80 must-know British slang: Are you ready to talk like a local?

Expat life
19 Jul 2023
6 mins read
Written by Team Instarem

Are you confused by the Brits’ use of words like “bloke” and “blimey”? It’s like they have their own language! Well, spoiler alert, they kind of do. British slang is a fascinating and peculiar thing. It’s like a secret code that only those in the know can crack.

 

Whether you’re planning to move to Great Britain or taking a trip to the land of royalty, brushing up on your Brit lingo will give you a leg up on mingling with the locals. So, grab a cuppa and get ready to learn some cheeky slang, because we’re diving into the world of British lingo, where anything can be “wicked” and everyone is a “legend”.

 

Activities, leisure and day-to-day life

British English Term 

Meaning

​Botched

Messed up

Banter

Make good jokes

Brolly

Umbrella

Fag

Cigarette

Haggle

Negotiate

Her Majesty’s pleasure

Spend time in prison

Honking

Very sick

Jammy

Very lucky

Jiffy

Soon

Kip

Sleep or nap

Knees-Up

Party

Legless

Drunk

Loo

Toilet

Moolah

Money

Nick

To steal

Plastered

Drunk

Posh

Fancy

Quid

Pound

Rubbish

Trash

Snog

Kiss

Uni

Short form of “university” or college

Food

Be prepared to learn some slang, because ordering a meal can be tricky business. Don’t be upset if your server looks at you like you’ve got two heads when you ask for biscuits and gravy because in the UK, that means something very different. You could ask for chips and end up getting a plate of fries!

 

But once you’ve mastered the language, food options are aplenty, whether you’re looking for a traditional shepherd’s pie or a trendy avocado toast. Just don’t be afraid to ask for ketchup instead of tomato sauce. Trust us, it’s a whole thing.

 

British English Term

Meaning

Afters

Desserts

Bangers

Sausage

Builders

Teabag left in cup with milk and sugar

Chips

French Fries

Cuppa

Cup of tea

Grub

Food

Jar

Pint of beer

Nick

To steal

Nosh

Food

Plastered

Drunk

Clothes

Alright, knobheads, let’s talk fashion lingo in the land of tea and crumpets. If you’re planning on flexing your British wardrobe, you better make sure you know the slangs.

 

British English Term

Meaning

Trainers

Sneakers

Knickers

Panties

Jumper

Sweater

Dressing gown

Bathrobes

Nappy

Diapers

Wellies

Boots

Starkers

Naked

Expressions

Where better to find it than in the iconic Harry Potter books? From “bloody hell” to “blimey”, these emotions run deep. Want to express excitement? Try “gobsmacked”. Angry? Go for “gutted”.

 

It’s like a secret code between Brits that the rest of us can only decode with practice. But hey, we can always pretend we know what we’re talking about.

 

Cheers, Harry Potter, for teaching us how to speak like a true Brit.

 

British English Term 

Meaning

Blimey

Surprised at something

Chuffed

Delighted

Codswallop

Nonsense

Dodgy

Questionable

Gob

Mouth

Gobsmacked

Awestruck

Gutted

Very upset

Knackered

Tired

Mental

That’s really crazy

Miffed

Annoyed

Minging

Gross

People

In British slang, there are endless ways to describe someone’s appearance, personality, and even their sense of humour. Honestly, it’s a wonder anyone understands each other in Britain, but it certainly makes for some interesting conversations!

 

British English Term 

Meaning

Bloke

Man

Bonkers

Crazy

Bruv

Brother, close friend

Fit

Looking good

Full of beans

Full of energy

Gaffer

Person in charge

Lairy

Brash

Lush

Attractive

Minted

Rich

Nitwit

Silly

Wazzock

Idiot

Other descriptive words

A few more slang that could help you ace your social interactions.

 

British English Term

Meaning

Bloody

Very

Bollocks

Dismay, disbelief

Cock-up

Failure

Daft

Silly

Fluke

By chance

Hunky-dory

All good, satisfactory

Ledge

Legend

Lift

Need a ride

Porkies

Spread lies

Wicked

Cool

Phrases

If you ever find yourself down the pub, surrounded by the regulars dropping British phrases you’ve never heard of, fear not! We’ve compiled a list of common phrases so that you don’t end up looking like the right mug.

 

If something is going “all to the pot,” it’s not time for a group bathroom break, but rather an expression of something having lost all its good qualities. See, easy-peasy. Now you can confidently join in on all the banter. Cheers!

 

British English Term

Meaning

All to pot

Declined, worsened

Curtain twitcher

Busy body

Donkey’s years

A long time

It’s brass monkeys outside

Freezing cold

Lost the plot

Got angry

Mind your Ps and Qs

Mind your manners

Not my cup of tea

Not your preference

Spend a penny

Going to the toilet

Odds and sods

Bits and pieces

Off your trolley

Throwing a tantrum

On the lash

Getting drunk

Take a punt

Take a chance

To leg it

To run away

Shocked to hear familiar jargon around the globe?


It looks like our friends from down under, across the pond, up north, and on the emerald isle aren’t so different after all! Who would have thought? It’s not like they’re all speaking different languages or anything. Nope, turns out that Aussies, Brits, Canucks, and the Irish have some pretty similar slang. It’s almost as if they’ve been in communication with each other or something. So, if you find yourself visiting one of these places, don’t be too shocked when you hear some familiar jargon. And hey, at least you won’t get lost in translation, right?

Before you go…

Congratulations my fellow Anglophile, you have finally cracked the code to speak like a proper Brit! But wait, don’t get too comfortable just yet. We now enter the realm of adulthood, where settling down in the land of tea and crumpets comes with a few tasks – like figuring out how to send some money back home. We have just the right solution for you: Instarem.

 

With this app, you no longer have to worry about the excessive fees and long processing times that traditional banks often offer. Plus, you can still enjoy your pints down at the local pub without having to break the bank.

 

With Instarem, you can send money overseas to 60+ countries with just a few taps on your phone. So why wait?

 

 Download the apporsign up on the web and see how easy it is to send money with Instarem. 

 

*Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned. 

About Instarem

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