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#100754 - Wed Jul 04 2001 10:41 AM English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
JoJo2 Offline
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Registered: Fri Nov 19 1999
Posts: 17656
Loc: San Diego California USA 
English slang and colloquialisms in the United Kingdom

It always helps to know the phrases and slang in a country before visiting there. I will add a few slang and colloquialisms that I found on the Internet, and I hope you will add to list to help out those who might be traveling to the UK in the future.

  • abdabs: Noun. Terror, the frights, nerves. Often heard as the screaming abdabs. [1940s]
  • absobloodylutely: Adv. Absolutely.
  • Abysinnia! Exclam. A jocular and intentional mispronunciation of "I'll be seeing you!"
  • accidentally-on-purpose: Phrs. Seemingly accidental but with veiled malice or harm.
  • action man: Noun. A man who participates in macho activities.
  • ace (!): Adj. Excellent, wonderful. Exclam. Excellent!
  • acid: Noun. The drug LSD. Lysergic acid diethylamide. [U.S. 1960s]
  • acid house: Noun. The dance music scene that pre-empted 'rave' in Britain, and began the long association of 'house' music and 'ecstacy'.
  • ackers: Noun. Money. From the Egyptian akka.
  • Adam and Eve: Verb. Believe. Cockney rhyming slang. E.g."I don't Adam and Eve it, it's not true!"
  • aerated: Adj. Over-excited. Becoming obsolete, although still heard used by older generations. Often mispronounced as aeriated.
  • agony aunt: Noun. A woman who provides answers to readers letters in a publication's agony column. {Informal}
  • aggro: Noun. Aggressive troublemaking, violence, aggression. Abb. of aggravation.
  • airlocked: Adj. Drunk, intoxicated. [N. Ireland use]
  • airy-fairy: Adj. Lacking in strength of character. {Informal}.
  • air guitar: Noun. An imaginary guitar played by rock music fans whilst listening to their favourite tunes.
  • aks: Verb. To ask. [dialect]. E.g."I aksed him to move his car from the driveway."
  • Alan Whickers: Noun. Knickers, underwear. Rhyming slang, often shortened to alans.

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#100755 - Wed Aug 01 2001 01:51 PM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
tjoebigham Offline
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Registered: Sat Dec 25 1999
Posts: 2656
Loc: Fairhaven Massachusetts USA   
Ever hear of the idiom "the penny dropped"? It comes from a penny dropping in the slot of a slot machine (in the UK it means a vending machine; they call our slot machine a "fruit machine" for the lemons, etc. in the windows). It means someone has got the meaning or significance of something. It's one of my favorite British phrases. Also, "gain on swings, lose on roundabouts": "you win some, you lose some". Roundabout means merry-go-round or our highway rotary. tjoeb};>
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#100756 - Wed Aug 01 2001 02:44 PM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
sue943 Offline

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Registered: Sun Dec 19 1999
Posts: 35436
Loc: Jersey Channel Islands        
In fact we shorten the latter to just 'swings and roundabouts' and not bother about the gains and losses
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#100757 - Wed Aug 01 2001 03:24 PM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
fay_mc Offline
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Registered: Thu Dec 02 1999
Posts: 1050
Loc: North East England UK
I'll put this story in here because it fits in quite well.

I worked with a selection of foreigners last year, and with a guy who used to delight in telling them the wrong English for expressions - after a while they learned not to trust him.

Apart from one member of staff, a lovely Chinese teacher who I lived with for a while. She got told that "Shut your trap" was a friendly way of telling someone to be quiet - and she said it to our boss! The look of horror on our boss's face (none of us liked the boss) was a picture!

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#100758 - Wed Aug 01 2001 05:55 PM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
chacal Offline
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Registered: Thu Jul 12 2001
Posts: 442
Loc: Nottingham England UK      
And here's a couple more for the melting pot.

Tha's gorr' arrers- means hard luck, tough, etc'.

Gi' orr- meaning give over.

Now what do they mean by Queens English?


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#100759 - Thu Aug 02 2001 05:19 AM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
ren33 Offline
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Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 11175
Loc: Fanling
  Hong Kong      
Yes Chacal!! LOL!! I am sure Lizzy says 'Gi'orr'all the time!!
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#100760 - Thu Aug 02 2001 05:40 AM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
chacal Offline
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Registered: Thu Jul 12 2001
Posts: 442
Loc: Nottingham England UK      
Tha'z rate theer me owd cock sparra!!!

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#100761 - Thu Aug 02 2001 07:05 AM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
TemplarLLM Offline
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Registered: Thu Jun 22 2000
Posts: 1471
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A bit of a blend of Yorkshire and Cockney in the last post methinks.

A Glasgow Kiss: To headbutt somebody
'Ere by Gum: Flippin' Eck

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#100762 - Thu Aug 02 2001 07:30 AM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
chacal Offline
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Registered: Thu Jul 12 2001
Posts: 442
Loc: Nottingham England UK      
Templar, I am in between the two you know!

Got any Welsh ones boyo?


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#100763 - Thu Aug 02 2001 07:42 AM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
TemplarLLM Offline
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Registered: Thu Jun 22 2000
Posts: 1471
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I do, but people get skittish when a Welsh lad mentions anything to do with a sheep. Actually, the region I come from in North Wales has such an eclectic mix, that it becomes difficult to differentiate between expressions that are North Walian in origin, or Mancunian, Liverpudlian, Wirralish, Shropshirerite and so on. Even though people try to stand by their own particular little niche of where they are from, the mixture there is now so complete that it is virtually inseparable.

Now if we could start talking about the number of different ways that people refer to a chip buttie in the UK, we could start a whole other thread!

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#100764 - Thu Aug 02 2001 08:00 AM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
chacal Offline
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Registered: Thu Jul 12 2001
Posts: 442
Loc: Nottingham England UK      
Ah, the old sheep reference! Wellies too. I suppose they were mentioned also.
I know what you mean about the dialects intermingling. It's the same in Derbys', Notts', Leics', Lincs'. No one has a clue where anyone else is from originally.
Chip butties eh? Would one of the locals know what you meant by that?

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#100765 - Thu Aug 02 2001 08:04 AM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
TemplarLLM Offline
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Registered: Thu Jun 22 2000
Posts: 1471
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
In Toronto? Nah, not a chance, but in the Vale? Aye, fer sure...God I miss me chips 'n' gravy...although Poutine comes close enough I guess.

Now where was it they call a chip buttie a chip bap?

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#100766 - Thu Aug 02 2001 08:45 AM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
chacal Offline
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Registered: Thu Jul 12 2001
Posts: 442
Loc: Nottingham England UK      
Afraid I can't help you with the chip bap one.
What on earth is Poutine?

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#100767 - Thu Aug 02 2001 08:48 AM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
TemplarLLM Offline
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Registered: Thu Jun 22 2000
Posts: 1471
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The chip bap is either Birmingham or Belfast...I know, nowhere near each other, but my memory fades as my younger life slips by.

Now poutine....if I hadn't been spoilt by having chips and gravy first, poutine would have been right up there at #1 for the chip family. Basically it is chips and gravy, but they put curds on the chips and then smother it all with gravy. Before anybody says it sounds gross, they should 1) try it themselves and 2) think about some of the foods they love and try suggesting the dish to someone who has never tried it.

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#100768 - Thu Aug 02 2001 08:51 AM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
TemplarLLM Offline
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Registered: Thu Jun 22 2000
Posts: 1471
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A couple of differences between North America and the UK:

Uk = Queue -- N.Am = Line
N.Am = Fanny = butt -- UK = DO NOT SAY FANNY (very rude)
N.Am = cookie -- UK = Biscuit
N.Am = Biscuit -- UK = Scone

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#100769 - Thu Aug 02 2001 08:55 AM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
fay_mc Offline
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Registered: Thu Dec 02 1999
Posts: 1050
Loc: North East England UK
Gravy and chips - you should have seen some of the southern students faces when I ordered that during fresher's week at uni. Two weeks later they were all at it the same.

Garlic mayonaise and chips is my absolute fave - picked that bad habit up at uni.

One little bug while we're on dialects and stuff - people from Sunderland are not called Geordies (it's mortally offensive to them - footballing rivallry).

Couple of north east words for you: -
Stottie - type of flat round bread
Clarts - mud
Plodging - splashing in puddles

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#100770 - Thu Aug 02 2001 02:44 PM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
chacal Offline
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Registered: Thu Jul 12 2001
Posts: 442
Loc: Nottingham England UK      
Correct me if I'm wrong, but to call a person from Sunderland a 'Geordie' is like asking for a bullet in the head. I believe the correct term is a 'Mackem'.

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#100771 - Thu Aug 02 2001 02:50 PM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
fay_mc Offline
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Registered: Thu Dec 02 1999
Posts: 1050
Loc: North East England UK
Absolutely correct - but people persist in making the error. The term comes from the expression "Mackem and Takem" when we used to make the ships and companies would come and take - em away.
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#100772 - Thu Aug 02 2001 03:06 PM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
sue943 Offline

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Registered: Sun Dec 19 1999
Posts: 35436
Loc: Jersey Channel Islands        
True happening of today in the office, the tears ran down my cheeks and before I tell it I stress that I am in no way attempting to insult anyone.....

We have this delightful little Scotsman in our office (Albert), by little I mean under five feet in height, oh but does he have charisma! I digress.

Jersey has its very own language, not many people speak it but it exists.

My manager Francis, a true Jerseyman, asked Albert why the Scots don't have their own language, he said that the Welsh have theirs so why didn't the Scots. We were slightly bemused by this, Albert said that the Gaelic is spoken in parts of Scotland, notably in the north and the Islands. Francis persisted (and we fell for it), why didn't ALL Scots speak their own language? He then said "If your first language was Gaelic then you would have learned to speak English as a second language - then you might have learned to speak it correctly!"

I am not sure who laughed the loudest but I rather suspect it was the two Scots in the room at the time. We fell for it hook, line and sinker!

on the subject of sayings, it hadn't ocurred to me that we use so many in our day to day lives, I know that in the past we have baited Linda but the other day one of our employees, a Portuguese woman, commented on somethings one colleague had said, such as 'Like banging your head against a brick wall', 'in one ear and out the other'.... she found them funny (amusing) as they are not used in her country.

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#100773 - Thu Aug 02 2001 04:19 PM Re: English slang and colloquialisms in the UK
chacal Offline
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Registered: Thu Jul 12 2001
Posts: 442
Loc: Nottingham England UK      
If any first time visitor to Britain is ever accused by someone of 'pulling his/her plonker', please do not become alarmed and head for the nearest airport. It is just our own sweet way of saying 'you're joking/having me on' etc.

We are a quaint nation aren't we?


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