When Americans travel to London, it can be helpful to familiarize themselves with some British English terms and phrases that might differ from American English. Understanding these weird and wonderful terms will help travellers navigate daily conversations and interactions when visiting London. Scroll through to delve into a little English slang lesson and some backdrop pictures of London.
1. The Tube
“The Tube” is a commonly used nickname for the London Underground, the rapid transit system serving London and its surrounding areas. Londoners and visitors often use the term “the Tube” when referring to this iconic public transportation system if you are staying in London.
2. Cor blimey!
“Cor blimey!” is a British slang expression often used to express surprise or astonishment. It’s similar to saying, “Wow!” or “Oh my goodness!” It’s a fun and colorful way to react to something unexpected or impressive and is often associated with the traditional East London dialect.
“Brolly” is a British colloquial term for an umbrella. It’s a short, informal way of referring to this rain protection device. So, if someone in the UK asks you to grab your brolly, they’re suggesting you bring your umbrella because it might rain.
4. Oi, mate!
“Oi, mate!” is a casual and friendly greeting in British English. “Oi” is an informal way to get someone’s attention, and “mate” is a term of endearment or address, similar to saying “friend” or “buddy.” It’s often used between friends or acquaintances in a relaxed and informal manner.
5. Bob’s Your Uncle
“Bob’s your uncle” is a British idiomatic expression that is used to indicate that something is straightforward, simple, or will be successful. It’s often used at the end of instructions or explanations to suggest that if you follow the steps or advice provided, everything will work out fine.
“Guv’nor” is a colloquial term in British English short for “governor.” It’s often used informally to address someone, typically a man, in a friendly or respectful way. It’s similar to saying “boss” or “sir.” It can be used to show respect or as a form of address in certain situations, especially in working-class or pub settings.
“Dosh” is a slang term for money or cash in British English. It’s a casual and informal way to refer to currency. For example, someone might say, “I need to get some dosh from the ATM” or “I’m a bit short on dosh this month.” It’s akin to the American slang term “bucks” for dollars.
“Quid” is a colloquial term for the British pound sterling (GBP) in British English. It’s the equivalent of the American “buck” for the US dollar. For example, “five quid” means five pounds, and “How much does this cost? It’s 20 quid” means something costs 20 pounds. It’s a common and informal way to refer to the currency in everyday conversation.
“Queue” is a British English term for what Americans typically refer to as a “line.” It means to wait your turn in a line or sequence of people, vehicles, or things. For example, in the UK, you might hear someone say, “I had to queue for quite a while at the bus stop” or “There’s a long queue at the checkout counter.” It’s a commonly used term when talking about waiting in line for various services or activities.
“Sarnie” is a term in British English for a sandwich. It’s an informal and friendly way to refer to a sandwich; afternoon tea is popular in the UK. So, if someone in the UK asks if you want a “sarnie,” they are offering you a sandwich.
“Blinding” is a slang term in British English, often used to express enthusiasm or approval about something. It’s similar to saying “excellent,” “fantastic,” or “amazing.” For example, if someone says, “The Bonfire Night Fireworks were blinding!” or “You did a blinding job,” they are expressing that it was exceptionally good or well done. It’s a positive and informal way of showing appreciation or excitement.
12. Chuffed to Bits
“Chuffed to bits” is a British English expression used to express extreme happiness or delight. It means that someone is very pleased or excited about something. For example, if you’re “chuffed to bits” about receiving a promotion or a special gift, it means you’re thrilled and couldn’t be happier. It’s a cheerful and colloquial way of expressing one’s happiness.
13. Taking The Mick
“Taking the Mick” is a British slang expression that means to make fun of someone or mock them in a light-hearted or teasing manner. It’s a way of gently ribbing or poking fun at someone without being offensive or hurtful. This phrase is often used in a playful or friendly context. For example, if someone is joking with you, and you respond with “Are you taking the Mick?” you’re asking if they are teasing or making fun of you. It’s a colloquial and informal expression. But it can also be used if someone feels you are taking advantage of them, as in, “Are you taking the mick?”
14. Mug’s Game
In British English, “mug’s game” is an idiomatic expression that means a foolish or unwise activity or situation. It implies that engaging in the activity is a poor decision or a waste of time, often with a sense of being gullible or easily taken advantage of. For example, if someone says, “Investing in that scheme is a mug’s game,” they are suggesting that putting your money into that investment is not a smart choice.
“Pukka” is a British slang term that means genuine, excellent, or of high quality. It’s often used to describe something as authentic or top-notch. For example, if someone says, “This meal is pukka,” they mean that the food is delicious and of high quality.
“Sorted” is a British slang term that can mean something has been organized, arranged, resolved, or prepared, depending on the context. It’s a versatile term used informally in casual conversation.
16. Cup of Rosie Lee
A “cup of Rosie Lee” is Cockney rhyming slang for a cup of tea. In Cockney rhyming slang, words or phrases that rhyme with the actual word are used as a substitution. In this case, “Rosie Lee” rhymes with “tea,” so it’s a playful and traditional way of referring to a warm beverage.
In British English, “copper” is a slang term for a police officer. It’s an informal way of referring to law enforcement. For example, someone might say, “A copper stopped me for speeding,” which means a police officer pulled them over for driving too fast.
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Sarah Christie is a craft, food, cruise, and family travel blogger Extraordinary Chaos, Cruising For All and Mini Travellers. Known for her unique perspective and ability to find beauty in chaos, Sarah designs and creates craft projects as well as creating recipes for people who want to cook from scratch the easy way. Whilst also exploring family travel and how to navigate it.