I saw this entertaining infographic the other day and shared it on Facebook.

We’re coming to the time of year when many people will be visiting London as part of their holidays or English Language courses.

For those of you who plan to visit this wonderful city, you will inevitably come across a lot of the expressions highlighted below. You may hear them or see them written on signs in restaurants, cafes, shops or out and about. As for the insults, I hope you don’t hear them, but I’m afraid you may just be within earshot of an angry person or irate motorist, in which case you will hear some of them.
You will hear many of the slang terms as they are widely used. Remember though, that most of them are used in spoken English rather than in written form.

This infographic by Visually compares British and American words, and whilst the comparisons are accurate, I’d like to point out some discrepancies in usage and also to show you in what context you may hear some of them. I haven’t gone through ALL of them. I’ve picked the ones that you’re likely to hear.

May I also add that you don’t have to visit London the hear these terms. There are many British TV programmes and films where these words are used.

I am going to divide the sections in the same way as the infographic. So here goes.

You Sound Like You


The British do not refer to a sandwich as a “butty” unless they’re talking about a “chip butty”. A sandwich is a sandwich or maybe a “sarnie”.
A chip butty is simply two slices of buttered bread with potato chips in between. It originates from the North of England and is traditionally eaten with fish and chips. My husband ALWAYS has a chip butty when we have fish and chips. Like he doesn’t have enough carbs (carbohydrates) with all those chips! It makes me feel ill.

Cuppa (colloquial)
You will hear this word in this expression: “Fancy a cuppa?” You are not likely to hear it on its own. People refer to a cup of tea as a cup of tea unless they are offering you a cup.
More on ‘fancy’ later.

Fairy cake
Yes we use this but cup cake has become more common now.

“I am feeling rather peckish. I think I’ll get something to eat”. Peckish means a little hungry. If you are really hungry you would say ‘I’m starving or ravenous.


I have never heard this word used to describe a scarf, even though it is accurate. We say scarf. So don’t go into a clothes shop and ask for one as you will get blank stares from the assistants!
We use ‘muffler’ to describe the automotive device in an engine to silence the noise. We also call it a silencer.
We also call them “underpants“.
I want to point out that I don’t normally teach my clients insulting words, despite EVERY language learner wanting to learn them. However, you are going to come across them, so it’s worth knowing what they mean. You will hear them a lot on TV and films. 
*******A note of warning:  Insults are notoriously difficult to get right context-wise in a foreign language. USE them at your peril. You have been warned.

This word is used but you will also hear “dickhead”. ‘Knobanddick refer to the male reproductive anatomy.
Never heard of this. If anyone else has, please illuminate me.

Update: One of my readers, Louise Robertson has told me what “radge” means. Here is the explanation:
“The word radge is a Scottish slang word, so probably not commonly heard south of the border. It is, however, widely used up here!
It used to describe someone who is deemed to be a bit crazy or has done something that others consider to be crazy.
You’re a radge’ meaning you are a bit crazy is, while not a polite thing to say to anyone, very commonly used.”

Thank you very much, Louise. I have learned a new word and promise not to use it when next in Scotland!

Oh yes, this is quite commonly used to refer to someone who is not terribly clever. In other words, an “idiot”.


Sod Off
If you tell someone to sod off you are telling them to go away. You’re either angry with them or you are joking. The seriousness of the insult depends on the situation. Some people will say it jokingly and others will be very serious. It used to be a taboo insult. Over the years it has become more acceptable in spoken English (within reason).
The British also use ‘piss off’.

Both terms are extremely derogatory, insulting or disrespectful to describe a woman who is thought to be too easy. Please do NOT use them.

Once again, these terms are highly insulting and NOT to be used unless you want to be hit!
Dog’s Bollocks
Mmmm, yes…I’m afraid you will hear this when someone is describing how fantastic something is. “The new Maserati is the dog’s bollocks
You may also hear the word ‘bollocks’ in the following ways:
‘That’s just bollocks  meaning  That’s just rubbish”.
‘He got a bollocking from his boss” meaning “He got told off by his boss”
Both terms are vulgar and not to be repeated. You might hear them, though.

Fancy (not strictly slang)
The verb “to fancy” means to “like” or “desire”. It’s frequently used by the British. You will hear it everywhere.
Fancy a cuppa?”, “Do you fancy going to the cinema tonight?”, “Simon really fancies Greta”.
When someone say they are ‘gutted’ it means that they are disappointed or upset. This is often used.“He was really gutted he missed his uncle’s funeral”

Yes, this word is used to mean a nap (short sleep). I love my afternoon kips.

“You will feel so much better once you’ve had a good kip.”
If you’re knackered you are extremely tired. Zonked can be used although ‘knackered’ is more common.
Splash Out
“Tim loves to splash out when he is trying to impress Jane”.  
Another common expression. 

There is always one person who loves to waffle on in business meetings. It’s always so difficult to get them to stop.




Most of the words in this group are regularly used. Having said that,“dosh” is not that common.
Well, that’s it. If you’re interested in knowing more British Slang, check out these two posts that I’ve written: Part One and Part Two.

I hope you found the post interesting. If you did, please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you want to receive my posts directly in your inbox.

Ciao for now


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