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The Gentleman’s Guide To British Slang (A to Zed)

American and the British speak the same language, or do we?  The British have a unique use of particular English words that Americans find difficulty in understanding.  If you’re not careful, it’s possible a good natured Brit might try to take the piss with you.  Blimey!  You don’t want to be the brunt of a joke, do you?

While English is my first and only language, I always say I’m bilingual as I’m familiar with both American English and British English.  I had to learn, otherwise I’d be lost when out with friends.

There is no need for you to be confused.  Study the following comprehensive list of British slang before your next trip to London.  I’ve highlighted the most commonly used words or phrases in red.  Now there is no need for you to scratch your head about the meaning of something or find yourself in a precarious situation because you don’t know the language.

With the Ultimate Guide to British slang from A to Zed, you now have an easy reference so you can translate your British friends into an English language you know.  Feel free to download A Gentleman’s Guide to British Slang for when you need a handy guide while you travel.

A AA – abbr – The British Automobile Association, whom you call when your car breaks down. A&E – n – Accident and Emergency, what Americans would call the Emergency Room. A – Levels – n – The highest level of secondary education that culminates in a series of standardized tests. Abattoir – n – A place where an animal is butchered. Abdabs – n – To be scared or frightened of something. Absobloodylootely – n – To agree with someone highly in a rather enthusiastic fashion. Somewhat vulgar. Ace – n – Excellent or wonderful. Action man – n – The equivalent to the U.S. G.I. Joe or a man that does macho things. Advert – n – An advertisement or commercial.

Aerial – n – A television antenna, usually located on the roof. Aeroplane – n – How the British spell ‘airplane’. Afters – n – Another name for the dessert course at dinner. AGA – n – A massive cooking range modelled with a vintage look. Aggro – n – Abbreviation of “aggravation”. Something that is rather annoying. Agony Aunt – n – A newspaper advice columnist. Air Biscuit – n – A fart. Airy-Fairy – adj – Someone who is lacking in strength or ability. Alcopop – n – Canned or carbonated fruit drinks with alcohol in them. Aled up – adj – To be drunk as the result of drinking ale. Alight – v – To disembark or get off a mode of transport like a train or bus.

All fur coat and no knickers – adj – A woman who looks good on the surface but has no substance. All Mod Cons – n – A home or car with all the modern conveniences. All mouth and no trousers – adj – To be boastful without justification. All over the Gaff – n – To be disorganized. All over the shop – adj – 1. To be disorganized. 2. Everywhere All to pot – adj – Something that’s gone completely wrong. Allotment – n – A garden plot in a shared community garden. Alright! – A simple greeting. It’s not a question asking how you are. Aluminium – n – It’s just Aluminum. Amber nectar – n – Lager (beer). Anchors – n – Brakes on a car. Ankle-biters – adj – A derogatory term for children.

Anorak – n – 1. A nerd or someone who is geeky about something like a planespotter, trainspotter or Anglophile. 2. A light waterproof jacket perfect for rambling in the countryside.

Answerphone – n – An answering machine. Bit of an outdated term now that voicemail is common. Anti-clockwise – adv – It means the same thing as ‘counter-clockwise.’ Antenatal – adj – Prenatal care. Argue the toss-v-To dispute something at length. Argy-bargy – n – Trouble, noisy or having an argument. Arrows – n – Another word for darts, the actual darts themselves, not the game. Arse – n – Buttocks. Arse about Face – Back to front. Arsehole – n – An asshole. Arsemonger – n – A Jonathan Thomas person worthy of contempt.

Arse-over-tit – adj – To fall over, often as the result of alcohol. To be intoxicated. As rare as hen’s teeth – adj – Something that’s rare. ASBO – n – Anti-social behaviour order – a punishment on people who repeatedly disturb the peace. Aubergine – n – Otherwise known as an eggplant. Aussie kiss – n – Oral sex on a woman. Autumn – n – The British don’t have Fall, they have Autumn, the season that precedes winter. Axe – n – A guitar. Axe wound – n – Vagina.

B Baby batter – n – Semen. Backhander – n – Bribe. Back passage – n – Anus. Back scuttle – n – Anal intercourse. Badger – v – To annoy someone incessantly. Bagsie – v – Calling dibs on something. For example, I call bagsies on the front seat of the car. Bairn – n – Another word for baby, usually used in Scotland. Baldy notion – n – To have an idea or a clue about something. Ball bag – n – Scrotum. Balloon Knot – n- The anus. Ballsed up – adj – A situation that’s all messed up. Bally – n – Short for Balaclava, a type of mask that covers your face. Bare – n – To say that there is a lot of something.

Baltic – n – To describe something as very cold, referring to the Baltic region. Banger – n – Short term for the traditional English sausage. When served with mashed potatoes, it’s called bangers and mash. Bang on – adj – Exactly or correct. Bang out of order – adj – Totally unacceptable. Bank Holiday – n – A public holiday in the UK. Usually, they don’t have any special meaning other than a day off that allows a long weekend. Christmas, Boxing Day etc are usually Bank Holidays as well.

Bap – n – A bread roll. Baps – n – Another name for a woman’s breasts. Barking – adj – Insane or crazy.

Barmpot – n – A stupid person that has the added distinction of being clumsy. Barmy – adj – To be crazy or insane. Barnet – n – Another name for human hair, Cockney roots in the location of Barnet. Barney – n – To be in big trouble. Barrister – n – A lawyer that practices in front of higher court judges. Bash on – interj – To go on regardless of the problems facing you in a situation. Bean – n – 1. An ecstasy pill 2. The female clitoris. Bearded clam – n – Female genitalia that’s covered in pubic hair. Beat the bishop – v – To masturbate. Beavering – v – To work industriously at something. Not used as much these days because of what the word ‘beaver’ means in American English.

Bee’s Knees The – adj – Something that is awesome and wonderful. Bedfordshire – n – Bed or bedtime. Said as “I’m off to Bedfordshire.” Bedsit – n – An apartment where the bedroom serves as the living space similar to a studio apartment. Beeb – n – Shorthand for the BBC. Belisha Beacons – n – The yellow flashing lights at a pedestrian crossing in the UK. Bell-end – n – The end of the male genitalia. Also, an insult to call someone stupid. “Don’t be such a bell-end.” Belt Up – interj – Shut up. Bender -n- 1.An epic alcohol drinking session. 2. A derogatory term for a male homosexual. Bent – n – A derogatory term for a homosexual. Berk  -n- Anidiotor irritating person. Bespoke – adj – Something that is custom made for you. i.e. bespoke cabinetry. Best of British -v-To wish someone good luck. Bevvy – n – An Alcoholic drink.

Bill, The – n – A slang term for the Police. Billy-no-mates – n – A person who doesn’t have any friends. Billy – n – Amphetamine drugs. Bin – n – A trashcan. Bin liner – n – A garbage bag that goes in a trash can. Bin man – n – Garbageman. Bint – n – A derogatory word for a woman who is just above a prostitute. Bird -pron- An attractive girl or woman. Biro – n – A ballpoint pen. Biscuit – n – What Americans call a cookie. As a corollary, it has nothing to do with what Americans call a biscuit. Bits and bobs – n – Bits and pieces. Blag – v – To scam something. Blagging is to pretend to be someone else to steal their personal information or access their bank accounts.

Bleeding – adj – Another use of the word bloody. Blighter – adj – A man or a boy. Blighty – n – An older term that simply means Britain.

Blimey – interj – Exclamation similar to “Oh no!” or “Oh dear!” Blinding – adj – Something that is uniquely wonderful Blink – adj – Something that’s not working. “On the blink.” Blinking – adj – Damned. Bloke – n – Guy or man. Bloody – adj – The British equivalent of the word damn and it is considered a mild curse word. Blooming – adj – A much lighter way to say bloody. The American equivalent would be ‘darn.’ Blow off – v – Fart. Blower – n – Telephone. Blub – v – To cry. Bob – n – 5 pence piece (used to be a shilling) Bob’s your uncle – interj -There you have it! Bobbie – n – Police officer. Bobbins – adj – Something that’s crap.

Bodge – v – Something haphazard or cobbled together. Bodge job – n – A poorly done job. Bodger – n – A person who works with wood, a wood turner. Boff – v – To have sexual intercourse. Boffin – n – Policy wonk or someone that is knowledgeable on a subject. Bog – n – The toilet. Bogroll – n – Toilet paper. Bog standard – n – Normal or average. Bogie – n pron – A booger. Boiler – n – An unkind term for an ugly woman. Bollard – n – a Metal post that usually indicates a place one should not drive into. Bollocks – n – 1. Male testicles. 2. Something that is rubbish or crap. Bollocking – n – To be punished severely or told off. Bolshie – adj – A rebel. Bolt-hole – n – A hideaway place, usually a country cottage. Bomb – n – A splendid success.

Bonce – n – The top of one’s head. Bonfire night – n – Also known as Guy Fawkes Day, fireworks and bonfires are usually held to celebrate the capture of Guy Fawkes.