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Britishisms for dummies!

As a Brit living in the USA, it can be quite a challenge when trying to purvey meanings of phrases and words to Americans, often with hilarious misunderstandings. British regional sayings can also have us fellow Brits scratching our heads in confusion, so here is a list compiled of some of the most popular 'Britishisms' today!

Great Britishisms-slide0
British sayings and phrases
Photo by Miles Willis

Barking ~ Crazy/nuts
Barnet ~ Hair/hairstyle
Berk ~ A stupid person
Big girl's blouse ~ A weakling (usually a man)
Biccie ~ Biscuit (pronounced Bicky)
Biscuit ~ What Americans refer to as cookies.
Blimey! ~ An expression of surprise; can be said at something good, or bad.
Bloke(s) ~ Men
Blooming! ~ An intensive used to add dramatic effect to a statement or proclamation: "That's blooming lovely/nasty!"
"Blow me down with a feather!" ~ "I'm really shocked!"
Bollocks! ~ Generally considered a rather bad cuss word in Britain. Can be used in 3 different ways: another word for a man's balls, an exclamation of disbelief: "That's bollocks", and as a term of exasperation, "Ah bollocks!"
Bosting! ~ This also means something is 'very good' (more of a regional dialect)
Brass monkeys ~ A term used when it's cold enough to freeze a man's balls off! "Brrrrrrrr, it's brass monkeys out here!"
Brilliant! ~ Really good
"Built like a brick sh*t house!" ~ Referring to someone who is large and usually muscly
Bugger all ~ Nothing ("I've got bugger all to do today")
Butty ~ Sandwich with butter spread on it
"Can't be arsed". ~ Can't be bothered.
Chuffed to bits! ~ Really pleased/happy
Cock-up ~ Mistake
Common (as muck!) ~ Someone with no airs or graces/someone with no class
Conk ~ Nose
Corkin! ~ Very good (regional)
Cracking! ~ Very good. "That's a cracking pair of shoes you're wearing!"
Cuppa ~ Cup of tea (or coffee, but usually tea!)
Cwoar! ~ An expression, usually used when you see something you like. "Cwoar, look at those cream cakes!" (Pronounced KWOR!)
"Doing my head in!" ~ Annoying me
Doolally tap ~ Crazy
Donkeys Years ~ A really long time
Donnies ~ hands
"Don't get ya knickers in a twist!" ~ "Calm down/don't get upset!"
Fab! ~ Really good
Faffing ~ Wasting time ("Stop faffing around!")
Fag ~ Cigarette
Faggots ~ Meatballs, usually in gravy (Brain's faggots)
Fanny ~ Female private parts (the reason you hear us Brits giggle when we hear an American announce that their fanny is sore from sitting all day?!)
Full of beans ~ Full of energy
Gagging-for ~ Really craving or wanting something.
Geezer ~ Man
"Give it some welly!" ~ Put effort into something/use your strength!
"Give over!" ~ "Stop complaining/gimme a break!"
Gobsmacked. ~ Stunned into silence/lost for words.
Grassing ~ Telling on someone/tattle-tailing
"Half eight" ~ Referring to a time - in this instance, 8.30. (Half nine, half ten, etc) Always means half past the hour.
"Having a butcher's". ~ Having a look
Having kittens ~ Really nervous or overly worried
"Hold your horses!" ~ "Wait a minute!"
Innit! ~ Isn't it
"It aint half/it isn't half!" ~ A form of agreement, usually as a way of exaggerating an amount: ("That's one big hamburger!") - "It ain't half!"
"Keep your pecker up!" ~ "Hold your head high/stay cheerful".
Knob ~ Idiot
"Like it or lump it!" ~ A way of saying that although you might not be happy about something, you have to accept it.
Mate ~ Friend/buddy
Minger ~ An ugly woman or girl
Mithered ~ Irritated/flustered (pronounced Mythurd)
Muggins ~ A way of referring sarcastically to yourself: "Who do you think ended up having to do the dishes? Muggins, here!"
Munter ~ An ugly woman or girl
"Nowt so queer as folk!" ~ "People are strange"
Off-licence (Offie) ~ Liquor store
"On ya bike!" ~ "Leave now/go away"
Out of date ~ Expired (food)
Pillock ~ A stupid person
Pissed ~ Drunk
"Popped her/his clogs" ~ Died
Porkies/pork pies. ~ Telling lies. This is a good example of 'Cockney rhyming slang'. Pork-pies = lies. 'Porkies' is just a shortened version of pork-pies.
Prat ~ Stupid person
Put the kettle on ~ Make a cup of tea or coffee
Rat-arsed ~ Drunk
Ruck sack ~ Backpack
Sarnie ~ Sandwich
Scarper ~ Make a speedy exit
Scav ~ Short for scavenger; used as a derogatory term for a relentless begger.
Smart ~ Well dressed, or, clever
Smashing! ~ Another word used to express how good something is.
Sound (as a pound) ~ Good: "He's sound", or, "I'm sound as a pound, thanks!"
Spud ~ (2 different meanings); Potato, or a hole in your sock.
"Teaching granny to suck eggs" ~ Telling someone something they already know.
Tea time ~ Dinner time (evening meal)
Tomato sauce ~ Tomato Ketchup!
Tosh ~ Rubbish
Trolley ~ Supermarket cart
Trump ~ Fart
"Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire!" ~ Climbing the stairs to go to bed.
Wee ~ Pee (England), or, Small (Scotland)
Wicked! ~ Really good
Wobbler ~ Tantrum ("She's throwing a wobbler!")
Yonks ~ A really long time ("I haven't seen this movie in yonks!")
"You're having a laugh" ~ "You can't be serious?"

So there you have it! The list is nowhere near complete, but these are generally the most commonly used words and phrases back home in Britain (most, if not all of the words/phrases are more popular in England; the other countries have their own regional sayings that I couldn't even attempt to cover!)

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