Brit Slang Guide: Who Are The Twits? Us Or The Brits?

Don’t be daft. Eat your bangers and think brilliant thoughts. Here’s Rodney Campbell’s guide to the best of British slang.

aNewDomain — The British. They’re just like us, right?

Well, kind of. But we do share a lot in common, despite the British to a monarchy and love of soccer and cricket. The most obvious similarity is the fact that we both speak English. Of course, we inherited it from them seeing as how they used to own the colonies. That’s beside the point.

There are defintely enough differences between Brits and Americans to make both nations unique. Each has more than its share of slang, slang that’s unique to the two sides of the pond. To make things more complicated, British slang terms vary by region and class, as much if not more than does American slang. Check out my British slang glossary below. Clip it out next time you’re in London. Any of them will make you sound kind of like an Oxford St. homeboy.

Arse: You’re sitting on it.

Advert: A commercial.

All to pot: A situation that goes completely wrong.

Arse: This one is easy. You sit on it every day.

Bangers: Sausage. Bangers and champ is a must-have in a pub. By the way, British fare gets an undeserved bad rap.

Bespoke: Custom-made, like a stylish suit.

Biscuit: Not the flaky kind you get at Cracker Barrel. British people use this term to describe cookies.

100_2294Blotto: Really drunk. We mean really, really drunk.

Bonnet: Nope, it’s not something you wear in the film adaptation of a Jane Austen novel or when you’re going as Jane Austen for Halloween. It’s the hood on your vehicle.

Boot: You don’t wear it. You put things in it. It’s your car’s trunk.

Brilliant: An exclamation denoting enthusiastic approval!

Bugger it: Another word that means something completely different in the U.S. For the Brits, it just means “forget it.”

Bangers: Sausages. Bangers and mash or bangers and champ are must-have in a pub. By the way, British fare gets an undeserved bad rap.

Bespoke: Custom-made, like a stylish suit.

Biscuit: Not the flaky kind you get at Cracker Barrel. British people use this term to describe cookies.

Blotto: Really drunk. We mean really, really drunk.

Bonnet: It’s not something you wear in the film adaptation of a Jane Austen novel. It’s the hood on your vehicle.

Boot: You don’t wear it. You put things in it. It’s your car’s trunk.

Brilliant: An exclamation denoting enthusiastic approval. Or at least it’s usually said enthusiastically.

Bugger it: Another word that brings to mind something completely different in the U.S. For the Brits, the term has come to mean “forget it.”

Car park: This is what we Americans call a parking lot.

Cheeky: Flippant, like so many British comedy programs on the telly.

Cheers: We use the term when we drink. The Brits use it to thank someone.

Cheesed off: Angry. Really angry.

Chips: French (not Freedom) fries.

Chuffed: Only use this term when you’re proud of something.

Cock-up: A big mistake.

Cracking: The best, like a cracking good soccer match between Chelsea and Manchester City.

Crikey: An expression of surprise.

Daft: Save this for someone who’s stupid.

Dodgy: Something that’s sub par or sketchy, possibly even illegal.

Fancy: In America, this is a synonym for “posh.” In Britain, you use it as a verb for when you like someone or something.

Fit: Attractive. Often used in the term “fit bird” to describe a good-looking woman.

Give me a bell: Give me a call. Remember when phones used to actually ring?

Gobsmacked: A colorful way to say you are shocked or surprised.

Holiday: Not Presidents Day. It means a vacation.

Kerfuffle: This lightweight phrase is used to describe a brawl.

Knock up: Not what you think. It means to awaken someone.

Mini-break: A short holiday, uh, vacation.

Nick: A popular name for men and a word that means “steal.”

Plastered: If you can’t figure this one out, you must be drunk.

Posh: Class, elegant.

Prat: An insulting term to describe a person, presumably someone you don’t like.

Pub: Everyone knows this is a bar. But did you know it’s short for public house?

Rubbish: Something that isn’t true.

Shite: For the American translation, just remove the “e.”

Sod off: Use this as a last resort when you’re mad: It means f**k off.

Starters: Appetizers; what you eat before or instead of a meal.

Taking a piss: This one doesn’t even involve a toilet. Someone takes a piss when he or she makes fun of something or is pulling a joke.

Toilet: The entire bathroom, not just the throne.

Tosser: An idiot.

Twit: Another idiot.

It’s the American way to end on a couple of insults.

So here’s another difference: While the Brits can be unfailingly polite (and a bit aloof), we U.S. residents don’t mind letting folks know when we’re cheesed off. Anything else would be daft.

For aNewDomain, I’m Rodney Campbell.

Photo of a London bakery, credit: by Rodney Campbell.

About the author

Rodney Campbell

Based in Phoenix, Rodney Campbell is a sportswriter and travel editor for aNewDomain and our sister pub, BreakingModern.