by Sharon Conwell
Whether you’re in the UK or abroad, it’s always fun to explore the varied local dialects that litter the country. While Urban Dictionary is normally a reliable source for definitions, sometimes you want to get ahead of the game so you can understand the conversation as it happens, rather than looking things up after. Getting used to the vocabulary and grammar constructions in a new place can be difficult, and while guides like Academized can make things easier, there are some amazing British slang phrases that you might want to bear in mind to drop into conversation.
Normally used to describe men, this is the best word to some up anyone older, grouchier, and generally representing grumpy old men everywhere. When someone is annoying you, and acting like an irritant, ‘Git’ is the perfect name for them.
Or as they’d say in London, cream crackered. When you’re tired, exhausted and ready to give up, you are definitely knackered.
Balls, gonads, bawbags, bollocks – there’s no end of names for testicles in British English, but when someone says this loudly, it’s a pretty good indication that something has gone badly wrong.
You know when you’re so sad and upset by something that you feel as though you’ve been punched in the gut? You’re gutted - completely desolate.
While this is not the most romantic of words, it is the word of choice for French kissing in Britain. While making out may be understood around the world, when you’re in Britain snogging is the name of the game.
Far less offensive than it may appear, a cock-up is just a monumental mistake. It’s not entirely rude to say in public or in front of the grandparents when things go badly wrong.
While this is most used in less posh parts of the south of England, it is used to describe someone particularly unattractive. It’s our little English version of butt ugly.
While this is most associated with chinking champagne glasses, in Blighty it can also mean thanks. It’s most often used when you’ve ran out of other ways to say thank you in a short space of time.
This is an extremely odd way of saying ‘sex.’ Brits can be prudes, and some will say just about anything to avoid saying the actual word, ‘how’s your father’ being just one option.
When someone or something is just great, they are the bee’s knees. Not many people have seen bees up close, but apparently their knees are a thing of wonder, and comparison to them is a great compliment.
Why simply tell someone to get out, or leave you alone when you can choose the mode of transportation you want them to take as they depart.
When you’re looking to hook up, find a partner, or simply flirt a little, you may find yourself ‘on the pull.’
This is kind of a student word to describe vomiting on a night out. A chunder can be tactical, to make sure you can continue with your night out.
A chinwag, also known as a good natter is another word for a catch-up conversation with a good friend. It could be a gossip session, it could be friendly.
When someone is taking the piss, they’re making fun of you, which is also known as taking the micky.
Dodgy can refer to a person or a circumstance – anything that seems to be a little off, bordering on illegal.
When something isn’t quite a fight or struggle, but also isn’t easy, then it’s probably a kerfuffle.
When you sneakily take time off that you shouldn’t, claiming to be sick or making excuses, you are skiving.
Telling porkie pies is a common rhyming slang for telling lies.
One of the best insults in the English language, this is an iconic way of calling someone a name when you’re angry. Much more British than ‘jerk’ or ‘asshole.’
There are dozens more words that make for great phrases and will help you fit right into British culture, but these are some of the best to start off with.
Sharon Conwell has been a content manager and ghost writer at over 20 online projects, now she is a part-time educator and an editor at assignment writing service. She’s specializing at content creation and optimization. She loves coffee, tulips and her Shih Tzu named Bobby.
Writing systems | Language and languages | Language learning | Pronunciation | Learning vocabulary | Language acquisition | Motivation and reasons to learn languages | Being and becoming bilingual | Arabic | Basque | Celtic languages | Chinese | English | Esperanto | French | German | Greek | Hebrew | Indonesian | Italian | Japanese | Korean | Latin | Portuguese | Russian | Sign Languages | Spanish | Swedish | Other languages | Minority and endangered languages | Constructed languages (conlangs) | Reviews of language courses and books | Language learning apps | Teaching languages | Languages and careers | Language and culture | Language development and disorders | Translation and interpreting | Multilingual websites, databases and coding | History | Travel | Food | Other topics | Spoof articles | How to submit an article
Page last modified: 22.04.21
Why not share this page:
If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.
Note: all links on this site to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr are affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you click on any of them and buy something. So by clicking on these links you can help to support this site.