British Slang (Vocabulary, Jargon, Lingo, etc.)

Since I’ve spent a little over a month here in England, I have been paying close attention to the English vernacular. While London isn’t totally English (I mean it is and it isn’t, it’s a more global city than anything), they do have a lot of interesting vocabulary or sland that took me a little while to understand. And, while America is from British settlement, there are a lot of words that are a bit different from American slang.


Toilet/Loo – Bathroom/Restroom; In America, we think the term toliet is a little derogatory or gross to describe a bathroom and that it only describes the literal toliet that you use in the bathroom, but here in London they call it the toliet which also includes the sink and washroom so I don’t quite understand it. “I need to use the toliet”

Cheers – Thank you/Your welcome/See you soon; This term almost always is said at the end of the sentence at a parting of ways between people. It’s almost like a fond farewell, good tidings, blessings type response. “Thank you for my coffee, cheers!”

That’s alright/okay – No worries/no problem; This term is used when someone doesn’t want you to feel bad for asking for help or said immediately after you say thank you. So for example if someone says, “thank you so much for your help” their response would be “Ah, that’s alright”

You alright? – How are you? Are you doing okay?; I’m usually asked this while getting serviced somewhere. At first I thought they were asking me because I looked as though I was unwell or lost or obviously American. But, alast, if I’m waiting to get served at a coffee bar or pub, to get my attention they will say “You alright?”

Cheeky – smart-ass/cunningly rude; This word is used to describe someone who is sarcastically rude or cunningly insults you. This term was said to me when I accidentally told the coffee barista to “put her stamps onto my card” when he was stamping her card (I meant the other way around, to put my stamps onto her card) and he responded “well that’s quite cheeky”.

Dodgy – sketchy; A verb used to describe a not so good situation, place, person usually unsafe or bad conditions. “Melissa, becareful when you go to _____ it’s a really dodgy area.”

Bloody – hella (in Bay Area Terms)/extremely/horribly; An adverb used infront of a noun, verb, adjective used to intensify how bad/good/extreme a situation is. Can use it infront of the terms “bloody hell” (most often) “bloody awful” “bloody marvellous” or “not bloody likely”, basically to over empahsize something like we do in the Bay Area with the use of “hella”. “Melissa, that use of your business ideas were bloody genius.”

Blooming – same use as bloody in that they use it before another word to exaggerate or intensify it “I need that bloomin’ dress”

Dim/Daft – stupid; just another slang term to call people stupid

Fancy – want/desire; If you fancy something that means that you want something. It usually is followed by “a” since they use “a” before a lot of verbs. “Fancy a walk, fancy a look, fancy a chat”

Piss off/Fuck off – Fuck you; Piss off is a more PG term but it basically means fuck you or get the fuck outta here. I’ve heard it once said by a drunk man when I said something shocking he replied “fuck off” like “Really?!” but in a drunken ramble. Another time someone said piss off was when someone was getting angry that we weren’t sure which way to go, he told us to piss off but I also think he was quite crazy. In other terms, it’s not usually a nice phrase and you say it when you’re mad or insulting someone.

Posh – high-mainteanance/upper-class/high-society; Now I understand why Posh Spice was callled Posh Spice. It’s a term used to describe rich people, high-class, and high-mainteanance. In America we call them “yuppies” but here they use the term “All of the posh people live in that nice area.”

Rubbish – trash; Rubbish is the stuff you put in the trash can/waste basket/litter etc. Sometimes when people describe something that is horrible or disgusting they sometimes will use the word “Well that’s quite rubbish“.

Films – movies; “Do you want to watch a film tonight?”

Cinemas – the movie theater; the place where you go to watch films “I went to the Cinemas yesterday and the tickets cost me 15£”

Queue – line/to stand in line/to wait usually in a line or pecking order; This term can be used as a noun (“You need to stand in the queue to go into the store”) or as a verb to say you’re waiting in a particular order (“Did you have to queue for that restaurant?”  or “I didn’t want to wait because people have been queuing for 3 hours”)

Quid – pound/bucks; It is a slang term for pounds like how in America we say “Aw man I lost 5 bucks to the lottery” they say “Man I paid 5 quid for nothing”

Lift – elevator; “Take the lift up to the 5th floor”

Plaster – band-aid/bandage; This one was very confusing for me, since it came up when me and my coworker were talking about how flats really hurt the back of our foot (where girls usually put band-aids to stop the rubbing). She had said “Sometimes I think plasters don’t really work for me, I still end up getting blisters”.

Jumper – sweater/sweatshirt

Trousers – Pants

Trainers – sneakers/athletic sneakers

Pants – briefs/underwear

Knickers – panties/girl undies


Porridge – oatmeal

Chips – fries

Crisps – chips

Biscuits – cookies   


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