in 'that's rubbish.'

  

sack  bag, usually to carry groceries. a rucksack is a backpack.

 

sat nav  gps. shortened from satellite navigation.

 

skip  dumpster. it does no skipping of any kind.

 

slip road  entrance ramp or exit ramp on or off a road. not at all for slipping of any kind.

 

solicitor  a lawyer. higher up is a barrister. not to be confused with a barista at starbucks.

 

sorted  to plan or schedule or organize or confirm, as in 'we'll get your room sorted.

 

spotted dick  a pudding. don't ask.

 

stile  a fence / stair combination that people can climb over but animals cannot. 

 

surgery  doctor's office (not for surgery - which happens at the A&E: emergency hospital)

  

swede  rutabaga

 

swimming costume  bathing suit

 

taking the piss  joking around / making fun. not literal. unless maybe it's really funny.

 

tea towel  dishtowel. not for wiping up your tea you've spilled because you're clumsy.

 

torch  flashlight 

 

trainers  sneakers

 

trolly  shopping cart

 

veg  vegetables. if someone says, 'this is for your veg', don't worry, they're referring to vegetables. 

 

voucher  coupon 

 

washing up liquid  dishsoap. if you're in a shop looking for 'dishsoap', you won't find it. 

 

wellies  rainboots. which, by the way, you'll probably need if you're going to the UK.

 

zebra crossing  crosswalk. for people, not zebras. yes, i was disappointed, too.

 

zed  the letter z is 'zed' instead of 'zee'. can't sing the alphabet song in the UK, it won't rhyme. 


Write a comment

Comments: 0