British slang

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British slang is English language slang used and originating in the United Kingdom and also used to a limited extent in Anglophone countries such as the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, especially by British expats . Slang is informal language sometimes peculiar to a particular social class or group and its use in Britain dates back to before the 16th century. The language of slang, in common with the English language, is changing all the time; new words and phrases are being added and some are used so frequently by so many, they almost become mainstream.

While some slang words and phrases are used throughout all of Britain (e.g., knackered, meaning "exhausted"), others are restricted to smaller regions, even to small geographical groups.[1] The nations of the United Kingdom, which are England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own slang words, as does London. London slang has many varieties, the best known of which is rhyming slang.[2] The overseas nations of Britain also use this slang to a certain extent, but also incorporate their own slang words to reflect their different cultures. Not only is the slang used by British expats, but some of these terms are incorporated into other countries daily slang, such as in Canada and Ireland.

British slang has been the subject of many books including a seven volume dictionary, published in 1889. Lexicographer Eric Partridge published several works about British slang, most notably Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, revised and edited by Paul Beale.[3]

Definitions of slang[edit]

Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's dialect or language. Slang is often to be found in areas of the lexicon that refer to things considered taboo (see euphemism). It is often used to identify with one's peers and, although it may be common among young people, it is used by people of all ages and social groups. Collins English Dictionary (3rd edition) describes slang as, "Vocabulary, idiom etc that is not appropriate to the standard form of a language or to formal contexts, may be restricted as to social status or distribution, and is characteristically more metaphorical and transitory than standard language".[4] The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar (1994) describes it as, "Words, phrases, and uses that are regarded as informal and are often restricted to special contexts or are peculiar to specific profession, classes etc".[5] Jonathan Green, in his 1999 book, The Cassell Dictionary of Slang describes slang as, "A counter language, the language of the rebel, the outlaw, the despised and the marginal".[6] Recognising that there are many definitions, he goes on to say, "Among the many descriptions of slang, one thing is common, it is a long way from mainstream English".[6]

History and dating of British slang[edit]

The dating of slang words and phrases is exceptionally difficult due to the nature of slang. Slang, more than any other language, remains spoken and resists being recorded on paper (or for that matter any other form of medium). By the time slang has been written down, it has been in use some time and has, in some cases, become almost mainstream.[7]

The first recorded uses of slang in Britain occurred in the 16th century in the plays of Thomas Dekker, Thomas Middleton and William Shakespeare.[8] The first books containing slang also appeared around this time: Robert Copland's, The hye way to the Spytlell hous, was a dialogue in verse between Copland and the porter of St Bartholomew's hospital, which included Thieves' Cant; and in 1566, Thomas Harman's A Caveat or Warning for Common Cursitors, vulgarly called vagabonds was published. The Caveat contained stories of vagabond life, a description of their society and techniques, a taxonomy of rogues, and a short canting dictionary which was later reproduced in other works.[8]

In 1698 the New Dictionary of the Canting Crew by B. E. Gent was published, which additionally included some 'civilian' slang terms. It remained the predominant work of its kind for much of the 18th century, until the arrival in 1785 of The Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Captain Francis Grose which ran to more than five expanded editions.[8] Grose's book was eventually superseded by John Camden Hotten's Slang Dictionary in 1859. In 1889 two multi-volumed slang dictionaries went on sale: A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon and Cant by Albert Barrere and Charles Leland, and Slang and its Analogues by John Farmer and W. E. Henley; the latter being published in seven volumes. It was later abridged to a single volume and released in 1905 as, A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English. This book provided the major part of Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (1937).[8] It was not until the 1950s that slang began to make regular appearances in books and the relatively new mediums of motion pictures and television.[8]

Varieties and purpose of slang[edit]

There are a number of different varieties of British slang, arguably the best known of which is Rhyming slang. Chiefly associated with cockney speech spoken in the East End of London, words are replaced with a phrase which rhymes. For example: plates of meat for "feet", or twist and twirl for "girl". Often only the first word is used, so plates and twist by themselves become the colloquialisms for "feet" and "girl".[9]

Thieves' cant or Rogues' cant was a secret language (a cant or cryptolect) which was formerly used by thieves, beggars and hustlers of various kinds in Great Britain and to a lesser extent in other English-speaking countries. It is commonly believed that cant was developed from Romany but the Winchester Confessions, a pamphlet published in 1616, clearly distinguishes between Gypsy and Cant words.[10] Now mostly obsolete, it is largely relegated to the realm of literature.

Some slang was developed because of a need for secrecy, such as prison slang, believed to be derived from thieves cant,[11] and Polari, a variety used by homosexuals in Britain and the United Kingdom. Homosexuality was a crime until 1967 and Polari has a history going back at least a hundred years.[12] Sometimes the purpose of slang is to cause offence, insults such as wanker or gobshite for example; and sometimes the purpose is to prevent it by substituting a slang word for the offensive one, berk (rhyming slang for cunt) for example.[13] Sometimes a Spoonerism, is employed to make taboo speech more acceptable. For example: Cupid stunt and Betty Swallocks.[14]

Slang is also used to create an identity or sense of belonging and a number of occupations have their own slang; most notably the armed forces, referred to as Forces or Service slang; and the construction industry.[5][15] A dictionary of service slang by J. L. Hunt and A. G. Pringle was published in 1943.[16] It was reprinted in 2008. The introduction acknowledges that slang is an ever changing language with new slang terms emerging all the time. It also recognises that some service slang has made its way into civilian use.[17][18][19] Examples of this include the old naval terms, "Talking bilge" (nonsense) and "A loose cannon" (an unorthodox person with the potential to cause harm).[20]

Phrases[edit]

A[edit]

air one's dirty linen/laundry 
To discuss private matters in public.[21]
all to cock 
(Or all a-cock) Unsatisfactory, mixed up.[22]
all mouth and (no) trousers 
All talk and no action, a braggart, sexual bravado.[23] (The inclusion or otherwise of "no" in the expression is disputed.)[24]
all piss and wind 
All talk and no action. Originally the phrase was, "all wind and piss" (19th century).[25]
anchors 
Brakes. "Slam on the anchors" to brake really hard.[26]
argy-bargy 
An argument or confrontation.[27]
arse 
1. The buttocks.[28] 2. Someone who acts in a manner which is incompetent or otherwise disapproved of.[28]
arse about face 
Back to front.[28]
arse around 
Mess around or waste time (17th century).[28]
arsehole 
1. The anus.[28] 2. General derogatory term.[28]
arse bandit 
homosexual (offensive, derogatory).[28]
arse over tit 
Head over heels, to fall over or take a tumble.[29]

B[edit]

ball bag 
Scrotum.[30]
balls up 
A bungled or messed up situation. (WWI Service slang).[15]
bang to rights 
Caught in the act.[31]
bang up 
1. To lock up in prison (prison slang).[32] 2. To inject an illegal drug.[31]
barney 
a noisy quarrel or fight. Sometimes claimed to be rhyming slang (Barney Rubble, trouble) but actually dates back to 19th century.[33]
bender 
1. a drinking binge.[34] 2. A homosexual (derogatory)[citation needed]
bent 
1. dishonest or corrupt, 2. homosexual (mildly derogatory).[35]
bent as a nine bob note 
Extremely dishonest or corrupt. A nine shilling (bob) note never existed and would therefore have to be counterfeit.[36]
berk 
(also spelled burk) idiot, stupid person (from Berkeley Hunt, Cockney rhyming slang for cunt)[37]
Billy 
1. Amphetamines (from Billy Whizz, a British comic strip character.)[38] 2. Friendless (Billy No-Mates)[citation needed]
billyo 
(also spelled billyoh) an intensifier. Going like billyo (travelling quickly).[39]
bird 
1. Girl, woman.[40] 2. Jail time (From the rhyming slang: Bird lime) [40]
Birmingham screwdriver 
A hammer.[41]
bizzie 
Policeman (Scouse).[citation needed]
blag 
As a noun, a robbery or as a verb, to rob. Not to be confused with blague, talking nonsense.[42]
blah 
(or blah blah) worthless, boring or silly talk.[42]
blimey 
or sometimes 'cor blimey'(archaic). An abbreviation of 'God blind me' used as an interjection to express shock or surprise. Sometimes used to comic effect, in a deliberate reference to it being archaic usage.[43]
Blighty 
(or Old Blighty) Britain, home. Used especially by British troops serving abroad or expatriates.[43][44] A relic of British India, probably from the Hindi billayati, meaning a foreign land.[45]
bloke 
any man or sometimes a man in authority such as the boss.[46][47]
blooming, blummin' (archaic)
euphemism for bloody. Used as an intensifier e.g. 'blooming marvelous'.[48]
blow off 
To fart.[49]
blue 
1. Policeman.[49] 2. a tory.[49]
bobby 
Policeman. After Robert Peel (Home Secretary in 1828).[50]
bod 
A male person. Short for body.[51]
bodge 
(also botch) To make a mess of or to fix poorly.[51]
bog 
Toilet [52]
bog off 
Go away (originally RAF slang)[53]
Bogtrotter 
Derogatory term for an Irishman particularly an Irish peasant.[52]
bogroll 
Toilet paper.[53]
bollocking 
A severe telling off.[54]
bollocks 
(or ballocks) Vulgar term used for testicles. Used to describe something as useless, nonsense or having poor quality, as in "That's a load of bollocks". Is often said as a cry of frustration or annoyance.[54] Also see "dog's bollocks".
bomb 
A large sum of money as in 'to make a bomb'. Also 'to go like a bomb' meaning to travel at high speed.[54]
bonce 
Head, crown of the head. Also a large playing marble.[55]
booze 
As a noun, an alcoholic drink; as a verb, to drink alcohol, particularly to excess.[56]
boozer 
1. a pub or bar.[56] 2. Someone who drinks alcohol to excess.[56]
Bo-Peep 
Sleep (rhyming slang).[57]
boracic
without money. From rhyming slang boracic lint = skint (skinned).[57]
bottle 
1. nerve, courage.[58] 2. Money collected by buskers or street vendors.[58] 3. As a verb, to attack someone with a broken bottle.[58]
bounce 
1. To con someone into believing or doing something.[59] 2. To forcibly eject someone.[59] 3. Swagger, impudence or cockiness.[59] 4. Of a cheque, to be refused by the bank due to lack of funds.[59]
bouncer 
Someone employed to eject troublemakers or drunks.[59]
bovver boy 
A youth who deliberately causes or seeks out trouble (bother).[60]
bovver boots 
Heavy boots, sometimes with a steel toecap, worn by Bovver boys and used for kicking in fights.[60]
brass 
1. Money.[61] 2. Cheek, nerve.[61] 3. a prostitute.[61]
Bristols 
The female breasts (Cockney rhyming slang, from Bristol bits = tits, or Bristol City = titty).[62]
broke 
without money. Also 'stoney broke', or just 'stoney'.[63]
brown bread 
Dead (Cockney rhyming slang).[64]
brown-tongue 
Sycophant, toady or someone who attempts to curry favour with another (from the idea of licking another's backside).[65]
buff 
1. Bare skin, naked as in 'in the buff'.[66] 2. Having a lean, muscular physique (usually referring to a young man).[67]
bugger 
anal sex but in slang terms can be used : 1. As a term of abuse for someone or something contemptible, difficult or unpleasant.[68] 2. Affectionately, as in 'you silly bugger'.[68] 3. As an exclamation of dissatisfaction, annoyance or surprise.[68] 4. To mean tired or worn out as in 'I'm absolutely buggered'.[68] 5. To mean frustrate, complicate or ruin completely, as in 'You've buggered that up'.[68]
bugger about (or around) 
1. To fool around or waste time.[68] 2. To create difficulties or complications.[68]
bugger all 
nothing.[68]
bugger off 
go away.[68]
bum  
buttocks, anus or both.[69] Not particularly rude. 'Builders' bum' is the exposure of the buttock cleavage by an overweight working man in ill-fitting trousers.[70]
bumf 
derogatory reference to official memos or paperwork. Shortened from bum fodder. Slang term for toilet roll.[71]
bumsucker 
a toady, creep or someone acting in an obsequious manner.[71]
bumfreezer 
any short jacket but in particular an Eton Jacket.[71]
bung 
1. a gratuity or more often a bribe.,[72] 2. Throw or pass energetically; as in, "bung it over here".[73]
bunk 
1. To leave inappropriately as in to 'bunk off' school or work.[72] 2. To run away in suspicious circumstances as in to 'do a bunk'.[72]
butcher's 
Look. Rhyming slang, butcher's hook.[74]

C[edit]

cabbage 
1. A stupid person or someone with no mental abilities whatever. 2. Cloth trimmed from a customer's material by a tailor. 3. Pilfer or steal.[75]
charver or charva 
1. Sexual intercourse (Polari).[76] 2. A loose woman, someone with whom it is easy to have sexual intercourse, an easy lay.[76] 3. To mess up, spoil or ruin; to fuck up (from 1.).[76]
chav, chavi or chavvy 
Child (from the Romany, chavi. Still in common use in rural areas).[77] Also used in Polari since mid-19th century.[77]
Chav 
Someone who is, or pretends to be of a low social standing and who dresses in a certain style, typically badly or in sports clothing. Often used as a form of derogation. Sometimes said to be an acronym for 'Council-Housed and Violent' but this appears to have come later. Most likely to come from the Romany for child; chavi.[78]
cheers 
a sign of appreciation or acknowledgement, or a drinking toast.[79]
cheesed off 
fed up, disgusted or angry.[79]
chinky or chinky chonky 
Chinese takeaway[80]
chippy 
a carpenter;[81] chip shop
chuff 
The buttocks or anus.[82]
chuffed 
to be very pleased about something.[83]
clock 
1. The face. 2. To spot, notice. 3. To hit as in "clock round the earhole".[84]
cock 
1. Penis. 2. Nonsense. 3. A friend or fellow.[85]
cockup 
as a noun or verb, blunder, mess up or botch.[86]
codswallop (archaic)
Nonsense.[87]
collywobbles 
An upset stomach or acute feeling of nervousness.[88]
conk 
The head or the nose. To strike the head or nose.[89]
cop 
1. A policeman (short for copper). 2. An arrest or to be caught out, as in 'It's a fair cop'. 3. Used with a negative to mean of little value, as in 'That's not much cop'. 4. To get, as in for example, to 'cop off with', 'cop a feel' or 'cop a load of that'.[90]
copper 
A policeman.[91]
cor blimey 
An exclamation of surprise. Originally from "God blind me". See also "blimey".
corker 
Someone or something outstanding.[92]
corking 
Outstanding, excellent.[92]
cottage 
A public lavatory.[93]
cottaging 
Homosexual activity in a public lavatory.[93]
crack 
1. A gibe. 2. Someone who excels at something. 3. Fun or a good time. From the Irish 'craic'.[94]
cracker 
Something or someone of notable ability or quality.[94]
crackers 
Insane.[94]

D[edit]

darbies 
Handcuffs.[95]
debag 
To remove someone's trousers by force.[96]
dekko 
Look. From the Hindi, dekho.[97]
dick 
1. Fellow. 2. Penis.[98]
dip 
a pickpocket.[99]
div 
idiot (prison slang)[100]
do one's nut 
Become enraged.[101]
doddle 
Something simple or easy to accomplish.[102]
dodgy 
Something risky, difficult or dangerous. A 'dodgy deal' for example.[102]
dog 
1. A rough or unattractive woman. 2. A fellow.[102]
dog's bollocks
1. Anything obvious ("Sticks out like the dog's bollocks").[103] 2. Something especially good or first rate ("It's the dog's bollocks", sometimes abbreviated to, "it's the dog's").[103]
Donkey's years 
(Donkey's ears) a very long time. In reference to the length of a donkey's ears. Sometimes abbreviated to, "donkey's".[104]
Done up like a kipper 
1. Beaten up. 2. Fitted up or framed. 3. Caught red-handed by the police.[105]
doofer 
An unnamed object.[106]
dosser 
Someone who might stay in a dosshouse.[107]
dosshouse 
A cheap boarding house frequented by tramps.[107]
duck 
A term of endearment used in the North of England.[citation needed]
duff 
1. broken, not working. 2. To beat, as in 'duff up'. 3. Pregnant (up the duff).[108]

E[edit]

earwig 
1. To eavesdrop. 2. To twig (rhyming slang)[109]
eating irons 
Cutlery.[110]
end away 
to have sex (get one's end away).[111]

F[edit]

fag 
cigarette.[112]
fag end
the used stub of a cigarette and by extension the unpleasant and worthless loose end of any situation.[112]
fanny 
female external genitalia, a woman's pudendum.[113]
fanny adams 
(Usually preceded by 'sweet' and often abbreviated to F.A., S.F.A. or sweet F.A.) Nothing at all. A euphemism for fuck all.[113]
fence 
Someone who deals in stolen property.[113]
fit 
sexually attractive (Afro-Caribbean).[114]
fit up 
A frame up.[115]
fiver 
five pounds.[115]
filth (the) 
The police (derogatory).[116]
flasher 
Someone who indecently exposes oneself.[117]
flick 
Motion picture, film. 'The flicks', the cinema.[118]
flog 
Sell.[119]
flog a dead horse 
1. To continue talking about a long forgotten topic. 2. To attempt to find a solution to a problem which is unsolveable.[119]
flutter 
(To have a flutter) To place a wager.[120]
fly 
Quick witted, clever.[120]
fork out 
To pay out, usually with some reluctance.[121]
French letter 
Condom.[122]
frig 
1.(Taboo) To masturbate. 2. When followed by 'around' or 'about', to behave aimlessly or foolishly.[123]
frigging 
1. The act of masturbating. 2. Used as an intensifier. For example, "You frigging idiot". Considered milder than 'fucking'.[123]
Frog 
Derogatory term for a Frenchman.[124]
fuck all 
nothing at all[125]
fuzz (the) 
The police.[126]

G[edit]

gaff 
House or flat.[127]
gaffer 
Boss, foreman or employer.[127]
gander 
Usually preceded by 'have a' or 'take a'. To look.[128]
gash 
1. Surplus to requirements, unnecessary.[129] 2. Derogatory term used for female genitalia.[130]
gassed 
Drunk.[129]
geezer 
(informal) Man. Particularly an old one.[131]
get 
Variant of git.[132]
git 
incompetent, stupid, annoying, or childish person.[133]
go down 
To go to prison.[134]
go spare
To become angry, frustrated, distressed, enraged.[135][136][137][138][139]
gob 
1. Mouth 2. To spit. 3. Spittle.[134]
gobshite 
(Taboo) A stupid or despicable person.[134]
gobsmacked 
flabbergasted, dumbfounded, astounded, speechless.[134] Possibly either from the gesture of clapping one's hand over one's mouth in surprise, or the idea that something is as shocking as being smacked in the mouth
gogglebox 
Television.[140]
gong 
A medal. Usually a military one.[141]
goolies 
The male genitals and in particular the testicles.[142]
grand 
£1000[143]
grot 
Rubbish or dirt.[144]
guff 
1. Ridiculous talk. Nonsense.[145] 2. Flatulence. Probably from the Norwegian gufs, a puff of wind.[146]

H[edit]

half-inch 
to steal (rhyming slang for 'pinch')[147]
hampton 
Penis (rhyming slang from, Hampton Wick = prick; and Hampton Rock = cock).[148]
handbags 
a harmless fight especially between two women.[149] (from "handbags at dawn" an allusion to duelling)
hard cheese 
Bad luck.[150]
helmet 
The glans of the penis.[151]
honk 
Vomit.[152]
hook it 
To run away quickly.[153]
hooky or hookey 
1. Something that is stolen (probably from hook = to steal).[154] 2. Loosely used to describe anything illegal.[154]
hooter 
Nose.[155]
hump 
1. To carry or heave. [156]

I[edit]

idiot box 
Television.[157]
inside 
In or into prison.[158]
ivories 
1. Teeth. 2. The keys of a piano. 3. Dice.[159]
I'm all right, Jack 
A remark, often directed at another, indicating that they are selfish and that they don't care about it.[160]

J[edit]

jacksy (or jacksie) 
The buttocks or anus.[161]
Jack the lad 
A young man who is regarded as a show off and is brash or loud.[161]
jack up 
Inject an illegal drug.[161]
jag 
1. A drug taking, or sometimes drinking, binge. 2. A period of uncontrolled activity.[162]
jammy 
1. Lucky. 2. Pleasant or desirable.[163]
jerry 
A chamber pot.[164]
Jerry 
A German or German soldier.[164]
jessie 
An effeminate man or one that is weak or afraid. (Originally Scottish slang) [165]
jism, jissom
semen.[166]
Jock 
word or term of address for a Scot.[166]
Joe Bloggs 
A man who is average, typical or unremarkable.[167]
Joe Soap 
An idiot, stooge or scapegoat.[167]
Johnny 
Condom.[166] Sometimes also a 'Johnny bag'[168] or 'rubber Johnny'.[169]
John Thomas 
Penis.[170]
josser 
A cretin or simpleton.[171]
jump 
As a noun or verb, sexual intercourse.[172]

K[edit]

kip 
1. Sleep, nap 2. Bed or lodging 3. Brothel (mainly Irish) [173]
knackered 
1. Exhausted, tired, 2. Broken, beyond all usefulness.[174]
knackers 
vulgar name for testicles.[174]
knees up 
A lively party or dance.[174]
knob 
1. Penis.[175] 2. (of a man) To have sexual intercourse.[176]
knobhead 
a stupid, irritating person.[176]
knob jockey 
homosexual (to ride the penis like a jockey rides a horse).[176]
knob-end 
an idiot, or tip of penis (see bell-end).[176]
knockers 
Breasts.[175]
knocking shop 
Brothel.[175]
know one's onions 
To be well acquainted with a subject.[177]

L[edit]

lag 
1. Convict, particularly a long serving one (an old lag).[178]
lash 
1. Urinate.[179] 2. Alcohol.[179]
lashed 
very inebriated. Also 'on the lash' meaning to go out drinking with the intent of getting drunk.[179]
laughing gear 
Mouth.[180]
local 
A public house close to one's home.[181]
lolly 
money.[182]
loo 
lavatory.[183]

M[edit]

manky 
dirty, filthy. (Polari).[184]
marbles 
Wits. As in, to lose one's marbles.[185]
mare 
Woman (derogatory).[186]
mark 
A suitable victim for a con or swindle.[187]
matelot 
Sailor (from the French).[188]
meat and two veg 
Literally a traditional meal consisting of any meat, potatoes and a second type of vegetable; euphemistically the male external genitalia.[189] Is sometimes also used to mean something unremarkable or ordinary.[189]
mental 
Crazy or insane.[190]
Mick 
An Irishman (derogatory).[191]
miffed 
Upset or offended.[192]
milk run 
A 'safe' mission or patrol.[193]
minge 
Vagina [194]
minger 
Someone who smells.[195]
minted 
Wealthy.[citation needed]
mizzle 
Decamp.[196]
moggy 
Cat.[197]
moke 
Donkey.[197]
monged (out) 
Severely drunk/high.[198]
moniker or moniker 
Name, nickname, signature or mark.[199]
monkey 
£500.[200]
mooch 
Loiter or wander aimlessly, skulk.[201]
moolah 
Money.[201]
moon 
To expose one's backside (from Old English, mona).[201]
moony 
Crazy or foolish.[202]
muck about 
Waste time. Interfere with.[203]
mucker 
Mate, pal.[203]
muck in 
Share a duty or workload.[203]
mufti 
Civilian dress worn by someone who normally wears a military uniform.[204] Probably from the Muslim dress, popularly worn by British officers serving in India during the 19th century.[204][205] Now commonly used to refer to a non-uniform day in schools.
mug 
1. Face. 2. A gullible or easily swindled person.[204]
munta  
Ugly person.[206]
mush 
1. Face or mouth.[207] 2. Familiar term of address. Probably from the Gypsy moosh, a man.[207]

N[edit]

naff 
Inferior or in poor taste.[208] Also used as sentence substitute as in, for example, "Naff off!"[208]
nark 
1. As a verb or noun; spy or informer.[209] 2. Someone who complains a lot (an old nark).[209] 3. Annoy or irritate.[209]
ned 
(Scottish) a lout, a drunken brawling fellow, a tough.[210] Often said to stand for Non-Educated Delinquent but this is a backronym. More likely to come from Teddy Boys being a contraction of Edward. More recently, sometimes equated with the English chav.[78]
nick 
1. Steal.[211] 2. Police Station or prison.[211] 3. To arrest.[211] 4. health or condition, "to be in good nick"[citation needed]
nicked 
Arrested or stolen.[211]
nicker 
Pound sterling.[211]
nob 
1. Person of high social standing.[212] 2. Head.[212]
nobble 
Disable (particularly a racehorse).[212]
nod out 
To lapse into a drug induced stupour.[213]
nonce 
Sex offender, most commonly a child molester. (Prison slang)[214]
nookie or nooky 
Sexual intercourse.[215]
nose rag 
Handkerchief.[216]
nosh 
1. Food. 2. To eat.[216]
nosh up 
A feast or large, satisfying meal.[216]
numpty 
Incompetent or unwise person.[citation needed]
nut 
1. Head. 2. Eccentric person.[101]
nutcase 
An insane person.[217]
nuthouse 
A lunatic asylum.[217]
nutmeg 
In association football, to pass the ball between an opposing player's legs.[217]
nuts or nutty 
Crazy or insane.[217]
nutter 
Insane person.[217]

O[edit]

odds and sods 
Substitute for 'odds and ends'. Miscellaneous items or articles, bits and pieces.[218]
oik 
Someone of a low social standing (derogatory).[219]
off one's head (or out of one's head) 
Mad or delirious.[220]
off the hook 
Free from obligation or danger.[153]
off one's nut 
Crazy or foolish.[101]
old bill, the old bill 
A policeman or the police collectively.[221]
one's head off 
Loud or excessively. "I laughed my head off" or "She screamed her head off" for example.[51]

P[edit]

packet 
1. A large sum of money (earn a packet).[222] 2. A nasty surprise (catch a packet).[222]
paddy 
a fit of temper.[223]
Paddy 
(capitalised) An Irishman (derogatory).[223]
Paki 
(Derogatory, offensive) A Pakistani or sometimes used to loosely describe anyone or anything from the Indian sub-continent.[224]
Paki-bashing 
Unprovoked attacks on Pakistanis living in Britain.[225]
paste 
To hit, punch or beat soundly. From a 19th-century variant of baste, meaning to beat thoroughly.[226]
pasting 
A sound thrashing or heavy defeat.[226]
penny-dreadful 
A cheap, sensationalist magazine.[227]
phiz or phizog 
The face (from a 17th-century colloquial shortening of physiognomy).[228]
pickled 
Drunk.[229]
pie-eyed 
Drunk.[230]
pig's ear 
1. Beer (Cockney rhyming slang.[231] 2. Something that has been badly done or has been made a mess of.[231]
pikey 
Pejorative term used, mainly in England to refer to travellers, gypsies or vagrants.[232] Sometimes also used to describe people of low social class or morals.[citation needed]
pillock 
Stupid or annoying person.[233]
pinch 
1. (noun) A robbery.[234] 2. Sail too close to the wind (nautical slang).[234]
pissed, pissed up 
Drunk.[235]
on the piss 
Getting drunk, drinking alcohol.[236]
plastered 
Extremely drunk.[237]
plonker 
1. Something large or substantial (mid-19th century).[238] 2. Penis.[238] 3. A general term of abuse (from 2.; in use since 1960s [238] but may have been popularised by the BBC comedy series Only Fools and Horses.[citation needed])
pony 
£25 (18th century).[239]
porkies 
Lies (from the cockney rhyming slang pork pies)[240]
punt 
1. To gamble, wager or take a chance.[241] 2. To sell or promote.[241]
punter 
1. Customer, patron.[241] 2. Gambler (one who takes a punt).[241] 3. A victim in a confidence trick or swindle.[241]

Q[edit]

queer as a clockwork orange 
1. Very odd indeed.[242] 2. Ostentatiously homosexual.[242]
Queer Street 
A difficult or odd situation (up Queer Street).[243]
queer someone's pitch 
1. Take the pitch of another street vendor, busker or similar.[243] 2. Spoil someone else's efforts.[243]
quim 
Vagina (possibly a play on the Welsh word for valley, cwm).[244]

R[edit]

Richard the Third 
A piece of excrement (rhyming slang Richard the Third = turd).[245]
ring 
Anal sphincter [246]
ringburner 
1. A curry. 2. Diarrhoea or painful defecation.[246]
rozzer 
Policeman.[247]
rumpy pumpy 
sexual intercourse, used jokingly. (Popularised by its usage in The Black Adder and subsequent series; the suggestion of actor Alex Norton of a Scots term.)[248][249]

S[edit]

safe 
An all purpose term of approval.[250]
savvy 
Knowledge, understanding (from the French, savoir).[251]
scally 
A hooligan youth (Scouse), short for scallywag.[252]
scarper 
Run away. Sometimes claimed to be rhyming slang: Scapa Flow (go).[253][254]
scrubber 
In Britain, a promiscuous woman; in Ireland, a common or working class woman.[255]
Scouser 
Someone from Liverpool.[256]
scrote 
Term of abuse, from scrotum.[255]
see a man about a dog 
1. Attend a secret deal or meeting.[257] 2. Go to the toilet.[257]
shag 
Sexual intercourse.[258]
shagged 
1. The past historic of shag. 2. Extremely tired (shagged out).[258]
shiner 
Black eye.[259]
shitehawk 
Someone of little worth, originally military slang.[260]
shit-faced 
Drunk.[260]
skanky 
Dirty, particularly of a marijuana pipe.[261]
skint 
Without money.[262]
slag 
1. Worthless or insignificant person. 2. Promiscuous woman or prostitute.[263]
slag off 
A verbal attack. To criticise or slander.[263]
slap-head 
A bald man.[263]
slapper 
Promiscuous woman or prostitute.[263]
slash 
Urinate, urination.[264]
sling one's hook 
Go away.[153]
snog 
French kiss, or any prolonged physical intimacy without undressing or sexual contact.[265]
sod 
Annoying person or thing (from sodomite).[266]
sod off 
"Go away".[267]
spawny 
Lucky (possibly from the Scottish game, Spawnie[clarification needed]).[268]
spunk 
1. Semen, ejaculate. 2. Courage, bravery.[269]
steaming 
1. Extremely drunk.[270] 2. An intensifier, e.g. "You steaming gurt ninny!" [270] 3. Extremely angry.
stuffed 
1. Sexual intercourse (e.g. "get stuffed")[271] 2. Used negatively to mean bothered, as in, "I can't be stuffed to do that!".[271] 3. having a full belly (e.g. "I am completely stuffed, and can't eat another thing.").[citation needed]

T[edit]

tad 
a little bit[272]
take the piss (out of) 
To mock.[273]
take the mickey 
To tease or mock.[191]
tart 
Commonly a prostitute or term of abuse but also used affectionately for a lover. Shortened version of sweetheart.[274]
tenner 
Ten pounds.[275]
toff 
Posh person [276]
ton 
1. A large unspecified amount (18th century).[277] 2. £100 (1940s).[277] 3. 100 MPH (1950s).[277] 4. Any unit of 100 (1960s).[277]
tosh 
Nonsense [278]
tosser 
1. Someone who masturbates (to toss off). 2. Someone the speaker doesn't like (from 1.).[278] 3. An affectionate form of address (from 1.) e.g. "All right you old tosser!"[279]
tosspot 
Drunkard or habitual drinker (from tossing pots of ale) [278]
tube
1. The London Underground (19th century. Originally 'Tuppeny tube').[280] 2. Penis.[280] 3. A person (Scottish).[280] 4. A general term of contempt (Irish, 1950s).[281]
twat 
1. Vagina.[282] 2. Term of abuse (from 1.).[282] 3. To hit hard.[citation needed]

W[edit]

wag off 
Skyve or play truant.[283]
wank 
1. Masturbation or to masturbate.[284] 2. Inferior.[284]
wanker 
1. Someone who masturbates.[284] 2. Abusive term (from 1.), someone the speaker doesn't like.[284][285]
wankered 
1. Very drunk.[284] 2. Exhausted.[284]
wanking spanner(s) 
Hand(s).[284]
warts and all 
Including all negative characteristics (from a reported request from Oliver Cromwell to Peter Lely)[286]
whizz 
1. Urination.[287] 2. Amphetamine Sulphate (also known as speed; from whizz, to move very fast).[287]
willy 
Penis (hypocorism).[288]
willy-waving 
Acting in an excessively macho fashion.[288]
wind up 
to tease, irritate, annoy, anger [289]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mattiello, Elisa (2008). An Introduction to English Slang. Polimetrica. p. 51. ISBN 88-7699-113-1. 
  2. ^ Todd, Richard Watson (2006). Much Ado about English. Nicholas Brealey Publishing. p. 67. ISBN 1-85788-372-1. 
  3. ^ Algeo, John (1999). The Cambridge History of the English Language. Cambridge University Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-521-26477-4. 
  4. ^ CED 1991, p. 1451.
  5. ^ a b Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar. Oxford University Press. 1994. p. 364. 
  6. ^ a b Green 1999, p. v (intro).
  7. ^ Green 1999, p. vi (intro).
  8. ^ a b c d e Green 1999, p. vii (intro).
  9. ^ Kövecses, Zoltán (2000). American English: An Introduction. Broadview Press. pp. 135–136. ISBN 1-55111-229-9. 
  10. ^ Bakker (2002) An early vocabulary of British Romany (1616): A linguistic analysis. Romani studies 5. vol 12.at http://www.marston.co.uk/RSPP/LUPRSV012P02A00075.pdf accessed 23 March 2008
  11. ^ James Tozer (2009-06-08). "Convicts use ye olde slang to fool guards | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-28. 
  12. ^ Baker, Paul (2004). %7Cp. vii Fantabulosa: a dictionary of Polari and gay slang. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-7343-1. 
  13. ^ Green 1999, p. viii (intro).
  14. ^ Green 1999, p. 83.
  15. ^ a b Quinion 2009 , p. 9.
  16. ^ Hunt and Pringle 2008, p. 5.
  17. ^ Hunt and Pringle 2008, pp. 7-8.
  18. ^ Brevereton 2010, p. 6.
  19. ^ Quinion 2009, p. 315.
  20. ^ Breverton 2010, pp. 9 & 17.
  21. ^ Green 1999, p. 11.
  22. ^ Green 1999, pp. 13 & 18
  23. ^ Green 1999, p. 15.
  24. ^ Marsh, David (2010-08-26). "Something lacking in the trouser department? | Mind your language | Media | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. Retrieved 2013-04-28. 
  25. ^ Green 1999, pp. 17 & 18.
  26. ^ Green 1999, p. 20.
  27. ^ Green 1999, p. 27.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g Green 1999, p. 29.
  29. ^ Green 1999, p. 30.
  30. ^ Green 1999, p. 50.
  31. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 120.
  32. ^ CED 1991, p. 121.
  33. ^ CED 1991, p. 125.
  34. ^ CED 1991, p. 144.
  35. ^ CED 1991, p. 145.
  36. ^ Green 1999, p. 81
  37. ^ CED 1991, pp. 147&215.
  38. ^ Green 1999, p. 90.
  39. ^ CED 1991, p. 155.
  40. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 158.
  41. ^ Green 1999, p. 92.
  42. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 164.
  43. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 167.
  44. ^ "Collins: English Dictionary Definition (Meaning) of Blighty". Collinslanguage. Collins. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  45. ^ Quinion 2009 , p. 21.
  46. ^ CED 1991, p. 169.
  47. ^ Quinion 2009 , p. 22.
  48. ^ CED 1991, p. 170.
  49. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 171.
  50. ^ CED 1991, p. 174.
  51. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 175.
  52. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 176
  53. ^ a b Green 1999, p. 123
  54. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 178.
  55. ^ CED 1991, p. 179.
  56. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 182.
  57. ^ a b Green 1999, p. 134.
  58. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 186.
  59. ^ a b c d e CED 1991, p. 187
  60. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 188
  61. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 194.
  62. ^ Green 1999, p. 150.
  63. ^ CED 1991, pp. 203 & 1521
  64. ^ Green 1999, p. 154.
  65. ^ Green 1999, p. 155.
  66. ^ CED 1991, p. 209.
  67. ^ Green 1999, pp. 160-161.
  68. ^ a b c d e f g h i CED 1991, p. 210.
  69. ^ CED 1991, p. 212.
  70. ^ Green 1999, p. 163.
  71. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 213
  72. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 214.
  73. ^ Green 1999, p. 171.
  74. ^ CED 1991, p. 219.
  75. ^ CED 1991, p. 223.
  76. ^ a b c Green 1999 p. 215.
  77. ^ a b Green 1999, p. 217.
  78. ^ a b Quinion, Michael (2005). "Chav". World Wide Words. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  79. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 277.
  80. ^ Ray Puxley (2004). Britslang: An Uncensored A-Z of the People's Language, Including Rhyming Slang. Robson. p. 98. ISBN 1-86105-728-8. 
  81. ^ CED 1991, p. 284.
  82. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries online" at http://oxforddictionaries.com/search?searchType=dictionary&isWritersAndEditors=true&searchUri=All&q=chuff&_searchBtn=Search&contentVersion=US accessed 2011-10-15.
  83. ^ CED 1991, p. 291.
  84. ^ CED 1991, p. 305.
  85. ^ CED 1991, p. 311.
  86. ^ CED 1991, p. 312.
  87. ^ CED 1991, p. 313.
  88. ^ CED 1991, p. 319.
  89. ^ CED 1991, p. 340.
  90. ^ CED 1991 p. 352.
  91. ^ CED 1991, p. 353.
  92. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 356.
  93. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 362.
  94. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 370.
  95. ^ CED 1991, p. 403.
  96. ^ CED 1991, p. 409.
  97. ^ CED 1991, p. 417.
  98. ^ CED 1991, p. 437.
  99. ^ CED 1991, p. 444.
  100. ^ CED 1991, p. 456.
  101. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 1073.
  102. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 460.
  103. ^ a b Green 1999, p. 346.
  104. ^ Green 1999, p. 352.
  105. ^ Green 1999, p. 351.
  106. ^ Green 1999, p. 354.
  107. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 466.
  108. ^ CED 1991, p. 481.
  109. ^ Green 1999, p. 386.
  110. ^ Green 1999' p. 387.
  111. ^ Green 1999, p. 481.
  112. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 554.
  113. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 559.
  114. ^ Green 1999, p. 420.
  115. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 583.
  116. ^ CED 1991, p. 576.
  117. ^ CED 1991, p. 586.
  118. ^ CED 1991, p. 589.
  119. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 591.
  120. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 595.
  121. ^ CED 1991, p. 604.
  122. ^ CED 1991, p. 615.
  123. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 617.
  124. ^ CED 1991, p. 619.
  125. ^ Green 1999, p. 151
  126. ^ CED 1991, p. 627.
  127. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 629.
  128. ^ CED 1991, p. 634.
  129. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 637.
  130. ^ Green 1999, p. 468.
  131. ^ CED 1991, p. 640.
  132. ^ CED 1991, p. 648.
  133. ^ CED 1991, p. 653.
  134. ^ a b c d CED 1991, p. 661.
  135. ^ "spare adjective (ANNOYED) - definition in the British English Dictionary & Thesaurus - Cambridge Dictionaries Online". Dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  136. ^ "www.chambersharrap.co.uk"". Chambersharrap.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  137. ^ "Definition of spare". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  138. ^ "spare - Definition from Longman English Dictionary Online". Ldoceonline.com. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  139. ^ "spare: definition of spare in Oxford dictionary (British & World English)". Oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  140. ^ CED 1991, p. 662.
  141. ^ CED 1991, p. 665.
  142. ^ CED 1991, p. 666.
  143. ^ CED 1991, p. 672.
  144. ^ CED 1991, p. 684.
  145. ^ CED 1991, p. 689.
  146. ^ Green 1999, p. 543.
  147. ^ CED 1991, p. 700.
  148. ^ Green 1999, p. 556.
  149. ^ Green 1999, p. 557.
  150. ^ CED 1991, p. 708.
  151. ^ Green 1999, p. 587.
  152. ^ CED 1991, p. 746.
  153. ^ a b c Collins English Dictionary. Glasgow GN4 0NB: Harper Collins Publishers. 1991. p. 747. ISBN 0-00-433286-5. 
  154. ^ a b Green 1999, p. 610.
  155. ^ CED 1991, p. 748.
  156. ^ CED 1991, p. 758.
  157. ^ CED 1991, p. 772.
  158. ^ CED 1991, p. 799.
  159. ^ CED 1991, p. 822.
  160. ^ CED 1991, p. 823.
  161. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 824.
  162. ^ CED 1991, p. 825.
  163. ^ CED 1991, p. 826.
  164. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 829.
  165. ^ CED 1991, p. 830.
  166. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 832.
  167. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 833.
  168. ^ Green 1999, p. 672'
  169. ^ Green 1999, p. 1014.
  170. ^ CED 1991, p. 834.
  171. ^ CED 1991, p. 835.
  172. ^ CED 1991, p. 838.
  173. ^ CED 1991, p. 856.
  174. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 858.
  175. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 859.
  176. ^ a b c d Green 1999, p. 703.
  177. ^ CED 1991, p. 1092.
  178. ^ Green 1999, p. 712.
  179. ^ a b c Green 1999, p. 716.
  180. ^ Green 1999, p. 717.
  181. ^ CED 1991, p. 913.
  182. ^ CED 1991, p. 917.
  183. ^ CED 1991, p. 919.
  184. ^ CED 1991, p. 950.
  185. ^ CED 1991, p. 953.
  186. ^ Green 1999, p. 770.
  187. ^ CED 1991, p. 956.
  188. ^ CED 1991, p. 963.
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  190. ^ CED 1991, p. 977.
  191. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 986.
  192. ^ CED 1991, p. 990.
  193. ^ CED 1991, p. 992.
  194. ^ CED 1991, p. 995.
  195. ^ Green 1999, p. 789.
  196. ^ CED 1991, p. 1002.
  197. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 1005.
  198. ^ Green 1999, p. 798.
  199. ^ CED 1991, p. 1008.
  200. ^ Green 1999, p. 799.
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  202. ^ CED 1991, p. 1014.
  203. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 1023.
  204. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 1024.
  205. ^ Quinion 2009, pp. 197-198.
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  209. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 1037.
  210. ^ "ned". Dictionary of the Scots Language. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
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  212. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 1059.
  213. ^ CED 1991, p. 1060.
  214. ^ CED 1991, p. 1061.
  215. ^ CED 1991, p. 1064.
  216. ^ a b c CED 1991, p. 1067.
  217. ^ a b c d e CED 1991, p. 1074.
  218. ^ CED 1991, p. 1082.
  219. ^ CED 1991, p. 1086.
  220. ^ CED 1991, p. 715.
  221. ^ CED 1991, p. 1087.
  222. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 1118.
  223. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 1120.
  224. ^ CED 1991, p. 1121.
  225. ^ CED 1991, p. 1122.
  226. ^ a b CED 1991, p. 1141.
  227. ^ CED 1991, p. 1153.
  228. ^ CED 1991, p. 1170
  229. ^ CED 1991, p. 1177.
  230. ^ CED 1991, p. 1179.
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  233. ^ CED 1991, p. 1181.
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  236. ^ Green 1999, p. 876.
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References[edit]

  • Breverton, Terry (2010). Breverton's Nautical Curiosities. 21 Bloomsbury Square, London: Quercus Publishing PLC. p. 169. ISBN 978-1-84724-776-6. 
  • Collins English Dictionary. Glasgow GN4 0NB: Harper Collins Publishers. 1991. ISBN 0-00-433286-5.
  • Green, Jonathon (1999). The Cassell Dictionary of Slang. London: Cassell. ISBN 0-304-34435-4.
  • Hunt, J. L. and Pringle, A. G. (2008). Service Slang. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-24014-2.
  • Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar. Oxford University Press (1995).
  • Quinion, Michael (2009). Why is Q Always Followed by a U?. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1-84614-184-3.

Further reading[edit]

  • Partridge, Eric (2002). Beale, Paul, ed. A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-29189-5. 
  • James, Ewart (1998). NTC's Dictionary of British Slang and Colloquial Expressions. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-8442-0838-8. 
  • Baker, Paul (2002). Dictionary of Polari & gay slang. 
  • Baker, Paul (2002). Polari-- the lost language of gay men. 
  • Barrère, Albert; Leland, Charles (1889). Dictionary of Slang, Jargon and Cant. 
  • Bernstein, Jonathan (2006). Knickers in a twist : a dictionary of British slang. 
  • Farmer, John; Henley, W. E. (1905). A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English. 
  • Geris, Jan (2003). American's guide to the British language : really, they talk like this every day. 
  • Green, Jonathon (2008). Chambers Slang Dictionary. 
  • James, Ewart (1999). Contemporary British slang : an up-to-date guide to the slang of modern British English. 
  • Parody, A. (Antal) (2007). Eats, shites & leaves : crap English and how to use it. 
  • Soudek, Lev. (1967). Structure of substandard words in British and American English. 

External links[edit]