A Question of Us: English slang glossary!

As a reference for US readers and others from outside the UK, I thought it might be helpful to produce a glossary of English/British slang terms and cultural references in my Yorkshire-set book A Question of Us. Some of these are specific to the north of England, others are used throughout the country. And yes, I know what you’re thinking: we Brits certainly have a lot of euphemisms for sex and drunkenness. I’m not sure what that says about us as a nation!

  • A-Levels – exams taken at age 18
  • afters – dessert
  • all right? – greeting. Means “are you well?” but doesn’t necessarily require an answer!
  • Argos – British shop where items are ordered from a catalogue
  • arse over tit – head over heels
  • arse – bottom
  • backhander – bribe
  • bagsied – staked a claim to something
  • Baltic – very cold
  • banging (exclamation) – great
  • Bash Street – reference to The Bash Street Kids, a long-running school series in British children’s comic book The Beano
  • bawdy – loud; raucous
  • beanie – warm knitted hat
  • bellend – an insult
  • The BillBritish police drama
  • bird – woman
  • biscuit – cookie
  • bitter – a type of beer
  • Blockbusters British quiz show
  • bloke – man (informal); guy
  • bloody – mild curse word
  • boffed – had sex with
  • (to) bollock (verb) – to tell someone off; give them a bollocking
  • bollocks (exclamation) – expression of frustration. Can also mean “bullshit”, as in “talking bollocks”
  • bollocks (noun) – testicles
  • bonking – having sex
  • boobs – breasts
  • booze – alcohol
  • bouncer – nightclub doorman
  • boxers – boxer shorts (male underwear)
  • brew up – make hot drinks
  • bugger (exclamation) – mild curse word
  • bugger (noun) – mild insult
  • bugger all – nothing
  • buggering up – screwing something up; making a mess of something
  • bugger off – get lost
  • bum – bottom
  • butty – sandwich (northern English slang)
  • cadge – scrounge; beg (northern English slang)
  • can’t be arsed – can’t be bothered
  • Carling – a brand of lager beer
  • Carlsberg – a brand of lager beer
  • (to) chat someone up – to talk to someone in a flirtatious way
  • cheers – thanks. Also used as a drinking toast
  • The Chippendales – male stripper act
  • chips – French fries
  • chuddy – chewing gum (northern English slang)
  • chuffed – pleased; happy
  • cig – cigarette
  • cop off with – make out with
  • coppering up – counting out amounts of money in small change
  • copper – policeman
  • Countdown British quiz show
  • cracking (exclamation) – great
  • crisps – potato chips
  • cuppa – cup of tea
  • daft – silly; foolish
  • Dear Deirdre – agony aunt column in British newspaper The Sun
  • (to) deck someone – to beat them up
  • dicking about – messing about
  • did a bunk – ran away; split
  • dim – stupid
  • div/divvy – idiot
  • a dive – a dump; a dirty or unpleasant place
  • dogging – sex with strangers in a public place
  • doing it – having sex
  • do one – get lost; go, leave
  • Eton – prestigious English private school for boys
  • fag – cigarette
  • (to) fancy someone – be attracted to them
  • fanny – vagina
  • fannying – messing about
  • fib – a lie
  • Fifteen to OneBritish quiz show
  • fit – sexually attractive; hot
  • fiver – five pounds
  • (to) fob someone off – make an excuse
  • GCSEs – exams taken at age 16
  • geezer – man; cool person
  • Gents – men’s public toilets
  • get off with – make out with
  • (to) get one’s end away – to have sex
  • (to) get one’s leg over – to have sex
  • getting you done – telling a tale on you
  • git (noun) – mild insult
  • give him/her one – have sex with him/her
  • give over (instruction) – stop
  • give up (instruction) – stop
  • gob – mouth
  • going off on one – displaying a fit of anger
  • going out with someone – dating them
  • Gold Run – a round in British quiz show Blockbusters
  • hammered – drunk
  • (to) have someone on – to attempt to fool someone
  • head/headteacher – school principal
  • heyup – hello (informal; northern English)
  • hiya – hello (informal)
  • HP – a brand of brown sauce
  • jelly – jello
  • johnny/rubber johnny – condom
  • knackered – tired; exhausted
  • knee-trembler – orgasm
  • knickers – female underwear
  • knobbing – having sex
  • knob – penis
  • knockers – breasts
  • knockout (exclamation) – excellent
  • Ladbrokes – chain of UK betting shops
  • Ladies – women’s public toilets
  • lad – boy
  • lager – a type of beer
  • lager lout – drunken, badly behaved person
  • lairy – loud; raucous
  • landlord/landlady – the manager of a pub
  • Landlord – a brand of ale
  • lass – girl
  • launderette – laundromat
  • leathered – drunk
  • lippy – lipstick
  • the local – your local pub
  • loo – toilet
  • love (noun) – term of endearment (northern English)
  • lunchbox – slang for male genitals when covered by clothing
  • Lynx Africa – a brand of deodorant
  • manky – dirty or gross
  • mardy – miserable; sulky (northern English slang)
  • mate – friend (informal); used in a similar way to US “buddy”
  • mobile/mobile phone – cellphone
  • Nessie – the Loch Ness Monster
  • Newky Brown – Newcastle Brown ale
  • (to) nick something – to steal it
  • nits – head lice eggs, common in young schoolchildren
  • Nobby’s Nuts – a brand of salted peanuts
  • on a promise – having a guaranteed offer of sex
  • on the job – having sex
  • on the pull – trying to find someone to hook up with
  • Oxfam – charity that runs a chain of second-hand (thrift) shops
  • pack it in (instruction) – stop it
  • pants – male or female underwear
  • papers – newspapers
  • Penguin – brand of chocolate biscuit
  • pet (noun) – term of endearment (northern English)
  • pictures (as in “going to the pictures”) – cinema
  • pillock – idiot
  • pissed – drunk
  • pisshead – drunken person
  • pissing about – messing about
  • PointlessBritish quiz show
  • poorly – sick; ill
  • posh – upper-class; sophisticated
  • primary – primary school (age four to eleven)
  • pub crawl – a walk from pub to pub, stopping for a drink in each
  • pud/pudding – dessert
  • (to) pull – to successfully hook up with someone; score
  • punch-up – a fight
  • quid – a pound
  • Rag Week – fundraising week at UK universities in which stunts and pranks are staged to raise money for charity
  • randy – lustful; horny
  • Reception – the first year of primary school (age four to five)
  • RE – Religious Education
  • Rich Tea – brand of biscuit (cookie)
  • roasties – roast potatoes
  • round (noun) – when you buy a drink for everyone in your group
  • (to) scoff – to exhibit disbelief; also, to eat greedily
  • scuffer – scruffy or low-status person (northern English slang)
  • secondary – secondary school (age eleven to sixteen or eighteen)
  • settee – couch
  • shagging – having sex
  • sixth form – the last two non-compulsory years of secondary school (age sixteen to eighteen)
  • skint – short of money; poor; broke
  • slag – sexually promiscuous person; slut
  • slammed – drunk
  • slap (noun) – make-up
  • slaughtered – drunk
  • smack (noun) – heroin
  • smartarse – person who is smugly or ostentatiously knowledgeable; clever clogs, smarty pants
  • smashed – drunk
  • snog – French kiss
  • snug – small, semi-enclosed area in a pub, historically used by those who didn’t want to be seen in the public bar
  • sod (noun) – mild insult
  • sod off – get lost
  • soppy – overly sentimental
  • the spit of you – the spitting image of you (i.e. looks just like you)
  • squaddie – soldier
  • stag do – bachelor party
  • stroppy – argumentative; having an attitude
  • swotting – studying hard
  • swot – a studious or clever person
  • taking the mickey/the Michael/the piss – mocking; making fun of someone (also “ripping the piss”)
  • ta – thanks (northern English slang)
  • tea – as well as the drink, in the north of England this refers to the evening meal
  • telly – television
  • tenner – ten pounds
  • Tesco – British supermarket
  • thick – stupid
  • thump – punch
  • Top GearBritish car review TV show
  • trackie bottoms – sweatpants
  • trollop – promiscuous woman
  • tuppence – two pence
  • twat – an insult
  • University ChallengeBritish quiz show for teams of university students
  • uni – university
  • V-sign – a rude gesture made with two fingers
  • wacky baccy – cannabis
  • (to) wang something – to throw it
  • wanker – an insult; unpleasant person or idiot
  • Waterstone’s – bookshop chain
  • weed – cannabis
  • wendy house – children’s play house
  • willy – penis
  • wind-up merchant – someone who frequently mocks or teases
  • (to) wind someone up – to tease or attempt to fool someone
  • WipeoutBritish quiz show
  • Yorkshire pudding – savoury batter pudding served with a roast dinner
  • Z-CarsBritish police drama

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