If you're a tourist, or more specifically, an American visiting Britain, you should 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 pretty surprised to discover that rocket doesn't meant 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. just like 'how are you' in the US, it's not literal, just a social norm.
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
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 present tense, since you're presently doing it?
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'
grit bin roadside box full of salt and grit to spread on snowy or icy roads
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'
hoover to vacuum
jacket baked potato / potato with it's skin (jacket)
kitchen roll paper towels
larder storage pantry in a kitchen
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"
mushy peas literal mushed peas. not bad or spoiled, purposefully pre-mushed.
pants underwear. actual pants are called trousers.
paracetamol acetaminophen (tylenol)
petrol gasoline. a gas station is a petrol station.
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.
ring to call someone on the phone, as in 'i'll ring you'.
rubbish trash. 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 lawyer. higher up is a barrister, not to be confused with a Starbucks barista.
sorted to plan or schedule or organize or confirm, as in '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 actually for surgery - that's the A&E: emergency hospital.
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.
trolly shopping cart
veg vegetables. if someone says, 'this is for your veg', they're referring to vegetables.
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, it won't rhyme.