80 British Slang Words and Phrases to Know

If you’re a fan of the BBC or Netflix shows like Bake Off, Derry Girls, or Peaky Blinders, then chances are you’ve encountered some British slang. You know how the closer you are to a friend, the more nicknames you have for each other and the things you talk about that no one else can really understand? Well, that’s pretty much what slang is but for entire regions of people tied together by their culture.

Slang words in Britain are a little different than what you might be used to even if you are fluent in American English. Some things can sound vulgar but actually, mean something completely normal and some things can sound casual but actually take on a much more vulgar meaning. If you want to speak conversational English with people from across the pond, then you need to learn their slang.

Knowing these words can not only help you understand and communicate better, but it can also tell you a lot about their culture. For example, the sheer number of British words for bars and drinks tell you that British people love their alcohol while the whimsical and musical Cockney rhyming slang shows the region’s love of cheeky wordplay.

After reading this article, you’ll know to be careful calling someone a chav, how to tell a bugger to clear off and be able to have a chat with the first bloke you see at the pub. Let’s get cracking, shall we?

Most Common British Slang Words

1. Bloody

Used for emphasis

Eg. You are a bloody genius mate.

2. Bollocks

Nonsense

Eg. That is absolute bollocks.

3. Bugger

Vulgar slang for a silly or annoying person also used to refer to someone you feel bad for

Eg. The poor bugger has nowhere to go tonight. Let’s help him.

4. Cheeky

Playful, amusing, or a bit rude.

Eg. She was being real cheeky with the boss. They must go way back.

5. Cheers

Hello; goodbye; thank you; no thank you; congratulations; have a good one; formal or informal toasts at the bar

Eg. Cheers, Frank, see you tomorrow.

6. Chuffed

Very pleased

Eg. Making good time on the freeway gets me chuffed

7. Fit

Attractive or sexy

Eg. That guy is so fit.

8. Mate

Friend

Eg. We’ve been mates since we were toddlers.

9. Pint

A beer

Eg. Want to have a pint with me after work?

10. Snog

Amorous kissing and caressing

Eg. I caught them snogging on the couch this morning.

Source: Giphy

More British Slang Words You Should Know

1. Aggro

Aggravation; also, more uncommonly, aggression

Eg. He’s gotten nothing but aggro from his parents lately.

2. Apples and pears

Rhyming slang for stairs

Eg. Just go up the apples and pears and you should find the bathroom on the left.

3. Banged up

be put in jail or incarcerated

Eg. My cousin’s been banged up for something he didn’t do.

4. Baps

Literally means bread rolls, also a euphemism for breasts

Eg. When a construction worker yells “Nice baps!” at a woman, he’s not complimenting her on her bread rolls.

5. Battle cruiser

Rhyming slang for pub, rhymes with boozer

Eg. I had a pint down the old battle cruiser last night.

6. Bellend

A jerk or someone acting stupid, literally means the tip of a penis, variation of the American “dickhead”

Eg. I don’t care how rich he is, he’s a bellend.

7. Belter

Enthusiastic opinion of a person, place or thing, used as a compliment

Eg. She’s a belter, that Rachel, you’d like her.

8. Bevvied

Intoxicated, from the word bevvy, short for “beverage”

Eg. He looked proper bevvied last night

9. Bin lid

Rhyming slang for child/kid

Eg. She has two bin lids at home.

10. Bloke

Man, a equivalent to the American term “dude”

Eg. Francis is a good bloke. I trust him.

11. Boat/ Boat race

Rhyming slang for face

Eg. Stupid am I! Look into my boat and say that again!

12. Bob’s your uncle

Everything’s going to be okay; also used to emphasize that something can be done easily

Eg. Just sign up, pay the fee, and Bob’s your uncle.

13. Bog roll

Toilet paper

Eg. Do you have any bog roll left?

14. Bog standard

Average, mediocre

Eg. My old stove was just a bog standard model

15. Boozer

A pub

Eg. If you like a proper boozer and a chat with friends go to the Red Lion.

16. Bunk off

Play hooky

Eg. We used to bunk off school as kids.

17. Chav

Derogatory term used to describe troublemaking lower-class youth typically dressed in sportswear or casual clothing

Eg. That guy yelling at the referee? He’s a chav.

18. Clear off

Get lost

Eg. The owner told me to clear off.

19. Clever clogs or Clever boots

Similar to “smartypants,” a phrase that is used to refer to someone intelligent but is typically spoken with sarcasm

Eg. It’s amazing what these clever clogs have come up with.

Source: Alexandra Folster from Pexels

20. Colonel Gadaffi

Rhyming slang for a café

Eg. Let’s meet up at the Colonel Gadaffi!

21. Cracking

Excellent

Eg. The way both teams are playing, I think it will be a cracking game.

22. Cream crackered

Rhyming slang for tired (knackered)

Eg. I don’t want to go out tonight. I’m cream crackered/knackered.

23. Daft

Stupid or foolish

Eg. Don’t be so daft. He’s obviously lying to you.

24. Diamond geezer

A very nice or good man

Eg. My late husband was a real diamond geezer

25. Dinner jacket

Tuxedo

Eg. He looked great in that dinner jacket.

26. Do a runner

Exit a restaurant or place of business without paying, equivalent to American “dine & dash”

Eg. Those two did a runner and haven’t been back since.

27. Dog and bone

Rhyming slang for telephone

Eg. As soon as a job has become available, he’s on the dog and bone.

28. End of

Abbreviation of “end of story” spoken in a curt and disdainful manner

Eg. You are not going out tonight – end of!

29. Fanny

Vulgar slang for vagina/vulva

Eg. She got kicked right in the fanny and fell over.

30. Full of beans

Bursting with energy

Eg. He’s a cheerful lad, generally full of beans

31. Get cracking

To start doing something quickly

Eg. Let’s get cracking before we miss the train.

32. Git

Annoying person

Eg. My brother is the world’s biggest git.

33. Gob

Mouth; spit

Eg. Keep your gob shut about what you saw here.

34. Going to see a man about a dog

A phrase used to conceal one’s true destination (eg. to the bathroom, to buy a drink, etc.)

Eg. I’ve got to go, going to see a man about a dog.

35. Gormless

Stupid, brainless

Eg. Don’t listen to that gormless git.

36. Goss

Short for “gossip”

Eg. Have you heard the hot goss?

37. Gutted

Upset and disappointed

Eg. She was absolutely gutted after seeing her team lose.

38. Guv/ guv’nor

Short for “governor,” it is a polite way to address an elder or superior, can also be used sarcastically or pejoratively

Eg. So glad you could make it, Guv.

39. Gypsy’s (kiss)

Rhyming slang for piss

Eg. I’m just going out for a quick gypsy’s.

Source: Giphy

40. Innit

Meaningless all-purpose suffix; performs the same function as “Know what I’m saying?

Eg. That’s a good job, innit?

41. Jam jar

Rhyming slang car

Eg. This Audi is the best jam jar I’ve ever owned.

42. Jammy

Lucky

Eg. You jammy bastard!

43. Jiffy

A moment, a short period of time

Eg. I’ll be right with you in a jiffy.

44. Jumper

Sweater

Eg. That girl in the red jumper is my sister.

45. Knock it on the head

Stop doing something, give something up

Eg. We need to knock this on the head before it goes too far.

46. Lad

Usually referring to a younger man, another equivalent to the American term “dude”

Eg. I’m going out with the lads tonight!

47. Leg it

Run, run for it

Eg. We legged it as soon as we heard the noise.

48. Lugholes

Ears

Eg. He shouted down my lughole so loud it hurt.

49. Mad for it

Very enthusiastic about something

Eg. She loves wrestling. She’s mad for it.

50. Nosh

Food and drink; to eat

Eg. I’m going home to visit my parents and have a nosh.

51. Oi!

Form of greeting; declaration of aggression

Eg. Oi! Eyes up here mate.

52. Peaky

Feeling a little under the weather

Eg. Are you feeling okay? You’re looking a bit peaky.

53. Poof

Referring to a gay man, often used derogatorily

Eg. Look at that poof with the handbag.

54. Pull a sickie/ chuck a sickie

Pretend to be ill to get yourself out of from work

Eg. I decided to pull a sickie today.

55. Scooby (Doo)

Rhyming slang for clue

Eg. I don’t have a Scooby how he did that.

Source: Pexels

56. Shell suit

Shiny tracksuit

Eg. That guy in the shell suit with the perm is my stepbrother.

57. Snazzy

Well-dressed, smart, and attractive

Eg. She’s wearing a very snazzy pair of shoes.

58. Take a butcher’s

Rhyming slang abbreviated from “butcher’s hook “meaning to take a look

Eg. I hear the new park just opened, you want to take a butcher’s?

59. Taking the piss

Joking with someone, lying or being sarcastic in an obvious manner

Eg. I was only taking the piss mate!

60. Tenner

A ten-pound note

Eg. I found a tenner on the street on the way here.

61. The Bill/ The Old Bill

The police, after William Wilberforce, the lawmaker who first proposed a national police force

Eg. When I joined the force way back, there was some respect for the Old Bill.

62. The Business

Universal complement that may be used to express appreciation for any specific individual, thing, piece of art, or food

Eg. Marie, these banana muffins are the business!

Source: Pexels

63. Vest

Undershirt, or singlet

Eg. We have guests and you’re wearing nothing but a vest?

64. Waistcoat

Vest

Eg. Button up your waistcoat and let’s go.

65. Wee

Small, tiny; urine or to urinate

Eg. Don’t you think it’s a wee bit late for brunch?

66. Well

Very

Eg. I’m well pleased with how it turned out.

67. Well in it

In trouble

Eg. Oh, we’re well in it now thanks to you.

68. Willy

Penis

Eg. Keep your willy in your pants.

69. Wind up

Lie to or trick someone for the purposes of gaining amusement from their frustration

Eg. That can’t be true. You’re just winding me up!

70. Yakking

Talking too much about something uninteresting to you

Eg. My neighbour kept yakking on all afternoon about his new car.

Source: Giphy

How do you learn British slang?

If you want to learn British slang, the best way to do it is to get exposure from listening to or reading the words of native speakers. If you don’t have a British friend or roommate to talk to the media is the next best thing. Whether it is TV shows, podcasts, music, or radio. Even novels and comics can provide great examples for you to experience the use of informal language in its proper context. So the language in a courtroom drama will be very different from a sitcom primarily set in a local dive bar for example.

Source: Giphy

Bloody easy, innit?

Slang is the heart of a language and its culture. It’s a great thing to learn because once you can intuit the differences between regional slang and formal language, you will be able to navigate your way through any Conversational English situation. There are many ways to learn English.  Advanced English classes can be a good way to practice, learn, and test yourself at the same time. Here’s a great article about learning English to put you on the right track.

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