80 British Slang Words To Know Before Visiting the UK

80 British Words To Know Before Visiting the UK

If you're a tourist, especially 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.

Way more than 80 words to know!

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.

british slang words

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.

 

Aubergine  eggplant 

 

Bangers  sausages

 

Bin  trash can

 

Bits and Bobs  things to do or buy 

  

Bobby  police officer

 

Bog  toilet. also called a Loo. toilet paper is called Bog roll or Loo roll.


Bollocks  nonsense

  

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?' 


Daft  foolish / stupid

 

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. 


Fair Enough  common response expreession that’s usually irrelevant to context

 

Fairy Lights  christmas lights. also: see above disclaimer for fag.

 

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


Fizzy  sparkling. a fizzy drink is a carbonated beverage. Champagne is Fiz.

 

Flannel  washcloth 

 

Flat  apartment 

 

Fringe  bangs

 

Footpath  sidewalk

 

Gherkin  pickle 


Git  moron

 

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


Gobsmacked  schocked

 

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


Jab  vaccination

  

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

 

Jumper  sweater 

 

Kitchen Roll  paper towels

 

Larder  storage pantry in a kitchen 


Let  to rent or lease. a property rental sign reads ‘to let’

 

Lift  elevator 

  

Lorry  truck / semi

popular british slang words

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"


Mod  well-dressed person

 

Moggy  cat

 

Mushy Peas  literal mushed peas. not bad or spoiled, purposefully pre-mushed.


Offer  sale 

 

Pants  underwear. actual pants are called trousers

 

Paracetamol  acetaminophen (tylenol) 

 

Peckish  hungry 

 

Petrol  gasoline. a gas station is a petrol station.

 

Pissed  drunk


Plaster  bandaid


Post  mail

 

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


Pud  dessert

 

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. 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 for slipping of any kind.

 

Solicitor  lawyer. higher up is a barrister, not to be confused with a 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.

  

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', they're referring to vegetables. 

 

Voucher  coupon 

 

Washing up liquid  dishsoap. if you're looking for 'dishsoap', you won't find it. 

 

Wellies  rainboots. which, by the way, you'll probably need in the UK.


Whilst  while

 

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. 



Choose your own adventure