I used to go out on a bender quite frequently when I was at university. Luckily bender doesn't only mean a gay man, it also means a pub crawl or a heavy drinking session.
We say something is bespoke if it has been created especially for someone, in the same way that you say custom. For example a computer program might be bespoken for a client, or you may order a bespoke holiday, where the travel agent creates an itinerary around your exact requirements.
Best of British -
If someone says "The best of British to you" when you are visiting the UK, it simply means good luck. It is short for "best of British luck".
This is unusual. A biggie is what a child calls his poo! Hence
the reason Wendy's Hamburgers has never really taken off in England -
who would buy "biggie fries"? Yuck - I'm sure you wouldn't buy poo fries! The other meaning of Biggie is erection. It just gets worse!
Bite your arm off -
This is not aggressive behaviour that a football fan might engage in. In
fact it just means that someone is over excited to get something. For
instance you might say that kids would bite your arm off for an ice
cream on a sunny day.
This rather ugly expression is another way of saying you are drunk. The link is fairly apparent I feel!
An exclamation of surprise. You may also hear someone shout "blast it", or even "bugger and blast"!
We use this word a lot to mean something is really obvious.
An alternative to the word bloody. You'll hear people say "bleeding hell" or "not bleeding likely" for example.
Another exclamation of surprise. My Dad used to say "Gawd Blimey" or
"Gor Blimey" or even "Cor Blimey". It is all a corruption of the oath God Blind Me.
If something is a blinding success - it does not mean that any eyes were poked out with sharp sticks - it means it was awesome.
Someone who is blinkered is narrow minded or narrow sighted -
they only see one view on a subject. It comes from when horses that
pulled carriages wore blinkers to stop them seeing to the side or behind
them which stopped them from being startled and only let them see where
they were going.
One of the most useful swear words in English. Mostly used as an
exclamation of surprise i.e. "bloody hell" or "bloody nora". Something
may be "bloody marvellous" or "bloody awful". It is also used to
emphasise almost anything, "you're bloody mad", "not bloody likely" and
can also be used in the middle of other words to emphasise them. E.g.
"Abso-bloody-lutely"! Americans should avoid saying "bloody" as they
Another alternative to the word bloody. You might hear someone say "not blooming likely" so that they don't have to swear.
Blow me -
When an English colleague of mine exclaimed "Blow Me" in front of a
large American audience, he brought the house down. It is simply an
exclamation of surprise, short for "Blow me down", meaning something
like I am so surprised you could knock me over just by blowing. Similar
to "Well knock me down with a feather". It is not a request for services
to be performed.
Blow off -
Who blew off? Means who farted? Constant source of amusement to us Brits when you guys talk about blowing people off. Conjours up all sort of bizarre images!
If a saw or a knife is not sharp we say it is blunt. It is also the way most of us speak! In America the knife would be dull.
Bob's your uncle -
This is a well used phrase. It is added to the end of sentences a bit like and that's it!
For example if you are telling someone how to make that fabulous
banoffee pie you just served them, you would tell them to boil the
condensed milk for three hours, spread it onto a basic cheesecake base,
slice bananas on top, add some whipped double cream, another layer of banana and Bob's your uncle!
We bodge things all the time here. I'm sure you do too! To do a bodge
job means to do a quick and dirty. Make it look good for the next day or
two and if it falls down after that - hey well we only bodged it!
Applies to building, DIY, programming and most other things.
Booger. Any variety, crusty dragons included!
This is a great English word with many excellent uses. Technically speaking it means testicles
but is typically used to describe something that is no good (that's
bollocks) or that someone is talking rubbish (he's talking bollocks).
Surprisingly it is also used in a positive manner to describe something
that is the best, in which case you would describe it as being "the
dog's bollocks". Englishmen who live in America take great delight in
ordering specialised registration plates for their cars using the
letters B.O.L.L.O.X. Good eh?
If something costs a bomb it means that it is really expensive. We say it when we see the price of insurance in the US, you could try saying it when you see how much jeans or petrol cost over here!
If something goes like a bomb it means it is going really well or really fast.
Or you could say an event went down like a bomb and it would mean that
the people really enjoyed it. In the US the meaning would be almost
exactly the reverse.
Same meaning as shag. Means to have sex. E.g. "Did you bonk him/her?".
There are two expressions here - to botch something up or to do a botch
job. They both mean that the work done was not of a high standard or was
a clumsy patch. My Dad used to always tell me that workmen had botched
it up and that he should have done the work properly himself.
Something you have after twenty pints of lager and a curry. A lotta bottle! This means courage. If you have a lotta bottle you have no fear.
Box your ears -
Many young chaps heard their dads threaten to box their ears when I was a littlun. Generally meant a slap around the head for misbehaving. Probably illegal these days!!
Brassed off -
If you are brassed off with something or someone, you are fed up. Pissed perhaps.
Short for "brilliant". Used by kids to mean cool.
Budge up -
If you want to sit down and someone is taking up too much space, you'd ask them to budge up - move and make some space.
This is another fairly unique word with no real American equivalent. Like bloody
it has many uses apart from the obvious dictionary one pertaining to
rather unusual sexual habits. My father was always shouting "bugger"
when he was working in the garage or garden. Usually when he hit his
thumb or dropped a nail or lost something. Today we might use the sh**
or the f*** words but bugger is still as common. The fuller version of
this would be "bugger it". It can also be used to tell someone to get
lost (bugger off), or to admit defeat (we're buggered) or if you were
tired or exhausted you would be buggered. You can also call someone a
bugger. When I won £10 on the lottery my mate called me a "lucky
Bugger all -
If something costs bugger all, it means that it costs nothing. Meaning it is cheap. If you have bugger all, it means you have nothing.
This is the part of your body you sit on. Your ass! It might also be someone who is down and out, like a tramp. You might also bum around, if you are doing nothing in particular, just hanging out. Finally to bum something means to scrounge it from someone.
To bung something means to throw it. For example a street trader
might bung something in for free if you pay cash right now! Or you could
say "bung my car keys over, mate".
A bung is also a bribe.
To have a butchers at something is to have a look. This is a cockney rhyming slang word that has become common. The reason "butchers" means a look even though it doesn't rhyme is because it is short for "butchers hook" and "hook" of course, does rhyme.
C of E -
The Church of England. Our official protestant church - of which the Queen is the head.
Chat up -
To chat someone up is to try and pick them up. If you spotted a scrummy girly in a bar you might try to chat her up. Or a girl might try and chat up a chap!
"Eee you cheeky monkey" was what my mother said to me all the time when I was a kid. Cheeky means you are flippant, have too much lip or are a bit of a smart arse!
Generally you are considered to be a bit cheeky if you have an answer
for everything and always have the last word. My licence plate on my MX5
(Miata in American) was CHEEKY, which most Texans thought was something
to do with bottoms - wrong!!
Not a breakfast cereal. Just a friendly way of saying goodbye. Or in the north "tara" which is pronounced sort of like "churar".
This word is obviously used when drinking with friends. However, it also has other colloquial meanings. For example when saying goodbye you could say "cheers", or "cheers then". It also means thank you.
Americans could use it in English pubs, but should avoid the other
situations as it sounds wrong with an American accent. Sorry!
Cheesed off -
This is a polite way of saying you are pissed off with something.
Chin Wag -
This is another word for a Chat. You can probably tell why!
Chinese Whispers -
This a good one. It refers to the way a story gets changed as is passes
from one person to the next so that the end result may be completely
different from what was originally said. Sound familiar?
Chivvy along -
When I'm standing patiently in the checkout queue at Tesco I like to chivvy along the old ladies in front of me. If only they would stop fannying around and hurry up!
You would be chuffed to bits if you were really pleased about something.
Clear off! -
This expression brings back memories of being a kid and stealing apples
from people's gardens. Sometimes we would get caught and some old bloke would come out and shout "oi clear off you lot". It basically means get lost.
I have heard people say "what a load of cobblers" more than once. Maybe that's because I talk so much rubbish. An equivalent would be what a load of bollocks.
It means you are talking out of your butt and has nothing to do with
any kind of dessert! Derived from the cockney rhyming slang where
Cobblers Awls = Balls!
Cock up -
A cock up means you have made a mistake. It has nothing to do with parts of the male body.
Cockney rhyming slang -
There are lots of words that make up cockney rhyming slang. These are
basically rhyming words like "butchers hook" which means "look". If you
are in London and you hear someone talk about a Septic they are probably
talking about you - because it's short for "Septic tank" which equals
"yank", which is our word for an American. How do you like that!
Another one I heard a lot as a kid - usually when I was making up
excuses for how the window got broken or why my dinner was found behind
the sofa. My Dad would tell me I was talking a load of codswallop.
American kids might be talking baloney under the same circumstances.
You'll often hear a Brit say "cor"! It is another one of those
expressions of surprise that we seem to have so many of. It will
sometimes be lengthened to "cor blimey" or "cor love a duck", depending
on where you are. "Cor blimey" is a variation of "Gawd Blimey" or "Gor
Blimey". They are all a corruption of the oath "God Blind Me".
If something is cracking, it means it is the best. Usually said without pronouncing the last "G". If a girl is cracking it means she is stunning.
Before a big exam you would be expected to cram. This simply means to study hard in the period running up to the exam.
The same word in both countries - but less rude here. I loved watching Brits being interviewed on US chat shows and embarrassing the interviewer when they said something was "total crap".
Another exclamation of surprise. Some people say "Crikey Moses".
Crusty dragon -
A booger. One of the really crispy ones.
My Dad used to call me a daft 'apeth which is short for a daft half penny (in old money). It basically means stupid.
To have a look at something.
If something is dear it means it is expensive. I thought Texan insurance was dear.
Dicky rhymes with sicky and means you feel sick.
To rip someone off or to con someone is to diddle them. When you visit England, check your change to make sure you haven't been diddled!
A dim person is stupid or thick or a dimwit.
Someone a bit on the dim side.
If someone is a bit of a dish or a bit dishy it means they are attractive or good looking.
This is short for do it yourself and applies not just to the DIY
stores but also to anything that you need to do yourself. For example,
if we get really bad service in a restaurant (oh, you noticed!) then we
might ask the waiter if it is a DIY restaurant - just to wind them up.
A party. You would go to a do if you were going to a party in the UK.
If you go into a shop and say "do you do batteries?" it means "do you sell batteries".
If you drive along a motorway in the wrong lane the police will do you.
You could then tell your friends that you have been done by the police. Prosecute is another word for it!
Something that is a doddle is a cinch, it's easy. Unlike ordering water in Texas with an English accent, which is definitely not a doddle!
If someone or something is a bit dodgy, it is not to be trusted. Dodgy
food should be thrown away at home, or sent back in a restaurant. Dodgy
people are best avoided. You never know what they are up to. Dodgy goods
may have been nicked. When visiting Miami I was advised by some English chums that certain areas were a bit dodgy and should be avoided!
Dog's bollocks -
You would say that something really fantastic was the dog's
bollocks. Comes from the fact that a dog's bollocks are so fantastic
that he can't stop licking them! Nice huh? Often shortened to just "The
Dog's dinner -
If you make a real mess of something it might be described as a
real dog's dinner. A bit like some joint Anglo-American approaches to
Eastern Europe for example!
Donkey's years -
Someone said to me the other day that they hadn't seen me for donkey's years. It means they hadn't seen me for ages.
Drop a clanger -
When I asked a large lady on the tube if she would like my seat
since she was so obviously pregnant, she took the seat then told me she
was fat, not pregnant! Boy did I drop a clanger. You might make a gaffe. Either way it was horrendously embarrassing, especially as half the people on the tube had heard me!
In and around Leeds you will find older people might call you "duck" in
the same way that they might call you "love" or "dear" in other places.
Usually pronounced more like "dook", which rhymes with "book".
Anything that is duff is useless, junk, trash. It usually means that the object doesn't do the job it was intended for. Our last Prime Minister was pretty duff!
Any person that is duff could be referred to as a duffer. The Prime Minister was a duffer.
You would say something that was no longer sharp was dull. We would say blunt. To us something is dull if it is boring. It can apply to things - like a film could be dull. It also applies to people - I can think of several people who are dull!
Easy Peasy -
A childish term for something very easy. You might say it's a snap.
When you ring someone and they are already on the phone you will get the
engaged tone. In other words, they will be engaged. You would say you
get the busy signal or the line is busy.
Excuse me -
This is a great one! It's what kids are taught to say when they belch in
public. We are also taught to say "pardon me" if we fart out loud.
Unfortunately in American "excuse me" means you are encroaching in
someone's personal space and you say "pardon me" when you don't hear
someone properly. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that actually
Americans are not belching and farting all the time.
To faff is to dither or to fanny around. If we procrastinated when getting ready for bed, as kids, our Dad use tell us we were faffing around.
If you are too lazy or tired to do something you could say "I can't be fagged". It means you can't be Bothered.
Fagging is the practice of making new boys at boarding schools into
slaves for the older boys. If you are fagging for an older boy you might
find yourself running his bath, cleaning his shoes or performing more
If you fancy something then it means you desire it. There are two
basic forms in common use - food and people. If you fancy a cake for
example it means you like the look of it and you want to eat it. If you
see someone of (hopefully) the opposite sex then you might fancy them if
you liked the look of them and wanted to get to know them a little
This is the word for a woman's front bits! One doesn't normally
talk about anyone's fanny as it is a bit rude. You certainly don't have a
fanny pack, or smack people on their fannys - you would get arrested
for that! Careful use of this word in the UK is advised!
Fanny around -
I'm always telling people to stop fannying around and get on with it. It means to procrastinate. Drives me mad!
Fiddle sticks -
I have an old Aunt who is much too well mannered to swear. So when the
need arises for a swear word, she will substitute "fiddle sticks".
To filch is to steal or pilfer. The origin is apparently unknown.
Fit is a word that I have heard a lot recently - it seems to be making a comeback. A fit bird means a girl who is pretty good looking or tasty! A fit bloke would be the male equivalent.
To Flog something is to sell it. It also means to beat something
with a whip, but when your wife tells you she flogged the old TV it is
more likely she has sold it than beaten it (hopefully!).
If something great happened to you by chance that would be a
fluke. When I was a kid my Mum lost her engagement ring on the beach and
only realised half way home. We went back to the spot and she found it
in the sand. That was a fluke.
I like to have a flutter on the horses. It means to have a bet, usually a small one by someone who is not a serious gambler.
Two weeks. Comes from an abbreviation of "fourteen nights". Hence
terms like "I'm off for a fortnights holiday" meaning "I am going on a
two week vacation".
If someone is feeling fruity then they are feeling frisky. Watch out!
Full monty -
Since the movie has come out of the same name I have heard some odd
Texan descriptions of what the full monty means. It really has nothing
to do with taking your clothes off. It just means the whole thing or going the whole way.
That's it. Clearly when applied to stripping it means not stopping at
your underwear! The origins of the expression are still under
discussion. There are many theories but no conclusive evidence at the
Full of beans -
This means to have loads of energy. It is a polite way of saying
that a child is a maniac. I was often described as being full of beans
as a kid and now it is my wife's way of telling me to keep still when
she is trying to get to sleep. Strangely the same expression in some
parts of the US means that you are exaggerating or talking bollocks!
Desperate, in a fat slaggy kind of a way. Not nice.
The dictionary says "to gad about", which probably doesn't help much! It means fooling around or horseplay.
When I was a kid, my Dad often used to go off for a gander when we were visiting a new town or village. It means to look around.
Gen means information. If you have the gen then you know what is going on.
Gen up -
To research a subject or to get some information.
Get lost! -
Politely translated as go away, this is really a mild way of telling someone to f*** off!
Get stuffed! -
Even politer way to tell someone to get lost is to tell them to get stuffed. However, this is still not a nice thing to say to someone.
Getting off -
This seems to be the objective of most teenagers on a big night out. Getting off with someone means making out or snoggingh them.
Give us a bell -
This simply means call me. You often hear people use the word "us" to mean "me".
Amazed. Your gob is your mouth and if you smack your gob, it would be out of amazement.
Good value -
This is short for good value for money. It means something is a good deal.
If you have been kicked in the goolies, your eyes would be watering and you would be clutching your balls!
A gormless person is someone who has absolutely no clue. You would say clueless. It is also shortened so you could say someone is a total gorm or completely gormy.
The form of gob meaning to spit something out. e.g. Did
you see him grem? Yuck. Usually associated with that ghastly noise as
the content of the lungs are coughed into the mouth before gremming can
take place. Grem is also the word that describes the green lump that is
created in the process. You might call it hacking up a hacker.
Food. Similar to nosh. I remember my Dad calling "grub's up", when dinner was ready as a kid. A grub is also an insect larva. Not usually eaten in England. Actually is available in some Australian restaurants