No matter which corner of the world you’re from, you've probably heard and been intrigued by some of the glorious slang that the British Isles has to offer. From 'knackered' to 'bonkers', British slang is full of character and can really spice up a conversation. So if you're a fan of Bridgerton, Peaky Blinders, or The Crown and want to understand the phrases they actually use, you've come to the right place! We’ve rounded up the top 60 British slang that you need to know to navigate your way through the UK. So let's crack on!
Common British Slang Words & Phrases
Let’s start off with the British short form of beverages, commonly used for beer. This is not to be confused with “bev”, which is the British slang word for “a handsome chap.”
An informal way of referring to a young woman or a girl, “bird” is a misogynistic British slang word that is unfortunately used quite often.
This is an England expression for something that takes you by surprise and is something you might often hear on Doctor Who.
Used in a similar fashion as its American counterparts “guy” and “dude”, this British term is used for a “man.”
One of the most popular British slang words, “bloody” requires no definition. Although it was originally considered a cuss-word, its present meaning is limited to adding an emphasis on whichever word follows it. You might exclaim “That’s a bloody good discount!” when you learn about student discounts in the UK.
More than a muddy marsh, the British use the term “bog” for toilets, and “bog paper”, as you might’ve already guessed, means toilet paper. “Big standard”, however, is British slang phrase for “average or normal.”
Depending on the context, “bonkers” can either mean crazy or angry and is often paired with “completely” and “go”.
What Americans call the “trunk” of their car, the British call the “boot.” People in the UK often hold “car boot sales”, selling off unwanted possessions from the boots of their cars.
This British term is something you might also come across in Australian slang, and means “umbrella.”
A short way of saying “brother”, your British mate might say “you alright, bruv?” to check on you when you’re buzzin’.
This is UK slang for tipsy as well as excited, with the latter meaning mainly used in Manchester.
12. Can’t be arsed
When you can’t be bothered doing something, you might use this British slang phrase. You can shorten it to “CBA” when texting your mates.
If someone calls you cheeky, you might have done something impolite or disrespectful that came across as charming or amusing.
If you’ve turned in the wrong paper, you can use the British slang phrase for mistake to describe your doing. Not booking student accommodation early when moving to study in UK would be a cock-up.
Often used to describe a person or thing, “cracking” is UK slang for something that is particularly good or excellent.
This British slang word is one you'll want to avoid being called as it means dumb, in a silly way.
No, this doesn't mean anything morbid. This British slang word is another example of the people's fondness for emphasis as it means "very."
"Dodgy" basically means something sketchy or suspicious. You might use it for food that seems outdated.
19. Faffing around
This quirky British slang phrase is used when you take longer than needed to do something or spend your time in a not so productive way. When you've been faffing around all day and someone asks you what you did, you can respond saying "Bugger all" which means nothing at all.
If someone calls you fit, they aren't exactly talking about your physique or exercise habits. It means they find you attractive. So go ahead and make a move but don't be gutted if you get pied off.
21. Fiver & Tenner
This one's quite simple, really. Fivers refer to five pound notes while a tenner is, you guessed it, a ten pound note. If you've run out of both, you can call yourself skint which means broke or lacking money.
It doesn't get more British than this. Gobsmacked is UK slang for utterly shocked or surprised.
It might sound like something Egyptian mummies undergo but it's nothing of the sort. Although depending on how gutted you are, you might even want to switch places with a mummy. "Gutted" is UK slang for extremely upset, devastated or disappointed about something.
You might use this in response to a question about how your day is going. This is the British slang phrase for alright or OK.
This one's a mouthful but it's one you need to know to avoid feeling confused. Kerfuffle is UK slang for a disagreement or fight. It can also mean fuss.
A long study session might make you want to take a quick kip, meaning a short nap.
Used in a similar sense to bloke, lad is UK slang for younger men and boys.
28. Lost the plot
If you are said to lose the plot, you might want to take a step back. Losing the plot is the British slang phrase for someone who is behaving irrationally or is enraged.
Pronounced ming-ing, this is a lovely word to describe something that isn't quite so lovely. Minging is UK slang for something gross or disgusting.
If you've been called a mug, it means you're gullible or daft and can easily be taken advantage of. If the British slang term is used to describe a face, it means ugly.
Nosh is UK slang for food.
You might already know that the UK uses the word pants for underwear while Americans use it to mean trousers. The British might also say "That's pants!" for anything that's utterly bad or rubbish.
33. Pied off
If you've been pied off, it means you've been rejected or shot down. Yikes!
A rather interesting British slang insult, muppet is used for someone who is rather ignorant or clueless.
Often used to replace "very", proper also retains its original meaning of not inappropriate."
"Quid" is a British slang word used in the same way as the American's "bucks." If someone "quids in", it means they're investing in someone or something to gain some benefit.
37. Slag off
Slagging someone off is UK slang for mocking someone.
Although this British slang word means "devil", it is often used to refer to a person, typically a man.
39. Throwing a wobbly
You might want to avoid throwing a wobbly as it is a British slang phrase for throwing a tantrum.
40. To crack on
Cracking on means getting started with something. This is different from cracking which is used to describe someone or something that is excellent. You particularly want to avoid being called crackers as it's UK slang for crazy.
41. To leg it
If you're legging it, you're likely physically running away from trouble.
42. To nick
Nicking something is UK slang for stealing. However, when you get nicked for nicking, it means you're getting arrested. Further, "The Nick" is UK slang for the prison.
Trollied and plastered are both UK slang for drunk.
When talking about the national sport, you might across this word which is UK slang for football. Don’t call it “soccer” in front of a British person, unless you’re prepared to get a bollocking.
When you do something that you shouldn’t, you might get a bollocking.
British Slang Sayings
1. “Get in!”
If your mate tells you about something terrific happening, you can reply with “Get-in!”
2. “Fancy a cuppa?”
“A cuppa” is UK slang for the stereotypical parched Brit’s favourite drink, a cup of tea.
Although the Americans might ask this with genuine concern, the Brits use this as a casual greeting and often pair it with a slight nod.
4. “I’m knackered!”
This British slang phrase means tired or exhausted and originates from the 19th and 20th century term for the person who slaughtered worn-out horses for their hoofs, hide, and meat.
5. “I’m chuffed to bits.”
This is British for being happy or satisfied, specially about an achievement. It usually follows words like “quite” or “pretty” since British people don’t like to show off.
6. “I’m pissed.”
This one might take you by surprise, as pissed doesn’t have quite the same meaning as it does in the US. This is one of many British slang phrases that mean drunk. Make sure you don’t confuse this with “taking the piss” which means mocking or being sarcastic.
7. “What a load of poppycock!”
This is a British idiom derived from the Dutch words “pap” and “kak” which translates to “soft dung.” You might say this instead of saying “That’s nonsense.”
8. “That’s smashing!”
Here’s one British slang phrase that is a staple in Austin Powers’ vocabulary. Smashing is British for something that is great or fantastic.
9. “Don’t get your knickers in a twist.”
This unusual British slang saying simply means don’t get worked up or upset.
If you want to call shotgun while going on a road trip in the UK or dibs on a food or the front seat of the car, shouting out “Bagsy!” will do the trick.
11. “Bob’s your uncle.”
This is one British slang saying that will leave you confounded if you don’t know the intended meaning. In the same vein as “presto!” or “et voila!” this British slang phrase is typically used for tasks that seem more difficult than they actually are.
12. “Budge up.”
Similar to scoot over or move over, “budge up” is a British slang phrase you can use informally and are likely to use when travelling around the country by UK public transport.
13. “This road is chocka!”
“Chocka” is short for “ chockablock” which is most often used when talking about something that’s completely packed, like a jammed road.
14. “She’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic.”
First coined in 1987, this phrase is a funny new way of saying a person isn’t quite clever. The person can also be describes as being a bit dim.
Ending on one of the msot commonly heard British slang words, innit is simply the shortened version of the contraction “isn’t it?”and is primarily used by the youth of Britain to confirm or agree with someone.
So there you have it! UK slang can be a tricky language to learn, but when you get the hang of it, it's as easy as pie - or should I say, as easy as taking the biscuit! So why not give it a go and see if you can brush up on your British slang like a proper English gentleman or lady? With its influence on the world of pop culture and its ability to turn any conversation into a Monty Python skit, UK slang is here to stay. Cheerio!