28 Best British Expressions That You Need To Know (British Slang Words)

I gathered all the best British expressions that I’ve encountered here in Blighty a.k.a Britain.

I have lived in the UK for almost eight years now, and somehow I’ve managed to adapt the British traditions and culture. As an adopted child of Britain, I integrate myself on learning a few things here and there about the country and most especially their language.

BEST BRITISH EXPRESSIONS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
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The English language is the second language of the Philippines however; this is more of the American English. So when I moved to Britain, I found myself rather confused and amazed by their accents (There are loads of accents in the UK depends on where you live e.g The Queen’s English or the Yam Yam) and let alone their expressions.

BEST BRITISH EXPRESSIONS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
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Photo Credit: The Buckingham Palace by JP Licudan of The Rustic Nomad

British people are really proud of their language and consider it as the “real” English language.  (No harm intended!)

So I’ve gathered some of the British expressions I’ve come across throughout the years I live here in the UK.  I hope to shed some light on what are these bloody British expressions are, how and when to use them.

“Taking the piss” 

Meaning: This expression is NOT related to the thing that you do when you go to the toilet. This means someone is mocking you.

“Round the Wrekin”

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Photo Credit: The Wrekin by Kat Dodd / CC-BY 2.0

Meaning:  Wrekin is a place in the Midlands. Locals from the region use this as an expression of going a long way around.

Doing my nut in”

Meaning:  As simple as ANNOYING.  Where “nut” means brain/head.

“Having a giraffe”

Meaning:   To crack a joke.  Having a laugh. Where giraffe rhymes with the word “laugh”.

“Pear shaped”

Meaning: It’s gone wrong.

“Mugged me off”   

Meaning: feeling someone has cheated you.

“Hit the hay”

Meaning: Going to bed. The expression is based on the old times when they used hay as their bedding.

“Gone to the ministry” 

BEST BRITISH EXPRESSIONS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
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Photo Credit: The Wrekin by Kat Dodd/ The Wrekin by Kat Dodd

Meaning: spent a long time on the toilet.  If you are a Harry Potter fan, you’ll probably remember how a wizard/witch goes to the ministry of magic… through the toilet!  It makes sense, right?

“Tipping it down”

Meaning: Raining hard/heavily. Same as “raining cats and dogs”.  I consider this as the most commonly used expressions here in the UK, as its bloody gloomy and raining here!  Oh yes!  I love the English weather.

“Going on a bender”

Meaning: going out and drink a lot of alcohol.

“All gone Pete Tong” / “All gone tits up”

Meaning: expressions used when something has gone wrong.  The “tong” on Pete Tong is a Cockney (London) slang that rhymes with “wrong”.

“Bugger all”

Meaning: nothing. All gone.

“What a load of bollocks”

Meaning: If something is rubbish or poor it is a “load of bollocks”. “bollocks” itself is a commonly used expression like “crap” etc.  Of course,  “Bollocks” as you probably know it’s the males genitalia.

“Dog’s Bollocks”

Meaning: Another “bollocks” on the British expressions. However, this “bollocks” means good.  You have to use the whole expression to convey its meaning because you might end up giving the wrong signal.

“Donkey’s years”

Meaning: The expression means “a long time”.

“Faffing around”

Meaning: Taking your time slowly or messing around. Doing the unnecessary things when you should be doing something more important.

“Jammy”

Meaning: This might sound like food, but this expression means “lucky” e.g., “lucky bast*rd” a.k.a “jammy bast*ard”.

“Got the lurgy”

Meaning: This expression is to be used when you are feeling ill.  Lurgy means an undetermined illness.

“Bostin”

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Photo Credit: Thumbs up by Kreg Steppe / CC BY-SA 2.0

Meaning: Commonly used in the Midlands, this expression means “good” and “great” etc.

“Off your rocker” / “Losing your marbles” / “Thrown a wobbler”

Meaning: British expressions that mean “going crazy”.

“On your bike”

Meaning: This expression is perfect if you are annoyed or had enough of someone and you want them to leave.  Pretty much, “get lost”.

“Plastered / Hammered / wasted”

Meaning: These expressions are used if you had too much alcohol.  Drunk!

“Put a sock in it”

Meaning: SHUT UP!

 “Chill your beans”

Meaning: Calm down!

“Spend a penny”

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Photo Credit: William Warby / British Coins / CC BY 2.0

Meaning: This is a classic British expression that means “going to the toilet”. In the old days, You would have to pay a penny (the smallest denomination of UK currency) to go to the public toilet.  You will still see this kind dotted around the UK but won’t cost you a penny anymore.

“Cost you an arm & a leg”

Meaning: A British expression that means “very expensive”.

So next time you’ll have a banter with your British friends, you’ll know what these expressions mean. If you know other best British expressions that you can add on this list, feel free to drop a comment below.

Don’t forget to share this with your family and friends.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryazan Tristram EverythingZany Author Bio
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Ryazan Tristram

Travel Writer & Photographer

Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published on Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Lonely Planet and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British – Filipina). Join her on travelling around the globe with a mission to share the best of the world.

BEST BRITISH EXPRESSIONS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
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16 thoughts on “28 Best British Expressions That You Need To Know (British Slang Words)”

  1. These will come in handy for me for sure as I have a British boss although he hasn’t used any of it yet with our conversations yet. He tends to copy my expressions instead. Haha

    Reply
  2. Haha, that’s hilarious! Down here in Australia we have taken (stolen?) many of these expressions for our own use!! But we’ve also given some of them our own twist!! I’ll be sure and remember the ones I don’t know for next time I’m in the UK!

    Reply
    • Hahaha!! My Aussie friends love to put –IE at the end of most words e.g bbq is “barbie” etc.

      I’m glad you find this list useful. Please give me an update once you finally use these words into action here in the UK. 🙂

      Reply
  3. 1 Put wood in th’ole

    Meaning: Shut the door

    2 Corporation pop

    Meaning: Water

    3 It’s cracking flags

    Meaning: it is so hot outside that stone pavings are breaking

    4 Use yer loaf

    Meaning: Think for yourself

    5 I’ve not got out fort do

    Meaning: I don’t have anything to do

    6 A’v cum b’out any money

    Meaning: I’m afraid I haven’t got any cash on me today

    7 Stop skriking

    Meaning: Stop crying

    8 Ratchet

    Meaning: Cool

    9 Mitherin’

    Meaning: Annoying/pestering

    10 Wot you sayin’?

    Meaning: Hello, do you have anything

    11 Proper reet good

    Meaning: That is very good

    12 Give us a nicker

    Meaning: Please may I have a pound

    13 Powfagged

    Meaning: I am tired

    14 A doll and a drum and a kick up a bum

    Meaning: That is what you get for being cheeky

    15 I’m spitting feathers here

    Meaning: I am thirsty

    16 Our kid

    Meaning: My brother/sister

    17 Wind ya neck in

    Meaning: Calm down/keep your nose out of my business

    18 Shut ya gob

    Meaning: Be quiet

    19 Manchester caviar

    Meaning: Mushy peas

    20 Mingin

    Meaning: Not nice

    Some of the words you will hear it Manchester UK If you ever came here

    Reply
  4. Even I’ve not heard of all of these but I have always lived in the south of England so a couple might be regional.

    I’d like to add ‘grockles’ meaning a holiday maker visiting the south-west of England.

    ‘It’s raining stair rods’ meaning it’s raining hard. As ‘Paddington’ the lovable bear from Peru will tell you, we have no end of expressions to describe the weather, especially rain.

    Lastly, do you know where the expression ‘Put a sock in it’ comes from? As gramophones didn’t have a volume switch people used to put a sock in the horn to muffle the sound, or so I’m told.

    Reply

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