Blimey! A Guide to British Slang

guide to british slang

Although there’s a lot of crossover in many English-speaking countries’ slang,  but navigating the world of casual conversation in the UK can be very confusing. There are terms for all sorts of everyday items, establishments, foods and feelings that you’ll want to know the meaning of. There’s no time like the present to start learning, so here’s our guide to British slang with some terms to get you started.


 Though this is a question, don’t be fooled. It is not a question: it is more like saying hello. The more informally it’s said, the more informally you can respond – almost always with “alright?” in kind. Note that in the West Country (that’s in the counties of Somerset and Wiltshire), “alright?” can indeed be a question. To which you answer, “not bad, thanks, you?” Or something to that extent.


British people call daks “trousers”, unless they’re talking about jeans specifically in which case they’ll more than likely call them “jeans”. Otherwise, it’s trousers. Never daks, and never, ever pants. “Pants” are underwear.


In the UK, “tea” isn’t just a hot drink with milk and sugar. It can also mean dinner, or at least an early evening meal before something later, which would be supper. But that’s getting too complicated, right? Simply put, if someone invites you for tea, it might mean you’re getting invited for dinner.


Good-looking. Not actually “fit” as in physically fit. You’ll know when it’s being used to describe someone attractive because more than likely they won’t be in athletic clothing, or be exhibiting anything that shows actual fitness.


It’s an intensifier for things like “lush” and “good”. It just means “very”. For context, finding someone ‘well fit’ would to be to say they’re ‘very attractive’.


Pronounced “cutch”, this is the Welsh word for a cuddle or hug. You will most likely hear at least one person saying this at some point.


This is a slang term that means to chill out somewhere, or sit down and relax without doing much. It comes from Jamaican English, with the meaning of leaning on something for support; ultimately it comes from the older term “scotch” meaning pretty much the same, i.e. “scotch something against a wall”.


Not “bare” as in naked. Bare means “a lot”. You may not find a lot of people saying it, but it is said from time to time in London and the South. It’s an example of backslang – that is, an ironic way of meaning the opposite of the words you’re saying.

guide to british slang


When someone offers you a brew, they’re kindly offering you a kind of tea – not a beer. Note that this is more of a Northern English thing. 

Stag do

What Aussies call a bucks party is actually a “stag do” in the UK. So if you hear someone talking about it, no: you’re not listening in on some old school poaching lingo. It just means someone is talking about a bucks party.


That’s a pound.


That’s five pounds.


Ten quid.


Twenty-five pounds. Not widely used.


One hundred pounds. Also not widely used.


Five hundred pounds. Ditto. Allegedly this came from India, which once featured a monkey on its 500 rupee note.

guide to british slang

Cash machine/cashpoint

If someone says they’re going to the cash machine or the cashpoint, you might be a bit confused. To be fair, it does sound like a bargain convenience store or something. But no: it just means “ATM”. 


These are what you’d call “chips”. Chips in the UK are what you’d call “fries”.


That’s a fish-and-chips shop. In tradesperson lingo, a chippie is also a carpenter. 


A bit like the aussie sanga, a buttie is a sandwich. But in the UK, it’s not an exclusive word for sandwich, as most often people will say “sandwich”. A buttie is more specific, as in a bacon buttie or a chip buttie.


Americans say “candy”, but Brits say “sweets”. Aussies just call ‘em “lollies”.

Flip flops

This is the onomatopoeic name for what Aussies would classify as “thongs”.


Aussies say “crook”, but if you go around saying this in the UK, Brits won’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Instead, if you don’t want to sound really formal, say “poorly”. Poorly means sick. It can sound kind of cutesy, but if you say “a bit poorly” instead that’s a better way of saying it. Brits love to play things down by saying things like “a bit” anyway.


You might think this is someone who drinks too much, but in the UK it used to mean “really good”. For example, “That new car is lush!” or “Have you been to that restaurant? It’s well lush.” Quite often this is a Northern English or Welsh thing to say rather than a Southern thing.

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