10 British Slang Expressions You Will Hear When Visiting London

Blog_Slang CartoonIf you’re planning on visiting London in the future, you might just want to familiarise yourself with some British Slang expressions that are very commonly used by the British.

They will be very useful particularly if you’re likely to be socialising with Londoners.

 

1. “Mind The Gap” 

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This famous expression  is always used on trains and the London Underground (Tube). The “gap” refers to the space, often wide, between the train and the platform. Be sure you take a big step when getting off the train or tube or you could hurt yourself!

 

2. “All Right, Mate?”

“Mate” is British Slang used to refer to men. A lot of English people, especially in the pub, use it instead of “How are you?”. They don’t always expect an answer, but you could just respond: “Yes, Thank You”.

 

3. “Naff”

If something is “naff”, it is very uncool. “That jumper is so naff. There is no way I’m wearing it.”

 

4. “The Full Monty”

This British Slang word is not to be confused with the film of the same title where the main characters removed all their clothes for a striptease act. It actually means the whole thing. You can often hear it when the English are asked at breakfast what they would like to have and they answer: “The Full Monty” meaning the Full English Breakfast (sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, fried bread and black pudding)

 

5. “Grub”

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The literal meaning is larva, but it is also another word for food. Some English will say: “What’s for grub?” meaning ‘What’s for dinner or lunch?’.
Sometimes, you will see the word “Pub Grub” referring to Pub Food outside pubs.

 

6. “Moreish”

“I love Pringle Crisps. They are so moreish.” This comes from “more” and simply means that something is so good that it makes you want to eat more of it.

 

7. “Not My Cup of Tea”

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When the English don’t like something, but don’t want to be rude they will say: ” I’m afraid that going to nightclubs is not my cup of tea”.

 

8. “Quid”

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This is another British slang word for the UK currency, the pound. You will often hear people use this word instead of ‘pounds’. Example: “I paid ten quid for that shirt.”

 

9. “Spend a Penny” or “Loo”

This is not as commonly used as the other British slang words but I love it so I thought I’d add it here. It means to go to the bathroom. It’s often used in situations where people don’t really know each other well, for example, in a business meeting. In that case, they might say: “I need to spend a penny”.
The other word commonly used is the “loo” to refer to “toilet” or “lavatory”. ‘Where is the loo?’

 

10. “Ta”

This basically means ‘thank you’.

 

Do you know any other British Slang words or expressions? What are your favourites?

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Ciao for now.

Shanthi

PS This post appeared in the summer on my other website Language AND The City.

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92 thoughts on “10 British Slang Expressions You Will Hear When Visiting London

  1. Thanks for sharing!
    My favourite is by far mind the gap – very Londonish indeed! And I like the way they use the word “ace” which means awesome/cool.

    • Hello Jatinder,
      If you’d like to receive my posts via email, please add your email address to the box headed Subscribe to My Blog via Email and click submit.
      Thanks
      Shanthi

  2. Pingback: 10 British Slang Expressions You Will Hear When Visiting London | Mazzocchi ESL

  3. Respected Shanthi,

    Thanks for sharing it! I never miss your posts cause every time I get something new to learn from you……..so please keep posted new things :-)

    • Thank you ever so much for reading my posts, Avnish. I’m so glad I can make a small contribution in your English studies.
      Shanthi

  4. Nice. I’m a Brit teaching abroad, and I get so apprehensive about directing my learners towards learning slang because a lot if what’s in offer in out-of-date, too niche to be useful and/or is just inaccurate. This list is none of those things. Nice one.

    • Thank you, Alex. It means a lot to me.
      You’re absolutely right. When researching for this post, I saw some expressions that I hadn’t heard in ages and consequently a lot of editing was required. I’m glad that the choices I made were/are appropriate to today’s learners.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Shanthi

  5. (a) So how did American English lose all those “u” words? Colour = color, etc. … if it was accented, e.g., “velour” … which I suppose is really Francais … we kept it. Behaviour / behavior, etc. Was it just to save printing ink? (in same vein as our Post Office trying to kill extraneous silent “h” letters in select cities: e.g., they succeeded with Harrisburg, but failed with Pittsburgh, in PA)

    (b) So what is bung, dosh, “dog and bone” … in the darn cartoon? Please explain these. Never heard bung in this context.

    (c) “bangers and mash” “boot and bonnet” might need explanation too.

    Kind regards, thanks for your efforts.
    SM

    • Hi Suzanne,

      (a) I’m afraid I shall have to leave you to decide on the reason behind the difference in US and UK spelling.

      (b) “Bung” means give, “dosh” means money and “dog and bone” is Cockney rhyme for the phone. So, in plain English, it says “give me some money for the phone”.

      (c) “bangers and mash” is our famous sausage and mashed potato dish whilst the “boot” of a car is the trunk in AmE and the “bonnet” is the hood.

      Hope it’s clear now.

      Ta
      Shanthi

      • Americans use the dictionary created by spelling reformer Noah Webster. He was trying to make spelling easier. A surprising number of Brits don’t know this fact, and think that Americans can’t spell. Enjoy London! (In pubs, order drinks at the bar – there’s no queue, but your turn will come.)

        • I’ve never believed that Americans can’t spell. On the contrary, I find that a lot of British have terrible spelling and grammar.
          American spelling is often far more logical than British English spelling.

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  7. outstanding slangs i really got buzz out of reading ur slangs and my favorite one is spend penny

  8. Shanti!

    I loved your blog. I am from Brazil and I like all posts about English learning. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us…Keep doing this wonderful job. Kisses and hugs…

  9. Pingback: 10 British Slang Expressions You Will Hear When Visiting London | Englada

  10. a great effort u’re doing brother for it helps foreigners such as me to discover the most beautiful slang “the Londonish” :) shokran or thank you

  11. British Slang expressions I have come across

    Right up to my street, barmy ,blimey, bobby, cats’ eyes, chuffed , dodgy, gobsmacked , knackered ,higgledy-piggledy, over the moon, telly, whacked ,zebra crossing, my way or highway, bits and bobs, crikey, phew, no rhyme or reason.

  12. Interesting that, as an Australian, I understand pretty much all of these, and in fact many are also used in Australia. We obviously still have a lot of common ties. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hi Shanthi! I appreciate your efforts. we did not know that how modern English is spoken. these slangs are really important to understand English movies.

    • You’re absolutely right, Ibrar. These expressions are commonly used in British English films and television programmes.
      Shanthi

  14. As you said in these nice expresions: Ta. Wow, it’s nice to know about the British slang. Once I hope to visit London, so I’ll surely keep them in mind. :) Thanks! Bryner from Costa Rica.

    • There are plenty more. I shall collate more in a future post.
      Thank you for reading the post, Bryner.
      Hello from London.
      Shanthi

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  16. I had butchers on that lol and…..it’s very interesting. Got an English colleague who used teach me some slang, every time he comes but now he left.

    That would definitely help me understand London Spoken English.
    Thank you

  17. Thank you for this post Shanti! Number 5 and 7 are also used in the US, for the rest it definitely brings me back to the time I spent in London:) And I didn’t know number 3, 6, and 10, so you definitely taught me something today!

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