Despite being one of the most spoken languages in the world, there’s an entire sub-language of British slang spanning every town and city in the UK, each with its own unique set of words and phrases. To the unfamiliar, British slang can seem like an entirely new language.
Here are 50 awesome British slang words and their meanings to add to your vocabulary.
All over the shop
Doing something in a disorganized way, moving hurriedly without planning or thought.
“I’ve been all over the shop this morning and I still can’t find my keys!”
All to pot
A classic piece of British slang. For when something has been ruined or doesn’t go according to plan.
“That cricket game went all to pot after the first wicket.”
Ay up me duck
A phrase typically heard in the more northern parts of the country. “Ay up” is a way of saying hello, while “duck” is a pet name people say to each other. It’s no wonder that people in the north of the UK are considered the friendliest in the UK.
Next time you find yourself entering a shop in Newcastle, try greeting the shop owner with a friendly “Ay up me duck!”
A Scottish word for “yes”.
“Are you enjoying your trip to the countryside?”
A form of persuasion that allows you to do or get something you want. Like returning a product without a receipt, or getting into a nightclub without being on the guest list.
“I didn’t realise my job interview would ask about past work. I had to blag my way through that question.”
A way of showing one’s surprise at something.
“Blimey, that’s a beautiful sunset?”
An informal description for an ordinary man. In America, you might call them an “average Joe”.
“I met Dave’s best friend at the pub the other day, he’s a nice bloke.”
Originally a term to describe pits filled with mud, the British use it to describe the toilet or bathroom. Can’t think where they got the inspiration from.
“I’ll be back in five-minutes, just going to the bog.”
What happens when you are scolded or disciplined for a mistake or wrongdoing.
“My manager gave me a bollocking for being late this morning.”
A more emphatic way of saying “nothing”.
“I went to the supermarket and there was bugger all.”
A colloquial term for a strong cup of tea, often associated with labourers.
If someone ever asks for a “builder’s tea” make sure you leave the teabag in for a long time or it won’t be nearly strong enough.
For when you are very excited about something.
“I’m buzzing for my holiday to Rome tomorrow.”
“Cheeky” can mean someone who is brash, presumptuous, or even rude, but in an amusing and playful way.
“Claire asked for free extra toppings on her pizza. She’s so cheeky.”
To be “chuffed” is to be happy and pleased.
“I was well chuffed when I passed my driving test.”
Britain is known for its drinking culture, so ‘chunder’ is a word you’ll hear frequently the day after a night out. It means to vomit from excessive drinking.
“Mixing drinks last night was a terrible idea. I’ve spent all morning chundering it back out.”
A ‘div’ is a person who acts like a fool.
“My brother won’t stop dancing in front of the TV. He’s such a div.”
“Dodgy” can either describe something illegal (“This iPhone I bought seems dodgy, I’m not sure it’s real.”), someone negatively (“That guy hanging around our house looks dodgy”), or to describe something that seems “off” in some way (“That burger I had last night must have been dodgy, because I’ve felt ill all morning”).
When a task will take a lot of time and effort to complete, often at the expense of something more enjoyable, it’s a “faff”.
“I need to paint my bedroom, but moving all of the furniture out of the way first is a faff.”
“Fair do’s” is said in response to someone making a good point or observation. “Fair enough” is a common variation.
“Why can’t you come to the football game this weekend?”
“It’s my dad’s birthday.”
“Fit” typically denotes someone who is in good shape. In British slang, it also describes someone you find attractive.
“Did you see that girl? She was fit.”
“Geezer” describes a man who is stereotypically older, often found in a pub with a pint of beer in his hand.
“Who’s that geezer sitting by himself?”
“Gobby” refers to someone who is loud and brash.
“That friend of yours is very gobby, isn’t he?”
To be extremely disappointed.
“I’m absolutely gutted about my exam result, I thought I was going to pass.”
A contraction of “isn’t it”. Used either as a question or to emphasise a point. Very popular among young Brits.
“That’s just the way it goes, innit?”
Being “jammy” means you’re lucky.
“My mum won money on her first ever scratchcard, she’s so jammy.”
A “kerfuffle” is an old way of describing a commotion or disturbance, resulting in panic or confusion for the people involved.
“In all the kerfuffle of school finishing, the children forgot to take their homework with them.”
To be “knackered” is to be exhausted and tired (“I’m absolutely knackered from that run”). It can also mean that something is worn out or not fit for purpose (“The battery in my car is knackered. I’ll have to buy a new one”).
Another way of describing a boy.
“Luke’s a good lad.”
Describes something that is pleasing.
“My bath last night was lush.”
A term of endearment. A person you call a “mate” doesn’t even need to be a close friend.
“How are you doing, mate?”
To be annoyed by something.
“I’m miffed that my manager told me to skip lunch.”
Gross or disgusting.
“The smell in that bin is minging.”
Someone who is wealthy is “minted”.
“Sarah’s going to pay for dinner, but don’t feel guilty, she’s minted.”
“Mug” can mean two things in British slang: someone’s face (“Can you describe his mug?”), or an insult for someone who is gullible or easily taken advantage of (“That guy let me cut in line, what a mug”).
Uncool, tacky, unfashionable, cheap.
“Those shoes are naff.”
To steal something.
“Don’t worry about paying for that drink, I’ll nick it when no one’s looking.”
Incredibly rude British slang, it means to go away. And quickly.
“You’re starting to annoy me, mate. Piss off!”
An informal term for a pound.
“A pizza costs five-quid.”
This is a word for something that is considered waste (“Pick up that rubbish”) or a lie (“Don’t give me that rubbish, I know you stole my book”).
Describes a person who is cool and likable. Or to express agreement or happiness with something.
“Jack’s mate is coming along as well. Don’t worry, he’s safe.”
A person with no money.
“Can you lend me three-quid? I’m skint.”
Avoiding something by staying away, usually with an excuse for your absence.
“I skived off school today. Said I had a doctor’s appointment.”
“There’s two people having a snog at the back of the cinema.”
A pejorative term for someone rude. Pairs well with “cheeky”.
“He’s such a cheeky sod for thinking I’d be okay with him using my stuff without asking.”
A British way of saying “thank you”.
Taking the piss
If you are “taking the piss” then you are not treating something with enough respect.
“Stop taking the piss and help me plan tonight’s dinner.”
Describes playful back-and-forth or to recognise an event that was fun and lighthearted.
“The party last night was top bants.”
Perhaps the most quintessentially British piece of slang on the list. A “wanker” is someone you don’t like. At all.
“That guy is such a wanker, can’t stand him.”
Scottish slang for “child”.
“How are the weans doing?”
A person who enjoys making jokes at others’ expense.
“Don’t take Chris too seriously, he’s a real wind-up merchant.”