I was walking along the South Bank in London the other day with my client and home stay student, Martine when I realised that there were more foreign languages being spoken than the English language! Of course, the summer season has started which means that London will be one of the most visited cities by foreign tourists and learners of English on full immersion courses.
If you are one of these tourists or learners, you are very likely going to hear plenty of British slang spoken in pubs, restaurants, public transport and on the television. So, it would be no bad thing to familiarise yourself with some of these colourful expressions. These expressions are typically British slang and are used in spoken language and informally.
1. Au fait – this is an example of a French expression that has become part of the English Language. It means to have good detailed knowledge of something. (This is not slang but a very British English expression.)
“She is au fait with the company’s rules and regulations”
2. Blinding – if something is blinding, it means that it’s excellent.
“She makes a blinding roast dinner”
3. Bugger all – if you’ve got bugger all for dinner, it means you have nothing. (This is an impolite expression so use it with caution)
“I worked 7 hours on that job and I got bugger all thanks for my efforts”.
4. Cock Up – This can be used as a verb or a noun and it means to make a serious mistake or a mistake. (It has nothing to do with male parts!) Important: Please use this with extreme caution. It’s not to be used in formal situations or with people you don’t know.
“You really cocked up this time. What are you going to do?”
5. Donkeys’ years – a long time or ages
“It was so great to see Sally again. I hadn’t seen her in donkey’s years.”
6. Gobsmacked – “Gob” is mouth is British English and if you smack it, you probably would do it because you are amazed or shocked. Once again, this is used informally.
“I was gobsmacked by how much weight Pete had lost”.
7. Gormless – another way to say vacant or clueless.
“She always has a gormless look in meetings”
8. Gutted – really upset
“I was gutted when I didn’t get the job”.
9. Hunky-dory – fine, going well
“How are things with you?”
“Everything is hunky-dory, thanks.”
10. Knackered – very tired, exhausted
“I’ve been working for hours on this report. I’m knackered“.
11. Lurgy – if you’ve got the lurgy, it means you are ill with the flu or a virus. It means that people will stay away from you.
“Where’s Sarah today?”
“She’s off sick. She’s got the lurgy“.
12. Nice one! – If someone is impressed by what you’ve done, they could use this expression. It’s similar to “good job” in American English. It can also be used sarcastically.
“I managed to get two tickets for the One Direction concert at the O2 arena”.
“Nice one, mate!“
No doubt you will know other British slang words. Please share them here and tell me what are your favourites. For more expressions, take a look at my other two posts that can be found on the Slang Tag.
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Ciao for now
Source: I am totally indebted to the Best Of British Blog for help in putting together this list of slang words.