Below is a list of British slang and colloquial vernacular. You’ll find that many of them are negative exclamations, such as ‘Bloody Hell..’, either male-centric or misogynistic. While some are just plain funny. It’s definitely a reflection of British character, at least in previous, working class generations. If you Study English Abroad, see if you can hear some of these phrases as you explore Britain
Alright? – This is a greeting, comprising ‘all right’, as in; ‘is all right with you?’. It is usually said as a question. An acceptable response would be to mimic the greeting; ‘Alright mate’ – ‘Alright’.
Ace – Positive exclamation, equivalent to ‘great!’ or ‘Awesome!’
Aye – It means yes. It is commonly used in Scotland. It was used in the film ”Brave Heart”,
Barry – Another term from the Scots, meaning ‘good’ when exclaimed, or at least ‘okay’
Ballistic – From the original meaning of a type of missile, in slang this describes a fit of anger and rage.
Ball and Chain – A wife or female spouse. Referring to the ball and chain attached to the ankles of prisoners in times gone by.
Balls up – A mistake leading to a negative outcome, equal to ‘messed up’.
Bloke – Nickname for a male, usually used by males.
Barmy – Crazy or insane.
Beastly – Nasty, unpleasant, particularly when describing somebodies behavior.
Beef – Disagreement or physical aggression between people.
Beggar Off – Meaning ‘go away’, an old fashioned term that originated from evicting someone out of your house and effectively telling them to go and beg.
Bladdered – Extremely drunk.
Blinding – Too a great extent. ‘It was a blinding performance’ = ‘It was a great performance’.
Blinkered – Having a narrow minded attitude or limited view on something.
Bloody – A very old swear word, one that has become so familiar it is considered more fun than offensive.
Blooming/Bleeding – A negative adjective, similar to ‘Bloody’
Bollocks – Male reproductive organs, but usually used to describe something as ‘rubbish’ or ‘no good’.
Bravo – Well done, or congratulations.
Bugger all – Very little, almost nothing or completely nothing.
Chalk and Cheese – Two things that do not go together, or go together very badly.
Chap – A man, particularly of gentlemanly nature.
Chat up – Speaking flirtatiously, or speaking to someone with the intention of expressing affection.
Cheers – Expressing good wishes with a drink, traditionally glasses are knocked together while ‘cheers’ is exclaimed and then a drink is taken. Cheers can also be used generally to replace thanks and as a sign off from a conversation.
Cock up – A badly executed plan or a mistake.
Cracking – A positive exclamation or describing something as good.
Crack On – To get on with something, or continue doing something.
Crikey – A neutral exclamation
Daft – More affectionate today than it was in the past, meaning silly behavior, at worst; stupid.
Dapper – Well dressed and/or well to-do.
Dear – Dear can mean expensive, but is more commonly a term of endearment, particularly for women or spouses.
Dodgy – Bad quality, untrustworthy or dysfunctional.
Do-Lally – Crazy but in a non offensive context.
DIY – Do It Yourself. Describing actions taken that would usually be left to industrial bodies, synonymous to homemade, or tasks often of a manual labour nature, such as painting and decorating.
Ducky – Term of endearment, particularly for family, women and children.
Easy Now – A command to calm down or be more gentle.
Excuse me – Asking to be excused for a mistake, addressing a strangers attention, or asking someone to repeat themselves.
Fag – A cigarette.
Fancy – A soft desire for something, including people, food and/or objects, activities, things.
Fiver – 5 GBP (Great British Pound)
Flippin’ – A negative adjective, softer version of a swear word.
Foxy Lady – An attractive, seductive female.
Freaking Out – Not quite panicking, but in an elevated state of confusion or discontent
Gawp – To stare with a gormless expression
Geezer – Another male nickname typically used by males.
Gnashers – Teeth
Gormless – Lacking in sense or initiative
Grub – Food.
Gutted – Extremely disappointed or upset.
Her Majesty’s Pleasure – Being locked up in prison for life.
Hell – Extreme, such as ‘hell of a storm’, or an addition to an exclamation such as ‘bloody hell’
I’ll Give You What For! – An old expression meaning I’ll hurt you, born out of a response to disobedience. I.e the disobedient one in response to an instruction such as ‘go do this’ replies ‘what for?’ so the instructor
Jolly Good – Very good
Keep Calm and Carry On – Not really slang, but the text of a very common poster during WWII, which is now wide spread and vastly readapted to different contexts.
Knackered – Physically or mentally exhausted, tired.
Knockers – The female bosoms.
Loaded – Wealthy, rich or having a lot of money.
Loony/Loopy – A mad or crazy person.
Lost the Plot – Gone crazy, not following the situation.
Lovely-Jubbly – Equal to ‘lovely’, a positive exclamation.
Malarkey – Stuff, or the subject of conversation. ‘What’s all that malarkey they were discussing?’
Meh – 21st century exclamation of little consideration, equal to ‘who cares?’
Mint – An item in perfect condition.
Minted – Very wealthy.
Mufti – An old army term for your non-military clothing. Used in schools for non-uniform days i.e Mufti-days
Mug – A naïve or gullible person.
Na – No.
Nicked – Commonly used as alternative to ‘stolen’. Before more strict legislation, it was used by police as a term for arresting someone; ‘you’re nicked!’
Nuts – Crazy in a good or bad sense, particularly used as a positive term amongst younger generations
On about – As part of ‘what are you on about?’, ‘on’ replacing ‘talking’.
One off – A one time event.
Piece of Cake – Exceptionally easy.
Pissed – Drunk
Pissed Off – Angry
Posh – High class, sophisticated.
Prat – A stupid, or badly behaved person.
Puke – Vomit.
Pukka – Originally describing genuine brands, now generally used as ‘excellent’
Quid – One GBP (Great British Pound).
Rank – Disgusting, revolting.
Score – 20, often 20 GBP (Great British Pound).
Smart – Smart means clever and intelligent, but can be used derogatorily with sarcasm to undermine someone, such as ‘don’t get smart with me’
Smashing – Positive exclamation, really good.
Snog – Heavy kissing, like a french kiss.
Stiff Upper Lip – Not slang, but a very British phrase and characteristic of British people, describing fortitude in the face of adversity and great self restraint in the expression of emotion.
Ta – Casual thank you.
Taking the Piss/Mickey/Michael/Mick – Mocking someone or thing, joking at someone or somethings expense
Tenner – 10 GBP (Great British Pound).
Twat – Harsh insult but not quite swearing, more extreme than ‘Prat’.
Up for it – Very willing to do something.
Uni – short word for university.
Wicked – Formally meaning bad, but in slang meaning cool or exciting.
Wind up – A situation that is very annoying.