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100 Brilliantly British Slang Words and Phrases

100 Brilliantly British Slang Words and Phrases

Did you know that the UK has around 40 different dialects of English, each with their own accents and slang? This can cause a great deal of confusion if you’re exploring the country, or even if you’re just looking to stream the latest British TV series.

So, as a way of easing you in, here are some of my favorite slang words, phrases and expressions from around the British Isles.

01. Arse

What a great way to start the list. An arse is your rear end (not to be confused with an ass, which is a donkey). But it can also be a reference to an annoying person: “Stop being such an arse”.

02. Banter

Making jokes, often at the expense of others in your company. British people love to banter, and someone with good banter is likely to be popular. While from the outside it may look like we’re insulting each other, it's actually a sign of affection.

03. Bare

Used mostly in London to mean "a lot of". “There were bare man at the rave”.

Note the use of “man” in the singular to mean “men” or even “people”. I just threw in an extra slang term for free.

04. Barmy

Crazy. “That’s a barmy idea”.

05. Bender

British people like to enjoy themselves. A bender can last a significant amount of time, and involves large amounts of alcohol or drugs. “He went on a week-long bender”. Think rockstars, mid-90s footballers and Prince Harry.

06. Bloke

A man. Often used with “good” attached. “He’s a good bloke”.

07. Bollocking

You get a bollocking when you’ve done something you shouldn’t have. “I didn't do my homework and the teacher gave me a right bollocking”.

08. Bollocks

Testicles. You can also “talk bollocks” (speak nonsense, or lie) and if something is a “load of bollocks”, it’s not true. Not used in polite company.

09. Bonkers

Can mean either "crazy" or "angry" depending on the context. Someone can be “completely bonkers” or can “go bonkers” (the latter can also mean losing your temper).

10. Bonnie

Used in Scotland, this word means "pretty" or "beautiful", and is normally used in reference to a woman. Some think it has its origins in the French word bon, meaning "good".

11. Bruv

Short for "brother", this London street slang is used to refer to a male friend. “You alright bruv?”

12. Bugger all

Nothing. “I did bugger all today”.

13. Buzzin’

Used mostly in Manchester to mean "very excited/happy". “I’m buzzin’ for this”.

14. Cheers

A multi-purpose word which can be used as a toast, to thank someone or even say goodbye.

15. Chippy

What’s more British than fish and chips? And the best place to get some is in your local chippy. Don’t forget the mushy peas.

16. Chuffed

To be happy or satisfied with something. Often preceded with the word "quite" or "pretty" because British people don’t like to show off. “I’m pretty chuffed with my results on that exam”.

17. Cor blimey

An exclamation of surprise. “Cor blimey, did you see that?” For more usage examples, check out this instructive video by British rapper Bigz.

18. Course

Short for "of course" and normally followed by a word like "mate" or "bruv". “Did you take care of that thing? Course bruv”.

19. Creps

London street slang for sneakers (which British people call trainers).

20. Dead

Used to mean "very", particularly in the north of England. “Did you see that bloke? He’s dead gorgeous”.

21. Dodgy

Untrustworthy. A person can be dodgy but so can an object: “I think I ate a dodgy curry”.

22. Dosh

23. Ends

London slang for the area you’re from. It’s important to represent your ends.

24. Fag

This slang word for a cigarette has no pejorative associations in the UK, but causes all sorts of problems for Brits visiting the US. They just want a cigarette, guys.

25. Fancy

Used as a verb to show desire for something or someone. “I really fancy her” is a profession of a love interest, but you could also ask someone: “Do you fancy some lunch?”.

26. Fam

A shortened version of "family", this is used mostly in London. It can refer to your actual family but it’s often just how you’ll greet a friend. “You alright fam?”

27. Fiver

A £5 note.

28. Food

While most British people think “food” is something you eat, it’s also street slang for drugs. Think twice before you ask someone if they know a good place to get some food...

29. Footie

A slang term for the national sport—football. That’s the game you play with your feet, hence the name. Don’t say soccer to a British person. You might get a bollocking.

30. Gaff

Home. “Do you want to come round my gaff?”

31. Gaffer

Boss or manager. Often referred to as "The Gaffer".

32. Gagging

Used in the north of England to mean "thirsty".

33. Galdem

Mostly heard in London, this means "ladies". See also mandem.

34. Geordie

Someone from Newcastle. Can also be used as an adjective to describe something from Newcastle.

35. Gob

A mouth. If someone is annoying you, you can tell them: "shut your gob". Best done at a distance as there may be repercussions.

36. Gordon Bennett!

An exclamation of surprise. The origin of this phrase is disputed, but the most likely candidate for inspiring the expression is an eccentric wealthy newspaper owner named James Gordon Bennett Jr.

37. Grand

£1,000. Interestingly, it’s only ever used in the singular. Whether 1 grand or 20 grand—never put an "s" on the end. Also used as an adjective in parts of northern England to mean "fantastic": “That’s grand”.

38. Grass up

To inform on someone to the authorities. You can refer to a person who grassed you up as a "grass".

39. Have a strop

To have a tantrum or go into a rage. Used with toddlers, teenagers and adults alike.

40. Innit

A shortened form of “isn’t it”, this can be added onto the end of sentences for emphasis. “Cor blimey, it’s bloody hot today, innit!”.

41. Jiffy

A short period of time. “I’ll be with you in a jiffy”.

42. Jokes

Used as an adjective, to mean “funny” or just “fun”. “Let’s go into town tonight mate, it’ll be jokes”.

43. Knackered

Extremely tired. A possible result of a knees-up.

44. Knees-Up

A lively party. “We had a bit of a knees-up last night”.

45. Knob

A penis, but also an annoying person. “Don’t be such a knob”.

46. Long

Mostly heard in London to mean a "lot of effort" or "annoying".

47. Loo

A toilet. The origins of this word are disputed, but all British people will know what you mean if you tell them “I’m just popping to the loo”.

48. Lush

Heard a lot in Wales but also in parts of northern England to mean "great" or "very nice".

49. Manc

Someone from Manchester.

50. Mandem

Mostly heard in London, this means "men". See also galdem.

51. Manor

Another London term to mean the area you come from.

52. Mate

A term of address, usually to a man but not always. “How are you, mate?”

53. Mental

Crazy. An object or event can be mental (“Did you see that goal? Mental!) and so can a person (“The new gaffer’s mental”). If someone “goes mental”, it means that they got very angry.

54. Merc (or merk or murk)

You’ll find multiple spellings of this word, largely used in London, to mean "to kill". “He got merked last week”.

55. Mint

Mostly heard in Manchester to mean "great".

56. Minted

Very wealthy. “She’s absolutely minted, mate”.

57. Moolah

Money. “He’s making loads of moolah”. Yes, British people have a lot of slang words for money.

58. Mug

A face, or an idiot, depending on context. “He’s got an ugly mug” would be the former, “do you take me for a mug?”, the latter.

59. Naff

Tasteless, cheap-looking. Normally used together with "a bit". “Those curtains are a bit naff, don’t you think?”

60. Nick

To steal.

61. Nicked

To be arrested. Possibly because you nicked something.

62. Nippy

A little bit cold—as if the cold air was nipping at your skin. “It’s a bit nippy out, isn’t it!”.

63. Nutter

A crazy person. “He’s a complete nutter”.

64. Pagan

London street slang for someone untrustworthy.

65. Peng

Another London term, for someone or something that is attractive or desirable. A person can be peng, but so can food. Check out some peng chicken.

66. Pig’s ear

When you’ve made a pig’s ear of something, you’ve really messed it up. “He’s made a complete pig’s ear of that project”.

67. Pillock

An idiot, or annoying person.

68. Pint

A beer. Beer is drunk in pints in the UK, which is still valiantly struggling against the encroachment of the EU-mandated metric system. A British pint is roughly 20% larger than a US one, which means Brits are 20% more likely to be drunk.

69. Plonker

Someone who is a bit stupid or annoying. A little bit more affectionate than calling someone a pillock. “Don't be such a plonker”.

70. Porkies

Cockney rhyming slang: pork pies = lies. No one likes someone who tells porkies.

71. P’s

London street slang for money, from a shortening of "pounds".

72. Pub

Short for “public house”, these are the default places for British people to meet and drink pints, and they are everywhere. Unlike bars, they open in the morning, often serve food, and normally have at least one resident drunk.

73. Punter

A customer. “You’ve got to keep the punters happy”.

74. Quid

A pound. Like “grand”, quid only ever appears in the singular.

75. Rugger

Rugby, another popular sport which the British invented only for everyone else to beat them at it.

76. Scouser

A person who comes from Liverpool. The Beatles were Scousers, for example.

77. Shag

A not so delicate way to refer to sexual intercourse. Can be a verb (“I'd love to shag him”) or a noun (“she was a great shag”).

78. Shiner

A black eye. Possibly caused by telling someone to shut their gob.

79. Shook

London street slang for "scared".

80. Skint

To be without money.

81. Slag off

To criticize. “Stop slagging him off behind his back”.

82. Slash

A crude term for urinating. “I'm just going for a quick slash”.

83. Slog

A major effort. Can be combined with "hard" for emphasis. “This project was a really hard slog”.

84. Snog

Much more fun than a slog, this is a term for a french kiss. Can be a noun (“fancy a snog?”) or a verb (“did you snog him?”).

85. Sod off

A not so polite way to ask someone to go away. “Oh, sod off, won’t you?”.

86. Take a punt

To take a chance on something. Originally a reference to gambling but can be used in a broader context now.

87. Take the Mickey

Cockney rhyming slang: take the Mickey Bliss = take the piss. This is a slightly politer way to say our next expression:

88. Take the piss

To mock or laugh at someone or something. Alternatively, to not be serious about something (“this essay was a joke—are you taking the piss”?). Taking the piss out of your friends can be done as part of banter.

89. Tenner

A £10 note.

90. The dog’s bollocks

Something or someone that is the best it/they could be. “Our new defender’s the dog's bollocks”. “That new chippy is the dog's bollocks”.

91. The local

A pub that may be your closest or just your regular favorite. For some reason, you don’t “go to” the local—you “go/are down” the local. “He’ll be down the local”.

92. Tidy

Used in Wales to mean "fantastic". The Welsh clearly place a high value on tidiness.

93. Ting

A thing, person or even a situation, this is a great multi-purpose word. Coming originally from Caribbean English, it’s most prevalent in London. Can be combined with other slang for extra effect: “Check out that peng ting over there fam”.

94. Toff

A pejorative term for someone from the upper classes of British society.

95. Tosser

Similar to a pillock, a tosser is someone who is annoying or a bit of an idiot. Calling someone a tosser to their face won’t normally go down well.

96. Wagwan (or wagwarn)

Imported from Jamaica to the streets of London, this reduced form of "what’s going on" is used as a greeting between friends.

97. Wanker

This classic British insult literally means that someone masturbates, but is used much like pillock and tosser. It is not considered appropriate for use in polite company.

98. Wankered

Usually used together with "completely", this means to be drunk. “I got completely wankered last night”.

99. Wasteman

A London street insult which seemingly is derived from the idea of someone who is wasting their lives or is a waste of space.

100. Wee

A Scottish classic which is also popular in Northern Ireland. It means "little", but can be added to almost everything. “That’s a lovely wee doggie you’ve got there”.


Now you’re definitely ready to stream that new British TV show or blend in with the locals on your next trip to the UK. Did I miss any of your favorite British slang off the list? Let us know in the comments.

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Samuel Green, Marketing Writer at Wix

Samuel Green, Marketing Writer at Wix

I like languages, puns and rappers.

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